December 17, 2008 9:05am EST
Writer/director John Patrick Shanley (Moonstruck) adapts his Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning play Doubt for the big screen keeping all the themes that made the original work such a hit on stage. Set in 1964 the film version opens up much of the talky proceedings and sets the action in a wind-swept Brooklyn Catholic school where Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is trying to shake up the status quo and introduce a little more free thinking. These actions cause instant friction with the stern Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) who immediately butts heads with Flynn. Significant change already is taking place as the school has admitted its first black student Donald Miller (Joseph Foster). When mild-mannered Sister James (Amy Adams) suggests that perhaps Father Flynn is spending too much personal time with Donald it sets Sister Aloysius off on an ill-considered crusade to get rid of Flynn triggering a battle of morals will and yes doubt in the minds of both the characters and the audience. Rather than casting some of his Tony-winning actors from the play Shanley decided he wanted a blank slate bringing in a new interpretation to the material. Obvious choice for the taciturn Sister Aloysius is Meryl Streep who using a slight Brooklyn accent convincingly tears into the role that won acclaimed actress Cherry Jones a Tony. Streep plays it broadly and the onscreen fireworks between her and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Flynn are indeed spectacular. Acting just doesn’t get much better than this particularly for Hoffman who is amazing as the charismatic priest walking the thin line between personal conviction and guilt. Adams doesn’t really get the big scenes but portrays Sister James’ hopeful innocence and naiveté with just the right amount of sugar -- not too sweet not too dark. Top honors in the cast go to Viola Davis as Donald Miller’s mother. Taking what is essentially a 10 minute role Davis will tear your heart out as she desperately pleads with Streep to let Donald stay in school. John Patrick Shanley clearly has a personal stake in this material and returns to directing for the first time since his ill-fated Joe vs. the Volcano in the early ‘90s. He seems much more at home with this more intimate piece casting it smartly and using the weather --including the use of a haunting rustling wind -- as a key part of the background ambience. Doubt is exactly the kind of traditional Broadway adaptation Hollywood used to do so well particularly in the ‘50s and ‘60s and Shanley smartly doesn’t try to muck it up with any flashy filmmaking tricks. He lets his quartet of superior actors do most of the work turning Doubt into one of the best stage adaptations in many many years.
June 27, 2008 12:58pm EST
In an almost completely wordless first 40 minutes we meet the workaholic robot Wall E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) as he goes about the daily tasks--organizing an abandoned junk yard with remnants of what life was like before mankind was forced to leave earth (or die) in the 22nd century. Apparently no one remembered to turn his switch off so he continues to do his thing in the shadow of an eerily empty city. One day a spaceship lands and drops off a spiffy search robot named EVE (Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator). EVE strikes up a touching even romantic relationship with little Wall E his first contact with anything or anyone (other than a pet cockroach) in about 700 years. When EVE discovers that Wall E may have come upon the living proof that Earth is once again inhabitable she blasts off to tell the humans aboard the Axiom--a massive shopping mall-like space station--that it may finally be safe to return home. Not wanting to let her go Wall E hops on during takeoff and blasts into the outer reaches of the universe where he experiences the surreal future and brings hope from the past. Be prepared to fall in love with the most engaging and original new movie star in ages. The extraordinary performance here is a robot who utters sounds not words and comes brilliantly alive through state-of-the-art CGI animation and expert vocal design by legendary sound wizard Ben Burtt (R2D2 of Star Wars). He makes this non-human love-struck piece of tin the most human element in the film. Wall E does not need words to express his understanding of affairs of the heart. In fact the early sequences in which he repeatedly watches an old video tape of the 1969 musical Hello Dolly (the only one is his obviously limited collection) we totally understand where his notions of romance come from--and from an 800 year-old semi-flop Hollywood movie no less. The trip into space brings encounters with some misfit robots as well as the rotund immobile humans competently performed by vets like Jeff Garlin as the ship’s captain Fred Willard John Ratzenberger Kathy Najimy and Sigourney Weaver as the ship’s computer. But the real acting voice-over prizes belong to Burtt and his sound design colleagues this time. Oscar take notice: Pixar has done it again. Co-writer/director Andrew Stanton won an Oscar for Finding Nemo and has worked in some capacity on just about every Pixar triumph from Toy Story; through last year’s Oscar winning Ratatouille. His creative need to stretch and explore uncharted ‘toon territory results in the offbeat Wall-E which abandons the talking creature formats for a surreal touching and environmentally-conscious love story. The film sets off alarms for the future of our planet but also offers hope that it’s not too late. Stanton’s most daring notion is to create almost a silent film for the first half and in so doing gives us an animated cinematic experience the likes of Chaplin Keaton and Jacques Tati would have loved. The achievement of keeping an audience glued to the screen watching incommunicative non-humans who learn to communicate and care for each other is no easy thing. Stanton creates beautiful visuals and a well-crafted story to go with them. This is one from the heart.
