RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Inside Llewyn Davis, Out of the Furnace, and More

A couple of Oscar-nominated movies and a handful of indies round out the list.

This week on home video, we've got three Oscar-nominated selections, one thriller from a director who previously helmed an Oscar-winning film, and an actioner starring Jason Statham, as well as a few smaller movie that should also make for some great choices. Read on for the full list:

Inside Llewyn Davis

94%

Early on in this year's awards season, it looked like the Coen brothers' latest film, Inside Llewyn Davis, might be a major contender in a handful of Oscar categories including, at the very least, Best Original Screenplay or Best Original Song. In the end, the film notched just two nominations, for Cinematography and Sound Mixing, and left the Oscars empty-handed. Oscar Isaac stars as the titular folk singer, who is trying to get a solo gig started after his former partner has committed suicide. Broke and essentially homeless, Llewyn crashes on his friends' couches and hitches his way to Chicago to audition for a producer he hopes will jumpstart his career. Inside Llewyn Davis features a lot of Coen brothers trademarks -- understated tone, memorable side characters, an off-kilter sense of humor -- and critics found the film both funny and thoughtful. Certified Fresh at 94% on the Tomatometer, it's yet another worthy addition to the Coens' already impressive filmography.

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The Book Thief

46%

Speaking of Academy hopefuls, The Book Thief sported a few tried and true "Oscar bait" elements: it's based on a book, it's set in WWII-era Germany (read: "Holocaust movie"), and it features a young heroine who overcomes an obstacle against impressive odds. Relative newcomer Sophie Nélisse plays Liesel Meminger, who is sent to live with foster parents Hans and Rosa (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) as war looms on the horizon. Liesel slowly learns to read from Hans and the pair form a bond; as WWII begins in earnest, a Jewish family friend seeks shelter in their home and sets events into motion that will have lasting effects on Liesel and her new family. While critics acknowledged the committed performances, they also felt The Book Thief skewed a little too sentimental, choosing to play things a bit on the tame side, and for that, the film earned a mixed 46% Tomatometer score.

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Out of the Furnace

53%

Scott Cooper's debut (as director) was the well-received 2009 film Crazy Heart, which netted a Best Actor Oscar for star Jeff Bridges and a second trophy for Best Original Song. For his follow-up, Out of the Furnace, Cooper got another acting heavyweight -- Christian Bale -- to play the lead in a story about a steel mill worker (Bale) who takes it upon himself to investigate the disappearance of his brother (Casey Affleck) after he returns from a tour in Iraq and falls in with a notorious crime ring. Unfortunately, Out of the Furnace failed to rack up the accolades that Crazy Heart did; despite an outstanding cast that included Willem Dafoe, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Forest Whitaker, and Sam Shepard, critics had a hard time agreeing whether or not to recommend it. While some felt the acting alone was worth the price of admission, others were let down by the derivative, sometimes needlessly violent story. You may have to decide for yourself who you agree with more.

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Homefront

42%

Phil Broker just wanted to settle down in a small town and live a normal life with his daughter; little did he realize that the small town he chose was run by a ruthless drug kingpin who would make his life more eventful than he would have liked. Jason Statham's latest starring vehicle finds him playing this ex-DEA agent who runs afoul of the local criminal element, spearheaded by James Franco as meth dealer Gator, and critics say it's a pretty by-the-numbers revenge thriller. Those who weren't particularly impressed claim Homefront's action set pieces weren't quite up to snuff, while its more dramatic elements also lacked the sophistication to work as an effective thriller. On the other hand, 42% of the critics felt the film was made competently enough to serve as an entertaining diversion if you're in need of an action fix.

