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February 06, 2001

Movie Note

I went to "NOVA" Saturday, and afterwards, Alan, John and I went to see O Brother, Where Art Thou?. As with most Coen brothers movies, it was creative, took a few risks, aped a few other movies and stories (based on the Oddysey, after all), and was generally fun. It wasn't nearly as weird as Raising Arizona, Fargo or The Big Lebowski, but definitely indulged in the occasional surreal segment.

George Clooney was surprisingly good as Ulysses Everett McGill, a convict leading a pair of fellow losers on a run through depression-era Mississippi. He alternates between a normal conversational tone and a bouncy banter reminiscent of Clark Gable astride the shoulders of Cary Grant. I've decided that this was a deliberate dichotomy. When talking normally, he's usually being himself, talking to no audience or the audience who can't be fooled. When bantering, he's using his gift of gab to full effect.

Tim Blake Nelson and John Turturro are both excellent partners in crime, and the movie is enhanced by the appearances of John Goodman and Holly Hunter (whose merest smile still makes my heart race).

Maybe the biggest star of this movie, however, is the music. T-Bone Burnett is credited with the music, though maybe that should be the musical choices, since the movie is salted with varied numbers from religious favorites to bluegrass and blues. Being a lover of wide varieties of music myself, I was enthralled.

Some reviewers are panning this movie, or damning it with faint praise, and I suppose I can see their point. It isn't the best movie the Coen brothers have done by most measures. But still, most any Coen brothers movie is better than any ten movies out at the time of it's release. When we were leaving the theater, we heard some Gen-Y kids coming out of the same show talking. One said, "well, I'm allowed to choose one bad movie, aren't I?" Alan and John agreed that we'd seen a very different movie from those kids.

Posted by dpwakefield at February 6, 2001 02:22 PM