In this black-and-white film noir by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (True Grit, No Country for Old Men), Billy Bob Thornton stars as Ed Crane, an aimless barber who’s dissatisfied with his life in a small northern California town in the summer of 1949. His wife’s (Frances McDormand) infidelity presents Crane with an opportunity for blackmail that he thinks will turn his life around … but his scheme lays bare even darker secrets that eventually lead to murder. James Gandolfini co-stars.
Rating: 8 out of 10
The Coen Brothers float from genre to genre the way that David Bowie floats from music style to music style. They decide on a script, make the film, and tell a great story. There really is no weak part to their filmmaking. They weave a great tale, always get first rate performances from the actors, and have a keen visual eye for interesting camera angles and visual trickery to illicit an emotional response.I think when all is said and done; they are in the top 5 of American filmmakers ever.
“The Man Who Wasn’t There” is their take on film noir and they do a terrific job. It’s not perfect; “Fargo” and “No Country for Old Men” were perfect. But for film noir, it’s great. A lot has to be said for the film’s editing. This is a film that relies a lot on silence. The main character (played note perfect by Billy Bob Thornton) is a man of few words but deep thought. His narration accompanies the film wonderfully and fills in the blank spaces. Much of the dialogue is one way. A character talks to Billy Bob and he just nods. His quiet demeanor leaves an aura of unpredictability to his character that keeps the film moving. You never know what’s bubbling underneath the surface. Is it rage? Anger? Fear? Sadness? Happiness? We don’t always know and it leaves a lot to our imagination.There’s also first rate work here by the entire cast. James Gandolfini, Frances McDormand, Michael Badalucco, and particularly Tony Shalhoub as the eccentric and fast-talking lawyer Freddy Riedenschneider are awesome all around.
The problem with the film is the few loopholes in the story that made little sense to me. If Billy Bob’s character was trying to move on from his wife and create his own life, why did he pay through the nose for a top flight lawyer? It seemed closed and shut that he eliminated two problems at the same time: his wife and her adulterous lover. Also, for a guy who seems to think out every deal, he couldn’t see that the man starting the dry cleaning business was a scam? The last reel of the film is a disappointment because the setup was so good. But all in all, I highly recommend it, particularly if you love old black and white film noir.
Puss in Boots
Voiced by Antonio Banderas, the dauntless feline of legend goes on an animated adventure to purloin a priceless golden-egg-laying goose. To help him on his mission, Puss brings along his friends Humpty Dumpty and the super-stealthy Kitty Softpaws.
Rating: 9 out of 10
This is by far smarter, funnier, more clever, witty, and fun than any of the Shrek films. Each of its unneeded sequels got dumber and dumber, which is why I ignored this spin-off completely. That was a huge mistake.
There were moments where I genuinely laughed out out loud. I delighted in the equisite detail of the animation and the backgrounds that drip with color in a Spanish-inspired fairy tale world. And I adored the theft of classic cowboy and Spanish films that no doubt inspired director Chris Miller (Shrek the Third). There is so much love poured into this film, and it’s obvious in all the detail that layers this movie over and over again.
And the performances are great, from the self-afacing Antonio Benderas, who is lampooning himself in the title role, to Salma Hayek, Zach Galifanakis and Billy Bob Thornton. It’s an awesome cast with a compelling storyline wrapped in a wonderfully crafted film. It’s one of the best animated films I’ve seen in years.
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