Thursday, July 08, 2004

The man, the kleenex box and the chicken soup

I miss old black and white movies. I used to watch them all the time when I was a kid. My mom loved them, so she introduced me to Captain Blood's adventures in the sea, Casablanca's everlasting love story, The Maltese Falcon's misteries,and so many others...
Why the sudden reminiscense for the old? I suppose there's somekind of magic in them. Maybe everything looks a little bit more misterious, a little bit more melodramatic, I don't know. And since I'm still sick, and without anything to do except eating chicken soup and hugging Mr.Kleenex box from time to time, I decided to watch a movie I haven't seen in a while: "THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE" (2001) by the Coen brothers (INTOLERABLE CRUELTY, FARGO, OH BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?)

Yeah, I know. Is not an OLD movie per se. But is a black and white movie. And a great one if I may add.
The story is quite simple. A barber named Ed Crane (Billy Bob Thornton- MONSTER'S BALL, BANDITS) lives a plain and dull life. He is sick of it so he decides to do something that will change it. That will make it better. More interesting. Complete.
He decides he will get in the bussiness of DRY CLEANING.

Yeap. And everything changes alright, but not precisely as he had planned. Blackmail, crime, revenge, revelations, his whole world changes in the blink of an eye.

I love so many things about this movie, starting with the fabulous photography by Roger Deakins (BEAUTIFUL MIND, FARGO, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION). You'll be amazed by how he sets the atmosphere as he plays with the lights and shadows. Each frame, every second of the movie is a complete delight.
The cast is more than you can ask for: Billy Bob Thorton, playing the barber, the almost invisible man who hardly speaks with any other character through out the movie, but who's voice over leads us till the very end of it. Frances McDormand (ALMOST FAMOUS, FARGO), the unfaithful wife. James Gandolfini (SOPRANOS, LAST CASTLE),the boss, the revengeful lover. Tony Shalhoub (MONK, GALAXY QUEST), the experienced lawyer. Scarlett Johansson (LOST IN TRANSLATION), the barber's escape. They all present us with believable characters, full of life, fears, questions, and flaws. People who could be your neighbors, even your friends.

Now, for those of you who can't stand S-L-O-W movies, without a lot of action, and a simple (yet well structured) plot, this movie might not be the best choice for a friday night. But for us, old people, it lives up to our expectations.

This is a ride to the past to the Film Noir era. Is an ironic movie about bad luck, about the twisted hand of fate. The film ends, yet it stays with you. Is hypnotic. And you'll secretly crave for more movies like this. For more plots that will keep you awake at night, not because you need to find an answer to what happened, but for the pure pleasure of re-living in your head a great movie.

And if you decide to see it and you totally disagree with me, hey! I'm no expert! I'm just writing what I think. Please, come and try to break my door. I know dangerous people. ;)