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The Broken Circle Breakdown

81%

If you've been paying attention this awards season, chances are The Broken Circle Breakdown sounds familiar to you, even if you don't quite recall why. Based on a play of the same name, this Belgian import about a couple brought together by their mutual love of bluegrass music and torn apart by tragedy was most recently nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Though it ultimately lost the Academy Award to The Great Beauty, critics still found it to be a poignant, heartbreaking romance set to some incredible music, even if it's occasionally undermined by its artistic ambitions. Certified Fresh at 79% on the Tomatometer, The Broken Cirlce Breakdown isn't the happiest story of the year, but it's engrossing, finely crafted, has a killer soundtrack, and serves to remind us how much great cinema we may be missing from other parts of the world.

Also available this week:

  • In Fear (88%), a psychological horror film about a young couple trapped on country roads as an unseen assailant torments them.
  • Certified Fresh Afghan novel adaptation The Patience Stone (86%), about a Muslim woman keeping watch over her paralyzed husband and confessing all the things she could never say before.
  • Enemies Closer (75%), starring Jean Claude Van Damme in an action film about a forest ranger (and former soldier) who is forced by drug cartels to help track down a missing shipment of narcotics.

Comments

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

The Broken Ciricle Breakdown poster looks like a horrid painful "love will get us through" Schlawky Crap fest but all my favorite Pod Casting Critics (/Film.com and oneofus.net) say its a sleeper hit so maybe I will pick it up!

Mar 10 - 05:38 PM

Carlton DeLéon

Carlton DeLéon

It has some great acting, but a long and depressing storyline, with unlikable characters. Sitting through the movie is a task.

Mar 10 - 07:34 PM

Lee P.

Lee Patterson

In fear was kind of good.

Mar 10 - 06:48 PM

Carlton DeLéon

Carlton DeLéon

It has some great acting, but a long and depressing storyline, with unlikable characters. Sitting through the movie is a task.

Mar 10 - 07:34 PM

Gary Devenport

Gary Devenport

So what do people think of the theories that Llewyn Davis might actually be the cat he carries around with him, or that he might have some sort of spiritual link to it?

Mar 10 - 07:59 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

"Llewyn Davis might actually be the cat he carries around with him"
That makes little to no sense to me. As for the spiritual link, it seems more likely, as Davis himself his much like a cat, sleeping on various couches, without a steady post. He also serves not only as a guide trough his journeys, but also establishes a link to Homer's "The Odyssey" (the cat's name is Ulysses), Davis' story being in essence a modern retelling of it.

Mar 11 - 05:33 AM

Gary Devenport

Gary Devenport

You also have to consider in the very beginning when he's calling the owner, the lady on the other end mistakenly hears "Llewyn IS the cat".

Mar 11 - 11:13 AM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

I don't remember that, but even so it doesn't seem to imply amything further than the spiritual link and metaphorical significance of the cat in relation to Davis - and the Ulysses reference. I guess the Coens figured they'd throw us a bone and hint at said relation.

Mar 12 - 03:46 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

The cat more symbolizes Llewyn's inability to have respnsible relationships with other people. It's a burden that he carries around, as he treats other people in his life as burdens. Without getting into spoilers, the key to this is to say that the cat is really representative of Davis' former singing partner.

Mar 12 - 05:37 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Actually you can pinpoint a bunch of significances to the cat. Your intepretation is a liable one, as is to say that he represents a search for identity - not coincidently, he does carry around the wrong cat for a portion of the movie, only finding the right cat in the end, after he came to terms with who he is and where he is in his life. Also, a cat in many mythologies and cultures is seen as a guide and the cat's presence seems to indicate Davis's journey is at a turning point, frequently mirroring Davis' emotional state. So it's metaphorical significance is a wide one, there isn't just ONE answer.

