44. O’ Brother Where Art Thou? (Coens, 2000)

Is there a filmmaker (or set of filmmakers) who have had a better decade than the Coens? I feel truly fortunate to be living in this decade, just so that I can see the newest Coen film every year, because this might be their best decade yet in a career that has consistently ushered at least two “classics” a decade since their career began in the early 1980s. O’ Brother Where Art Thou’? Is in many ways a film I would have loved to have made. Its title is a tribute to the fictional film being pitched in Sullivan’s Travels, a favourite of mine, its narrative lifted from Homer’s Odyssey, one of my other passions is Greek history and mythology, and the film is brimming with the traditional style folk songs that currently fill my MP3 player. I hold little resentment though, because this film is just so colourful and filled with life. It is mannered and exaggerated, much like the Hollywood genre it’s channeling, and yet it’s humour is so dead-on Coens that you could never mistake it for the work of anyone else. The epic “O’ Death” sequence may be my favourite, as it seems to be lifted from the Wizard of Oz, and is both darkly humorous and hauntingly disturbing, matching a set of contradicting feelings with a sense of ambiguity that the best of Coens’ work seems to be infused with.

6 responses to “44. O’ Brother Where Art Thou? (Coens, 2000)

  1. I agree wholeheartedly about the Coens, I think it is their best decade. I think “O Brother..” is one of their most pleasant films, my mother even enjoyed it and she isn’t the Coens’ biggest fan.

  2. I do not like Coen bros movies and am slightly annoyed that so many people do like them. But what’s a fellow to do?

    I apologize for punishing your list. Expect lots more punishment/love.

  3. Jeremy, yes pleasent seems like the right word. I think it’s the pleasentest of their films.

    Ian, I forgive you, because I adore you! I actually am very mixed on the Coens, we have a hate love relationship, but when I love them, it’s cinematic paradise for me. So I must support them.

  4. I’m not sure if I agree this has been their best decade, but having not seen any of the films they’ve done since The Man Who Wasn’t There, I’m not exactly qualified to make that judgment anyway.
    I did see this when it hit theatres and really liked it. Glad to see it on your list. Wish I were familiar with the others you’ve posted so far.

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