In the interest of full disclosure, I have to acknowledge that I’m a huge fan of the Coen Brothers… almost broaching the level of reverence Rudy has for Aaron Sorkin (but just almost, as Rudy is really far gone). Not that Joel and Ethan (as if they’re dear friends of mine) are in any way infallible as filmmakers (see, Ladykillers… actually don’t see Ladykillers, it’s awful), but they’ve put out a plethora of movies I absolutely love, and their brand of dark humor in particular, really aligns with my own. Therefore, it was with great excitement and anticipation that I happened across this movie of theirs, that had somehow escaped my notice for 7+ years. Make no mistake, this is a really, really, really good movie. Arguably among the Coen’s best. But at the same time, I almost wish I hadn’t known it was their’s before I watched it, because this story isn’t built on or filled with their typical dark humor that I love so much. Instead this is a first and foremost a drama… an ode to art and the artists who create it. There are comedic moments, sure, but it’s a different kind of dark humor. Rather than laughing at subject matter that isn’t typically considered humorous, with this movie you laugh in spots, but never outside the realm of still feeling the lead character’s angst, issues, and struggles. It’s also got the Coen’s signature assortment of wonderfully rich, eccentric characters, and is directed beautifully, but what sticks with you most is the pervading and enveloping tone of melancholy. As one reviewer aptly put it, “everything is the color of stale cigarette smoke,”  and to me that’s part of what makes it so good. It just happened to take me a little longer to get there, since it was not what I was expecting when I first pressed Play, and thus there was a lag in my own processing before I could really start fully  appreciating what I was watching. When all is said and done, to me this is one of those films that isn’t really about anything, and instead manages masterfully to be about everything.   

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