DVD reviews - Inside Llewyn Davis - Fargo

Oscar Isaacs Inside Llewyn Davis
Oscar Isaacs Inside Llewyn Davis

In our latest DVD column, in conjunction with Gamestar, we feature the Coen Brothers, with a recent release and a classic from their catalogue.

Inside Llewyn Davis was one of my favourite films from last year.

Frances McDormand in Fargo

Frances McDormand in Fargo

In true Coen brothers style, it’s far from a simple storyline.

In fact it focuses on a very specific year - 1961 - in Greenwich Village just before the folk scene was changed forever by the arrival of Bob Dylan.

Llewyn Davis is based loosely on Dave Van Ronk, a guitarist of the era who, among his albums, released one entitled Inside Dave Van Ronk.

In this film Davis, played by Oscar Isaac, is a struggling guitarist and singer whose partner has recently killed himself.

Davis’ attempts to forge a solo career are rather unsuccessful and he’s been reduced to living on couches of friends.

In fact Davis is not a likeable character; vain, irascible, using his friends to get what he needs.

The movie may well have faltered had it not been for the fact that Isaacs is excellent as a guitarist, singer and actor, forcing us to like him despite all his the character’s failings.

Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan and John Goodman all turn up - the latter in a very weird road trip scene - as characters impinging on his life.

But it’s Isaacs who shines and helps make this a fascinating film.

Video Re-View - Fargo (1996)

Anyone who enjoyed the recent TV series of Fargo, starring Martin Freeman, really needs to see the film it was inspired by.

Sure, there are threads running through the film that were kept for the TV series - an inept main character, a pair of vicious thugs, a woman police officer, and cold icy conditions.

But the film is a good short and snappy tale, full of typical Coen Brothers strange additions.

William H Macy is a car salesman who has various dodgy scams on the go, all doomed to failure.

One of the worst is the idea to have his wife kidnapped by hired goons so his rich father-in-law can pay the ransom, part of which he would keep.

It all goes horribly wrong and there are dead bodies all over the place.

Frances McDormand plays the police chief who, seven months pregnant, tries to unravel what’s going on.

Steve Buscemi is excellent as one of the thugs and there are all manner of characters that flit in and out, in true Coen Bros style.

There’s plenty of violence, but there’s also a superb black humour tone, even with a grisly wood chipper scene.

The remake of the Ladykillers apart, anything the Coen Brothers are involved in is always worth a watch.

But Fargo is arguably their best effort.

DVDs courtesy of Gamestar Entertainment Exchange, Sussex.

Entertainment Exchange buys, sells and exchanges games, Blu-rays, DVDs, CDs and accessories. You can find them in Brighton, Hove, Burgess Hill and Horsham. The shops are open from 9am - 6pm Monday to Saturday, and from 10am - 4.30pm on Sundays and bank holidays