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The Films of the Coen Brothers  

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I saw True Grit again yesterday, and I loved it even more. But my favorite is still Raising Arizona (say what you will, I love the characters as much as I believe the Coens do, I love the dialects, and I love every hilarious line... wouldn't change a thing), with Barton Fink, and Fargo as two more A+ titles for me. The Big Lebowski, A Serious Man, The Hudsucker Proxy, and True Grit are next with solid A grades.

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A SERIOUS MAN is probably my favourite of their recent films, and FARGO is a remarkable film. But my vote for favourite has to go to THE BIG LEBOWSKI.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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This is like asking someone to keep only one toe and lop four others off. Ouch.

That said, today I went with The Big Lebowski. Could change at any time though. I'm not too moody, I've seen all of these (I think I even like them all), and there are probably five that would be contenders for the top slot at any time. Including Raising Arizona. Yes, Ryan. Two comedies are in my top slots for the Coens. :)

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I still haven't figured out why people like The Big Lebeowski.

Me neither. It's one of the few Coen movies that offends me.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Raising Arizona for me too. It's the only one that I really liked without any particular reservations, but I still have way too many gaps in my Coen viewing (which, at my rate, will probably take years to fill).

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I voted for Raising Arizona as well.

Next would be A Serious Man followed by True Grit, then No Country for Old Men.

Those three are more interesting from a spiritual, theologically questioning perspective. But there aren't many films out there that I get

a laugh out of more than Raising Arizona.

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As of right now, I'm surprised (thought not bothered) by the fact that A SERIOUS MAN is out in front of both RAISING ARIZONA and THE BIG LEBOWSKI. I think that might be a peculiarity of this board and its interests. (Even thought I voted for LEBOWSKI, I do really like A SERIOUS MAN and upgraded it from a 9 to a 10 on a reviewing earlier this year).

I'm surprised at the lack of votes for FARGO or NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, which I would have pegged as the most popular in the general public (barring LEBOWSKI and ARIZONA).

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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I'm also surprised that Barton Fink hasn't gotten any votes. Well, maybe I'm not surprised...I don't know many people that list it as their favorite Coen brothers movie, even if it is one they like. Still, I feel like it's a dense, rich movie that works on all different kinds of levels.

Oh, it was my favorite for a while. Love it. It was down between BARTON FINK, THE BIG LEBOWSKI, and A SERIOUS MAN. A SERIOUS MAN won. Yeah, my favorite Coen flicks are probably those three, along with BURN AFTER READING. The rest don't resonate with me.

Edited by Ryan H.
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I'm also surprised that Barton Fink hasn't gotten any votes. Well, maybe I'm not surprised...I don't know many people that list it as their favorite Coen brothers movie, even if it is one they like. Still, I feel like it's a dense, rich movie that works on all different kinds of levels.

Oh, it was my favorite for a while. Love it. It was down between BARTON FINK, THE BIG LEBOWSKI, and A SERIOUS MAN. A SERIOUS MAN won. Yeah, my favorite Coen flicks are probably those three, along with BURN AFTER READING. The rest don't resonate with me.

Sorry to ignore your earlier question to me about Lebowski, Ryan. I thought I'd written on that in other threads but am having a hard time finding even a brief mention over my Lebowski discomfort, which has to do with sensitivities involving drug use and pornography. That might seem prudish, but there are elements that I have a hard time getting past in broader stories, even comedies. I can think of other examples of movies I've liked in spite of such stuff -- including some other Coen Brothers films -- but Lebowski has never sat right with me. I've watched it a few times over the years, in very different life situations each time, and have had the same struggles with it. Considering its cast and directors, it was and remains a bitter disappointment.

I can see how others might be able to get past that stuff, considering the tone of the film. But to see it named by so many as their favorite Coen Brothers film? That surprises me and, hate to say it, kind of disappoints me. Am I allowed to say that? I love all you guys, but seriously: Lebowski?