November 16, 2007 4:17am EST
Early on in No Country for Old Men there is a wide-angle shot of an open field in border-town Texas. Gorgeous but menacing it is the very snapshot of “calm before the storm.” One of the men who will momentarily be in the storm’s epicenter Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is actually providing us with this view through the scope of his rifle as he stalks the unsuspecting antelope. Even further in the distance a cluster of bullet-ridden trucks catches his eye and so he walks that distance for a closer look. What he finds is a drug deal gone awry and $2 million with his name on it. He scurries away with the cash and without the knowledge he has just turned the devil onto him. Enter Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) who some know as the devil or as a ghost or as the bogeyman or not at all and whose blood money Llewelyn just intercepted. There are crazy-serial-killer types and then there is Anton a murderer whose blood is so cold that he derives only apathy from taking a life—which has afforded him a very successful career as a hitman. Once word gets out that Anton is after Llewelyn a third man enters the fray—an aging policeman (Tommy Lee Jones) loath to draw his gun in the small town he has manned for years let alone hunt down a lunatic. So the tango begins with Llewelyn unwittingly carrying a transponder through which Anton can track him and Anton wittingly leaving a path of bodies through which the lawman can track him. It takes a cast like the one in No Country to pull off what the Coen brothers demand of their actors—which is to say acting that transcends dialogue delivery. Take Bardem’s villain for example a man(iac) of few words. The Oscar nominee whose Anton is fear-inspiring on first look says as much with his impassive demeanor and lack of swagger as he does with his terse literal dialogue. But when he does speak it makes the words stick that much more; a scene in which he introduces the word “Friend-o” into the cinephile lexicon will have you sweating and chuckling—nervously. His is the type of psycho that’s as entrancing and potentially iconic as Hannibal Lecter. As the guy on the run so to speak Brolin is this movie’s version of the good guy though that doesn’t exactly compel you to root for him. Brolin instead like Bardem conveys what isn’t spoken--in his case logical fear that is stupefied by virility and money hunger. It marks another great performance for Brolin whose 2007 has been full of them. Jones meanwhile could not have been a more perfect casting choice to provide No Country’s voice of reality its Mr. Righteous. His aging overmatched cop doesn’t even get harmed but still might be the movie’s lone true victim thanks to the eloquent but stoic performance of Jones who also serves as narrator. And Woody Harrelson in a small speedy role shows zest we haven’t seen in a long time. Joel and Ethan Coen have always worked best in the dark be it comedy or drama. With No Country they’ve reached their peak darkness in both genres. The movie is often something of an exercise in subtle pitch-black comedy—perhaps the only way in which it strays from its source material a wildly beloved novel by Pulitzer Prize winner Cormac McCarthy—detectable only by those who pay close attention to and/or are familiar with the Coens. But it’s the suspense here that differs from their entire oeuvre and all of their contemporaries. With virtually no music long periods of silence and positively nothing extraneous the directors create tension via minimalism: Chase sequences are done mostly on foot and conclude intimately and gruesomely with one scene featuring Brolin and Bardem separated by a hotel-room door proving especially suspenseful damn near Hitchcockian. But No Country isn’t all about the chase; in fact it's about the Coens' originality and how they inject it to keep this from being a “chase” movie. It's an instant classic—a horrifying funny suspenseful masterpiece that could only have come from these two filmmakers.
