Miller’s Crossing (1990)
Brilliant freaking film full of beautiful cinematography and graphic violence and a complicated plot that takes a bit to get into and dialogue that’s sometimes hard to understand but is nonetheless very well written and structured. The film is so oddly stylish and hard-boiled; everything from the costumes to the characters to the dialogue to the story, all cleverly sown and brilliantly delivered in the unique, inimitable style of the Coen brothers. Bizarre, yet brilliant. Classic Coen. Loved it.
The film isn’t without its faults, though. The dialogue, as I mentioned before, is a bit hard to swallow at first. It’s all very fast and gritty, and spit at you in such a rapid, head spinning way that you’ll often find yourself wondering what language these people are speaking. It sounds like English, but sometimes, it makes you wonder. And it’s all delivered in such a flat, obviously showy, “written” manner, which can be very off-putting at times. But you get used to it, eventually, and once you do, man is it hilarious.
The acting too is somewhat stiff from just about everyone except Marcia Gay Harden, who is really good here, and pretty as heck. She looks like Kate Beckinsale, actually. Who would have thought? But, again, you get used to the stiff acting once you realize it’s all intentional, so much so that you don’t even realize there’s anything unusual about any of the performances. Never had that happen before. The stiffness is even part of the film’s charm in some ways, and I doubt the dialogue was ever meant to be delivered realistically anyway. It would have probably come across ridiculous had it been made to do so. Look at me, trying to justify poor acting in a film. A first.
Overall, though, great, great film. Lots of brilliant, classic Coen scenes, specifically the **SPOILERS** scenes in the woods, with John Turturro’s awkward, uncomfortable begging, and, later, the singing and vomiting and all that, **END SPOILERS** ha ha! Awesome, just brilliant. And the way it was shot, man. How do they come up with such weird, brilliant stuff like this? It’s so visually bizarre yet so perfect given the universe this film creates. It’s almost impossible to describe, yet perfect in its own weird way. The mark of true genius. It’s almost hypnotic in its brilliance; the kind of film that sucks you in and doesn’t let go until the very end, and even then, you’re left wanting more. At least I did. And so funny and quirky too, and violent as all hell, with some genuinely great “gangster” moments, like the awesome **SPOILERS** home invasion scene where the two hitmen try to off the boss guy Leo, only for him to turn the tables on them in one of the most hilariously over the top sequences I’ve ever seen. The moment where he shoots the guy near the window with a spray of bullets, causing him to twitch and dance about awkwardly from the impacts for almost a good 30 seconds, left me speechless. **END SPOILERS** How do they think of stuff like this? How?
Summary: Brilliant, brilliant film, with a complex plot that takes a bit to get into and may not all make sense in the end, but well rewards you for your patience. And so funny, and ridiculous, and unique. Sure, it has its flaws, but god damn is this thing great. Must watch!