It suddenly hit me five minutes ago that director-writers Joel and Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis, A Serious Man, No Country For Old Men) need to go a little dumber and sillier for their next film. They obviously do this from time to time (Burn After Reading, Intolerable Cruelty, The Big Lebowski). I happen to regard Inside Llewyn Davis as a kind of glum, sardonic comedy. Every time I watch it (five times now) I go into a kind of serene LQTM mode. I’m just thinking that after the grayish, downhearted, “God more or less hates me and my life is constantly frustrating and depressing” vibes in ILD and A Serious Man (True Grit was more of an adaptation vacation than a deep-down Coen Brothers film) that they need to joke it up a bit more on their next outing. They probably know this better than I. A little change-up for the fans. Can’t hurt.
“Dave Van Ronk’s memoir, ‘The Mayor of MacDougal Street,’ is full of affectionate details about the Village in the early ’60s. So is Bob Dylan’s ‘Chronicles.’ And so are my own (very minor) memories of MacDougal and Bleecker and West Fourth and other legendary Village streets. In other words, there’s nothing intrinsically depressing about the subject of the folk scene in the Village in the early ’60s. But the Coens surround Llewyn with rain and cold and treat him and his friends with their own derisive, sour-spirited sarcasm. Yes, creators have the right to make their palette, and Inside Llewyn Davis is a beautiful-looking, gloomy movie. But I dislike the apparently widespread assumption that the unified look and the despair of Inside Llewyn Davis signify that it’s a work of art. The despair makes it a Coen Brothers film, which is not necessarily the same thing.” — from a year-end wrap-up piece by New Yorker critic David Denby.