August 02, 2004 9:54am EST
Set in what seems to be an idyllic 19th-century farming township The Village follows a close-knit community as they go about their daily lives. Soon however it becomes evident things aren't quite so simple. The villagers believe a race of ferocious mythological creatures lives in the woods surrounding their little valley but there's an unspoken truce between "Those We Don't Speak Of" and the townsfolk: don't go into their woods and they won't come chew up the town. That's all well and good until the quiet and resolute Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix) messes up the works. He tries to convince the village elders they need better medical supplies for the sick and that he should go through the woods into the neighboring towns to get them. The elders including Lucius' mother Alice Hunt (Sigourney Weaver) advises him to stay put but the young man doesn't listen to their warnings and breaches the boundaries anyway ever so slightly effectively ending the truce. Uh-oh. Then there's Ivy Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard) the beautiful and spirited blind daughter of the town leader Edward Walker (William Hurt) who captures Lucius' heart. Needless to say things get twisted pretty quickly (we are talking about a Shyamalan film after all) and it's Ivy who must eventually face entering the dreaded woods. As the menacing presence looms over the town her bravery becomes the only thing that can save them. But you'll soon be asking from what? There's the rub.
Shyamalan has finally made a movie in which there are no soulful moody eerily intelligent children in it. OK so maybe you'll miss Sixth Sense's Haley Joel Osment and his pale face or Signs's Rory Culkin with his big eyes just a little. But luckily Shyamalan has found a new wonder--newcomer Bryce Dallas Howard who replaced Kirsten Dunst as Ivy. As the daughter of the Oscar-winning director Ron Howard it's easy to see how she got her foot in the door but what's surprising is how affecting she is as Ivy. Playing a blind girl who must gather the courage to battle unseen fears isn't new--Audrey Hepburn was probably the best in the 1967 Wait Until Dark--yet the talented Howard's naturally blithe and spunky personality brings her own freshness to the character. Phoenix is also quite heartbreaking as Lucius who desperately loves Ivy but has trouble letting her know his feelings. His only way is by protecting her. Their moments together are exquisitely touching; all she has to do is reach out as the townsfolk scurry for cover from impending danger and he is there--no matter what. In the supporting roles veterans Hurt and Weaver as well as the rest of the elders including Shyamalan favorite Cherry Jones (Signs) and Troy's Brendan Gleeson do a nice job as the town's secretive leaders. But it's Adrien Brody in his first real role since winning Best Actor for The Pianist who stands out as fellow villager Noah a mentally impaired man whose own feelings for Ivy take a tragic turn.
In a way M. Night Shyamalan has become his own worst enemy having to live up to this reputation as a master of horror and suspense cloaking his projects in secrecy and generating unnecessary hype. But the fact of the matter is he is one of Hollywood's more brilliant minds on par with screenwriter Charlie Kaufman for originality who has an innate talent for crafting individual moments of genuine human emotions. Like Twilight
Zone's Rod Serling and Alfred Hitchcock before him Shyamalan is more fascinated by how people react in frightening situations rather than just scaring the bejeezus out of you--and with The Village Shyamalan delves deeper into human psyche more than ever before examining the age-old saying "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Having shot the film in southeast Pennsylvania the director meticulously built this 19th-century universe from the ground up with the wooden cabins and handmade props--and painting a picture of how fear of the unknown can propel a group of people to come together in harmony. Yet regardless of how the fear of big scary monsters brings the villagers together audiences may be expecting big scary monsters to come out of the woods and therefore may not appreciate the somewhat anti-climactic albeit twisty ending.
April 05, 2004 9:47am EST
Tom Hanks stars as the charming but fiendishly eccentric Goldthwait Higginson Dorr III Ph.D.--a Southern gentleman and expert thief who masterminds a casino heist with a motley crew of goofy crooks. Setting up operations at the boarding house of the widowed Baptist-loving sassy Mrs. Munson (Irma P. Hall) Dorr convinces the older lady that he requires her cellar for his Renaissance-period music ensemble to practice. The band is in actuality his criminal team which plans to use the space to dig a tunnel into a riverboat casino and rob its safe. But with this oddball crew comprised of the hip-hop stylin' Gawain (Marlon Wayans) a janitor at the casino; ex-hippie and Irritable Bowel Syndrome sufferer Garth Pancake (J.K. Simmons); The General (Tzi Ma) a stoic chain smoking tunneling pro; and Lump (Ryan Hurst) an ex-football player whose brains are in short order problems are bound to arise. God-fearing Southern woman Mrs. Munson is initially charmed (after all they're not playing that "hippity-hoppity" music as she calls it) but once she catches wind of their scheme the dastardly characters must find a way to dispose of her. But how?
