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Films by the Brothers Coen  

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edit PS: I know I need to see The Man Who Wasn't There again sometime, and some day I will. So give me a bit of time on that one -- I think it may have simply been the mood I was in when I first saw it.

I think so, Stef. If they were to erase the Coen name from the film and replace it with Kaurismaki, I wouldn't bat an eye. There is an amazing amount of craft to that film.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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  • 1 year later...
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Our very own vjmorton tells Christian Toto why he doesn't like Raising Arizona, calling it "a white minstrel show", etc. He also wonders if seeing the Lone Biker of the Apocalypse again after so many years will taint his appreciation for "one of [the Coens'] greatest creations, the avenging angel Anton Chigurh from NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. Not to mention the moral reversal of same."

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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They are all so much fun, ranking them seems like a merely didactic exercise, but ...

1 - The Big Lebowski (1998)

2 - True Grit (2010)

3 - O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

4 - Miller's Crossing (1990)

5 - Raising Arizona (1987)

6 - Fargo (1996)

7 - A Serious Man (2009)

8 - No Country for Old Men (2007)

9 - The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)

10 - Intolerable Cruelty (2003)

11 - The Ladykillers (2004)

12 - Burn After Reading (2008)

13 - The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)

14 - Barton Fink (1991)

15 - Blood Simple (1984)

I also always keep Romance & Cigarettes (2006) on my shelf next to the rest of these, but I guess it's not technically a Coen Brothers film (actually directed by John Turturro, and it does have a different feel).

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1 - The Big Lebowski

2 - A Serious Man

3 - No Country for Old Men

4 - O Brother, Where Art Thou?

5 - Fargo

6 - True Grit

7 - Raising Arizona

8 - Burn After Reading

9 - Lady Killers

10 - Blood Simple

11 - Miller's Crossing

12 - Intolerable Cruelty

Need to watch the rest again, to see where they rank...

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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Been a while since I ranked my favorite Coen films.

I love all of the movies in this top group, to varying degrees. Even though Raising Arizona is at the bottom of this group, I'd still watch it over most other films.

Fargo

Miller's Crossing

Barton Fink

The Big Lebowski

No Country For Old Men

The Hudsucker Proxy

The Man Who Wasn't There

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Blood Simple

Raising Arizona

I do not love these ones as much...though, at Jeff's suggestions elsewhere, I'm willing to give Intolerable Cruelty another shot.

Intolerable Cruelty

Burn After Reading

I have not (yet) seen True Grit, A Serious Man or The Ladykillers.

Edited by Jason Panella
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If you ask me, Chigurh is one of the weakest points of NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.

To each their own - I thought Chigurh/Bardem were damn convincing as evil incarnate in book and film.

I think the Coens go too cartoonish with the character given the strong realism surrounding film (a more subtle approach to Chigurh would have been more chilling than the comic book villain we got), and Bardem's performance is pretty one-note.

I don't mind Chigurh in the book.

I do not love these ones as much...though, at Jeff's suggestions elsewhere, I'm willing to give Intolerable Cruelty another shot.

Intolerable Cruelty

Burn After Reading

I must be one of the few people who really, really loves BURN AFTER READING.

Edited by Ryan H.
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I must be one of the few people who really, really loves BURN AFTER READING.

Maybe, but glancing at some of the recent lists above, it seems like most folks rank somewhere in the middle (and a few rank it over The Man Who Wasn't There, which I LOVED.)

Well, sure, but "somewhere in the middle" isn't the same as out-and-out love. In many ways, I think BURN AFTER READING is as fine a film as they've ever made, and if it weren't for THE BIG LEBOWSKI, it would be their best out-and-out comedy.

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Just wondering if there is any way that the moderators or administrators can edit the list of films to vote on. I think this was a thread started by Alan, and since his original posting the Coen's have made four more films - one Academy Award winner and two Best Picture nominees among them. There might be some out there who favor one of these four over those in the current list.

No Country For Old Men (2007)

Burn After Reading (2008)

A Serious Man (2009)

True Grit (2010)

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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Yeah, if those options were available, A SERIOUS MAN would be my pick.

That's the one film on the Coen's list (or not on the list, as the case may be) that I still have to see. I don't know how I keep overlooking it.

I've never tried editing any of the polls I've started, but I wonder if any adjustments to the poll might possibly nullify the current voting.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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But those who have already voted wouldn't be able to vote for them. Perhaps we should just start again?

Is there a way to reset the poll, or just start a new thread entirely?

Leaving the existing poll for legacy purposes (including the votes of people who no longer participate at A&F) and creating a new poll seems preferable to me.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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But those who have already voted wouldn't be able to vote for them. Perhaps we should just start again?

