Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My Momentarily Definitive Coen List: #14


The Coen. Brothers need not my praise.  They're minds have brought forth two best picture winners, and a slew of fantastic adventures spanning three decades.  Ranking their films (rather arbitrarily, I might add) simply gives me an excuse to spend some well-valued time inhaling their majesty.

You know, for kids!

No, Norville, I don't know.

I'm not sure who this film is for.  I've been told that The Hudsucker Proxy is chalk full of references to films from the thirties and forties.  Clearly there's some Buster Keaton as well as Modern Times action slipping in there.  The art design is elegant and vast.  Paul Newman is a perfectly sordid villain.  And the cinematography is just sparkling.  But for what?  What's the point here, folks?

In my likely unwelcomed opinion, Proxy fails to be greater than the sum of its parts.  For the pedestrian film, the fun varnish would be enough to satisfy my retinas, but these are Bros!  We're supposed to be able to chew on the films curds for days post-experience.

I'll make an unfair comparison now.  The Hudsucker Proxy reminds me of the lukewarm Christian.  The lukewarm creation bobs around, in and out through various (admittedly amusing) life events, seemingly never fully aware of its being, and ceases to exist one day.  And yet, because of the "Christian" tag, the lukewarm individual is able to splice his life-events with all these spiritual verbiages.  The third act of Proxy suddenly involves a God and Satanesque battle that is never explained or made relevant.  If you're going to go all meta on me, if you're going to tailor yourself a Christian, then go the whole distance.  Buy into the concept.  Why the hell are these spiritual dudes suddenly concerned with the earthly fate of Norville Barnes?

I can say that I just don't get The Hudsucker Proxy.  I could say that, but that wouldn't necessitate its inclusion as my least favorite Coen Brothers' flick.  What does necessitate its existence here is that not only do I not get the film, but I don't even know what I don't get.  It's not an known unknown.  It remains an unknown unknown.

The Coen Brothers, with all the polish their films always have, tend to hold me back at arm's length.  I am interested, intrigued, and envious of these characters in a zoo that they show me, but I rarely actually feel that I myself could walk through the cages and play house with the animals.  The characters and I remain wholly apart.  Proxy is no exception, yet at this zoo the lines I have to wait in to get a decent view of the specimens are just too tedious for me.  There's too much in the way.

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