For me, one of the legendary moments in Inside Llewyn Davis (CBS Films, 11.6) is when Stark Sands‘ army private/folk singer guy (i.e., the one stationed at Fort Dix) is sitting in Jim and Jean‘s living room early in the morning, talking to Oscar Isaac‘s titular character and finishing up a bowl of Cheerios or whatever. With the last bits of cereal consumed, Sands looks down at the bowl, raises it to his lips and noisily slurps down the “cereal milk.” I used to do that as a kid (and I’m sure the Coens did also), but it’s obvious what the Coens are “saying” with this bit. They’re telling us that Sands is a mild-mannered dipshit.
I love films that make these kind of observations because this is where I live. If the Coens ever shoot a film some day about a guy visiting Vietnam they could make the same kind of point by showing 70-something, boney-kneed guys in shorts and rubber sandals without socks.
There’s also a mid-point scene between Davis and his sister in which she suggests he might want to think about enlisting in the Merchant Marines, and he takes offense at the banality of her suggestion. “You mean…what, just exist?” And she takes offense at his implication that she’s just “existing” herself. In Davis’s eyes life is meaningless if you’re not on some great creative or spiritual quest. I’m presuming there isn’t a person out there who would self-define as a person who merely “exists” — we all believe we’re on an epic search for something or other. No one exists, we’re all Frodo, etc. But are we?