Monday, June 14th, 2004
The problem the Coen Brothers have created for themselves is that they’ve set the bar for their work so high, that anything that fails to reach the same heights, even if it’s a perfectly good to very good film on its own merits, comes off feeling a little like a disappointment. Consider their last film, The Ladykillers. How could I not like a Coen comedy caper? That’s not a set-up, by the way, I really did enjoy it. Laugh-out loud in a number of places, the tale of Tom Hanks and a bumbling crew of would-be criminals trying to pull off a heist while dealing with a nosy old landlady is a perfectly solid comedy. The uncredited Eddie Murphy cameo as a super-enthusiastic church choir conductor is gravy. So why does it sound like there’s a but? Because there is a but.
But. The Ladykillers suffers from the same problem (though that is probably the wrong word) as the last Coen-credited film, Intolerable Cruelty – it’s not purely theirs. Intolerable Cruelty wasn’t originally intended to be directed by the brothers, so while perfectly enjoyable, it came off as watered down by their standards. The same goes for The Ladykillers. Maybe because it’s a remake of an old Alec Guinness film and they’re working with someone else’s source material (though I haven’t seen the original so I can’t say how faithful they stayed – I can’t imagine too much)? The film just seems slight somehow, like a toss-off. The character eccentricities, a Coen trademark, are a little forced, overplayed. It just didn’t feel like it had the full force of their inspiration behind it. If Fargo or Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? were oil paintings, then Ladykillers is a pencil and ink drawing. It’s not intended as a complaint but after two breezy comedies and one beautiful but somewhat turgid drama (The Man Who Wasn’t There), one gets a little impatient waiting for another masterpiece.
New blog alert – How Could This Movie Possibly Be Bad? gives you movie reviews with a (very) healthy dose of snark and wit. The picture captions alone are worth the price of admission. Which is free, by the way. But even if you had to pay, like, a nickel or something, it’d still be worth it.
Thanks to the wonder of bit torrent, I watched “season 3” of The Office this weekend, also known as the 2-part Christmas special. While I thought that the finale of the second series would have been a perfect way to wrap things up, the producers seemed to have felt that things deserved a firmer resolution, a happier ending. Thankfully, they do so without watering down the biting humour that made the show such a joy and the whole thing played out very naturally. And really, David Brent wasn’t really that big a prat, was he? Yeah, I guess he was. I nearly shat myself during the “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” video, though.
“At the end of the day I wonder what I’ve done. All I got is some crow’s feet. What’s the fucking prize?” In an interview with Rolling Stone last year, Beulah hinted that the end for the band was near – this coming August, to be exact. As others have pointed out, perhaps this is our punishment for taking such joy in the demises of Creed and Phish. It happens in threes, don’t it?
np – Beulah / Yoko