Mar 13 - 04:01 AM

Jon Cox

Jon Cox

'In Fear' was very average
a couple weeks ago it was at 100% on the Tomatometer
I was let down

Mar 10 - 11:17 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Inside Llewyn Davis is another modern retelling of "The Odyssey" by the Coens (I'm guessing they must be a big fan of both Homer and James Joyce's works), this time with a more somber tone. Altough the movie sometimes felt a bit overly symbolic with all it's references to Ulysses'travels (not coincidently, the name of the ever elusive cat in the movie)it's s an amazing great film all the same. I loved it and felt it was very unjustly ignored by award cerimonies.
I actually quite enjoyed "Into The Furnace" a gret deal, I would easily award it 80 percent. I really do not understand all the dislike the movie has brought upon itself.
I haven't seen any other of the movies listed but In Fear, The Patience Stone and The Broken Circle Breakdown seem to be worth a look.

Mar 11 - 05:27 AM

rocknblues81

Brian Hurley

The script is mediocre and that's why people dislike it.

Mar 11 - 03:20 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

I disagree. The dialogues and situations were all believable, which is why the actors were able to breathe life into it. In my opinion the movie had such a bad reception in good part due to it's grimness and lack of action. People were probably expecting something less quiet and more flashy. Gravity's script was a millin times weaker and it did not prevent it from getting massive acclaim.

Mar 12 - 03:50 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

The Odyssey stuff is a red herring, I'd say it's more Joyce than Homer. I don't think the reference really adds anything to the story, which has very little else to do with either.

Mar 12 - 05:41 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

I do not know if you read James Joyce's "Ulysses" or not, but the novel makes constant paralells to Homer's "The Odyssey". It's chapters are named after some of Homer's characters and the all point of the book is to underline that tragedy is to be found on everyday life, even in the course of a few days, which is the period of time covered in the novel. It establishes constant paralells to The Odyssey. So you can hardly reference Joyce's "Ulysses" without comparing it to Homer's work. As for the Coen's movie, it has too many references to greek mythology for such relation to be ignored. "The Gate Of Horn" - where he plays the song to the music producer - brings you back to the gate of horn and ivory, which is a literary image that means to distinguish true dreams from false, used for the first time in literature on Homer's work; the journey he takes with Goodman's character's is very eerie and surreal- very akin to a trip to the underworld, amongst many others.

Mar 13 - 03:40 AM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

In another words, the relation of the multiple links to greek tragedies and mythology in the movie are akin to those of Joyce's "Ulysses", whose evident paralells to Homer's "The Odyssey", altough many and stressed by the author, do not follow the progression of narrative of the work with which it establishes the comparasion. You can perfectly read Joyce's "Ulysses" without knowledge of "The Odyssey", but it does make for a poorer reading of the novel. The same can be said of teh Coen's film. It does not progress in the same way as "The Odyssey", but it does establish frequent and undeniable parallels to it and as Joyce's work, means to underline the greek tragedy elements in everyday life, thus implying that we undertake unsurmountable obstacles in the course of our life that, despite not being infused with the heroism of those greek tragedies, are nevertheless embdded with it's connundrums and questions. Or, put simply, the questions that plagued the men of old remain the same, even if they assume other less heroic and enourmous forms.

Mar 13 - 04:30 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Why, yes, I have read "Ulysses" (and if you have, I hope you can appreciate the accomplishment), and the reason why I say this film, and really all the Coen films, are more Joycean than Homeric is because of their tendency for layers of self-reference in the intertextual tradition of Joyce's work. I wouldn't call it "another" retelling of the Odyssey, as opposed to the more straightforward beat-for-beat O Brother Where Art Thou. Just as entire college courses are taught to unravel the textual complexity of Ulysses, one day film students will be unpacking the Coen Brothers films of all of their overt and subvert references, much as they do today with Kubrick, another Joycean artist who preferred non-linear thematic structure which only becomes understood after multiple viewings when the viewer can step back and start to see a bigger picture.

So, yes, this film, and actually most Coen Bros films have references to Greek myth, Homer specifically, as well as a number of references to many other literary and artistic work. Same goes for Ulysses, which is about much much more than simply The Odyssey (which actually becomes more of a joke in the course of the book).

