‘Llewyn Davis,’ ‘Furnace’ among new DVD and Blu-ray releases

By Rich Heldenfels
Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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Oscar Isaac and Justin Timberlake in Joel and Ethan Coens Inside Llewyn Davis. (Alison Rosa/Long Strange Trip)

Writing-directing brothers Joel and Ethan Coen have won acclaim and awards for such fine films as Fargo and No Country for Old Men. Their most recent effort, Inside Llewyn Davis, was largely missed by moviegoers as it was largely confined to the art-house circuit — but you have a chance to see it Tuesday when it comes to DVD and Blu-ray.

Coming from Sony ($30.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray; also on digital), the film follows its title character — played by Oscar Isaac — as he makes a last-ditch effort to salvage his musical career in the early ’60s folk scene in New York City. It is not a good time for Davis. Formerly half of a duo, he has not done well as a solo act. He’s broke. He sleeps on other people’s couches. He’s a purist even as other folkies are getting more commercial. He sleeps around, including with the wife of a friend. He is talented — as is clear when the Coens’ linger over a full-length song by Davis — but his talent is not going to make him a success. Like many Coen characters, he is just too flawed to be what he dreams of.

It’s a harsh, though often funny movie, enhanced not only by Isaac but a supporting cast including John Goodman, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake. And it takes place in a grubby world with none of the romantic gloss sometimes put on the era.

The extra on DVD and Blu-ray is a 40-minute making-of documentary. Sony is also releasing, as a digital download only, Another Day/Another Time: Celebrating the Music of “Inside Llewyn Davis.” A concert highlighting songs from the film and other period music, it includes Isaac with Jack White, Marcus Mumford, Joan Baez, Patti Smith, the Avett Brothers and others.

Also of note on Tuesday is Out of the Furnace (Fox, $22.98 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray/digital combo; also a digital download). Directed and co-written by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart), it’s a bleak tale of dead-end lives and the conflict between a war veteran (Christian Bale) and a terrifying crime boss (Woody Harrelson). It’s a movie with a lot of obvious notes — there’s at least one character you almost immediately know will come to a bad end — but the performances by Bale and especially Harrelson are excellent. Acting fans may want to contrast this with Bale at work in American Hustle, which comes to DVD and Blu-ray on March 18.

Extras on Out of the Furnace include a conversation with Cooper, a piece on the film’s music, and the stars talking about what inspired them to become actors.

Now that the Academy Awards have come and gone, you may want to check out the winners, and Blu-ray and DVD are offering you plenty of chances. 12 Years a Slave — winner of best picture, best supporting actress and adapted screenplay prizes — is available now. So is Gravity (best director, cinematography and technical awards); it is also on 3-D Blu-ray. Best actor Matthew McConaughey’s Dallas Buyers Club — also featuring best supporting actor Jared Leto — is out, as is best actress Cate Blanchett’s turn in Blue Jasmine.

Documentary winner 20 Feet From Stardom is also available. Frozen, winner of best animated feature and best song, arrives on March 18.

Foreign-language film winner The Great Beauty will be out on March 25, although you can see it now on Amazon Instant Video and iTunes.

Down video road: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues will be on Blu-ray on April 1 in a combo pack with three different formats: the original theatrical cut, an unrated version and the current “super-sized” re-edit with new jokes. A standard DVD that same date will have the theatrical version. And you can get either the theatrical version or the unrated cut as a digital download on Tuesday.

August: Osage County comes to DVD and Blu-ray on April 8, but will be a digital download as of March 28. Longmire: The Complete Second Season comes to DVD on May 13.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com.

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