As is the case with much of what he writes, David Denby's long piece on the Coen brothers' oeuvre is frequently insightful and occasionally maddening. (Like Ross Douthat, I adhere more to the Matt Zoller Seitz view of the Coens as closet moralists than to the far more common complaint, echoed by Denby, that they are technically proficient nihilists.) But there are times in the piece where you get the sense Denby just hasn't been paying very close attention.
For example, in his discussion of Miller's Crossing (a marvelous film which he casually maligns), Denby writes that
a hat flying beautifully through the woods in “Miller’s Crossing,” ... [was] stuck somewhere between gag and symbol—a symbol without a referent. (Gabriel Byrne’s fedora, in “Miller’s Crossing,” epitomized the d