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Arsenic and Old Lace is a rare Frank Capra comedy that eschews his usual social consciousness. There’s no Depression-era statement about the corrupting influence of money, as found in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936); no sermon about the double-dealing political machine from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939); none of the remarks from Meet John Doe (1941) about how politicians and the media have the capacity to sway the American people in a dangerous direction. Even It Happened One…
For Yorgos Lanthimos and his screenwriters of The Favourite, Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, history is an interplay of observation and anachronism. Set during the early 1700s in the court of Queen Anne, the English costume drama is shot with extreme wide-angle lenses, giving the vast interiors, ornamented with immense tapestries and huge, ornate furniture, the look of a fishbowl enclosure into which the audience observes from a bemused distance. What unfolds is not a rigid or even Hollywoodized version…
The Coens examine death in some of their familiar stylistic modes, ranging from the Looney Tune brand of Raising Arizona to the comically fatalistic in Blood Simple, from the unironic embrace of genre in True Grit to the existential ponderings of A Serious Man.
If someone had never seen a Coen brothers film before, I would tell them to start here, and then go back and watch them all chronologically.
This is beautiful, contemplative filmmaking.
My full review: deepfocusreview.com/reviews/the-ballad-of-buster-scruggs/