Just a week after I wrote about probably the Coen brothers film with the most mystery and depth in A Serious Man, I watched the extremely straightforward Coen brothers version of True Grit. Despite their deviation from their usual eccentricity, I loved the film. The Coen brothers like Tarantino have a knack for propelling a film with a screenplay’s dialogue, rather than the film’s action. The humorous and compelling discussion makes this film. With fantastic performances from the main three actors, I was completely swept up in the journey. This short, straightforward film seems to have found a wide appeal, and the huge box office revenue is the evidence. By the way… was anyone else disappointed that ‘LaBoeuf’ was not spelled ‘LaBeef?’ Just me?
First things first, if you haven’t seen A Serious Man, I would recommend watching it before reading this. If you don’t follow my advice, don’t get mad at me when I tell you that Bruce Willis was a ghost…I’ve said too much…
After I finished watching A Serious Man last year, I was stunned. It was late, I was tired, and although I enjoyed the film I was too confused by the ending and the lack of a resolution to form an opinion. I drove home in a daze and went to sleep not thinking about the film. Then something happened to me which I had never experienced before. I woke up in the middle of the night, and I had pieced everything together. Suddenly the ending made sense and the film had purpose. I am a secular ‘Goy’ but I still don’t know how it took me so long to see that A Serious Man was a retelling of the story of Job.
Not to age my dad or anything, but westerns are a very generational thing. Heck, the last time I really watched a western by choice was when I became obsessed with one scene in McLintock! after accidentally opening the gifted VHS copy meant for my dad on Christmas as a child. And in all honesty, if it wasn’t for last year’s ridiculously addictive video game Red Dead Redemption, the trailer for True Grit probably wouldn’t have peaked my interest as it did. Well, it may not have all the violence, horse racing and addictive Oregon Trail hunting, but True Grit still manages to reach a larger audience than just those who were alive for the John Wayne original.
The looser laws of the Wild West create the perfect setting for a classic story of good old revenge, which is exactly what we have here. The difference is this story’s point of view doesn’t come from a hardened, stiff-jawed gunslinger. As a 14-year-old Mattie Ross may not be able to stay standing after firing a pistol, but she is just as strong willed as the men she comes across, with the determination necessary to hunt down the man who guiltlessly gunned down her father. [Read more...]
The latest from the Coen Bros., True Grit, is their least odd and most straightforward film to date but there is still plenty of weirdness, laughs, and amazing performances that we expect from these guys in this great film.
The film is not a remake of the 1969 John Wayne film of the same name but is instead a re-adaptation of the Charles Portis source novel from 1968. The Coen’s wanted to do this to put the point of view back through Mattie’s eyes and re-instill some of the humor in the novel. The result is fantastic as the film is surprisingly (though not really, it is a Coen Bros. movie after all) hilarious; especially considering the tone of the TV spots I have seen. The film also delivers on the tone it is selling though and features heart pumping moments and plenty of drama.
The story follows the fore mentioned Mattie as she recruits a local U.S. Marshal, Rooster Cogburn, to hunt down and capture the man who killed her father in cold blood. [Read more...]
The Coen brothers annual entry, A Serious Man, is their oddest film since Barton Fink and for all the thought provoking twists and turns that may befuddle, it remains a funny and often hilariously sad portrait of a man trying to find himself.
Setting you up for something different from the get go, we dive into a scene between a European Jewish wife and her husband, presumably sometime one to two hundred years before the films setting of 1967, as the bicker over a chance encounter the husband had with a man that has been presumed dead for sometime by the wife. Jump ahead to our main characters, Larry Gopnik and Danny Gopnik, inter-cutting between a pair of events that fill come full circle and not without consequence. The film from here follows Larry primarily with diversions into Danny’s life in the final days leading up to his bar mitzvah. What entails though is a strange, random, yet lightly intertwined series of events filled with black humor and many an existential consequence.
The direction and writing from the Coen brothers is as sharp as ever as this very different film would clearly come undone in less skillful hands. [Read more...]
The Coen Bros. latest is an exercise in pitch black humor and absurdity that, after a bit of adjustment, is a solid comedy with some great work by the actors involved.
Osborne Cox (John Malkovich) is a recently demoted CIA agent who decides quit and writes his memoirs instead. His wife, Katie (Tilda Swinton), is cheating on him with Harry (George Clooney), who is a Treasury agent that trolls the internet dating world for quick sex between, “getting a run in.” In Katie’s preparation to file for divorce, she makes a copy of Osborne’s files on his computer that in one way or another ends up in the hands of Hardbodies employees Linda (Frances McDormand) and Chad (Brad Pitt). Linda is looking for love, and hopes to increase her chances with some desired plastic surgery, while Chad is a dimwitted trainer who sees a potential for some money from this, “secret CIA shit,” that the two have stumbled upon. A large tangled web of intrigue (?) begins and a whole lot of people get themselves into a mess of trouble over the loss of this CD of Osborne’s. [Read more...]
The Coen Bros. return after a three year hiatus with a return to their crime/thriller roots that made them famous in the first place. An adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, it is one part reflection on our disintegrating society and one part cat and mouse chase thriller, with the cat and mouse part working beautifully. [Read more...]