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The Man Who Wasn't There (2001) DVD

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With The Man Who Wasn't There the Coen brothers--those ironic geniuses of left-field bizarre--have pulled off another side-swerve into the unexpected. A movie "about a hairdresser who wants to become a dry-cleaner" as the brothers gleefully claim to have pitched it, it's set in 1949 in the small Northern California town of Santa Rosa (venue for Hitchcock's 1943 classic Shadow of a Doubt) and filmed in lustrous, deep-shadowy black-and-white--an affectionate, though never slavish, tribute to the great era of film noir. Not only in its austere monochrome but in its tone, it comes as a total contrast to the Coens' previous film, the cheerfully picaresque O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Though they toss in plenty of surreal gags, including a whole running thread about flying saucers (this is Roswell-era America, after all), the overall mood is quiet, reflective and even--something quite new for the Coens--compassionate. Their protagonist, barber Ed Crane (Billy Bob Thornton, proving himself one of the great chameleon actors of our time), is a man trapped by his own impassivity--inside him, a seething mass of emotion that he's utterly unable to express. In true Coen style, his frustration leads him into a fatal move that spirals disastrously out of control. Thornton is ably supported by a whole gallery of Coen regulars--Frances McDormand, Jon Polito, Tony Shalhoub--plus James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) and an amazingly assured turn from Scarlett Johansson (Ghost World). The dialogue, as you'd expect, is masterly, while the brothers' regular collaborators Director of Photography Roger Deakins and production designer Dennis Gassner work wonders of period evocation, and Carter Burwell contributes a haunting score. On the DVD: The Man Who Wasn't There comes to DVD in a sharp, clean 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer that captures all the depth and subtlety of Deakins' superb photography, impeccably matched by the crystal-clear Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. A lavish helping of extras includes a trailer and two TV spots, stills photo gallery, filmographies, a 16-minute "making of" featurette, an overlong (47 minutes) interview with Deakins, a batch of deleted scenes, and best of all, the voice-over commentary. This gives us not just Joel and Ethan, but Billy Bob as well, chatting and chortling and clearly enjoying every second of the movie they've made. Their enthusiasm is irresistible. –-Philip Kemp

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Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 or region free DVD player in order to play A laconic chain-smoking barber blackmails his wife&39;s boss and lover for money to invest in dry cleaning but his plan goes terribly wrong

Billy Bob Thornton plays mild-mannered barber Ed Crane in this take on the 1940s film noir from the Coen brothers. Ed suspects that his wife Doris (Frances McDormand) is having an affair with her boss, department store manager Dave Nirdlinger (James Gandolfini). So when he's offered the chance to invest in the newly-developed technology of dry cleaning, he decides to get the $10,000 he needs by blackmailing Dave. However, when Ed and Dave get into a fight, and Ed kills Dave in self-defence, it is Doris who gets arrested and put on trial for the killing. Ed must now try to find a way to save his own wife from the electric chair.

  • Average Rating for The Man Who Wasn't There (2001) - 4 out of 5


    (based on 1 user reviews)
  • The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)
    fortunecooky6

    Beautifully shot in black and white, with haunting music by Beethovan and excellent acting by Billy Bob Thornton and others- this is a treat to behold. The Coen brothers as usual pull off the various tricks they use in their movies- the spinning wheels and the black humour of things going horribly wrong starting with a simple mistake- a barber becomes embroiled in a whole chain of events. A must for any middle aged man or woman to see and learn about the law of cause and effect !

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