‘There’s nothing more foolish than a man chasing his hat,” says a character in the Coen brothers’ 1990 movie Miller’s Crossing. If Inside Llewyn Davis, the latest from the filmmaking siblings, is any indication, Joel and Ethan Coen have apparently changed their opinions on the subject: There’s actually nothing more foolish than a man chasing his cat.
The brothers’ affectionate look back at the early sixties Greenwich Village folk scene comes out on DVD today, and we’re presenting an extended — and exclusive — clip of the film right here. The scene starts out with Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac, in a role that Conor Oberst auditioned for), a down-and-out folksinger couch-surfing his way around New York, being woken up by a feline roommate. After the cat bolts out an open door, Llewyn chases down his friend’s pet and takes the kitty on the subway before dropping it off a friend’s house. The musician then hits up his cranky manager for money and, finally, gets an earful from an enraged fellow troubadour played by Carey Mulligan.
After premiering at Cannes and playing the New York film festival last year, the Coen brothers’ musical comedy-drama opened in limited release in December 2013 and made a number of critics’ year-end Top 10 lists. It quickly sparked a revival of the interest in the era’s folk scene that spawned the likes of Bob Dylan and Dave Von Ronk — particularly the latter, who provided a loose inspiration for Davis — as well as a T-Bone Burnett-produced soundtrack of folk standards featuring Marcus Mumford of Mumford and Sons, Justin Timberlake and Punch Brothers’ singer Chris Thile. (A Julliard-trained actor and musician, Isaac himself sings the standard “Dink’s Song (Fare Thee Well)” in the clip above, in an arrangement credited to Dylan.) Several of the musicians on the album also played an all-star celebratory concert in honor of the film’s last winter, which was captured in the documentary “Another Day, Another Time.”