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Movie Review: The Man Who Wasn't There

Story: I am a big Coen Brothers' fan. Any film these days that can hold my interest automatically gets 5 Lobo Howls to start. The Coens always keep me guessing. They take you on a fun ride with story, and characters that are usually different, not always successful, but worth the price of admission. This is a monochromatic tale (that means it's in black and white) of adultery, blackmail and murder in 1949, California. This film is a tribute to those wonderful 'noir' films of the 40's. The lighting, the sets, and camera angles are all simply great. The Coens do not always wrap their stories up - which could present a problem to some viewers who want a solid beginning, middle and end. I happen to like a bit of chaos and enjoy these imperfections. And any film that has a glimpse of Roswell (one of my favorite topics) works for me.

Acting: Billy Bob Thornton (who is on my all time wacky actor list) was fabulous. He dropped the Sling Blade simpleton that he has been playing for too many years and was transformed into The Man Who Wasn't There. His understated performance hits the mark. Frances McDormand (Fargo), as always, was great as the wife. Tony Shalhoub (Big Night) as the lawyer, was perfect. Young Scarlett Johansson (Ghost World) is having a banner year and will be someone to watch for quite a while. James Gandolfini, (our beloved, Tony Soprano) is so large as the Tony Soprano character in my mind it is always hard to get that role out of my head. Actually, all of the cast could not have been better. Kudos to all.

Critters: One very large pig.

Food: There were a few scenes with food, but because of the black and white cinematography, I can't remember what they were eating. It seems all gray to me.

Visual Art: The attention to detail in a Coen film is part of the fun. The wonderful period art on the walls is fabulous.

Blatant Product Placement: None.

Soundtrack: Lots of wonderful music featuring Beethoven.

Opening Titles: I honestly don't remember. I was preoccupied with my popcorn.

Theater Audience: Just me and one other creepy guy who sat in the last row.

Quirky Meter: 5

Predictability Level: Part of the joy of a Coen Brothers' film is not knowing where they are taking you next.

Oscar Worthy: Billy Bob will surely get a nomination.

Nit Picking: It meanders during the last 15 minutes.

Big Screen or Rental: Big Screen. For a Coen brothers festival weekend you could rent: Blood Simple, The Hudsucker Proxy, Miller's Crossing, The Big Lebowski (my favorite) and, of course, Fargo.

Length: 2 hours

LOBO HOWLS: 7