March 10, 2008
| by Marshal Rosenthal
The Coen brothers a tale unfold, they. In the same spirit as Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven,” you find a cast of characters that have weathered time, with the cracks in their souls etched on their faces. As for the plot, let’s not ruin it. Just know there’s a psychopathic killer running around, a determined sheriff as well as millions of drug-dollars that make their way to someone who vainly hopes to keep it. Of course it wouldn’t be a Coen film if things proceeded smoothly or logically.
This is a splendid use of high-definition: not because of the massive dose of special effects that need to be highly defined, but due to the intimacy of people doing good and evil deeds in the “real” world. All of this becomes more real from the strength of HD. Add the incongruous beauty of the locale, razor-sharp and benign in contrast, to that of the bipeds and your HDTV will be thanking you. Then again, the films R-rating is well-deserved, and it’s not because of strong language, so those with weak stomachs be warned.
Audio contributes to the mood and surround use adds to that. But I wouldn’t say the uncompressed audio makes a difference in comparison to use of standard Dolby Digital. It might seem bizarre to say that this is a “talkie” film, but with dialogue so important it has to come across without problems (Tommy Lee Jones’ voice being a joy to listen to). Certainly the PCM soundtrack accomplishes this, but DD handles it just as well.
And considering how well-deserved the accolades (four Academy Awards, including Best Picture) have been for this film, it’s a real shame the disc’s bonus features don’t astound. Not only are they in standard-definition, but they run the ho-hum gamut (imagine your typical behind-the-scenes info). In this case, a director’s commentary would have been most merited, but it’s not to be.