So you obviously are not wrong in saying that there is no clear and simple solution to the meaning of these references, and this aspect is what makes the Coen films so rich and deep for interpretation and discussion. I feel, though, in my own view that the central dramatic purpose of the cat was to represent Llewyn's guilt and responsibility for his former singing partner. I think this is the particular odyssey that Davis is treading in the film - his personal failure in relationships contrasted with his professional failure. I've already heard some interesting comparisons to Barton Fink and A Simple Man along these lines.

And P.S. - Ulysses takes place over the course of a single day, June 16, "Bloomsday", which is still celebrated by dorks like me ;)

Mar 13 - 01:17 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

I have indeed read it and yes, I find it to be quite an accomplishment as well. I can honestly say that it was the book I most researched and had trouble with. Altough not unreadable, it does require a great deal of concentration, espeacially if one is trying actively to find all the hidden references and meanings that the novel is said to contain. Not being in any way a scholar myself, I am quite certain a good deal of those went right over my head and remained unlocked by my limited cerebral capacities. But i did enoyed reading it and actually intend to reread it sometime soon. I meant to write "in a single day", rather than "a few days" - do not know what happened there.

I agree that a retelling of "The Odyssey" was not the very best way to put it, it would be more apt to say that references it heavily, as well as other elements of greek mythology.

I have a somewhat different opinion of Davis' quest. To my mind it is not mainly guilt that leaves him unable to emotionally connect, but rather fear and the spectre of failure. He was a selfish individual, unable to compromise to anything or anybody but that nevertheless desired fame, glory and recognition. His high opinion of his artistic capacities was unable to cater to any kind of comprimise, despite wanting to achieve said fame and glory. But his desperation and focus on attaining such rewards stunted any artistical claims he made to himself. Which is why he failed to connect with audiences in the clubs - he wasn't being truthfull, his performances were too emotionally removed. His friend's suicide makes him fear that his own desperation and frustration will eventually lead to his own suicide. That, to my mind, is the real weight his friend's death carries to him, not guilt.
So to my mind his quest is a search for his identity and recconection with his muse - that his, to choose between playing for the love of his art without expecting to reape considerable rewards or sacrifice his integrity for fame and glory. Goodman's character, as well as his Poet-Valet were warnings to Davis of the pitfalls and self-destruction that await uncomprimising artists who allow for their frustration to take complete hold of themselves.
In the end, it is clear that he has chosen his artistic intregrity and love of his art over fame and glory. In fact, the presence of Bob Dylan on the music club at the end of the film- a musician whose refusal to comprimise his artistic intgrity did not prevent him nonetheless to achieve massive sucess - seems to suggest that Davis will have a fulfilling life, maybe even a sucessfull life.
BTW, "A Simple Man" allways stroke me as a modern take on the story of Job from the bible. The elements seem to be all there.

Mar 14 - 04:37 AM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

"Llewyn Davis might actually be the cat he carries around with him"
That makes little to no sense to me. As for the spiritual link, it seems more likely, as Davis himself his much like a cat, sleeping on various couches, without a steady post. He also serves not only as a guide trough his journeys, but also establishes a link to Homer's "The Odyssey" (the cat's name is Ulysses), Davis' story being in essence a modern retelling of it.

Mar 11 - 05:33 AM

Gary Devenport

Gary Devenport

You also have to consider in the very beginning when he's calling the owner, the lady on the other end mistakenly hears "Llewyn IS the cat".

Mar 11 - 11:13 AM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

I don't remember that, but even so it doesn't seem to imply amything further than the spiritual link and metaphorical significance of the cat in relation to Davis - and the Ulysses reference. I guess the Coens figured they'd throw us a bone and hint at said relation.

Mar 12 - 03:46 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

The cat more symbolizes Llewyn's inability to have respnsible relationships with other people. It's a burden that he carries around, as he treats other people in his life as burdens. Without getting into spoilers, the key to this is to say that the cat is really representative of Davis' former singing partner.

