Monday, April 17, 2006

Guest Oeuvres

A new feature I'm going to stick in the sidebar: complete (or nearly complete) rated oeuvres of major filmmakers. I'll rotate them every week or so, and I'm starting with the Coen Bros. This is to prompt discussion, mainly, so do stick agreements/disagreements/your own lists/whatever in the comments sections...


Kamikaze Camel said...

Only a D for O Brother?

I've only seen four of those? Crikies.

Nick Davis said...

I love this new idea. In the current case, we diverge most on The Big Lebowski, which I've tried twice and just don't get. I admire your severity with O Brother... as a technical achievement, I do sort of marvel at it (even more than usual with the Coens, or should I say with Deakins), but I did find it unpleasant to sit through, and I think my regard might well plummet to this level if I ever see it again. Though, probably not beneath the level of The Ladykillers.

tim r said...

"Oh... yes, Mr Lebowski." When was your last attempt? I really think it's the most incredible grower — I was remarkably indifferent the first time, given that it's now one of my favourite comedies ever. And I'm amazed to find myself liking it more and more as the years go by, given that on paper it ought to be one of their most annoying movies.

Speaking of which, I'll take The Ladykillers' inept misanthropy by a whisker over O Brother's charmless charm offensive, and I do think Hanks is at least having a go, however overwrought, at an original comic turn rather than just gurning in a vapid brilliantined manner at the screen. (You know who you are, George.) I'm extra-harsh on O Brother because it was the first time I realised what empty filmmakers they can be, and the only things really saving the movie from a full-blown Owen Gleiberman F, for me, are the photography, "Soggy Bottom Boys", and a single shot of Charles Durning dancing.

Nick Davis said...

Not even the way Holly Hunter chirps out the word "bonafide"? ;)

Sadly, I just tried Lebowski last summer, after an eight-year hiatus that I thought would improve matters. I still laughed at the same parts (Bridges' whole performance, and anything with Huddleston, Moore, or the ferret). Actually, it doesn't have a bad laugh ratio for me, but I still do find the whole structure of the thing empty to the point of agitating. After the first half-hour or so, even when I'm enjoying it, I want it to be over soon.

tim r said...

Oh well, diff'rent strokes. I do consider the Dude's quest for his rug to be a lot more touching and, oddly, profound than any amount of baby business in Raising Arizona, and the movie is a much better, and sweeter, spin on Chandler than The Man Who Wasn't There is on James M Cain, I think. But all this is by way of justification for the simple fact that it makes me laugh my arse off, all the way through, every time. Just the thought of Goodman saying "Donnie, you're out of your element!" has me creasing up, and as for Philip Seymour Hoffman... it's just bliss.

Goran said...

Ooh I'm a big fan of this feature, I hope it keeps going.

I'm also a big fan of the Coens, but I'm half-dreading their next picture

Blood Simple I need to see again, I was 14 when I saw it last and the tape quality of the video was feral. I still liked it, but I only three-and-a-half stars liked it.

I liked Raising Arizona about as much as you did. I laughed and I enjoyed but I also forgot straight away. I think it's one of the Coens' empty pictures, but it's probably the best one of those.

Miller's Crossing is another one I need to see again, mostly because I remember I loved it better than I remember why. The only two reasons that come to mind straight away are that forest sequence with the life-begging and Albert Finney (maybe the most underrated living legend).

Barton Fink was another three-and-a-half - solid and intriguing but the hysteria of the third act didn't gel for me.

I adore The Hudsucker Proxy and consider it their most underrated movie. Maybe their funniest too. Major kudos for the set design, Paul Newman and Jennifer Jason Leigh (I know it's a bit monotone but it's my favourite performance of hers).

Fargo is a masterpiece for the way they showcase the snow alone. (Also any movie set in a small town gets me excited automatically.)

Big Lebowski I need to see again. The first time it struck me as funny but even more forgettable than Raising Arizona (I somehow didn't even realise it's a Coens movie).

O Brother I was initially indifferent to - but when I saw it again I recognised it for the warm, witty, charming classic that it is. It's so evocative of the period and of Preston Sturges. I'm appalled at that D!

I also had to see The Man Who Wasn't There for the second time before I grew truly attached to it. Initially I approached it purely as a modern version of a late 40s Robert Mitchum picture and it didn't work for me as well. I think the homage context is misleading. If you approach it as just another Coens picture that happens to be black-and-white, it's far more impressive.

Intolerable Cruelty is the only Coens picture to grow down in my estimation after a second viewing. It's completely likable but there aren't enough one-liners and the characters aren't as well-drawn as in the best of the screwball comedies.

I don't wanna talk about The Ladykillers.

tim r said...

Loving these comments so much I may rotate this twice a week. Later today, then: George A Romero (though there will be quite a few gaps, which I'd particularly like to hear about from anyone who's seen them). I take your point about The Man Who Wasn't There, Goran, which I did see twice and like a fair bit, though I still think there are things that work a lot better in the movie than others, and Tony Shalhoub's big courtroom scene ("For he is modern man!"), even if I can't fault his acting, is a particularly snide example of their perceived superiority to genre.

goatdog said...

Damn! I missed this one. Are these guest oeuvres going to be preserved somewhere?

tim r said...

Sorry, I got overexcited and took it off too quickly. Here it was:

Blood Simple (1984) A
Raising Arizona (1987) B—
Miller's Crossing (1990) A—
Barton Fink (1991) C+
The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) B+
Fargo (1996) A—
The Big Lebowski (1998) A
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) D
The Man Who Wasn't There (2001) B
Intolerable Cruelty (2003) C
The Ladykillers (2004) D+

If I knew how to do other web pages and stuff, I could probably store them all somewhere, but I don't. Any advice anyone? Where should I stick them?

goatdog said...

If you're going to put a post up alerting us of the sidebar change, you could just include the list in the comments section when you're planning on changing it again.

goatdog said...

If you're going to put a post up alerting us of the sidebar change, you could just include the list in the comments section when you're planning on changing it again.

goatdog said...

If you're going to...

ah, sorry about the double comment.

tim r said...

Good thinking, twice!