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O Brother, where was I?

  • Jan 15, 2002
  • by
Pros: scenery tho stark was beautiful

Cons: confusing story line

The Bottom Line: Just didn't do it for me

The Oracle says: Musetta Vander has a Bacon number of 2.

Musetta Vander was in Gunshy (1998) with Diane Lane
Diane Lane was in My Dog Skip (2000) with Kevin Bacon ***

I’m gently learning to admire country but I never will be into bluegrass. Seeing as how bluegrass is the heart of this movie, it ‘twanged’ my innards from the beginning to the end. Neither can I find the love affair associated with this release, as I have read multitudes bowing to the expertise of this movie and the quality of the film. As usual, I walk alone, but I’m getting used to this lonely path in life.

Not that I didn’t find humor in the movie, there was a good deal of humor and the antics of the wandering crew of prisoners, George Clooney, Tim Blake Nelson and John Turturro, raised a chuckle or two. As the ‘Soggy Bottom Boys’ their singing left a bit to be – ahem – desired, but I gave them credit for their efforts.

I have desperately watched Clooney in his movies, hoping to see that spark that fizzled when he left ER, but I’ve yet to find it. As the sometimes bumbling but always sincere doctor on TV, he fit the role perfectly. Perhaps he just has come upon his ‘role’ in the cinema yet.

Film quality and detail were outstanding in this particular release, as is the general habit of those Coen boys, who make decent movies, as opposed to that Larry Cohen, who makes movies more like I am used to viewing (ie; It’s Alive, Quetzlcoatl). They tend to use bleak and stark backgrounds, as they did in Fargo, which adds to the quality of the time shown in the movie. The one particular scene when the ‘boys’ are entering the studio, I mean here is this studio in the middle of nowhere or so it appears. Dust billowing everywhere, total desolation. It really gives credence to the fact that this was supposed to the during the Depression era, I felt depressed enough looking at that scene.

Michael Badalucco as ‘Baby face Nelson’ was a real treat. It threw me for a minute because from the surrounding scenery we had been watching, I was more in the ‘old West’ era in my head and associating Nelson to that particular time frame had me wondering for a minute.

Admittedly, I have never read or encountered Homers’s Odyssey, therefore I cannot offer an opinion on how closely this movie correlates to that story. Nor am I tempted to read it, just to justify this movie. Perhaps I would have enjoyed the movie more, had I bothered to hook up with Homer, who knows. However, I just didn’t ‘get’ the movie nor did I find it hilarious.

For those that have not seen the movie, it centers on the life of the three escaped prisoners (Clooney, Nelson & Turturro) that are after their stash of money. Unfortunately, this stash is soon to be buried under a government sponsored hydroelectric plant. The boys don’t have much time to get their goods, but run into countless troubles along the way.

Not only meeting up with Baby Face Nelson, but also being lured by three seductive songtresses (Mia Tate, Musetta Vander, Christy Taylor) lying about seductively on the rocks in a river. Add to this mess, a cyclopian snake oil salesman under the guise of a bible pusher (John Goodman), nefarious politicians (Charles During, Wayne Duval) and a run in with the KKK. All in all, a bit much for one story to follow. Especially when you are dealing with the underbelly of the universe, these three nimrods.

In actuality, I found the story quite hard to follow with all the overlapping stories. I prefer my movies a little more clear cut. Perhaps that was my entire problem with the film, I had to think too much.

Although I admire the Coen brothers and their releases, I generally find that they hone in on the idiocy of a particular group of people and take it to the nth degree. As they did in Fargo as they portrayed the inhabitants as stoic and stodgy individuals, they followed suit with the bumbling antics of these boys from the good ole South, making them slack jawed idiots. And, frankly, the KKK inserts made me uncomfortable, but I don’t care for persecution of any group of people, even the KKK.

All in all, a semi-humorous movie, but not one I would highly recommend. I gotta turn my thumbs down on this one, sorry kids.

Academy Awards nominations: Best Adapted Screenplay (Joel & Ethan Coen); Best Cinematography (Roger Deakins). Stars: George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, John Goodman, Holly Hunter, Charles Durning,. Directed by Joel Coen, written by Ethan & Joel Coen, based on The Odyssey by Homer.


*** Compliments of: Department of Computer Science
School of Engineering, University of Virginia


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review by . January 15, 2011
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*** out of ****      Homer's "The Odyssey" is like the Shakespearean wonder of epic poems; it's difficult or perhaps even impossible to adapt. But that doesn't stop Joel and Ethan Coen for giving it a shot. And I'm glad they did. "O Brother, Where Art Thou" is a Coen Brothers film loosely based on Homer's masterpiece, and it entertains accordingly. In all honesty, I can say that it's the best Homer adaptation we can get considering …
review by . November 01, 2009
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The Coens told a big fib when they said that Fargo was based on a real life event, only to reveal after the fact that it wasn't.  Going in to see this film and seeing the proclamation that it's based on The Odysey could turn people off until you see our hapless heroes battling a cyclops, lured by sirens by the water and a wife named Penny.  Even real life events are given a unique spin such as a famous guitar player named Tommy Johnson or a cantankerous Governer played by Charles …
Quick Tip by . October 19, 2010
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I had to watch it twice to be able to laugh. The first time through everything was just a wee bit too funny to laugh. The second time through I had to pause it at several points. To paraphrase: Its a cinematic oddity; two seconds from guffawing everywhere.
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review by . June 25, 2004
Pros: Coen Brothers film - high expectations - good soundtrack      Cons: bad acting, bad script, nonsensical plot, made fun of Southerners     The Bottom Line: Bad acting,bad accents, script and all around feel of this film. A real lame o!     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot. What a disappointment this film was. We are big fans of the Coen Brothers so of course we couldn't wait for this to come out. …
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Susi Dawson ()
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