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The Films of the Coen Brothers


The Films of the Coen Brothers  

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...I have a few quibbles.

Right off the bat, mine would be the categorization of The Man Who Wasn't There. Definitely should replace one of the films listed under great oddities (Raising Arizona perhaps?). Or expand that category to four films.

edit: Actually, perhaps I would just retitle the "Interesting Misfires" category... they are three films I find myself revisiting on a fairly regular basis.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

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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  • 1 month later...

Jeffrey Wells reflects on the turnaround in his assessment of Miller's Crossing.

I saw it again on Bluray this morning and everything changed. Now it's a near-masterpiece. Now I plan to watch it every year or so for the rest of my life.

Wow, did he really wait to rewatch it until its Blu-ray release? Better late than never.

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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  • 1 year later...

I found myself at Barnes & Noble Christmas Eve day, holding the Coen Brothers Blu-ray box set, which was priced at 40% off, and wondering if I should strike. I didn't, but now I have some gift cards to use. It's hard for me to justify repurchasing four titles I already own in another format, but those movies are so great.

"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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  • 3 months later...

Well, this was a hoot and a holler...

O Coen Brothers, Where Art God? A Conversation Between Matt Zoller Seitz and Jeffrey Overstreet

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

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

 

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I'll pile on and say it was a great read -- maybe a little too great, as I couldn't absorb everything in one sitting!

"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 concur! Excellent conversation, with many valuable observations throughout. I especially like this:

The Coens seem to get a kick out of tantalizing us with answers while laughing at the very idea that there could be answers.

and this:

But there is something out there, some kind of offer of grace, and when we glimpse that, goodness happens in us.

Well done, Jeffrey (and Matt).

Edited by Nathaniel

"A great film is one that to some degree frees the viewer from this passive stupor and engages him or her in a creative process of viewing. The dynamic must be two-way. The great film not only comes at the viewer, it draws the viewer toward it." -Paul Schrader

Twitter     Letterboxd

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...
  • 5 months later...

I went into Raising Arizona last night skeptically, thinking there was no way a Nicolas Cage comedy could ever surpass A Serious Man or True Grit or even Blood Simple.

 

How wrong can you get?

 

thumbsup.gif

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

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

 

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I found myself at Barnes & Noble Christmas Eve day, holding the Coen Brothers Blu-ray box set, which was priced at 40% off, and wondering if I should strike. I didn't, but now I have some gift cards to use. It's hard for me to justify repurchasing four titles I already own in another format, but those movies are so great.

A year later, this set was given to me by my wife as a Christmas present.

"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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  • 8 months later...

Chris Orr is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Blood Simple's Toronto Film Festival debut by writing about 16 Coen brothers films over 16 days.

"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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  • 1 year later...

Coen Bros. regular Jon Polito has passed away.  I had the pleasure of meeting him on my birthday last year, when he came to the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica for a 25th anniversary screening of Miller's Crossing.  Nobody in attendance gave him the high hat that night.

 

jon polito.jpg

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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  • 4 years later...

I've only seen three Coen brothers movies and frankly the only one I'd call great would be Fargo. It has such hilarious dialogue, Old testament like messages, and a real surprise of an ending it's the only one of the three I don't mind watching again whenever it's on TV. O brother may have the greatest soundtrack ever made but the movie itself is far too out there for me, and the less said about the long drawn out dullfest that is no country for old men the better.

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I know there are critics who don't dig the Coen style, but I verge on thinking that if a person doesn't love (or at a minimum, appreciate) the Coen Brothers' oeuvre, they don't love cinema.  At their best (and even when middling), their work is such a splendid amalgamation of crackling dialogue, philosophical musings, visual artistry, characterization, and music.

As the eight pages of discussion of No Country for Old Men would attest to, there is plenty to be said about this film.  And though opinions were polarized on this film, I don't recall that it was labeled as dull.  It subverts an audience's expectations of a tidy ending and a satisfying showdown between the protagonist and main baddie, but that speaks to the film's strength and courage, not weakness.  

Sometimes a Coen film needs to percolate in one's mind in a while to appreciate it; I was underwhelmed by Lebowski on first viewing, but now it's one of my favorite films, period.  I first saw No Country in a full screening room with a crowd that laughed during the violent sequences; a quieter rewatch without a gaggle of desensitized goofballs in attendance allowed me to appreciate the film far more deeply.  I've probably watched it 6-10 times in total, and for me, it only improves with time.  The dried-out Texas landscape; subtle film score; the characters played by Breslin, Bardem, Jones, and Harrelson; the potent image of blood money as symbolic of greed in general; the thrilling pursuit of Breslin, followed by Bardem and Jones; an ending that hearkens back to Ford's The Searchers - great stuff all around.

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

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

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For me no country just dragged on and on with very little seeming to happen. It was so sluggishly paced I kept on waiting for something anything to break up the monotony but it just didn't happen. I don't mind some slow moving movies as my love for there will be blood, pan's labyrinth, and Clint Eastwood's twenty first century output will attest to, but then there are some movies like no country that are so slow going that it's a chore to sit through. The most interesting moment in the entire movie was when Javier bardem was fixing his wounds in the bathroom and hotel room. The rest may as well have put me to sleep.

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I remember liking Buster Scruggs more than I thought I would, but I've always sort of respected the Coens more than I've liked any particular film. Some of this is my own affinity for traditional narratives, I'm sure. No Country has that narrative, but there is a stilted forced-ness to the dialog (that I associate with Cormac McCarthy) that always strikes me as too self-consciously literary. I can abide Fargo because it's a dark comedy of sorts and because Marge centers the whole thing, I've tried to convince myself over the years that Ladykillers and Raising Arizona are actually funny, but without much help. 

Did they do the new True Grit? I remember liking that okay.

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Sorry but Lebowski was stupid. From the constant dude talk, to all the pissing on the rug stuff, to the floating acid drenched magic carpet ride stuff, to the idiotic mob boss and the whole Jeff Daniels character the whole thing reeked of stupidity. Sorry if I'm not eloquent enough for you, but there's no better word I can use to describe the Big Lebowski than totally and utterly stupid.

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