The Coen brothers grow up | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Coen brothers grow up

Inside Llewyn Davis is a tale of art and money.

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From a distance, this feature by Joel and Ethan Coen might resemble the brothers' 1991 farce Barton Fink: like the earlier movie, it evokes a specific showbiz milieu (Greenwich Village in the early 60s) as it follows an aspiring artist (a down-and-out folkie played by Oscar Isaac) who's based on a real-life figure (singer-guitarist Dave Van Ronk). Yet the broad, black humor of the Coens' early features (Blood Simple, Raising Arizona) has ripened over the years into a sadder, more philosophical brand of comedy (A Serious Man) that puts them in a class with Billy Wilder and Ernst Lubitsch (yeah, you heard me). Their theme here is the same as in Fink—the fraught relationship between art and commerce—but their key insight is noticeably more mature: a good artist must be in the right place at the right time to succeed, whereas a truly great one makes that time and place his own. With Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, and Justin Timberlake.

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Related Film

Inside Llewyn Davis

Official Site: insidellewyndavis.com/us/splash

Director: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Producer: Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Robert Graf, Olivier Courson and Ron Halpern

Cast: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, F. Abraham, Justin Timberlake, Ethan Phillips, Robin Bartlett, Max Casella, Jerry Grayson, Jeanine Serralles, Adam Driver, Stark Sands and Alex Karpovsky