Stepping in the shoes of the great Guinness who played an almost Phantom of the Opera version of the English gallant Hanks creates an over-the-top Southerner who's part William Faulkner part Colonel Sanders. An eloquent Edgar Allen Poe-quoting dandy Hanks wears antebellum all-white and speaks with antiquated turns of phrase that are supposed to be alternately appealing and anachronistically funny. Supposed to be. Though under the direction of Joel Coen who can wring an effortless inspired verbose Kentucky character out of George Clooney in O Brother Where Art Thou? Hanks' oddities are obvious at every turn. The performance is strained--right down to his goofy laugh--and unlike Guinness we never feel Dorr's underlying evil the element that made the original character so deliciously funny. This is a darkly comic character Hanks manages to make cute. The rest of the crew fares little better with the talented Wayans resting on easy "bust a cap in yo' ass" ghetto humor and Simmons' suffering one too many unfunny times from a bout with IBS (since when did the Coens resort to bathroom humor?). Hall is the saving grace here from back-talking her charges with gusto to giving a hilarious speech about the depraved elements of "hippity-hoppity music" to mistaking Dorr's dubious title of Ph.D. as "like Elmer Fudd?" she's a terrific comic foil. Too bad the cast didn't have enough stimulating material to bounce off her.
The Coen brothers usually work expertly with caricatures carefully balancing cartoonish madcap with people we actually care about. From Nicolas Cage's brilliant Hy in Raising Arizona to Jeff Bridges's pot-smoking The Dude in The Big Lebowski to Clooney in the aforementioned O Brother they're the masters of broad. Here however they make a misstep in both casting Hanks (Billy Bob Thornton would have been more appropriate) and to a larger extent messing with a movie that didn't need messing. The original 1955 version (directed by Alexander Mackendrick and also starring Peter Sellers) is darker than the Coens' take which relies more on slapstick and lunacy. Nevertheless the picture is technically gorgeous with cinematographer Roger Deakins creating a perfectly sunny Southern town mixed with a gothic underbelly of doom and tuned to an enlivened Gospel music score. And there are funny bits for sure played out in that precise unique Coen rhythm but given their past and potential genius the Coens are certainly capable of better. The Ladykillers lacks what we've come to know them for--a killer comic instinct.
October 09, 2003 11:15am EST
Miles Massey (George Clooney) is a cynic when it comes to marriage and well he should be. As the nation's leading divorce attorney he's pretty much seen the institution in the worst possible light. He's even created the definitive prenuptial agreement "the Massey Prenup " and it's so ironclad there's a course devoted to it at Harvard. He's also known in legal circles for his ability to convince juries to give his clients often the guilty parties in breakups the lion's share of the settlement despite their obvious and documented marital misdeeds. But when he pulls his tricks on Marylin Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and takes away her chance at financial independence the lovely lady vows revenge--and what better way to get it than to use her vast powers of play-acting and manipulation to turn the hard-bitten lawyer into a mushy love-soaked mess? Trouble is Cupid's arrow flies both ways--for better or worse.
Strong lead characters are the heart of Intolerable Cruelty and Clooney and Zeta-Jones are up to the task seeming to recognize how easy it could be to slip into romantic comedy stereotypes. Zeta-Jones avoids that pitfall by keeping her gestures and facial expression very small--she never overplays her character's role-playing whether she's doing the slighted wife bit the rich divorcée bit or the lovestruck financée bit. Through it all she's bathed in a soft golden light and she looks warm and beautiful and kind even when she's being intolerably cruel. Clooney on the other hand is shot with a whiter light--probably to show off his character's gleaming teeth which are as much the key to his personality as the hair was to Clooney's Everett Ulysses McGill in O Brother Where Art Thou? also by the Coen brothers--director Joel and producer Ethan. As in that film Clooney here goes big with everything--his face is expressive and volatile his voice is loud and his words come fast and hard. The opposing ways the two actors play their characters really works for the movie leading to some good comic moments and some decent on-screen chemistry. Notable supporting performances come from Geoffrey Rush as an early Massey victim and Cedric the Entertainer as a private eye playing both sides.
