Burn After Reading

No one loves idiots more.

The Coen brothers delight in concocting tales about people who think they know more than they do, morons who stumble in and out of danger, often ending up prematurely erased.

This pitch-dark comedy, while not on the top tier of their filmography, has some huge laugh-out-loud moments.

Especially from Brad Pitt as a man so remarkably stupid you expect him to forget how to breath at times.

From the mystery project George Clooney is building in his basement, to Frances McDormand’s letting the CIA buy her off with plastic surgery, this is primo tomfoolery.

 

Inside Llewyn Davis

He’s kind of a bastard.

The folk singer portrayed here by Oscar Isaac has talent, yes, but he also has a habit of burning bridges everywhere he goes.

Prickly when it comes to his music, he refuses to compromise his dreams of being a major star, but is all too willing to shaft those who are helping him along the way.

Possessing no filter, or at least no desire to use it if he does, it’s a wonder he only gets beaten up once as events play out.

But that beat-down is a dilly, so maybe we’re covered.

 

The Big Lebowski

“This aggression will not stand, man.”

It’s not my favorite Coen brothers film — nothing tops The Hudsucker Proxy, nothing — but this dark crime comedy is still better than 98.2% of what you were thinking about watching today.

Bopping along with The Dude (a fantastically-funky Jeff Bridges) as he faces off with nihilists, rich pricks, anger-filled best buds, and freaky bowlers, it’s among the most-quotable movies of the modern age.

The cast is truly stellar, the zingers are many, and it’s 117 minutes of bliss.

To which some may say, “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

Exactly.

 

True Grit (2010)

“I mean to kill you in one minute, Ned!”

Ask a man to step into the role that won John Wayne his Oscar, you better choose right, and once again the Coen brothers score big.

Jeff Bridges, with a few more burrs under his saddle than during his days as The Dude, is note-perfect, and he’s matched by Hailee Steinfeld, who delivers a knockout debut performance.

He’s a thoroughly-soused lawman with a still-deadly gun, she’s a revenge-seeking farm girl.

The result is a film which copped 10 richly-deserved Oscar nominations.

That it lost to the very-pedestrian The King’s Speech? Bullpucky.

 

No Country for Old Men

There are no clean getaways.

My favorite filmmakers, the Coen brothers, finally got the biggest Oscar for a story of men dying in the pursuit of ill-gotten money.

It’s not quite the equal of Fargo, nor my personal #1 pick from their filmography — The Hudsucker Proxy — but it’s better than 97% of what Hollywood delivers.

Javier Bardem has the showiest role as a grim reaper driving dusty backroads accompanied by just his trusty, bolt-firing gun, but it’s Tommy Lee Jones who provides the battered heart.

Staring into the abyss, he refuses to blink, one last good man in a very bad world.