Mar 12 - 05:37 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Actually you can pinpoint a bunch of significances to the cat. Your intepretation is a liable one, as is to say that he represents a search for identity - not coincidently, he does carry around the wrong cat for a portion of the movie, only finding the right cat in the end, after he came to terms with who he is and where he is in his life. Also, a cat in many mythologies and cultures is seen as a guide and the cat's presence seems to indicate Davis's journey is at a turning point, frequently mirroring Davis' emotional state. So it's metaphorical significance is a wide one, there isn't just ONE answer.

Mar 13 - 04:01 AM

Gary Devenport

Gary Devenport

You also have to consider in the very beginning when he's calling the owner, the lady on the other end mistakenly hears "Llewyn IS the cat".

Mar 11 - 11:13 AM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

I don't remember that, but even so it doesn't seem to imply amything further than the spiritual link and metaphorical significance of the cat in relation to Davis - and the Ulysses reference. I guess the Coens figured they'd throw us a bone and hint at said relation.

Mar 12 - 03:46 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

The cat more symbolizes Llewyn's inability to have respnsible relationships with other people. It's a burden that he carries around, as he treats other people in his life as burdens. Without getting into spoilers, the key to this is to say that the cat is really representative of Davis' former singing partner.

Mar 12 - 05:37 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Actually you can pinpoint a bunch of significances to the cat. Your intepretation is a liable one, as is to say that he represents a search for identity - not coincidently, he does carry around the wrong cat for a portion of the movie, only finding the right cat in the end, after he came to terms with who he is and where he is in his life. Also, a cat in many mythologies and cultures is seen as a guide and the cat's presence seems to indicate Davis's journey is at a turning point, frequently mirroring Davis' emotional state. So it's metaphorical significance is a wide one, there isn't just ONE answer.

Mar 13 - 04:01 AM

Vits

Vicente Torres

THE BOOK THIEF sucked. The only thing it had that I hadn't seen in the other 148 WWII movies is that it's narrated by death. And it was 40 minutes longer than it needed to be.

I'm going with LLEWYN DAVIS because the Coens are becoming my favorite directors. But no way I'll watch HOMEFRONT. Stallone is hit-or-miss as an actor and director, but writing has never been his best skill (ROCKY could've easily been a bad movie with another director and cast). So why would I watch a movie that he JUST wrote?

Mar 11 - 11:40 AM

rocknblues81

Brian Hurley

The script is mediocre and that's why people dislike it.

Mar 11 - 03:20 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

I disagree. The dialogues and situations were all believable, which is why the actors were able to breathe life into it. In my opinion the movie had such a bad reception in good part due to it's grimness and lack of action. People were probably expecting something less quiet and more flashy. Gravity's script was a millin times weaker and it did not prevent it from getting massive acclaim.

Mar 12 - 03:50 AM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

I don't remember that, but even so it doesn't seem to imply amything further than the spiritual link and metaphorical significance of the cat in relation to Davis - and the Ulysses reference. I guess the Coens figured they'd throw us a bone and hint at said relation.

Mar 12 - 03:46 AM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

I disagree. The dialogues and situations were all believable, which is why the actors were able to breathe life into it. In my opinion the movie had such a bad reception in good part due to it's grimness and lack of action. People were probably expecting something less quiet and more flashy. Gravity's script was a millin times weaker and it did not prevent it from getting massive acclaim.

Mar 12 - 03:50 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

The cat more symbolizes Llewyn's inability to have respnsible relationships with other people. It's a burden that he carries around, as he treats other people in his life as burdens. Without getting into spoilers, the key to this is to say that the cat is really representative of Davis' former singing partner.

Mar 12 - 05:37 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

The Odyssey stuff is a red herring, I'd say it's more Joyce than Homer. I don't think the reference really adds anything to the story, which has very little else to do with either.

