Underground Film Journal

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Movie Review: O Brother, Where Art Thou?

I was ready to go home.

My scarf was wrapped around my neck. My coat was zippered and buttoned all the way up. My hat was pulled down snugly around my ears. And then I noticed the staircase.

It wasn’t a hidden staircase. It wasn’t tucked away in a shadowy corner. Right in the middle of the friggin’ lobby was a gigantic, winding staircase connecting the third and fourth floors that I must have passed a hundred times but never really noticed.

It couldn’t be that easy. I couldn’t just go up that staircase, thereby completely bypassing the ticket taker at the escalator, and sneak into fourth floor movie theaters. It didn’t seem like it could be that easy, but I figured since I was there, I had to try.

And it wasn’t that easy. There was another ticket taker. Not right at the top of the stairs, but at the top of the escalator, which though separated by a thick support column, was only a few feet from the stairs where I was standing.

Most of the time when I pull a “double-feature” at a movie theater, it doesn’t involve much trickery. There are ever hardly any ushers around, and if there is somebody it’s usually one or two indifferent teenagers who could care less into which theater anybody is going. But to get by a ticket taker would take some real “sneaking”.

All I did was wait until a line of legitimate ticket buyers formed at the escalator and then when the ticket taker was busy doing his job, I slunk behind him and zipped into the area where I could check the digital display to see when the next O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? was starting. The display told me “10 minutes”.

Considering I hadn’t eaten anything since some French toast at Kasia’s diner with Becky at 10:30 in the morning and it was now sometime after 6 p.m., I debated getting a snack. But once I got a good look at the rip-off movie theater prices, I decided against. Even though I was going to end up paying $9.50 for three movies, I still refused to pay 5 or 6 bucks for some popcorn and soda. I could have gotten a two-dollar box of chocolate, but I thought that might make me sick on such an empty stomach.

The thing about the Coen Brothers is that even if one of their films isn’t very good, I always get sucked into and am somewhat entertained by the consistent universes they create for each of them. Such as is with O BROTHER.

Somewhat based on the mythological story of THE ODYSSEY and seemingly inspired by the work of director Preston Sturgis, O BROTHER has a very solid “feel” to it, down to the costuming, cinematography and dialogue although the ending of the film doesn’t keep in tune to what was predicted at the beginning. I’d elaborate more on that, but that would ruin the entire picture for anyone wishing to see it. And if you’re planning to see O BROTHER, you can just ignore what I said as the problem with the ending didn’t actually occur to me until a couple days after seeing the movie and it’s probably something that nobody else would consider.

The same thing sort of happened to me with STATE AND MAIN, too. David Mamet is generally such a stickler for detail so that minor events blow up to catastrophic proportions later on. That’s basically what his work (that I’ve seen anyway) is entirely based on. However, in STATE AND MAIN, there seemed to be such an obvious technical flub, it distracted me to the point of fully enjoying the rest of the movie. But then again, I’m sure that if it was a technical flub and not just my own eyes playing tricks on me, only one in a million people would have picked up on it. I almost sat through the first 10 minutes again just to see if I was right, but I didn’t. I’ll have to wait for the video to come out, I guess.

And thus ends my triple-feature movie adventure. I don’t know if I’ll ever do it again. But if I do, I’ll probably never write them up in one shot for┬áthe Underground Film Journal like this. As you can probably tell since I started actually started talking about movies for this final review, I completely ran out of other ideas to write about.