Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My Favorite Movie of the Last 10 Years . . .

My son brought home a movie the other night that I had not seen in a few years, but that I had liked and watched many times. We watched it, and I am ready now, 9 years since its release, to nominate it as my number one and best movie of the last 10 years.

I am referring to Joel and Ethan Coen's, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou. My wife, son and I enjoyed it last night as if we were watching it for the first time, or more correctly, enjoyed it more than watching it for the first time.

The dialogue is perfect, from the first line, "any of you boys smithies," to the last.

One knows immediately who the main characters are, and what they are like. And what the conflict is.

The bad guy is bad.

It does not try to be funny. It does not try to be current or counter-current. It is not cute. The music is wonderful (Ralph Stanley, John Hartford, Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, etc) and new to one's ear. It is a joy to view and hear.

I can not think of anything I would change. It is movie perfection, at least to me. The Coen brother's translation of Homer's Odyssey (circa 850 BC) to the 1930's South makes it even more enjoyable as one looks for parallels (I have to admit finding only the most obvious).

I have liked many movies in the last 10 years. But I would put them in a "good" category, not great, when compared to Oh Brother, Where Art Thou. That's my opinion, but I am no film afficionado.

What's your favorite of the last 10 years?
Maybe I have forgotten something?

But who can forget these lines spoken by George Clooney's, Ulysses Everett:
"Well, any human being will cast about in a moment of stress. No, the fact is, they're flooding this valley so they can hydroelectric up the whole durn state. Yes, sir, the South is gonna change. Everything's gonna be put on electricity and run on a paying basis. Out with the old spiritual mumbo jumbo, the superstitions, and the backward ways. We're gonna see a brave new world where they run everybody a wire and hook us all up to a grid. Yes, sir, a veritable age of reason. Like the one they had in France. Not a moment too soon."

"Tell me, Muse, of the man of many ways"


Anonymous said...

Hey Fran Thanks for the movie recommendation. I've never heard of Dale's Donuts or Rocco Pizza. If I'm ever in Ft. Worth again, I'll have to try them. You didn't list Paris Coffee Shop in your top 11. I know about most of the others. The Sweet Shop just moved out--that was one of my favorites too. Later, CJC

Jennifer said...

It never occurred to me that the movie paralleled The Odyssey. I have to watch it again now. The music is fabulous. Best movie in the last 10 years? I don't think I have enjoyed any in that time frame, but I will drop everything for "Rudy" or "Steel Magnolias".

Rambler said...

As it happens, O Brother... is on Spike tonight at 8pm central time. I never cared for southern gospel music until I saw this movie.

My favorite movies in the last 10 years? Easily The Lord of the Rings and the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Harry Potter movies. ...Sorceror's Stone was too Home Alone (thank you, Chris Columbus) and ...Chamaber of Secrets is my least-favorite story.

Francis Shivone said...

I was going to mention Lord of the Rings as my second favorite. Didn't see any Harry Potter. Loved Spiderman 1. I think the music is folk, old country, mountain folk, even a little of old southern Gospel and negro spiritual. Definitely not the modern Garth Brooks/Memphis country.

I like the authentic sound and simplicity.

Gene Siskel lives (really Rambler) said...

I liked all three Spiderman movies, not to mention Batman Begins and (!) The Dark Knight.

Does it say something about our culture that comic books and fantasy stories get made into wonderful movies? Or maybe it says something about me. :-)

For some interesting hits, google movies made since 2000.

Jake Good said...

Its interesting to note the Odyssey reference... as most stories are extrapolations on classic fables. I remember studying this in high school, but admittedly, if you ask me for an example now, I would have a hard time coming up with an easy one.

Francis Shivone said...

As to the Odyssey connection. It does tip you at the beginning of the movie with the quote.

Correction: As I read about the parallels today I learned that the Coen boys connected the Odyssey with the movie after the start of the filming, that is, they began to see a connection so they went with it.

So it's not really a translation or modern interpretation as much as it is an incorporation of some of the characters and actions.

Wikipedia has a nice summary of parallels:

Sunni R. said...

It's easily one of the best soundtracks ever! So much musical talent packed into one movie. Most of the musicians also make cameos in the film. Funny observation by Dan Tyminski's wife (guy who sings "Man Of Constant Sorrow"- Alison Krauss' bandmate): Someone asked her if it was weird seeing Dan's voice coming out of George Clooney on film, she said something to the effect of "only in my dreams until now." Ha!

Francis Shivone said...

Sunni: I did not know the musicians had cameos, my boys and I did go to see the Allison Krause and the others on tour after the movie.