The Coen brothers have once again turned a stagnating genre on its ear as is their modus operandi in most of their films. As is also usual for the pair Intolerable Cruelty hearkens back to the good old days of filmmaking when strong character motivations drove intricate plots and even light romantic comedies could teach audiences something about human nature without getting preachy. That said there's still something missing from this movie. It may be that the story's modern Beverly Hills setting called for longtime Coen brothers collaborator cinematographer Roger Deakins to take a modern glossy L.A. approach to the look of the film which gives it a celluloid visual feel audiences see all the time instead of one of the fresh different looks we've come to expect from the makers of O Brother and The Man Who Wasn't There. But Cruelty doesn't play out like a sellout even if it kind of looks like one. And maybe that's the point--movies like people aren't always what they seem to be on the surface.
January 07, 2002 2:05pm EST
Movie of the Year
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Male Actor of the Year
Denzel Washington, Training Day
Female Actor of the Year
Sissy Spacek, In the Bedroom
Featured Male Actor of the Year
Gene Hackman, The Royal Tenenbaums
Featured Female Actor of the Year
Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind
Director of the Year
Robert Altman, Gosford Park
Screenwriter of the Year
Christopher Nolan, Memento
Cinematographer of the Year
Roger Deakins, The Man Who Wasn't There
Editor of the Year
Jill Bilcock, Moulin Rouge
Production Designer of the Year
Grant Major, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Digital Effects Artist of the Year
Jim Rygiel, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Composer of the Year
Craig Armstrong, Moulin Rouge
AFI Awards for Television
Drama Series of the Year
Comedy Series of the Year
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Movie or Miniseries of the Year
Band of Brothers
Male Actor of the Year: TV Series
James Gandolfini, The Sopranos
Female Actor of the Year: TV Series
Edie Falco, The Sopranos
Male Actor of the Year: TV Movie or Miniseries
Jeffrey Wright, Boycott
Female Actor of the Year: TV Movie or Miniseries
Judy Davis, Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows
December 21, 2001 6:50am EST
The film spans the life of John Nash (Russell Crowe)-from mathematical prodigy to delusional schizophrenic to Nobel Prize winner. We first meet John in 1948 and he is entering Princeton University as a graduate student. He rarely goes to class and calculates his mathematical theories on dorm room and library windows. Most of his colleagues steer clear of him except his roommate Charles (Paul Bettany) who tries to lighten him up. John eventually closes in on a hypothesis for an economic theory and becomes a star in the math world. He lands a prestigious position at MIT meets his wife Alicia (Jennifer Connelly) and consults for the Pentagon cracking impossible codes no one else can. He meets William Parcher (Ed Harris) a CIA agent who brings John in on a top-secret government operation to catch Russian spies--or so we think. Unbeknownst to those around him Nash's "beautiful mind" is descending into madness and his grip on reality is fading. Alicia gets him psychiatric help but the drugs and shock therapy dull him so senselessly it's painful to watch. All Nash wants is his mind back so he begins to fight his illness on his own terms. Through the years John's delusions don't necessarily go away but he learns to deal with them sanely. More importantly in Nash's later life he finally gains the respect and admiration he deserves from his peers.
We all know the man can act but Crowe is truly a wonder in this film. He really gets under Nash's skin having obviously studied the real-life mathematician's movements and mannerisms carefully. From Nash's walk to the twitches of the mouth to the eyes that never stop moving he fleshes out a character that melds perfectly with the real Nash. Crowe shows us the horror of being locked in a mind that works brilliantly yet won't let him see things normally. It's a tour de force performance and one richly deserving an Oscar. The other standout in Mind has to be the stunning Connelly. Over the years she's quietly been turning in stellar performances in such films as Requiem for a Dream and Pollock but as Nash's beleaguered wife Alicia she finally gets to shine. At times you are wondering what the heck a beauty like her sees in the weird Nash but Connelly convincingly portrays a woman in love with a man whose mind is great if troubled. Witnessing her torment and anguish over her husband's debilitating illness was moving. In the supporting roles both Harris as the hardened agent and Bettany (so good in this year's A Knight's Tale) as Nash's unconventional friend are also excellent.
