In a sense, viewing this iteration of Dumbo seated next to my mother was to come full circle: I watched the original film every single day for a month when I was a toddler - or so she tells me. Of course the Nietzschean themes of eternal recurrence and childlike wonder are so archetypal that the original film, a masterpiece written in the key of kitsch, uses them without so much as a wink or a nod to belie its philosophical quandary or artistic intent. This latest film had high standards to live up to.
“You always take the long way around to get what you want, don’t you, Tom?” asks Verna (Marcia Gay Harden) about halfway through Miller’s Crossing, the Coen brothers’ third feature. Tom (Gabriel Byrne), the closest thing the film has to a hero, only replies: “What did I want?” Like their leading man, the Coens tend to take the long way around, and most of the time, viewers come away from their films wondering what they wanted.