After some reflection, I voted for A Serious Man.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I thought I'd written on that in other threads but am having a hard time finding even a brief mention over my Lebowski discomfort, which has to do with sensitivities involving drug use and pornography. That might seem prudish, but there are elements that I have a hard time getting past in broader stories, even comedies. I can think of other examples of movies I've liked in spite of such stuff -- including some other Coen Brothers films -- but Lebowski has never sat right with me. I've watched it a few times over the years, in very different life situations each time, and have had the same struggles with it. Considering its cast and directors, it was an remains a bitter disappointment.

Thanks for the explanation. We all have our scruples.

I can see how others might be able to get past that stuff, considering the tone of the film. But to see it named by so many as their favorite Coen Brothers film? That surprises me and, hate to say it, kind of disappoints me. Am I allowed to say that? I love all you guys, but seriously: Lebowski?

I did vote A SERIOUS MAN, but LEBOWSKI is the cinematic equivalent of the ultimate drinking buddy. It's warm, familiar, friendly, and never fails to put me in a good mood. And yeah, we need those serious friends to challenge us, to push us. But sometimes, we just need that good ol' pal to lighten our mood. LEBOWSKI is my go-to "cheer up" flick.

Edited by Ryan H.
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I go with A Serious Man because it is basically a distillation of almost every other Coen Brothers film. It serves as the theological center for their work. I am grateful that they made the film, as it makes very clear sense of why they do what they do.

Otherwise Raising Arizona is one of the films that made me start realizing what film is all about, so that one is high on my list.

"LEBOWSKI is the cinematic equivalent of the ultimate drinking buddy..." That is exactly right. Well stated.

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I'm also surprised that Barton Fink hasn't gotten any votes. Well, maybe I'm not surprised...I don't know many people that list it as their favorite Coen brothers movie, even if it is one they like. Still, I feel like it's a dense, rich movie that works on all different kinds of levels.

Barton Fink sits securely in my 2nd Place spot.

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Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Mmmm. Glad to see I wasn't the only one to cast a vote for O Brother. I know there are plenty of criticisms that can and have been leveled against it, but I just kinda love it more than any of their other films.

Raising Arizona is the only one I still haven't seen or watch again pretty much anytime. I've tried, but Nic Cage is the filmic equivalent of nails on a chalkboard to me in what I've seen of it.

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Given all the love for Raising Arizona here -- love that I share, incidentally, as much as one can when one hasn't seen the film since the '80s -- I might as well re-post that dialogue between Christian Toto (who loves the movie) and our very own vjmorton (who hates it, calling it "a white minstrel show", etc.; he also makes an interesting connection between the Lone Bicker of the Apocalypse in this film and the generally respected Javier Bardem character in No Country for Old Men).

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I'm also surprised that Barton Fink hasn't gotten any votes. Well, maybe I'm not surprised...I don't know many people that list it as their favorite Coen brothers movie, even if it is one they like. Still, I feel like it's a dense, rich movie that works on all different kinds of levels.

I love Barton Fink and would place it among the best of the Coens' films. While I've met a decent number of people who love it (mostly big Coen Bros fans), none of them claimed it as their favorite because there was always another that stood a little taller.

Here is a great article at Slate about averaging all the Coen Bros. rankings out there into one list to rule them all.

According to the article, Barton Fink is ranked as high as 2 on some lists and as low as 13 on other lists.

He eventually breaks down the Coens' work into categories:

The Trinity

Fargo

The Big Lebowski

No Country for Old Men

The Great Oddities

A Serious Man

Barton Fink

Raising Arizona

Superb Entertainments

Miller's Crossing

Burn After Reading

Blood Simple

True Grit

Interesting Misfires

The Man Who Wasn't There

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

The Hudsucker Proxy

Watchable

Intolerable Cruelty

Unwatchable

The Ladykillers

I think there's something to his list, though I have a few quibbles. Of course, for anyone who claims the title of "Coen Bros fan," it's really hard to pick any one of their films above the others, especially considering how varied their work is. One thing we can all agree on: The Ladykillers is the worst!

Edited by Gavin Breeden
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