A Beautiful Mind quite possibly could be the best thing Ron Howard has ever directed. Not to say he hasn't helmed some very good films such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas or Apollo 13 but Howard has done things in this movie he's never done before. In delving into the mind of a paranoid-schizophrenic he doesn't simply show us a crazy person but lets us experience the madness right along with Nash. Also much like Good Will Hunting Howard makes calculating impossible mathematical problems exciting especially when we are looking at the numbers from Nash's perspective. It seems Howard has matured in his directing style. The film was lush to look at where he uses shadows and light in an amazing way. The script based on a book by Sylvia Nasar was brilliant as well. A great scene has Nash who isn't sure if who he's seeing is real or not turn to a student and ask "Do you see that person there?" When the answer is yes he replies "Good. I'm always wary about people I don't know." The only drawback is the film could have been about a half-hour shorter but no matter. 'Tis the season for 2½ hour movies.
November 01, 2001 8:52am EST
Set in 1949 in the quiet California town of Santa Rosa the story centers on Ed Crane (Billy Bob Thornton) who is a second-chair barber in his brother-in-law Frank's barbershop (Michael Badalucco). Ed's wife Doris (Frances McDormand) is having an affair with
her boss hotshot department store owner Big Dave (James Gandolfini). When Ed gets an investment tip on the future of dry cleaning he decides it's time to cash in his chips so he blackmails Big Dave. Big Dave married to wealthy heiress Ann (Katherine Borowitz) is not about to let this
financial pressure get the better of him (come on now this is Tony Soprano Ed's messing with). Things quickly spiral out of control (someone's murdered) slow down (Ed narrates Ed smokes narrates smokes some more) and then just get weird (something involving UFO sightings and a teenage pianist) before coming to an electrifying end.
The film's lineup is impressive: Thornton McDormand Gandolfini Badalucco Scarlett Johansson Tony Shalhoub. Yet the cast seems as constrained as a prisoner in jail waiting for breaks in Ed's narration to shine. The reliance on voice-over narration
to get the story across impedes the dramatic and comedic timing and much of the acting except of course that of the Bogart-like Ed. We're captivated by him whether we like it or not--he is the only one that can tell us what the hell is going on. Unfortunately he loses a lot of credibility because although he assures us he's a quiet man of few words he never shuts up.
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (Fargo) did what they set out to do--which was create an impressive smart modern take on '40s film-noir classics like The Postman Always Rings Twice. Watch this movie for the unprecedented black-and-white cinematography of Roger Deakins who takes inspiration from the Coens and turns what many moviegoers expect from a black-and-white picture on its head. Mainstream audiences may have difficulty with the slow methodical pace of this movie and some things drag the film down like the UFO subplot. But the Coens have a reason for all things leaving much to the viewer's interpretation. Perhaps the directors employed the same theory as the defense attorney does in the movie the 'uncertainty principle'--the more you look at something the less you know.
July 20, 2001 1:12pm EST
In a lighthearted riff on Homer's epic poem set in the Depression-era South verbose
charmer Everett Ulysses McGill (George Clooney) and two dimwitted cronies (John
Turturro Tim Blake Nelson) break free from a Mississippi chain gang only to face
a long series of trials including a trio of seductive laundry-washing sirens
and a fearsome one-eyed Bible salesman (Homer's Cyclops of course creepily portrayed
by John Goodman). Unlike the original Ulysses Everett also must contend with
pursuing cops Southern-friend politicians and the KKK if he is to prevent his
less-than-faithful former wife (Holly Hunter) from marrying a rival suitor.
Leading goofs Clooney Turturro and Nelson gamely get into the Three
Stooges-ish tone of the piece with Clooney in particular delivering a
winking self-mocking turn that must be his broadest screen performance to
date. Nelson ("The Thin Red Line") is also a riot as a mild-mannered yokel
for whom every slow-moving thought requires visible effort. Disappointingly
Coen veterans Goodman Hunter and Charles Durning have less to sink their
teeth into than in previous outings with the brothers.
Writer-director Joel and writer-producer Ethan Coen rack up yet another enjoyable
romp featuring all of their signature elements - playfully stylized camerawork
offbeat music colorful characters distanced by dripping irony. Evoking the road
comedies of the '30s and '40s this easygoing comic adventure has an old-fashioned
flavor and (for a Coen picture at least) a relative lack of graphic violence
that links it to the brothers' underrated 1994 Frank Capra homage "The Hudsucker
Proxy." Amusing as it is however "Brother" rarely achieves the same hilarious
heights as previous Coen laughers such as "Raising Arizona" and "The Big Lebowski."