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The Essentials: The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)

A laconic, chain-smoking barber blackmails his wife's boss and lover for money to invest in dry cleaning, but his plan goes terribly wrong. (R, 116 min.)

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Sunday, November 27, 2022

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Monday, November 28, 2022

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Synopsis: A dark tale of infidelity and murder, crime and punishment. Set in a small northern California town of the late 40s, the film portrays Ed Crane (Billy Bob Thornton), a barber dissatisfied with his life. His wife Doris' (Frances McDormand) infidelity presents Ed with an opportunity for blackmail that he thinks will help him to change it. However, Ed's scheme unravels and lays bare even darker secrets. [RT]

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, Michael Badalucco, James Gandolfini, Tony Shalhoub, Scarlett Johansson
Director(s): Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Genre(s): Crime, Drama

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"A loving tribute to midcentury cinema."

— Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times

"Technically, it's the Coens' most accomplished work to date."

— Michael Rechtshaffen, Hollywood Reporter

"I felt so thoroughly inside this environment I almost didn't need a story."

— Steven Rosen, Denver Post

"Steadily engrossing and devilishly funny, and, o brother, does it look sharp."

— Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

"It's the best-looking film of the year, hands down, and Thornton is dazzling."

— Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle

"The film is marvelous fun on its own terms -- I laughed all the way through it."

— David Edelstein, Slate

"When you're in the hands of the Coen brothers, you're in for sheer originality."

— Desson Thomson, Washington Post

"An unconventional, unpredictable thriller that Hitchcock probably would have enjoyed."

— James Berardinelli, ReelViews

"a gripping, unusual and challenging work from the most consistently brilliant filmmakers of the last decade."

— Kim Newman, Empire Magazine

"Outstanding performances from the entire cast, especially Tony Shaloub as Califonia's leading criminal defense lawyer."

— Nell Minow, Movie Mom

"For all its long shadows and ominous atmosphere, this is a very funny movie -- as funny as the Coens' masterful 'Fargo.'"

— Bill Gallo, New Times (L.A.)

"A lovingly done recreation of the classic, brooding film noir visual style, reeking with atmosphere and gloriously black and white."

— Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

"So assured and perceptive in its style, so loving, so intensely right, that if you can receive on that frequency, the film is like a voluptuous feast."

— Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"It's an entirely conceived work of art, dark and hopeless and maybe even callous, but glittering and wonderful in its determination and in its craft."

— Shawn Levy, Portland Oregonian

"It's the latest and one of the best entries in a genre whose highest philosophical expression is the whiplash realization that the universe doesn't play fair."

— Stephen Hunter, Washington Post

"Like all the Coens' movies, 'Man' is supremely self-aware and darkly, hellishly funny. It's also brilliantly written and acted to a fare-thee-well by an outrageously good cast."

— Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

"The Coens have used the noir idiom to fashion a haunting, beautifully made movie that refers to nothing outside itself and that disperses like a vapor as soon as it's over."

— Dana Stevens, The New York Times

"If this were not such great American-vernacular moviemaking -- hilarious yet hypnotic -- one would be tempted to see something Greek in the tragedy that Ed never comprehends."

— Richard Schickel, Time