Is there a way to reset the poll, or just start a new thread entirely?

Leaving the existing poll for legacy purposes (including the votes of people who no longer participate at A&F) and creating a new poll seems preferable to me.

Yeah, that makes sense to me. As such, a new poll has been created by yours truly.

Edited by Ryan H.
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  • 1 year later...

Since I couldn't find an individual thread on Blood Simple (and since this post involves the Coen brothers in general anyway), I thought I'd post this here:

After watching Blood Simple for the first time tonight (which I loved, btw), I realized something I'd never realized before - namely, the extent to which the Coen brothers movies point at the larger corruption and violence that lies behind capitalism and the exchange of money. Blood Simple, with an opening narration that mentions Russia and communism (a point that is brought up, I think, only once more in the rest of the film), and contrasts that with Texas ("in Texas, you're all on your own"), seems to rather explicitly draw a connection between capitalism and blood.

Of course, it's not that the film is advocating communism or anything like that (in the words of the narration, communism is supposed to be for the good of everyone "in theory"), but it is interesting how the Coen brothers films bring attention to aspects of capitalism that we don't like to look at (e.g., the drug cartels in No Country for Old Men, and the extent to which that need is created and mediated by American capitalism).

Any thoughts? I haven't seen every Coen brother movie, so I'm sure there's a lot more to be made of this.

@Timzila

"It is the business of fiction to embody mystery through manners, and mystery is a great embarrassment to the modern mind." (Flannery O'Connor, Mystery and Manners).

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Since I couldn't find an individual thread on Blood Simple (and since this post involves the Coen brothers in general anyway), I thought I'd post this here:

After watching Blood Simple for the first time tonight (which I loved, btw), I realized something I'd never realized before - namely, the extent to which the Coen brothers movies point at the larger corruption and violence that lies behind capitalism and the exchange of money. Blood Simple, with an opening narration that mentions Russia and communism (a point that is brought up, I think, only once more in the rest of the film), and contrasts that with Texas ("in Texas, you're all on your own"), seems to rather explicitly draw a connection between capitalism and blood.

Of course, it's not that the film is advocating communism or anything like that (in the words of the narration, communism is supposed to be for the good of everyone "in theory"), but it is interesting how the Coen brothers films bring attention to aspects of capitalism that we don't like to look at (e.g., the drug cartels in No Country for Old Men, and the extent to which that need is created and mediated by American capitalism).

Any thoughts? I haven't seen every Coen brother movie, so I'm sure there's a lot more to be made of this.

I read this and thought immediately of one of the board room sequences in The Hudsucker Proxy, where Norville Barnes introduces his invention for the first time. The board members look on in confusion, not knowing what to make of the "dingus", but have the following discussion (I've hi-lighted the two lines that key in to your capitalism remark)...

[Norville Barnes introduces the "extruded plastic dingus" to the board members]

Board Member 1: What if you tire before it's done?

Board Member 2: Does it have rules?

Board Member 3: Can more than one play?

Board Member 4: What makes you think it's a game?

Board Member 3: Is it a game?

Board Member 5: Will it break?

Board Member 6: It better break eventually!

Board Member 2: Is there an object?

Board Member 1: What if you tire before it's done?

Board Member 5: Does it come with batteries?

Board Member 4: We could charge extra for them.

Board Member 7: Is it safe for toddlers?

Board Member 3: How can you tell when you're finished?

Board Member 2: How do you make it stop?

Board Member 6: Is that a boy's model?

Board Member 3: Can a parent assemble it?

Board Member 5: Is there a larger model for the obese?

Board Member 1: What if you tire before it's done?

Board Member 8: What the hell is it?

Another one off the top of my head is from Raising Arizona - When Nathan Arizona, owner of Unpainted Arizona, addresses the media after the kidnapping of Nathan Jr., he doesn't pass up the chance to remind folks that even though the situation is tragic, it's still business as usual at Unpainted Arizona.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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  • 6 months later...

The Coen Brothers Collection Blu-Ray set -- containing Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Miller's Crossing and Fargo -- is now for sale at Amazon for $19.49 this week (the SRP is $59.99).

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I just finished telling my mom that any birthday money I receive this week will go toward running gear. 

 

And now this. 

"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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  • 4 weeks later...

I am on a Coen Bros immersion for an upcoming essay. It has been stunning to see such a clarity of voice as early as the films covered in this box set - dealing with themes largely extending into their later cinema with little sense of redundancy. I fear I really missed the boat on Millers Crossing until a few recent viewings - this early on, these two had a very clear sense of what the world is and how that can be transmitted through various framing devices. 

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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