Saturday, October 9, 2010
A Twist on The Oddyssey
Finally! A movie review that isn't about a foreign films. What can I say? I love foreign movies. But today I will be will be reviewing The Coen Brothers' O Brother Where Art Thou? Now I realize that I love the Coen Brothers and I will do many more reviews of their films, but I will still give a good, honest review of their films, including this review.
This is a tale that is loosley based on Homer's The Oddyssey set during the Great Deppression in Rural Mississippi following three men who just escaped from a chain gang and are off to retrieve the $1.2 million in treasure that one of the men, Ulysses (George Clooney's character), had buried before he was incarcerated. They are told by a blind man that they will not recieve the treasure that they wish to find, and from there starts a crazy adventure for the three men. Again, this is kind of a retelling of The Oddyssey so you will see similar characteristics between the characters in The Oddyssey and the characters in the film. You have John Goodman's character, the one-eyed KKK member who resembles Polyphemus, the cyclops in The Oddyssey, you also have three women that the men run into who resemble the sirens, the Blind Seer also resembles a character from The Oddyssey. We are introduced to many other interesting characters, Tommy Johnson who sold his soul to the Devil to play the guitar, he also helps the three men form The Soggy Bottom Boys, a badn that they unwittingley formed after recording the famous folk song Man of Constant Sorrow. We meet two other men who are running for Governor, "Baby Face" George Nelson and many other interesting characters. Each one of these characters are significant in their own ways and are brought to life by the great acting of each actor.
You become attatched to the three main characters, Ulysses (George Clooney), Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson), and Pete (John Turturro). They're all different, one is the leader, the other is simple minded, and one is kind of just there even though he only had two weeks left in jail if he had not esca[ed on his own. And they allfeel real, the dialogue usually feels natural in most Coen Bros films. The acting is done well between these three men and with the help of the interesting dialogue you really become attatched to these characters.
The story isn't really original since it is loosely based off an old Greek tale, but the way that it is told is very original. Hard to picture a Greek tale told in 1930 Great Deppression era, but it works. Although isn't isn't supposed to be an entire retelling of The Oddyssey you can still see the resemblance if you're familiar with the Greek tale. If you're not familiar with the tale then it's still a very intriguing story with a funny and light hearted ending.
I realize I haven't really talked much about the soundtrack of the movies I've reviewed but this is almost essential to this review. The soundtrack is very interesting in that it uses old folk songs. It's not a musical but the music is very upfront and hard to miss. The music fits in very well and keeps the movie light and keep the setting feeling old. The music is fantastic, one of the few soundtracks I actually bought for a movie, it even won a Grammy for Album of the Year. The music will stay in your head, from The Big Rock Candy Mountains to Man of Constant Sorrow.
The directing is also very good, Coen Bros know how to write interesting stories. They make the dialogue feel real to where the characters talk over each other, or to even where the characters repeat themselves. They also are given personality to the dialogue of each character, the Coen Bros like everything to be exact to where there is hardly any room for improvising. Almost every line that you hear was done the way the Brothers wanted it. Another interesting thing about the direction is the use of the color correction to make the film have a sepia-tinted look to help the film feel dry, dusty, and old.
This isn't the best film directed by the brothers but it is one of their best. It's an enjoyable film and a good introduction to the Coen Bros. It has a simple kind of story, unlike the other films where they're filled with symbolism, it has good dialogue, unlike the dry dialogue the other films have, plus it has an ending, most of their films just end dramatically, where one moment it's the movie to in one second it is the credits. It's a good film worth seeing. Again, it's not the best Coen Bros film but it's up there. Now go and watch this movie