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Reviewed June 23rd, 2001 by Brian White


So I just finished watching O Brother, Where Art Thou? It is the latest movie from the Coen brothers, who brought us Raising Arizona and the fantastic Fargo. The first thing that pops into my mind is, “thank God people are making movies like this.” O Brother gives us everything the Coens (and any great filmmaker) do well: not only are we taken to a different world, but we're taken on a ride that we don't expect with people that are both ordinary and alien at the same time. O Brother is very intelligent without being pretentious. Its high brows are always taken down by low brows. Also, the dialogue is very funny and well written. You'll find yourself quoting this film for a while.

If you are a fan of Fargo, then you'll love this movie. I don't understand the mixed reviews that this film received in its theatrical release.

Like Fargo, O Brother takes place in a different, but very familiar world. It is based on Homer's the Oddessy. Despite being afflicted by an arts degree, I must confess that I've never read or read about Homer. I know that much of our literature is influenced by Homer, but I was unable to recognize the classic elements of this film. Despite that, I still found it engrossing and hilarious. It is a mix of ancient drama, and American mythology.

George Clooney stars with John Turturro and Blake Nelson. They are runaway prisoners in search of treasure. Their trip soon becomes quite mystical. Not to give any of the great plot away, but they never end up where you think they're headed. They seem to be running either toward or away from fate.

Clooney is excellent. This movie is a great example of how underrated he is as an actor. Clooney speaks the snappy dialogue perfectly. All performances are top notch. John Goodman shows up as the Cyclops, Holly Hunter is Clooney's wife. Turturro disappears into his character very well.

The DVD looks very good. There is plenty of beautiful photography that conjures up a nostalgic and mythological view of the American south. It is as dusty and as clammy as you'd imagine, but wonderful at the same time. This is a stylishly and artistically shot film. The DVD is 2.35:1, anamorphic widescreen. It is a beautiful transfer that shows off the colors and other cinematography well.

DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes are included. I compared the two mixes on track 20, where the Soggy Bottom Boys perform, and the DTS mix provides more bass and atmosphere. The audio mix adds more to the aura of the film, rather than providing fireworks, although the unexpected gunshot toward the beginning made me jump.

For extras, we get a little featurette where the cast and crew discusse the Coens, and the Coens discuss the cast. This is an interesting peek into the filmmaking, but what is missing here is a director's commentary to provide more insight into this excellent film. Also included is a storyboard to film, multi-angle feature and a video for Man of Sorrow.


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