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The Man Who Wasn’t There * Joel and Ethan Coen * 2001

“Murder, blackmail and dry-cleaning. Enter the mind of a barber”. Of of the better taglines of late, what do you think? A new film by the brothers Coen who came in the spotlights with their films “Fargo” (1996), “The Big Lebowski” (1998) and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” (2000). Not the most typical films with a pleasent sense of humour and strange stories. The three films are not much alike and I can’t compare “The Man…” with any of them either. What IS the same as with especially “Fargo” is that this isn’t a comedy in basis, but still “The Man…” is very funny at times.

Anyway, the story in short is as follows. Ed (Billy Bob Thornton) has lived his entire life on the background. He married his wife Doris (Frances Macdonmand, the policewoman in “Fargo”) only a few weeks after having met her totally drunk at a party (which he doesn’t like). She thought it was “appropriate” and she liked it that he doesn’t talk much. Having a not too firy relationship the two stick together just because it has been like that for years. Doris works for a man with a large warehouse doing administration and her boss and his wife are friends of the house. Ed works at the barbershop of a brother of his wife who got the place from his father. Ed doesn’t like the work much, but heh, he has been there for years. Then in the shop, Ed meets a crook (played by Jol Polito) who was dumped by his potential partner for starting a dry-cleaning company (the story plays in the 1950’ies, nobody heard of dry-cleaning). Ed thinks that this could cheer-up his life a little, so he thinks of a plan. He blackmails his wife’s boss, because he knows these two have an affair. Big Dave (James Gandolfini) asks for advice from Ted he and he thinks that Tolliver (the crook – Jon Polito) is the blackmailer, so Tolliver’s original partner was Doris’ boss and Ed’s ‘friend’! Big Dave uses money from his business which actually is owned by his wife’s father and uses Doris for the administrative trick. Later he finds out about Ed, Ed accidentally kills Big Dave and Doris is suspected and caught. Anyway, the story keeps twisting and twisting and keeps interesting for the full two hours.

A funny thing is that the film is in colour when you rent it and black and white when you buy it. It is placed in the 50’ies with ever-smoking men and over-typical women and Ed is main character and voice-over.

Another wonderfull film by the Coen brothers.

Intolerable Cruelty * Joel + Ethan Coen * 2003

What do you get when the brothers Coen (“Blood Simple”, “Raising Arisona”, “The Big Lebowski”, “Oh Brother Where Art Thou”, “The Man Who Wasn’t There”, etc.) make a deal with a real Hollywood producer and get the disposal of a real Hollywood budget? Well: “Intollerable Cruelty”! And are we happy with the combination? Yes, we sure are! Besides partially the well-known Coen-crew (George Clooney, Billy-Bob Thornton, but no John Goodman or Frances McDormand) we get the very nice Coen sense of humour and a no-average film which will probably will fall good with a wider audience.

“Intollerable Cruelty” is a romantic comedy in which top-notch divorce-lawyer Clooney falls in love with Catherine Zeta Jones who only wants the fortune one rich man to become partially hers by way of a very short marriage. The result is a wonderfull romantic comedy with a nice story, wonderfull acting and a great sense of humour. The film opens with the greatest animation of little cupidos shooting darts at the rhythm of the music (it has been a long time since I had to laugh this hard) and the first sence of Clooney making a phonecall while his teeth are being cleaned is in one word brilliant. If you like Coen-films, don’t worry about the big budget, you are going to like this film. If you don’t know the Coen films, just have a try a see this nice, but not everyday romantic comedy. <11/11/03><4>

Blood Simple * Joel + Ethan Coen * 1984

The very first film of the brothers Coen is a nice one. A strange crime-film with weird humour like more of their older films. The wife of a bar-owner sleeps with with an employee and the bar-owner/boss finds that out by hiring a private detective. He can’t cope with that fact and asks the detective to kill the couple, but gets shot himself. A strange story develops which you shouldn’t know on forehand.

A very good debut, as all Coen films are very nice to watch. Also funny to see that Frances McDormand is also present in this film, as she is in most Coen films.