Mar 12 - 05:41 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

I do not know if you read James Joyce's "Ulysses" or not, but the novel makes constant paralells to Homer's "The Odyssey". It's chapters are named after some of Homer's characters and the all point of the book is to underline that tragedy is to be found on everyday life, even in the course of a few days, which is the period of time covered in the novel. It establishes constant paralells to The Odyssey. So you can hardly reference Joyce's "Ulysses" without comparing it to Homer's work. As for the Coen's movie, it has too many references to greek mythology for such relation to be ignored. "The Gate Of Horn" - where he plays the song to the music producer - brings you back to the gate of horn and ivory, which is a literary image that means to distinguish true dreams from false, used for the first time in literature on Homer's work; the journey he takes with Goodman's character's is very eerie and surreal- very akin to a trip to the underworld, amongst many others.

Mar 13 - 03:40 AM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

In another words, the relation of the multiple links to greek tragedies and mythology in the movie are akin to those of Joyce's "Ulysses", whose evident paralells to Homer's "The Odyssey", altough many and stressed by the author, do not follow the progression of narrative of the work with which it establishes the comparasion. You can perfectly read Joyce's "Ulysses" without knowledge of "The Odyssey", but it does make for a poorer reading of the novel. The same can be said of teh Coen's film. It does not progress in the same way as "The Odyssey", but it does establish frequent and undeniable parallels to it and as Joyce's work, means to underline the greek tragedy elements in everyday life, thus implying that we undertake unsurmountable obstacles in the course of our life that, despite not being infused with the heroism of those greek tragedies, are nevertheless embdded with it's connundrums and questions. Or, put simply, the questions that plagued the men of old remain the same, even if they assume other less heroic and enourmous forms.

Mar 13 - 04:30 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Why, yes, I have read "Ulysses" (and if you have, I hope you can appreciate the accomplishment), and the reason why I say this film, and really all the Coen films, are more Joycean than Homeric is because of their tendency for layers of self-reference in the intertextual tradition of Joyce's work. I wouldn't call it "another" retelling of the Odyssey, as opposed to the more straightforward beat-for-beat O Brother Where Art Thou. Just as entire college courses are taught to unravel the textual complexity of Ulysses, one day film students will be unpacking the Coen Brothers films of all of their overt and subvert references, much as they do today with Kubrick, another Joycean artist who preferred non-linear thematic structure which only becomes understood after multiple viewings when the viewer can step back and start to see a bigger picture.

So, yes, this film, and actually most Coen Bros films have references to Greek myth, Homer specifically, as well as a number of references to many other literary and artistic work. Same goes for Ulysses, which is about much much more than simply The Odyssey (which actually becomes more of a joke in the course of the book).

So you obviously are not wrong in saying that there is no clear and simple solution to the meaning of these references, and this aspect is what makes the Coen films so rich and deep for interpretation and discussion. I feel, though, in my own view that the central dramatic purpose of the cat was to represent Llewyn's guilt and responsibility for his former singing partner. I think this is the particular odyssey that Davis is treading in the film - his personal failure in relationships contrasted with his professional failure. I've already heard some interesting comparisons to Barton Fink and A Simple Man along these lines.

And P.S. - Ulysses takes place over the course of a single day, June 16, "Bloomsday", which is still celebrated by dorks like me ;)

Mar 13 - 01:17 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

I have indeed read it and yes, I find it to be quite an accomplishment as well. I can honestly say that it was the book I most researched and had trouble with. Altough not unreadable, it does require a great deal of concentration, espeacially if one is trying actively to find all the hidden references and meanings that the novel is said to contain. Not being in any way a scholar myself, I am quite certain a good deal of those went right over my head and remained unlocked by my limited cerebral capacities. But i did enoyed reading it and actually intend to reread it sometime soon. I meant to write "in a single day", rather than "a few days" - do not know what happened there.

I agree that a retelling of "The Odyssey" was not the very best way to put it, it would be more apt to say that references it heavily, as well as other elements of greek mythology.

