Archive for January 8th, 2014


© 2014 by James Clark

Approaching a film with such a plethora of reckless screwballs as displayed in the Coens’ O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), we could iterate the boys’ Surrealist agenda as to self-distortion and attendant (absurdist) humor (which they delight in pretending to be apple-pie folksiness). Or we could catch them up in yet another dangerous stab at satire of American regional foibles (prone to self-indulgent distemper). But there is something quite wonderfully special lurking within this hayride and it prompts me to begin with the film’s one and only instance of dramatic subtlety.

    Our three protagonists (measuring, almost frighteningly, down to the Three Stooges, as escapees [by completely unconvincing luck] from a Mississippi chain gang) meet up with a jovial bank robber and accompany him, first of all, as he gleefully discharges his tommy gun toward two police vehicles on his tail and, then, toward a herd of cows. As things get noisy, one of the fugitives, Delmer (who sports a haircut made famous long ago by Moe, one of the schmos) drawls off the redundant query to the gunman, “What line of work you in, George?” The radiant shooter, grinning from ear to ear, chooses, “Killin’ coppers,” as pretty close to the mark; and then he elaborates with, “I’m George Nelson… I’m bigger than any outlaw who ever lived!” This doesn’t help us understand his turning to gun down that herd of cows and declaring, “I hate cows worse than coppers!” Some of the startled herd come to collide with the pursuers, inducing our chubby young attention-seeker to, with optimum hilarity, shout out to them, “C’mon you miserable, god-damn sons of bitches!” (more…)

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