It’s been a great year for the Coen Brothers (Joel and Ethan); earlier this year, their film “No Country for Old Men” took home five Oscars, bringing some industry legitimacy to the quirky duo.
And it’s been an even better year for their fans; with “No Country” a critical (if not box office) success, the brothers decided to stick to their roots and made “Burn After Reading,” a comedy filled with mainstream stars and greeted with generally positive reviews.
But Coen Brothers, this has not been a good year for you and me. In fact, I think this will be the year where I decide that we just have to go our separate ways.
Joel, Ethan, I’ve tried to like your films. I even own one (“O Brother, Where Art Thou), although I haven’t watched it since I bought it. I’ve approached them, good and bad, with a generally open mind and the whimsical spirit required, but it’s just not working out.
Over my weekend, I watched “The Big Lebowski,” and from what I’ve read and heard about this little cult film, the adventures of The Dude (Jeff Bridges) is the pinnacle of the Coen Brothers achievements. To be fair, I can’t argue with that; if you’re a fan of their films, and you haven’t seen this off-kilter odyssey, I encourage you to see it right this second. Trust me, you’ll love it.
But I didn’t, and I think it’s here that I finally see why I just don’t get into their films. The Dude and his buddies and the people he meets in his quest for the simple life are funny and quirky and as off-putting as you expect, but there’s nothing real to any of them. The come onto the screen, exist for their allotted time, and then vanish. All of the characters are thoroughly fake and scripted, and while there’s nothing terribly wrong with that, I can’t engage with a movie that is so remote with its own characters.
Seriously, what’s the point of all that? I already know they’re not real, no reason to shove it in my face. Plus, the repetitious dialogue is so very, very annoying. I mean really annoying. Really, really annoying. (Now imagine a whole movie of that). All the characters fall into that dialogue trap, but John Goodman’s Walter bore the brunt of my rage at that device. It’s hard to love a movie that annoys you at every turn.
Sure, you have your good points with some imaginative dream sequences and solid, if forgettable, performances; it’s hard to say no when you’re trying so hard to impress me with your wit and whimsy. But Coen Brothers, don’t take this kiss off too hard; you’ll find others to love you.
“The Big Lebowski” (1998)
Directed by Joel Coen
Written by Joel and Ethan Coen
Jeff Bridges The Dude
John Goodman (Walter Sobchak)
Julianne Moore (Maude Lebowski)