A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Man Who Wasn't There (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, 2001)

Katherine Borowitz in The Man Who Wasn't There
Ed Crane: Billy Bob Thornton
Doris Crane: Frances McDormand
Frank: Michael Badalucco
Big Dave Brewster: James Gandolfini
Ann Nirdlinger Brewster: Katherine Borowitz
Creighton Tolliver: Jon Polito
Freddy Riedenschneider: Tony Shalhoub
Birdy Abundas: Scarlett Johansson
Walter Abundas: Richard Jenkins

Directors: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Screenplay: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Cinematography: Roger Deakins
Production design: Dennis Gassner
Music: Carter Burwell

The Man Who Wasn't There is a bit like a Twilight Zone episode written by James M. Cain. A barber works in a shop owned by his wife's brother. She has been unfaithful to him with her boss, so when a get-rich scheme is proposed to him, the barber tries to blackmail his wife's lover. Nothing goes quite right, however, and after calamity succeeds calamity, the barber is presented with what appears to be a solution to his problems. It comes, however, from a UFO that hovers overhead, and he rejects it. Perhaps only Joel and Ethan Coen could have accomplished this fusion of film noir and sci-fi with quite the success they achieve, thanks largely to a superb cast, the extraordinary black-and-white cinematography of Roger Deakins, and a score by Carter Burwell that blends unobtrusively with some melancholy-meditative excerpts from Beethoven's piano sonatas.

Watched on Starz Encore 

No comments: