Film Trailers

Distinctive Soundtrack, Quirky Narrative Touches, and John Goodman? Must be Time for a New Coen Brothers Movie

Last time we heard anything from the quirky, critical darlings the Coen Brothers, they had written the critically maligned “comedy” caper, Gambit. Well, now they’re hoping you’ll put that unpleasantness aside and remember that they also made  O’ Brother, Where Art Thou, Fargo, and No Country for Old Men (you know, quality films).

Remember, guys? We’ve done good stuff too.

It’s with that knowledge, armed and at the ready, that I approached the new trailer for the upcoming Coen Brothers movie, Inside Llewyn Davis.

Starring Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake (becoming more credible as an actor all the time), F. Murray Abraham (what are you doing here?!), and John Goodman (of course), the film centers around a folk singer’s attempts to succeed in the 1960s New York folk scene.

I think they just keep him in moth-balled storage and pull him out when they need for him.

I love the Coen Brothers. Watching one of their movies is like entering a dream world, in which every angle appears just slightly askew. Sometimes that off-kilter feel is played for suspense, and other times it’s played for comedy, but it’s always present. That pre-conception of the Coen Brothers’ work places my reaction to the trailer for Inside Llewyn Davis in an awkward place. The movie looks well-made, the story seems interesting  and the cast seems spot-on, but the film also looks surprisingly. . .normal. I don’t mean that as a criticism. However, when the guys who brought you a man in a wood-chipper  death by captive bolt pistol (based on a novel, I know, I know.), and a Cyclops Bible salesman/ violent con artist/ KKK member, it’s hard not to feel slightly underwhelmed by a seemingly straight-forward examination of the Greenwich Village folk scene .

When you’ve given us this…
and this…
It's hard to feel as blown away by this.
It’s hard to feel as blown away by this.

The fact that the central character’s most stable relationship seems to be with a stray cat feels like a Coen Brothers touch, but it’s one of the few aspects of the film that does.

They share a love that dare not speak its name.

I have high hopes for the film. I like the way Carey Mulligan’s character appears in the film, as she seems to be the only one who can see the truth behind titular character’s Llewyn Davis’s appearance.

"Carey Mulligan, spreading sunshine and sprinkling fairy dust wherever she goes."
Carey Mulligan, spreading sunshine and sprinkling fairy dust wherever she goes.

She sees how dysfunctional he truly appears, hiding behind a quiet, unassuming demeanor. I loved the O’Brother, Where Art Thou bluegrass soundtrack, and I love 1960s folk music, so that will be cool, and the look of the film, with its deep, somber color palette and smoky atmosphere looks gorgeous. It’s just, this feels like a movie any independent filmmaker could have committed to the world of digital or celluloid print. Normally, that’s not something you can say about the Coen Brothers.

Check out the Redband trailer below:

What say you?  Am I way off?  Or does this look good but also a bit “wait, this is a Coen Brothers movie?”

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