A lucky group will get to see the one-time-only Town Hall concert in New York on September 29, mounted by the Coen brothers’ music supervisor T-Bone Burnett, called “Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of ‘Inside Llewyn Davis.'”
Luckily for the rest of us who can’t be there, Showtime has just acquired exclusive television rights to film and air the benefit concert inspired by “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which has been a fest circuit hit from Cannes, where it won the Grand Prix, to Telluride, where the Coen brothers and Burnett shared a memorable tribute.
Set in the ’60’s Greenwich Village folk music scene, the film is produced by writer-directors Joel and Ethan Coen, the film’s executive music producer Burnett and producer Scott Rudin. The concert reunites the trio behind “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and the concert events launched in conjunction with that film. This concert, held the day after the film’s September 28 unveiling at the New York Film Festival, will feature live performances of the film’s music, as well as songs from the early 1960s that inspired the film.
A portion of the proceeds from the concert will benefit the National Recording Preservation Foundation. Showtime will air the concert nationally on Friday, December 13th at 9 PM ET/PT. “Inside Llewyn Davis” marks the Coen Brothers’ fourth collaboration with multiple-Grammy and Oscar-winning music producer Burnett who produces with associate music producer Marcus Mumford the movie as well as the Nonesuch Records soundtrack due out on Nonesuch Records on Tuesday, November 12, 2013. The album features 12 new recordings created especially for the film and soundtrack as well as a never-before-released recording of Bob Dylan performing his song “Farewell,” which was originally recorded during the sessions for his album “The Times They Are A-Changin'” and is available exclusively on this soundtrack.
Artists performing at the concert include The Avett Brothers, Joan Baez, Rhiannon Giddens of Carolina Chocolate Drops, Lake Street Dive, Colin Meloy of The Decemberists, The Milk Carton Kids, Keb’ Mo’, Marcus Mumford, Bob Neuwirth, Conor Oberst, Punch Brothers, Dave Rawlings Machine, The Secret Sisters, Patti Smith, Gillian Welch, Willie Watson, and Jack White. Stars of the film will also perform at the event, including Oscar Isaac (who plays the title role in the film), Carey Mulligan, Adam Driver, Stark Sands and John Goodman. In addition to extensive concert footage, the documentary will feature behind-the-scenes material from the feature film, including rehearsals, and interviews with the filmmakers and cast.
“Inside Llewyn Davis” is as pure as the driven snow, much like the title character played by gifted actor/musician Oscar Isaac (who played supporting roles in “Sucker Punch” and “Drive” as Carey Mulligan’s husband). Which is to say that the movie is about an artist who can’t be anything but himself.
Nothing is going Davis’s way. He had a fling with a singer (Mulligan) who now loathes him and wants to get rid of his baby. He shuts the locked door to a friend’s apartment just as their orange cat bolts down the hall, and he has to carry the creature around without losing it again. He seems better able to care for the cat than he does himself–the Coens recognize that the cat makes him a tad more likable than he would be otherwise.
Loosely inspired by New York-born Dave Von Ronk’s memoir about his life in the Village in the early 60s, the big cheese before the folk movement took off with Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, “Inside Llewyn Davis” is serious Coens, often funny, but much like the dark “Barton Fink” (starring John Turturro), it’s about the serious artist who can’t compromise to make art and commerce meet half-way. For that reason I suspect that artists of all persuasions will identify with Davis, and feel his pain. The climactic scene where he plays a song for a club/promoter (F. Murray Abraham) says it all.
The Coens create composites of different characters such as Ramblin Jack Davis (Adam Driver). The songs full of sadness and loss carry the movie’s sweetness and emotion. But they are folk songs, and thus the movie is not as rollicking and accessible as the Coens’ most notable musical collaboration with musical supervisor Burnett, “O Brother Where Art Thou?,” a breezy comedy packed with corn-pone humor and catchy southern roots music that entertained a crossover audience, boosted by a sleeper Grammy-winning score.
Funded by StudioCanal, “Inside Llewyn Davis” was picked up by CBS Films ahead of its Cannes premiere, partly due to co-president and veteran Oscar campaigner Terry Press’s strong relationship with producer Scott Rudin (“A Social Network”). CBS Films will open the film in the U.S. on December 6.
“Inside Llewyn Davis” played well at Telluride but was overshadowed by a roster of shiny new Oscar contenders, from Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” and Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” to Denis Villeneuve’s “Prisoners.” While the Coens skipped Toronto, “Davis” should play well on their home turf with New York Film Festival crowds and critics.