Hit & Run

Kurt Loder Reviews Inside Llewyn Davis and Out of the Furnace

The Coen brothers unplugged, Woody Harrelson unchained.

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CBS Films

Inside Llewyn Davis is a ramblin' kind of movie with several things to recommend it. The ramblin' is a problem, though, says Kurt Loder. The Coen brothers, co-writing and -directing once again, have set their story in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 1960s. The movie is selectively drawn from The Mayor of MacDougal Street, a 2005 memoir by the late Village folksinger Dave Van Ronk. Oscar Isaac, who plays the fictitious Llewyn Davis, doesn't much resemble Van Ronk—a bear of a man with bluesy inclinations. But Isaac's sweeter voice has its own appeal, as does his unadorned fingerpicking guitar style. Out of the Furnace, by contrast, is both unflinchingly brutal and strikingly pointless, says Loder.