I have a somewhat different opinion of Davis' quest. To my mind it is not mainly guilt that leaves him unable to emotionally connect, but rather fear and the spectre of failure. He was a selfish individual, unable to compromise to anything or anybody but that nevertheless desired fame, glory and recognition. His high opinion of his artistic capacities was unable to cater to any kind of comprimise, despite wanting to achieve said fame and glory. But his desperation and focus on attaining such rewards stunted any artistical claims he made to himself. Which is why he failed to connect with audiences in the clubs - he wasn't being truthfull, his performances were too emotionally removed. His friend's suicide makes him fear that his own desperation and frustration will eventually lead to his own suicide. That, to my mind, is the real weight his friend's death carries to him, not guilt.
So to my mind his quest is a search for his identity and recconection with his muse - that his, to choose between playing for the love of his art without expecting to reape considerable rewards or sacrifice his integrity for fame and glory. Goodman's character, as well as his Poet-Valet were warnings to Davis of the pitfalls and self-destruction that await uncomprimising artists who allow for their frustration to take complete hold of themselves.
In the end, it is clear that he has chosen his artistic intregrity and love of his art over fame and glory. In fact, the presence of Bob Dylan on the music club at the end of the film- a musician whose refusal to comprimise his artistic intgrity did not prevent him nonetheless to achieve massive sucess - seems to suggest that Davis will have a fulfilling life, maybe even a sucessfull life.
BTW, "A Simple Man" allways stroke me as a modern take on the story of Job from the bible. The elements seem to be all there.

Mar 14 - 04:37 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Out of the Furnace is sorely underrated.

Mar 12 - 05:42 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

I coudn't agree more.

Mar 13 - 05:37 AM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

I do not know if you read James Joyce's "Ulysses" or not, but the novel makes constant paralells to Homer's "The Odyssey". It's chapters are named after some of Homer's characters and the all point of the book is to underline that tragedy is to be found on everyday life, even in the course of a few days, which is the period of time covered in the novel. It establishes constant paralells to The Odyssey. So you can hardly reference Joyce's "Ulysses" without comparing it to Homer's work. As for the Coen's movie, it has too many references to greek mythology for such relation to be ignored. "The Gate Of Horn" - where he plays the song to the music producer - brings you back to the gate of horn and ivory, which is a literary image that means to distinguish true dreams from false, used for the first time in literature on Homer's work; the journey he takes with Goodman's character's is very eerie and surreal- very akin to a trip to the underworld, amongst many others.

Mar 13 - 03:40 AM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Actually you can pinpoint a bunch of significances to the cat. Your intepretation is a liable one, as is to say that he represents a search for identity - not coincidently, he does carry around the wrong cat for a portion of the movie, only finding the right cat in the end, after he came to terms with who he is and where he is in his life. Also, a cat in many mythologies and cultures is seen as a guide and the cat's presence seems to indicate Davis's journey is at a turning point, frequently mirroring Davis' emotional state. So it's metaphorical significance is a wide one, there isn't just ONE answer.

Mar 13 - 04:01 AM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

In another words, the relation of the multiple links to greek tragedies and mythology in the movie are akin to those of Joyce's "Ulysses", whose evident paralells to Homer's "The Odyssey", altough many and stressed by the author, do not follow the progression of narrative of the work with which it establishes the comparasion. You can perfectly read Joyce's "Ulysses" without knowledge of "The Odyssey", but it does make for a poorer reading of the novel. The same can be said of teh Coen's film. It does not progress in the same way as "The Odyssey", but it does establish frequent and undeniable parallels to it and as Joyce's work, means to underline the greek tragedy elements in everyday life, thus implying that we undertake unsurmountable obstacles in the course of our life that, despite not being infused with the heroism of those greek tragedies, are nevertheless embdded with it's connundrums and questions. Or, put simply, the questions that plagued the men of old remain the same, even if they assume other less heroic and enourmous forms.

