Thursday, February 18, 2010

Movie Week Extravaganza - Film 2

O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000)
Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen

Loosely based on Homer's 'Odyssey' the movie deals with the grotesque adventures of Everett Ulysses McGill and his companions Delmar and Pete in 1930s Mississipi. Sprung from a chain gang and trying to reach Everetts home to recover the buried loot of a bank heist they are confronted by a series of strange characters.

This is a Coen Brothers film that has taken me several views to truly appreciate it. I think you need to see their films at least twice to get a full appreciation and even understanding of them. This is definitely one of their oddest and most unpredictable films they've done, and that's saying a lot.

As was the focus of a special feature on the dvd, is the look and color of the movie. It really is it's own character and truly adds a great deal to the overall look and feel of the film. You really get that sense of the dry and dusty heat of the South. You don't see many films like that anymore, it reminds of a Leone Western which were shot out in Italy back in the 60's. How they created that warm, brownish tone was pretty amazing. Nobody shot digital back in the late 90's/early 00's so it was a bit more of a laboured process. I know a lot of film makers are shooting digitally now, but I still prefer the look of it shot on film. It just looks and feels more organic and not so smooth, crisp and detailed.

Anyway, like I said it's taken me a few views to really enjoy this film. The first time I saw it I actually didn't really care for it. It's definitely an aquired taste but now that I appreciate the Coen's more than I did back in 2000, and really enjoy their sense of humor a lot more now.

The cast really is terrific, lead by George Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson. Such over the top and color characters that have so many great and hilarious moments throughout, which are often seen in the Coen's films. John Goodman (who's been in several Coen Bros. films) was so great in his role. He doesn't get a lot of screen time but he steals every scene he's in, the guy has such an amazing presence, he seriously cracked me up. For me Clooney is a great actor but I always liked him more in a Coen Bros. film, he gets to play much loonier characters and it's so much more fun to watch him. He must have a blast whenever he does a Coen Bros. film. This is probably his funniest role to date.

Like I said the film is so unpredicatable. Each step the three lead characters takes leads them into some bizarre new adventure after another. It's not a dull film, although I thought the third act does drag a bit, and was entertained throughout. I loved the dialogue as well, nobody writes like the Coen's, and I think they are two of the best screen writers out there. They write such quirky and intelligent dialogue, pretty much better than anyone else.

Not my favorite film by them but it's grown on me over the years and I appreciate it much more now. If you didn't like it that much on first viewing (like myself) give it another shot sometime.

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