Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder
The Man Who Wasn't There. I'd seen three other…
Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2001 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.
The Man Who Wasn't There. I'd seen three other Coen Brothers movies (Fargo, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and The Big Lebowski). Now that I've seen four, I can be pretty sure that I like the brothers' work. The clincher: a visual reference to the double-slit experiment, using the shadows of prison bars.
I hadn't watched a film in a very, very long time. I had forgotten what artistry in film could be, how really good cinema creates the extraordinarily absorbing experience that Pauline Kael hailed so.
As I learned last semester in 1939 Films, in film noir, the plot must always take a back seat to atmosphere. Mood and tone are the much more important effects. The shadows, well, overshadow the things that make them. And the Coens get this.