“Blood Simple” (1984) at Film Forum

Frances McDormand in "Blood Simple," at Film Forum, July 1 - 14.

Frances McDormand in “Blood Simple,” at Film Forum, July 1 – 14.

June 27, 2016.  From July 1 – 14 Film Forum will present a 4K restoration of the Coen Brothers’ tremendous 1984 debut film, “Blood Simple.” (“4K” is a high definition video format that is the current standard for film restoration. Simply put, it’s a really great copy of the movie, just as good, if not better, than when the film was released on actual film).

Often, when I attend Coen Brothers’ movies (brother Joel directs, brother Ethan produces, both write the screenplays), I feel as if there is a joke that everyone in the audience is in on…except for me. Fellow audience members seem to laugh at things which I just don’t get, or, if I do get them, I don’t find them to be funny. Maybe I’m just not “hip” enough (or maybe my fellow audience members are just acting “hip” since they are at a Coen Brothers’ movie and feel the need to act like a “hip, indy” type of audience). That having been said, maybe there is hope for me after all, because I really like “Blood Simple.” In fact, I will go so far as to say that “Blood Simple” is the Coen Brothers’ best film (“Big Lebowski” fans may start sending me their “hate” emails now).

I first discovered “Blood Simple” on VHS tape and now, re-discovering it, has been a great experience. Believe me, “Blood Simple” is light years better than the Coen Brothers’ last film, “Hail Caesar” (2016)…but that’s another critique.

The late film critic Roger Ebert was critical of movies in which if, the characters would just simply have a conversation about what was going on, they would figure out everything in about a minute, as opposed to needing the length of a feature film in which to do so, while the audience is way ahead of them. Granted, while this is a flaw in some movies, “Blood Simple” is the wonderful exception in which this idea of the characters having conversations about what is going on, but not quite getting to the real meaning of what has transpired, drives the story down long stretches of darkened Texas highways, the burial of a “dead” body that wont stay dead, blood, guns, suspense, double crosses, infidelity, a missing lighter and a gun toting corpse. The old expression, “When you ‘assume,’ you make an ‘ass’ of ‘u’ and ‘me’,” has never been more apropos, or taken to such an extreme, as it is in “Blood Simple.” Wrong assumptions abound while the characters act on them.

Blood Simple” boasts a great cast which includes future Coen Brothers regular (and wife of Ethan Coen) France McDormand, John Getz and Dan Hedaya. While they are all spot on, the performance that really carries this film is the sleazy investigator, played with deliciously evil delight by veteran character actor M. Emmet Walsh.

Blood Simple” is an atmospherically photographed, deliberately paced, well acted, “edge of your seat,” neo-noir movie made by two filmmakers who could not wait to show the world their stuff. If you haven’t seen it (or even if you have), go!

Film Forum is located at 209 West Houston Street. For more information visit http://www.filmforum.org.


About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on June 28, 2016, in Film Forum, Film Noir and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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