Inside Llewyn Davis appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image reproduced the source material well.
Sharpness seemed positive. At times the elements looked a little soft, but that stemmed from the style of photography on display, which gave the movie a lightly gauzy feel. Overall delineation remained strong. No jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes remained absent. No problems with source flaws caused distractions, as the movie remained free from defects.
With a subdued palette at work, not many colors cropped up in Davis. The movie tended toward a drab gray/green tint; within those parameters, the colors were decent. Blacks remained dense, and shadows were clear and smooth. This was a “B+” presentation.
One wouldn’t expect slam-bang audio from a folk music-oriented character piece like Davis, and the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack remained appropriately subdued. As expected, music dominated, so the many songs showed good stereo spread and involvement.
Otherwise, this remained a low-key mix. Effects cropped up in a few circumstances such as streets and subways, and they added a bit of minor pep at times. These instances didn’t bring a lot of pizzazz to the package, though, as the track stayed appropriately laid-back much of the time.
Audio quality seemed pleasing. Dialogue came across as natural and concise, and effects showed good accuracy. As noted, those elements didn’t have much to do, but they seemed realistic. Music was warm and full as well. This was an unambitious but satisfactory soundtrack.
The Blu-ray duplicates the sole extra from the original DVD: a documentary called Inside Inside Llewyn Davis. It runs 42 minutes, 50 seconds and includes comments from writers/producers/director Ethan and Joel Coen, Mayor of MacDougal Street author Elijah Wald, executive music producer T-Bone Burnett, costume designer Mary Zophres, associate music producer Marcus Mumford, musician Chris Thile, production designer Jess Gonchor, director of photography Bruno Delbonnel and actors Oscar Isaac, John Goodman, Stark Sands, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, F. Murray Abraham and Garrett Hedlund.
The show looks at the movie’s origins and inspirations, period elements, music, cast and performances, sets and locations, costumes and visual design, and some other areas. “Inside” doesn’t bring us an exhaustive view of the production, but it covers the major topics well. We find a nice overview of the relevant areas and learn a reasonable amount along the way.
The remaining extras are new to the Criterion release, and we launch with an audio commentary from authors Robert Christgau, David Hajdu and Robert Wilentz. Christgau and Wilentz chat together, while Hajdu’s separate remarks get edited into theirs. The commentary looks at music, characters and their historical antecedents, historical elements and period details.
We learn little about the actual production, which makes sense since none of those involved worked on the film. Instead, we find a good examination of the folk scene and related historical elements. Though the track occasionally sags, it usually provides an informative look at the movie’s background.
With The First Hundred Feet, The Last Hundred Feet, we get a 40-minute, 48-second conversation between the Coen brothers and filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. They discuss influences, cinematography, and aspects of various Coen films from Blood Simple through Davis. I like the chance to hear del Toro chat with the Coens, and this becomes in informative, literate discussion.
Next comes a documentary called Another Day, Another Time. It runs one hour, 41 minutes, 11 seconds as it focuses on a 2013 folk music concert in NYC. The show features performances from Punch Brothers, Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings Machine, Colin Meloy, Avett Brothers, Rhiannon Giddens, Jack White, Oscar Isaac, the Milk Carton Kids, Lake Street Dive, Willie Watson, Joan Baez, Marcus Mumford and Patti Smith.
Interspersed with the concert performances, we get some comments from Isaac, Meloy, Giddens, Mumford, Milk Carton Kids, and musician Chris Thile. We also learn a little about the recording of the movie’s soundtrack and see aspects of those sessions.
How much one likes “Time” will depend entirely on one’s enjoyment of the music. The behind the scenes tidbits occupy little of the documentary’s running time, so we spend most of our time on the concert stage. Since folk isn’t my bag, I don’t get much from “Time”, but fans of the movie’s music will enjoy it.
Another conversation arrives via The Way of Folk. It fills 16 minutes, two seconds with a chat between the Coen brothers and executive music producer T Bone Burnett. They cover the movie’s music. We get an interesting look at the various tunes featured in the film, though it wanders off to odd tangents too much of the time.
Called Before the Flood, we get a 19-minute, four-second interview with author Elijah Wald. He worked with folksinger Dave Van Ronk on the latter’s memoirs, so Wald talks about the folk performers and atmosphere around the film’s time period. Wald offers a good recap of these subjects and creates an informative chat.
In addition to six trailers, we find a 1961 documentary short entitled Sunday. This 17-minute, 10-second piece looks at a demonstration conducted by folk singers in New York City. It creates an interesting archival piece that lets us see a little of the era’s folk scene.
Like all Criterion releases, Davis comes with a booklet. One side of this foldout piece offers a mini-poster, while the other includes an essay from critic Kent Jones. This becomes a nice addition to the set.
In terms of the Coen brothers’ filmography, expect Inside Llewyn Davis to be more in the vein of A Serious Man than The Big Lebowski. While it comes with comedic elements, it takes a more dramatic, character-based path and it does well in that regard, as it delivers a vivid – though chilly – portrait. The Blu-ray offers positive picture and audio as well as an informative collection of supplements. Davis delivers one of the Coens’ more interesting efforts, and the Criterion version represents it well.
To rate this film visit the prior review of INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS