DVD Review: The Coens and company take a look inside 'Inside'

Joel and Ethan Coen's fictionalized look at the New York folk music scene immediately before the emergence of Bob Dylan is, like most of their films, cleverly written and perfectly cast. The only extra in this new release is a 42-minute making-of documentary, "Inside 'Inside Llewyn Davis,'" produced and directed by David Prior. A number of cast and key crew people are interviewed, but, not surprisingly, the Coens, music supervisor T-Bone Burnett, and lead Oscar Isaac dominate the proceedings.

The credits for the Coens' "Fargo" famously pretend that it was based on true events. And the genesis story Joel Coen tells in the making-of seems even more dubious. "One night, sitting around talking, we thought 'What if we start a movie with Jean Ritchie's husband beating up Dave Van Ronk in an alleyway?'" Curse my lack of imagination, but I can't begin to think of a context from which such a remark would emerge.

They mention Van Ronk frequently but also insist that the character isn't based on him, outside of a number of similar details. And indeed Davis' whiny but sympathetic personality owes a lot to the Bob Dylan of D.A. Pennebaker's great 1967 documentary "Don't Look Back."

The most questionable aspect of the film is the decision — and it had to have been conscious — to stick entirely to the music world, with barely a nod to the political/cultural context that was crucial in the forging of the early '60s folk music explosion.

The lack of further supplements suggests a fuller edition down the line. The related concert film — "Another Day/Another Time: Celebrating the Music of 'Inside Llewyn Davis'" — would have been nice, but Sony is selling it separately as a digital download. And, while Prior's movie covers some of the historical background, this would have been the perfect opportunity for a documentary on the era.

Inside Llewyn Davis (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Blu-ray, $35.95; DVD, $30.99)


ANDY KLEIN is the film critic for Marquee. He can also be heard on "FilmWeek" on KPCC-FM (89.3).

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