some (like john) would have you believe this is the best the coen brothers have to offer. i’ll agree that it may be their most funny film, it may even have some of the best performances, or the best soundtrack, but i really can’t say that it’s their best complete film. i think that fargo and blood simple are better films. raising arizona may be just as funny, o brother where art thou has a better title and a better soundtrack, and miller’s crossing has better cinematography and is more powerful. that said, it’s a moot point. these guys are great and they make great films, arguing over which is their best is like arguing over which is better: chocolate or vanilla. the answer is vanilla, by the way.
jeff bridges and john goodman both have great performances, this is clear. the writing is great, layered stuff that encapsulates the high and low art that the coen brothers do so well. i felt that bridges’ landlord was an excessive character and the sam elliot narration, bookends element is quizzical. i think it works, but i don’t know that there’s a really good reason to introduce/end the film that way. actually, i suppose it feeds the cinematic, self-aware feel that the rest of the film has. just as there is ccr playing as non-source music in one scene and it becomes diegetic, source music in the next scene without missing a beat. i don’t know that i’ve ever noticed that before. on occasion you’ll hear some music in a film and you’ll think it’s non-source music and then someone will close a door or turn a knob and the music will get lower, but i can’t recall having seen it before where the music continues from one scene where it was non-source music to the next where it is source music. it’s an interesting, albeit minor, element to that sequence.
the key here, though, is that the film is extremely enjoyable viewing after viewing.