12 March 2006

Coen (2003-2004)

2003 - Intolerable Cruelty - What the hell? A standard issue Hollywood romantic comedy from the Bros.? After hearing nothing but negative things about this film, I was hoping there was at least something Coenesque to chew on in it. There was. Rex Rexroth's train obsession, Wheezy Joe and Senior Partner Herb's medical conditions, and Heinz, the Baron Krauss von Espy were distinctive Coen Bros. touches that were fun to watch. Unfortunately, these characters were only a small part of the film. The rest of the film is dedicated to a vaguely screwballish romcom involving an utterly predictable mating dance between two strong-willed characters. This film is solid evidence that the Bros. should stick to directing their own stories.

2004 - The Ladykillers - I've never seen the original film from 1955, but I did enjoy this version. Tom Hanks absolutely disappears into his role as the Professor, the uber-Southern Gentleman with an Edgar Allen Poe fetish. One subtly that interested me was the Bob Jones University angle. For anyone familiar with this institution in the real world, Marva's donations to this institution make this a darker film that one would initially suspect. BJU did not allow Blacks to attend until 1971 and, until the uproar surrounding President Bush's 2000 campaign visit caused them to change, interracial dating was grounds for expulsion for students there. Marva, of course, only knew that the school was a "good Christian" institution. It's a sly bit of social commentary to bury in this comedy remake. While Marva may have defeated the small-time crooks who invaded her house, the big-time religious hucksters have invaded her mind and aren't as easily knocked down staircases by cats. Grim, but true-to-life.