‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ Star Oscar Isaac Compares Coens to Chekhov at AFI Fest Closing

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After a week of musicals and dramas, the AFI Fest ended with a bit of both when the Institute closed its annual celebration with a screening of Joel and Ethan Coen’s folk music-tinged drama, “Inside Llewyn Davis,” Nov. 14 at Hollywood’s TCL Chinese.

“I love this movie theater… if you like understatement,” joked Joel Coen during his opening remarks at one of the most famous, opulent movie houses in the world.

The film is generating Oscar buzz, particularly for its lead, Oscar Isaac. How does he feel about his bosses’ new dramatic work?

“[The Coens] always mix the absurd and the desperate; you can spot their tone from space,” he says. “Chekhov has a very similar thing, where you’ve got people who are not wholly good in really desperate situations and there’s this despair and absurdity happening constantly … it’s so brilliant because they immediately undercut any seriousness this guy has by having to schlep around a cat.”

“Llewyn Davis” also reunites the Coen brothers with frequent collaborators like T Bone Burnett, who produced the music for this film, and actor John Goodman.

“I think we should do a rodeo film next; I need to get on a horse like a rodeo clown,” laughs Goodman, who attributes this long-standing relationship to “humor” and says “I love their writing; I think they’re so smart. It makes me feel smart.”

This film also marked the closing of a week of movie previews, parties, premieres and probably a lot of stress for the staff at the American Film Institute – particularly for AFI Fest Director, Jacqueline Lyanga.

“I think what is in order first is a nice, relaxing vacation in Palm Springs,” Lyanga says. “I’ll be heading out to the desert.”

“Inside Llewyn Davis” opens in limited release on December 6.

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