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Found 16 results

  1. So, here it is. The new Coen bros. thread, complete with a brand new poll. The old thread is here. Vote and discuss as you see fit. My vote? A SERIOUS MAN.
  2. The next Coen Brothers film... starring Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem.
  3. The LA Times reports... and the AV Club follows up.
  4. I usually find myself the ambivalent cousin to the family of Coen admirers, but I confess this movie worked well for me. The anthology format plays to what I consider the Coens' strengths--quick and precise characterization and scenes with multiple layers--while downplaying what I consider their weaknesses--tonal shifts that are initially endearing but too numerous and quirkiness (or grotesques) for their own sake rather than in service to a larger story. I did think it went on one story too long, so I might downgrade it a half star on a second viewing if I can't figure out how that chapter relates to what I thought was the whole, but I am glad I saw this in the theater rather than streaming.
  5. Finally took another step out of the darkness of pop cultural illiteracy. Saw THE BIG LEBOWSKI. Pretty funny. Fun performances. At a certain point, I was trying to think what the movie reminded me of. Couldn't, so I said out loud "I've never seen a movie like this." But not long after that The Dude arrived at the police chief's office, and I realized we were watching the Coens turn Chandler inside out. It's THE BIG SLEEP (and probably lots of other Philip Marlowe novels); Los Angeles, rich father hires dick to find nympho-porno daughter, blackmail, knotted plot. Loved that final shot, the two monologues framed with strikes. Wonder how many takes? Depends how good the bowler was. Love to hear what people make of this. There's more going on than meets the eye. But how much more? It's seemed to me over the years that Christians make much of this movie. Surely it's not just because one of the bowlers is named Jesus. Or is there something going on with that that's eluding me? And it seems like there's something here about contrasting the rich and poor Lebowskis - one making a fetish of success and ambition (though in a wheelchair, living off his wife's money), the other mostly, well, just chilling. Sabbath stuff thrown in the mix. And that strange cowboy character, who's glad there's somebody out there like The Dude, "for all us sinners" (or something to that effect). Makes me think of the Marlowe character in Chandler's books, a "good man" in a mean world: is The Dude a similar sort of tarnished innocent? Has anybody decoded this? Seems like a hodge-podge to me, but I'm willing to be enlightened. Ron P.S. And lest you think I'm making this stuff up, here's an excerpt from a CT piece related to THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST that I liked. But now I'm wondering how LEBOWSKI fits with BREAKING THE WAVES or MAGNOLIA (and how LOST IN TRANSLATION fits with any of them, for that matter). Madeleine L'Engle writes wittily that God "chooses his artists with as calm a disregard of surface moral qualifications as he chooses his saints." If God uses anyone he pleases to tell his stories, we never know when or where he is going to show up. We never know when a door might open to the numinous, and so we must be alert to all art. In fact, we might pay attention to "secular" films even more for this reason. L'Engle continues, "If I cannot see evidence of incarnation in a painting of a bridge in the rain by Hokusai, a book by Chaim Potok or Isaac Bashevis Singer, in music by Bloch or Bernstein, then I will miss its significance in an Annunciation by Franciabigio, the final chorus of the St. Matthew Passion, the words of a sermon by John Donne." To translate this into modern, filmic terms: if we are unable to see hints of incarnation in Lars Von Trier's Breaking the Waves, Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation, the Coen Brothers' Big Lebowski, P.T. Anderson's Magnolia�we are likely to miss the truth in Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ. P.P.S. The conclusion of Chandler's "The Simple Art Of Murder"; In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption. It may be pure tragedy, if it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man. But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor � by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world. I do not care much about his private life; he is neither a eunuch nor a satyr; I think he might seduce a duchess and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin; if he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things. He is a relatively poor man, or he would not be a detective at all. He is a common man or he could not go among common people. He has a sense of character, or he would not know his job. He will take no man's money dishonestly and no man's insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him. He talks as the man of his age talks � that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness. The story is this man's adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. He has a range of awareness that startles you, but it belongs to him by right, because it belongs to the world he lives in. If there were enough like him, the world would be a very safe place to live in, without becoming too dull to be worth living in. P.S. The above entry originally said "THE BIG CHILL" instead of "THE BIG SLEEP." Gratitude to Mr T'shuvah for pointing out that rather misleading - and slightly embarassing, for a Chandlophile such as myself - error.
  6. George Clooney will join the Coen Brothers yet again for Hail, Caesar! This plot sounds more like a Christopher Guest project than a Coen Brothers film...
  7. I posted this bit of info in our Ridiculous Remakes thread about 6 months ago, and now that casting rumors have begun, I thought I would start an actual thread. The Coen Brothers are set to remake True Grit, although keeping their film closer to the actual book. I've never read the book, mainly because the original film has never inspired me to pick it up. I not a big fan of the John Wayne film... everyone either overacts (Wayne), acts stiff as a board (Kim Darby), or flat out can't act (Glen Campbell). Only the villains come off smelling like a rose. This morning, Variety announced that Jeff Bridges is in discussions to play Rooster Cogburn. Story here. Moderators - Hmmmmm.... I hit "New Topic" while in the District 9 thread in the Film Forum, yet this posted in the Film Awards, Festivals, & Lists forum. Could someone move this to the proper forum? Thanks!
  8. Anders

    Fargo (1996)

    What with the upcoming release of Intolerable Cruelty, and the release of this special edition DVD today, I thought I'd give Fargo a spin, seeing as I hadn't seen it in a good 4-5 years. A few random thoughts: This was the first Coen Bros. film I'd ever seen. And it's still great. Not my favorite of their's, those honours go to The Big Lebowski or O Brother, Where Art Thou depending on my mood, but it's still really good. I know that a lot of people on the board have mentioned that the Coen's almost seem to dislike there characters, that there's an almost mocking, cruel tone in the way some of the characters in the film are portrayed. However, in the case of Margie and her husband, I found their scenes rather touching. One of the more gentle portrayals of marriage I can recall in recent films. Also, Steve Buscemi, I love the guy. He's such a scumbag in this film, but still I crack a smile every time he's on screen. The scariest part of the film was the fact that N. Dakota and Minneapolis look so much like parts of Saskatchewan. Quite frightening actually. What does everyone else think?
  9. Yes. I love Richard Kind. And it makes so much sense that he's becoming a Coen Brothers star. QUOTE The Coen brothers have tapped a pair of relative unknowns to star in their next pic, "A Serious Man." Michael Stuhlbarg, a Tony-nominated actor with little experience in front of the cameras, and Richard Kind, a character actor best known for his role on ABC's "Spin City," will star as brothers in the period black comedy. Set in 1967, story centers on Larry Gopnik (Stuhlbarg), a Midwestern professor whose life begins to unravel when his wife sets out to leave him and his socially inept brother (Kind) won't move out of the house.
  10. Shucks. Turns out my sister-in-law, who does PR for Bloomingdale's, works with a local ad agency that screens films before their commercial release. She forwarded me a pass to see tonight's screening of "Intolerable Cruelty," but it looks like I'll have to skip it. That's the bad news. The good news is that my wife will be able to see it instead. One of us has to stay home with the baby, and because I skipped out on Saturday night for "men's movie night" at a friend's place (we watched "American History X") and will do so again Friday for "war movie night" at another friend's (probably will be "Black Hawk Down," which I've never seen), I did the chivalrous thing and sacrificed my opportunity to see the new Coen brothers movie -- a movie I'm much more interested in than "American History X" (although I thought it was quite good) and "Black Hawk Down." Oh well. As usual, I'll be living vicariously through the critics on this board, so I eagerly await word on "Intolerable Cruelty." I wonder if Joel and Ethan can pull it off...
  11. No thread on this, it seems. I wish I could do something like justice to all the things going on in this film. It's obviously a very dark portrayal of the writing process (and, I suppose, the art-making process in general) and the demons that can arise from it. And it's very honest in facing the perversity of the mind of a writer, who can so easily come to care more about describing the world than observing it, and writing about people rather than listening to them. It takes well-deserved shots at both highbrow and popular culture. It's a playful dance through various dialogue and visual styles. It's both a tribute and a send-up of the history of the cinema. (I caught the Godfather reference, for example; no doubt many others went over my head.) But I feel like there's something more going on, something I can't quite put my finger on. In the end, it seems hard to say whether Barton's troubles are his just punishment or simply the doom that awaits all artists. In some mysterious way, the untold depths of darkness and evil in which his naive strivings for the "common man" land him are an integral part of his creative process. It's not clear, however, whether this involves any true redemption, or what the nature is of the baggage that this horror saddles him with and which he apparently feels the need neither to examine and face up to, nor to discard once and for all. The difference between good and bad art is questioned and blurred, and so is the line between art and life - even mediocre, boring art. All these questions come together in the radically unresolved ending, which left one of the friends I was watching the movie with actually yelling at the TV again and again in an ecstasy of frustration: "F*** you, Coen brothers! F*** you, Coen brothers! F*** you, Coen brothers!" I think this is a film worth going back to and studying. At this point, I'm not even certain whether I liked it, though I think I did. But I know I want to think about it more. I know there are a few people on this board who count this among their favorite movies. What do you all think?
  12. Just a glimpse of the NEXT Coen Brothers flick, a remake of the Alec Guinness comedy The Ladykillers... Tom Hanks, Ryan Hurst, Marlon Wayans, Tzi Ma and J.K. Simmons in THE LADYKILLERS JK Simmons! Woo hoo!! These pics come from http://www.empiremovies.com/movies/2004/th...dykillers.shtml
  13. Just rented this one from the Coen Brothers, and like all Coen collaborations it left me feeling I'd witnessed great moviemaking and pondering the meaning for days. If there's an existing thread on this or the Coens, please redirect; meanwhile I'd like to start a dialogue about this one because it's been replaying in my brain. Unfortunately the library only had the VHS, so no benefit of director's commentary or other DVD extras that would help decipher the plot. Acting was super (Frances McDormand was great as usual; Tony Shalhoub was almost unrecognizable in his best role ever as a slick lawyer); cinematography was mesmerizing; toying with the noir genre while updating some of its conventions was effective. So what's it all about? What stayed with me most is the notion that silence within marriage is a deadly force. Thornton's character, Ed, is taciturn, apparently one-dimensional; he relates how his wife Doris proposed marriage after a few dates because she wasn't going to learn much more about him than she already knew, and he concedes that's true. So you've got a married couple believing they know everything about one another, therefore shutting down lines of communication, eventually leading to a series of miscommunications and tragedy. Ed's initial plan to get $10,000 to invest in a dry-cleaning business hinges on his (apparently correct) belief that Doris is sleeping with her boss, James Gandolfini; rather than confront her he starts a stealth blackmailing campaign to extort the money from Gandolfini. Gandolfini miscalculates the source of the blackmail note, confides in Ed, and kills the man he thinks is responsible; eventually all the major characters end up accused of and paying for crimes they didn't commit, although none of them are exactly innocent. There are a few overt Christian references: Ed commenting that he and Doris attend church once a week -- for Bingo -- and that he doubts Doris believes in an afterlife; as Ed stares at a crucifix he says he feels a sense of peace and comfort in church; before he's executed, he prays he'll be reunited with Doris in a place where there'll be some means of communication to say what he couldn't say on earth. The most honest moment between the couple comes when Ed appears to be lying in order to save Doris from being convicted of a murder she didn't commit; there's a moment of connection between Thornton and McDormand that's so well-suited to both actors' understatedness. Another resonant moment is at a relative's wedding, when a drunken McDormand keeps saying to the bride, "It's (marriage) so g--damn wonderful" over and over. Much about the movie was over my head; as usual, the Coens' quirky collection of characters and quips is greatly entertaining, but I've gotta say the subplot with Scarlett Johannson as a teen-age pianist lost me, as did the very strange scene involving Gandolfini's wide-eyed widow who thinks her husband was abducted and probed by aliens (very entertaining scene, still). Then there's a question directed at Ed by two different characters -- "What kind of man are you?" Is the idea that even Ed doesn't know what kind of man he is? Or that he's known all along, and his Mr. Cellophane act is just an act? This is a disjointed post, I know, but any fellow A&F'ers who can weigh in with some thoughtful interpretation will be much admired.
  14. After No Country For Old Men, it'll be... BURN AFTER READING Starring Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Marge Gunderson. The Coens directing Pitt... at last! The story involves "a CIA agent who loses the disc of the book he is writing."
  15. For the past couple years I've been working on a movie book: started planning it summer of 2002, started writing summer 2003, but it got side-tracked a year ago when events at my theatre company suddenly demanded all my attention. Well, today I'm jubilant: after almost exactly a year lying fallow, seasons have changed and I'm back at it again! My board of directors has given me a month of sabbatical time now and another three next year to compensate for the time lost this past season, and after a week or so labouring to get re-engaged with the darn thing, I finally got back to the writing today and have cranked out my next piece. Colour me exhilarated! Anyhoo, here's the first draft of the first of this next round of pieces. Any other O BROTHER fans out there? O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? (USA, 2000) Well that's it boys, I been redeemed! The preacher done warshed away all my sins and transgressions. It's the straight-and-narrow from here on out and heaven everlasting's my reward! Delmar, what are you talking about? We got bigger fish to fry... The jokiness of the Coen brothers' southern-fried Odyssey means it's unlikely to touch the deep places of the human heart, but hey � so what? It's a lot of fun. The unexpected thing is that this shaggy dog yarn unravels in a cartoony world that's also surprisingly moral, taking seriously things like salvation and prayer. Not that "serious" is a word we really should apply to anything here: Joel and Ethan are in their most playful mood this time out, gleefully juggling Deep South and Depression era mythologies with twinkle-in-the-eye movie references (like a Ku Klux Klan ceremony choreographed like the *** in THE WIZARD OF OZ!), glorious old time music and campy riffs on Greek mythology. The Coens admit no more than a Classics Illustrated acquaintance with Homer, but the tie-ins are daffy and delicious: we've got one-eyed Bible salesmen, beguiling sirens, fellow travelers turned into animals and a gospel-singing blind Teiresias. Ulysses' Greek name, Odysseus, translates to "man of pain and sorrow," and when George Clooney's stooge-like trio of chain gang escapees cut a record under the alias Jordan Rivers & The Soggy Bottom Boys, it's the traditional "Man Of Constant Sorrow" that becomes their theme song. On first viewing, this film felt slight to me: the glorious soundtrack, featuring roots-gospel luminaries like The Fairfield Four, Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss, promised a spiritual potency that the silliness of the rest of the film didn't come close to fulfilling. Sure Delmar and Pete got baptized and saved, but the absurd suddenness of those conversions and their "dumber'n a bag of hammers" characterizations seemed to shrink the significance of those events, rendering them nothing more than the occasion for plenty of good-ol'-boys-get-religion gags. Seeing the film a second time, that whole perception turned on its head. Sure this is a looney-tunes world, but if Pete and Delmar are hilariously naive and mostly just plain dumb, they're also just plain right more often than not, particularly when they put their trust in God or give credence to the words of the flatcar prophet. The most truly foolish of this gathering of likeable fools is Ulysses Everett himself, whose deliciously overblown rhetoric glibly explains away the Inexplicable and denies events that are, within the world of the story, undeniably miraculous � answered prayer, deliverance from death and prophecies fulfilled, even unto a cow on the roof of a cottonhouse "and oh so many startlements!" And inevitably, Everett's rational evasions just lead ever more impossible tasks on the road to his promised salvation. If Everett is the kind of fool whose false wisdom is mocked in the biblical Book of Proverbs, his redeemed side-kicks point the way to another kind of foolery that's praised in Saint Paul's first letter to the Corinthians; "Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Were is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards, but God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things, so that no one may boast." Like a piece of rock candy or some horehound twist tucked away under your tongue, this childishly sweet and mischievous story yields up its greatest pleasure gradually, over time. Where I once found its comedy superficial and its performances over-the-top, I now glory in the film's wise foolishness and serious fun, returning to favourite scenes over and over again. And when, out here in the less-wacky "real world," I listen to the pundits and professors of Nothingbutness summon up all manner of verbose and fancy justifications for their proposed world without wonder, I can't help but think of the obtuse and self-serving obfuscations of George Clooney's brilliantly-rendered Ulysses Everett McGill, and I find myself grinning. Check out SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS
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