Mar 13 - 04:30 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Why, yes, I have read "Ulysses" (and if you have, I hope you can appreciate the accomplishment), and the reason why I say this film, and really all the Coen films, are more Joycean than Homeric is because of their tendency for layers of self-reference in the intertextual tradition of Joyce's work. I wouldn't call it "another" retelling of the Odyssey, as opposed to the more straightforward beat-for-beat O Brother Where Art Thou. Just as entire college courses are taught to unravel the textual complexity of Ulysses, one day film students will be unpacking the Coen Brothers films of all of their overt and subvert references, much as they do today with Kubrick, another Joycean artist who preferred non-linear thematic structure which only becomes understood after multiple viewings when the viewer can step back and start to see a bigger picture.

So, yes, this film, and actually most Coen Bros films have references to Greek myth, Homer specifically, as well as a number of references to many other literary and artistic work. Same goes for Ulysses, which is about much much more than simply The Odyssey (which actually becomes more of a joke in the course of the book).

So you obviously are not wrong in saying that there is no clear and simple solution to the meaning of these references, and this aspect is what makes the Coen films so rich and deep for interpretation and discussion. I feel, though, in my own view that the central dramatic purpose of the cat was to represent Llewyn's guilt and responsibility for his former singing partner. I think this is the particular odyssey that Davis is treading in the film - his personal failure in relationships contrasted with his professional failure. I've already heard some interesting comparisons to Barton Fink and A Simple Man along these lines.

And P.S. - Ulysses takes place over the course of a single day, June 16, "Bloomsday", which is still celebrated by dorks like me ;)

Mar 13 - 01:17 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

I have indeed read it and yes, I find it to be quite an accomplishment as well. I can honestly say that it was the book I most researched and had trouble with. Altough not unreadable, it does require a great deal of concentration, espeacially if one is trying actively to find all the hidden references and meanings that the novel is said to contain. Not being in any way a scholar myself, I am quite certain a good deal of those went right over my head and remained unlocked by my limited cerebral capacities. But i did enoyed reading it and actually intend to reread it sometime soon. I meant to write "in a single day", rather than "a few days" - do not know what happened there.

I agree that a retelling of "The Odyssey" was not the very best way to put it, it would be more apt to say that references it heavily, as well as other elements of greek mythology.

I have a somewhat different opinion of Davis' quest. To my mind it is not mainly guilt that leaves him unable to emotionally connect, but rather fear and the spectre of failure. He was a selfish individual, unable to compromise to anything or anybody but that nevertheless desired fame, glory and recognition. His high opinion of his artistic capacities was unable to cater to any kind of comprimise, despite wanting to achieve said fame and glory. But his desperation and focus on attaining such rewards stunted any artistical claims he made to himself. Which is why he failed to connect with audiences in the clubs - he wasn't being truthfull, his performances were too emotionally removed. His friend's suicide makes him fear that his own desperation and frustration will eventually lead to his own suicide. That, to my mind, is the real weight his friend's death carries to him, not guilt.
So to my mind his quest is a search for his identity and recconection with his muse - that his, to choose between playing for the love of his art without expecting to reape considerable rewards or sacrifice his integrity for fame and glory. Goodman's character, as well as his Poet-Valet were warnings to Davis of the pitfalls and self-destruction that await uncomprimising artists who allow for their frustration to take complete hold of themselves.
In the end, it is clear that he has chosen his artistic intregrity and love of his art over fame and glory. In fact, the presence of Bob Dylan on the music club at the end of the film- a musician whose refusal to comprimise his artistic intgrity did not prevent him nonetheless to achieve massive sucess - seems to suggest that Davis will have a fulfilling life, maybe even a sucessfull life.
BTW, "A Simple Man" allways stroke me as a modern take on the story of Job from the bible. The elements seem to be all there.

Mar 14 - 04:37 AM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

I coudn't agree more.

Mar 13 - 05:37 AM

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