A quick round up of a few films that I’ve watched over the past week or so. Fargo is a Coen Brothers film and since I love pretty much all of their films it is no surprise that I also love this one. It’s been a while since I’d last seen it, but it was still really good. Not my favourite of their films but still excellent. Pirates of the Caribbean is fairly self explanatory; the sequels are a bit rubbish but this first film is good entertaining fun. If you want a blockbuster movie about pirates then this is exactly the right film for your comedy action swashbuckling needs. Finally The Princess Bride is one of my all time favourite movies. It is just a perfect film. A brilliant story, so many great characters, lots of fantastic lines, it’s just wonderful. If you’ve not seen it you really, really need to watch it.
O Brother Where Art Thou? was the first Coen Brothers film that I saw, in the cinema with my parents, when I was about 13 years old. Since then I’ve seen all of their other movies and I consider them to be high on the list of my favourite film makers, but I think this is still my favourite of their films. Maybe not the best objectively, but the one I enjoy the most. I don’t have much to say about it really, but I just wanted to mention it because I watched it recently and it made me really happy. It had been far too long since I last watched it, and seeing it again was great. I am still convinced that it is brilliant.
True Grit has finally appeared in cinemas here, after what feels like a very long wait! I am a massive fan of the Coens, so it should go without saying that I was really looking forward to this film. I haven’t seen a lot of Westerns, but I do appreciate the good ones that I have seen in the past, so I was also pretty excited to see how the Coens would take on this genre.
The main character in the film is a 14 year old girl, Mattie Ross (played by Hailee Steinfeld). She arrives in town to claim the body of her father, who was shot and killed by one of his hired hands, Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). She is determined to see his killer hanged, so she hires US Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), whom she believes has ‘true grit’. They are joined by Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), and set out on the trail of Chaney and the outlaw gang he has joined.
I could say a lot more about this film, and indeed I wrote out several long, rambling paragraphs, but then deleted them because I don’t think I can adequately sum up the film or do it justice. Oh well, there are proper film reviews for that. So I will cut to the point: everything about the film was brilliant and I loved it. The plot, the dialogue, the characters and the performances, the cinematography, the soundtrack, the balance between the grim moments and the black humour - it is all perfect. It is exactly what I’d want from a Western, and while it may be different from other Coen Brothers films, it still has all of the quality you would expect from them. I really cannot recommend it highly enough.
It seems that a lot of the people I know who are fans of the Coen Brothers are divided in their opinions on Burn After Reading, with some people being hugely disappointed with it while others loving it. On my first viewing I definitely fell into that latter category, and with this second viewing my opinion remains unchanged. I’m aware that the Coen Brothers tend to make two different kinds of movie - the more dramatic noir type of Blood Simple, Miller’s Crossing and No Country For Old Men, and the more comedic type such as Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski and O, Brother Where Art Thou? (and then of course there are those that fall between such as my personal favourite Coen Brothers film Fargo). This is obviously one of the latter types, and I can only assume that some people were therefore not fans of it as they would have preferred another film along the lines of No Country For Old Men (which I do really like, but think is a tad overrated). However, I’ve enjoyed all of the Coen Brothers movies (even lesser ones like Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers) and I consider them to be amongst my favourite directors, so I had no complaints with this film. It’s highly enjoyable, funny, and a great example of the kind of comedy that the Coen Brothers do very well, and I stand by my original opinion that it was one of the best films of last year.
When I first saw The Hudsucker Proxy a few years ago, I didn’t rank it too highly compared to other Coen Brothers films, but this time around I enjoyed it rather more. It’s much funnier than I’d remembered, and there are lots of nice visual jokes as well as the quick-witted dialogue you’d expect from a film that is highly reminiscent of 1930s screwball comedies. There is also all the satire you’d except from the Coen Brothers, and interestingly, the script was co-written by Sam Raimi. It’s an enjoyable, light movie, but nonetheless I’d still not regard it as one of the better films from the Coen Brothers, though it is worth watching if you’re a fan of their other films.