Monday, August 3, 2009

Affinity #15


Greg said...

My banner and your post - we're in synch but not like the crappy teeny bopper band.

bill r. said...

I think you and I are very much like that band.

And why does The Man Who Wasn't There feel a little bit like an anomaly in the Coens' career? I really like the film, and I know a lot of other people do, too, but no one ever talks about it anymore.

Greg said...

I don't know because I think it's brilliant and I like what Sarris said about Thornton's performance, that it was too subtle and brilliant to be besmirched by the vulgarity of an Oscar. If you look at the cream of the crop critics on RT the only reason it 73 or 75 percent is because six buffoons, one from the Detroit Daily News, that tool from Variety, the Boston Globe guy and a couple of other losers thought it was too slow. Yeah, whatever. I think RT should make the cream of the crop like 4 or 5 critics, seriously.

Anyway, I think it's yet another great work by them.

bill r. said...

To be honest, when I first saw it, I wasn't sure what I thought. Tone is such a dicey thing with the Coens, and I initially thought they were off their game in that area. And I still think that, to a degree, but I've seen it a couple more times since it came out, and I've really warmed to it.

It's a really bizarre movie, even by the Coens standards, but it looks beautiful, the performances are outstanding, and the way it puts me off-kilter when I watch it is really intriguing (to me personally, obviously). Also, the murder sequence -- from the point Ed leaves his home, to when he comes back -- with the Beethoven piece and, unless I'm much mistaken, the visual quote from Throne of Blood, is one of the best things they've ever put together.

Krauthammer said...

I can definitely get behind the Coen train. Unfortunately, The Man Who Wasn't There is one of the ones I haven't seen so I can't comment. Although I will preemptively say that it is awesome and anyone who doesn't like it is stupid and probably eats paste.

Greg said...

Krauthammer, I was just about to say that.

The absurdity of the movie with its existentialist angst dripping from every frame combined with Thornton's brilliantly deadpan narration especially when describing extraordinary events just won me over.

Basically, any movie that deals with the random nature of existence in opposition to conscious choice (like this or say, Crimes and Misdemeanors) and doesn't screw it up usually wins me over. And they didn't screw it up.

bill r. said...

Krauthammer, I can't believe you haven't seen it yet. You had better do so.

Greg, the film is so in line with the crime novels of Jim Thompson and James M. Cain (and David Goodis and Charles Willeford, for that matter), that I was, and am, largely on board with it. But I think the humor is more pitch black than in any of their other films, in a subtle and almost disorienting way, that I'm not always sure I like (I'm thinking of Ed's line in reaction to a particular piece of news delivered to him in a bar. The line got a laugh in the theater, and I believe it was meant to, but I've always had a hard time digging out what's so funny about it). Also, the UFO motif...I once had an explanation for that, but I was drunk at the time, and have since forgotten it.

Anyway. It's a unique film, and would possibly make a great TOERIFC choice.

Anonymous said...

Some amazing performances in the film, too. Polito is great. And Tony Shaloub's turn convinced me that he was one of the very greatest living actors. And Thornton is at his most Bogart-esque here—"Bad Santa" is his second-most Bogart-esque.

Greg said...

I agree, Shaloub is great and I loved him in Barton Fink too.

As to the UFOs, I don't know. I don't look for meaning in every piece of it. I beieve it simply speaks to the paranoia of the day (commies getting the bomb also mentioned), perhaps to signal that they chose the year, 1949, not randomly at all but as a marker, signalling the end of the great generations achievement (surviving the Great Depression, defeating Fascism) and ushering in a new age of spookems for Red Scare America.

bill r. said...

Glenn, Miller's Crossing is a favorite film of not only myself, but each of my six brothers as well, and while I was up there this past week, we all watched it again (it fit into the general Irish theme of the whole rough period). And Polito is goddamn amazing in that film. One of the great performances of the 90s, and no foolin'.

And Greg, regarding the UFOs, I don't know that I had an explanation for its meaning so much as an explanation for its existence in the film. I can very nearly remember it, too, but it's not coming.

Fox said...

Have you seen the trailer for A Serious Man yet? Wow.

bill r. said...

Fox, yes I did. That thing looks nuts. I don't even know what it's going to be like.

I'm pretty psyched for it.

Krauthammer said...

I just saw it and yeah. Best movie of the year?

Looking over that and my previous comment makes me think that I have a Coen hyperbole problem.

bill r. said...

Maybe you do, Krauthammer, but in my experience, a new Coen brothers film does tend (not always, but almost) to be right at, or near, the top in any given year.

Ryan Kelly said...

We seem to share some affinities, Bill!

Glad to see love for The Man Who Wasn't There, a wonderful movie. Not that I'm surprised, because it's well-liked amongst those who have seen it.

But my personal favorite of theirs this decade (which has a lot of stellar output) is O Brother, Where Art Thou?. That one is hardly mentioned, maybe because it was kinda-sorta popular? What an amazing movie.

My all time favorite of theirs is Blood Simple, though. I don't know if I ever laughed so hard at a movie as the first time I watched that when "The Same Old Song" started to play and the end credits rolled.

I'm not sure what to think of A Serious Man, judging from that trailer. I liked Burn After Reading the first time I saw it, but didn't really enjoy it when I caught up with it again on DVD. I have such a fondness for them, though, that I would never stay away.

Krauthammer said...

I haven't caught up with Burn After Reading since seeing it in the theaters, but I found it sort of brilliant, which surprised me because I was expecting something slighter for some reason.

As for O Brother, Where Art Thou?, I remember Owen Gleiberman saying that it was the worst of the year, which is kinda incomprehensible.

bill r. said...

O Brother... is a great movie, no question, one of their strangest, funniest, and most moving film.

Gleiberman has it in for the Coens, always has. He shit all over Barton Fink, too. What I'm trying to say is that Owen Gleiberman is a moron.

I also think Burn After Reading is brilliant, and, like you, Krauthammer, I was expecting something fluffier.

Ryan Kelly said...

Maybe it's because I was taken in by Burn After Reading's lack of flufiness that I was blinded to what I didn't care for about it. It's kind of on the... nihilistic side. I think there is a lot to like about it but at the same time I find something about it kind of off putting.

Glad O Brother is getting love. And yes GLIBerman is clueless, always has been and always will be.

Krauthammer said...

It's kind of on the... nihilistic side

Well yeah, I don't think that anyone's going to argue with you about that. I found it amusing that they followed a brutal crime drama which was decried in some corners as "nihilist" with something ffar more explicit under the guise of a fluffy comedy. There's a real sadness and anger to the whole thing though, as I've said, I think it's a magnificent movie.

My dad was Owen Gleiberman's boss for a while and I just asked him what he was like. The answer? "Kind of a jerk. He tried to date your aunt and when she said no he stalked her a little bit. That creeped her out."

Owen Gleiberman stalked my aunt.

bill r. said...

Yeah, Ryan, the Coens have never been strangers to "nihilism", although I'm not sure that's quite the word to describe what they're doing in Burn, No Country, etc.

And Krauthammer, that Gleiberman story is hilarious. But also, you and your aunt should be flattered.