Bubby wrote:I enjoyed it. It felt pretty faithful to the Coen's brand, especially considering they weren't directing it.
Well they are
the executive producers, so you might think they'd have some influence.
Freeman is indeed an odd choice for the main role, but by the end i was won over by his performance. The bit with him repeatedly battering his wife while repeating "oh jeez!"..."oh gosh darn!" was a brutal scene that was very well played out.
That's the Jerry Lundegaard character in the film, all right -- a polite, bland milquetoast who also happens to be a compulsively lying sociopath. He may not have beaten his wife in the movie (or that we've seen), but he certainly arranged for her kidnapping by some pretty gruesome characters (all the while trying to con her father into a scammy real estate deal).
William H. Macy played that role absolutely to a T. I'm not familiar with Martin Freeman.
Mr Technique wrote:
Bubby wrote:BBT's role is kind of a typical character you'd find in many Coen movies, but he was terrific in this.
He's almost like a more human Anton Chigurh. Kind of an agent of chaos but with a sense of humor, and he obviously delights in human misery.
Woah, if he's even a tenth as evil as Javier Bardem's character in No Country For Old Men,
that's some seriously dark shit. It's hard to imagine ol' Billy Bob with a sadistic streak, but I'm sure he can pull it off. He pulled off internally tortured brilliantly in The Man Who Wasn't There.
The more you talk about this show, guys, the more I'm convinced I need to see it.
Haven't seen Inside Llewyn Davis yet, but I've liked most of their other films and as good as Lebowski is it's probably between Barton Fink and Millers Crossing for me.
I'm beginning to think the upper ceiling on Lebowski-love is a Brit thing. Kermode feels similarly; he went to see it again after his blog posters pestered him about it, liking it more but still thinking it's a dog's dinner. For me, the characters really ring true, they're more than farcical types, especially John Goodman's. I worked with an extremely self-important Vietnam vet in the 90s. And of course, Walter Sobchak has all the best lines.
Don't get me started, or I'll begin rattling off Lebowski quotes like a maniac fan of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
That said, I'd agree with you that I'd rank Barton Fink
higher; in fact I still think that's their masterpiece. I tend to like their dark farces the best, although I thoroughly enjoyed both Miller's Crossing
and Blood Simple.
I love the scene in MC
where Albert Finney's posh crime lord slides off the bed into his slippers (neatly placed on the floor) and grabs his tommygun to take care o' bizniz like the Good Ol' Days while Danny Boy
is blasting away on the gramophone.
My least favorite from the bros is their hugely acclaimed remake of True Grit.
I was hoping for a revisionist Western, instead we got a hyperrealist straightforward retelling, where, in the name of historical verisimilitude, ol' Rooster gets to be much more gratuitously horrible to the Native Americans than John Wayne ever had a prayer of getting away with. And so that leaves us with yet another "classic" revenge tale steeped in eye-for-an-eye biblical morality. Great performances (especially the two females of Mattie Ross), stunning cinematography. Meh.
What does everyone think of the Hudsucker Proxy? I tend to consider that their most underrated film, although reading some of the reviews it seems it was unfairly panned mostly due to being marketed as a more 'family oriented' comedy instead of a quirky homage to those 1940's screwball movies which is what it was.
I adore Hudsucker,
but then again, I'm the kind of Coen maniac who loves The Ladykillers
(which, considering the provenance of the original, might be sacrilegious for a Brit) and (especially) Burn After Reading
even more. I know you'll say how much of the mail room set design owes to Brazil
and I'd agree, and I also agree that their intent, as major cineastes, was to homage Howard Hawks, Rosalind Russell, Frank Capra and all those screwball comedies.
The "problem" began with their breakout film Raising Arizona
(the first bros movie I saw which almost had me pissing myself laughing in the cinema or, as we Yanks say, movie theater). It was a big hit but took stick from some critics who said the Coens were more interested in educated in-jokes (like the quote from Dr Strangelove
in men's room graffiti) and being kooky than in creating believable characters. That became the "rap" on the Coens -- great visual stylists, wildly sardonic sense of humor, trouble with genuinely human interaction. Well, that never put me
off very much, because it's basically the same gripe I've heard for decades against my favorite novelist, Thomas Pynchon. So when Hudsucker
came out, these critics, who knew damn well the film was a homage to prewar screwball, also know that screwball is the precursor to rom com, and the conventional wisdom has it that rom com only works if you can "believe in" the characters. Tim Robbins and Jennifer Jason Leigh were judged as too silly.
Well ... that's sort of the point,
innit. The love story isn't going to work as such because it's based on templates we all know and the denouement is transparent from the first moment they meet. The joy in it is all very "postmodern" and ironical -- catching the references, giggling at the archly ridiculous dialogue. And, of course, reveling in the pure craftsmanship of the design and cinematography. After seeing it three or four times, I've sort of grown fond of those characters, something I haven't managed yet to do for George Clooney and Catherine Beta Blocker (as Kermode calls Catherine Zeta-Jones) in Intolerable Cruelty,
their second attempt at a screwball homage and perhaps my second-least favorite bros film, although there are some murderously funny moments in it. But the characters start out very hostile and duplicitous to each other and you never quite believe it when they let their guard down.
Goodness, I need to balance this by raving about The Ladykillers
and Burn After Reading,
with sidebar essays on The Man Who Wasn't There
and A Serious Man.
And doubtless I shall ...