All the critics seem to be universally praising Inside Llewyn Davis... and in this case, who am I to go against the tide? For the Coens, it seems to mostly be about the little details: the grooves in the highway, the morning bowl of cereal, period phone books, narrow New York hallways, the whooshing sound when a door opens or closes, that groaning sound they have in all their movies... what is that, anyway? A motorcycle? Along with characters saying "The point is...", it's their signature, so to speak. What "See You Next Wednesday" is to John Landis, what Spota is to Peter Hyams, what... lameness is to John Carpenter? What not quite hitting it is to Brian DePalma?
Anyway, my viewing companions once again had to suffer through my need to see the Coens' latest and greatest, and we made the trek to the multiplex about 40 miles from home to do it. We almost didn't make it in time due to the kludgy instructions provided by Yahoo! Maps. Fortunately, there was about ten minutes of previews, so frankly we should've been a little more lost. To cut to the chase, the initial assessment was that the main character is an unlikeable son of a bitch, and that the Coens have officially lost their minds. That may have softened a bit now that the ordeal is over and done with, but who knows?
As for what I think, well, it's still nice to get out of the house now and then. Second, at least the Coens are slightly removed from the 1970s, the permanent go-to era for nostalgia these days, and for the rest of forever. But I will allow that even they have become infected with the spirit of Spielberg, in at least two ways: 1) by releasing their movie during the Christmas holiday, and 2) SPOILER ALERT, we see a young Bob Dylan at the Gaslight Café at the end of the movie, doing what Llewyn Davis is unable to do: ignite a generation to change the world.
Inside Llewyn Davis is arguably the least flamboyant of the Coens' movies. Usually their movies have at least one visual setpiece you want to go to right away when it comes out on DVD. Well, True Grit kinda doesn't have one either, but the closest that Davis comes to is probably the "Please Mr. Kennedy" sequence. Mostly for the music, of course.
Alas, positive, life-affirming characters aren't the focus of Inside Llewyn Davis, but that's what movies are for: to take us to different times and places and to experience different characters. Llewyn's clearly not a man for his time and place; perhaps he was an early incarnation of Richard Belzer, not quite ready to hit it big with his sardonic observations. As for the Oscars, well, I think the Coens will have to time their 2017 project to be more Oscar-worthy than their usual if they want to sweep again, but this go-round, Bruno DelBonnel will probably win the same way Penelope Cruz won for a non-Almodovar film, and because the ASC really really want to rub it in Roger Deakins' face. Or maybe he'll win for Prisoners, who knows! Either way, I kinda don't care about the Oscars anymore.
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan