I never did get to see the Steve Guttenberg version of THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE in its original 3-D, I must confess. What I got was a grainy, flat, eyestrain-inducing video version--but still, it was nothing more than a silly "invisible man" comedy with the typical naughty jokes and a little nudity thrown in--and, oh yes, some sort of spy plot. I don't see how the 3-D would have helped the actual movie, but I still wouldn't have minded. Still, quite an odd choice for a remake by the Coen brothers!
Differences--the 3-D is out, and old-fashioned black and white photography is in. Guttenberg is out, and Billy-Bob Thornton is in. And as far as I can tell, the entire story of the original has been ditched for a new approach to the material--there isn't even an invisible man in this version! Not one character or situation from the 1983 film has been recreated here--which leads me to believe that this might not even have been intended as a remake!
But what we have here is the Coens best film since FARGO--it's a loving tribute to hard-boiled film noir, expertly shot and with just enough of today's attitude to remind us of how the films that inspired it worked in their own day. An attempt to change one's life... a "two birds with one stone" blackmail... and of course, everything goes spiralling out of control.
Casting is perfect. Thornton and Frances McDormand deserve awards--James Gandolfini is similarly spot-on. And did any of you think Tony Shalhoub was a bad actor based on THIRTEEN GHOSTS? Nope--see what he does with a great script and great direction--his lawyer character threatens to steal the movie on occasion.
And there's plenty of off-the-wall Coen effect here, too--meaning that you should avoid spoilers and just see this movie before people blow too many details. You'll be glad you did, believe me.
O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? was more laugh-out-loud funny, but (for me), it lost track of itself somewhere around the halfway point. THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE is less blatant, but far more consistent and sustained--one leaves this film in a state of total satisfaction. Priority!
"Nya-nya, nya-nya, nyahh-nyahh... I made you eat your parents!!!" --Cartman
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