Full of the Coen Brothers’ usual exuberant joie de cinema, and a helluva lot of fun, but too scattershot to ever settle on saying the things it has to say.
It’s about branding, really: what product brands feel similar to certain movies and directors?
There are lots of actors whom I’d love to see work with the Coens, to see how their unique and hugely entertaining talents could be amplified by the brothers’ idiosyncratic perspective — James Franco, Amy Adams, Timothy Olyphant, Colin Firth, Steve Coogan, Maria Bello, and on and on — none of them really need that boost the Coens could give them. Unlike my top five candidates for Coen-ification…
There’s a sense of something great just beyond the grasp of the Coen Brothers, something that they may not even be aware of, hanging over this elegant yet somehow vaguely unfinished film.
“It’s a fool that looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart.”
Here’s the thing about Joel and Ethan Coen: they can make anything, absolutely anything, intensely profound and deeply weird — and weirdly deep — and cruelly magnificent all at the same time.
Are you up for a little larceny that may be dangerous but is too much fun to pass up? Are you up for a smart dumb movie, the kind of delicious popcorn flick you get when some of the most talented and most watchable people in the biz let their hair down? Cuz this ain’t a movie that’s been fortified with vitamins and minerals or morals or anything good for you — this is pure cinematic junk food of the highest, tastiest order.
I guess it’s officially tradition now: I can’t narrow the best films of the year down to only 10, so, like Nigel Tufnel’s amp, this one again goes to 11. Film critics and fans alike have been heard to complain that 2000 was an awful year for film, but I’m not sure that that is … more…
So what the Coens did with O Brother, Where Art Thou? is this: They transported Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey to this filmic otherworld of theirs, turning what is perhaps the original on-the-road story into a Depression-era fantasia that wants more for you to recognize the clever fun they’re having with filmmaking conventions of the 1930s than whether you know the least thing about ancient literature.