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The Coen Brothers Worship Thread


Dan H.

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So I had seen very few Coen Brothers movies in my life, in fact I think I had only seen A Serious Man and No Country For Old Men. This has been a pretty embarrassing thing for me since the Coen Brothers are worshipped as cinema masterminds, and I consider myself a casual movie buff.

So this weekend I bought a fifth of whiskey and got to work watching through their catalogue, and with every film I watch I'm kicking myself for having taken so long to do this.

So here's my thread, to discuss the films of the Coen Brothers and discuss their quality with other admirers on the forum.

My current "best to worst" list, with comments on my favorites:

No Country For Old Men

A solemn, retiring sheriff. A morally conflicted ambiguous "common man", and a mysterious poltergeist who floats through the film perpetuating some unknown code of chaos and indecision. The three main characters never share a single scene together (expect one, on a dark empty street, and even then he shares only one shot with our "protagonist").

The film is grim and quiet, with sharp shadow and light contrasts, begging for its morality to be understood, but at no point does it ever allow you to truly understand the intention of any of the three main subjects.

Fargo

Duh. This movie is the quintessential Coen Brothers movie for good reason. A man starts a chain of criminal events that are beyond his control. He sits at his car dealership throughout the whole movie as he inadvertently causes overly comedic and dissociated acts of violence, only at the end to be grounded to a screeching and solemn hault with some wonderfully written and performed dialogue from the overly realistic and sobering Sheriff.

The Big Lebowski

Fantastic and fun. The movie drips of character not only from the cast of slacker clowns who get dragged into a bizarre string of events, but from the cinematography and surrealism that peppers the film very carefully. It's as quotable and silly as a lot of popular stoner comedies from the late 90s early 2000s, but is designed in a much more artful and clever way. Every second is beyond enjoyable, the cast of all star actors has you hanging on to every word and action.

We watch the now classic pop culture icon "The Dude" struggle through his role of makeshift detective, drawing clever comedy from his annoyance with his wacky friends and the entire situation he's been dropped into. He's a character who wants nothing more than to sit on his couch and pound White Russians and joints while endlessly dissolving in laziness, but gets increasingly frustrated as the Coen Brothers drag him around their cinema universe.

Inside Llewyn Davis

The Coen Brothers have clearly gotten much grimmer in their more recent films. Specifically No Country for Old Men, A Serious Man, and Inside Llewyn Davis. Dark colors, heavy themes of loneliness, isolation, depression, and morality. All three are shot with very dramatic contrast in light and shadows, and exist in confusing worlds, with few clear messages and comforts for the audience to hang on to.

This film capitalizes on themes from both No Country and A Serious Man, and is flawless in its portrayal of a folk musician coping with the loss of his parter, and his subconscious anger and hatred of his peers and a world that doesn't "get" him. It's never clear whether Llewyn Davis even enjoys music. When a woman tried to sing a long with him in an uncomfortable spontaneous performance in a friends living room, she justifies it by saying to him that music is about soul and joy, and singing is an expression of that. Where is Llewyns soul, or passion for what he does?

A Serious Man

(One of the highest rated Coen Brothers movies by critics, but I could not really stomach how depressing, lonely, and dry this movie was. I loved the twist on the Biblical story of Job, and the movie had some heavy themes, but I did not have a good time watching it)

Barton Fink

(Torrent kept crapping out, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching Mr. Fink struggle with the writing process. Will need to re-watch)

True Grit

(Fantastic re-make, but for a Coen Brothers movie it was very straight forward and classic. Perhaps this put me off a little bit, because I was expecting a little more)

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

(A reimagining of "The Odessey". Well uh, that's about it. The digital sepia almost seems cliche now, and the film doesn't seem to really be full of the unique themes and messages that fruitfully populate the other movies. George Clooney is a whole lot of fun to watch, as well as his co-stars. I chuckled at the various references to Homer's classic epic poem, and it had perhaps the best Coen Brothers soundtrack.

Otherwise the movie was noticeably more hollow and more reliant on cinema gimmicks than the Coen's other films. Was super disappointed because this is one of the movies that I constantly hear is a "masterpiece". On the plus side I finally understand the references of "Dapper Dan!" that I get from time to time.)

In the que for the rest of the day (have not seen any of these yet):

Burn After Reading

Blood Simple

Raising Arizona

Miller's Crossing

The Hudsucker Proxy

The Man Who Wasn't There

Intolerable Cruelty

Paris, Je t'aime

Which films are your favorites and why? Let's worship the Coen Brothers (I hopped on the band wagon a little too late) :)

Edited by Dan H.
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You're missing out on some of their best stuff! You'll love most of these.

People shit on Burn After Reading, but I liked it. Intolerable Cruelty is their worst film for me (I never saw the Alec Guinness remake, but people claim it to be worse). I get what they were trying to do with it, but I felt like it was kind of rubbish.

Blood Simple, Raising Ariona, Miller's Crossing, and Man Who Wasn't There are all prime Coens.

Burn After Reading
Blood Simple
Raising Arizona
Miller's Crossing
The Hudsucker Proxy
The Man Who Wasn't There
Intolerable Cruelty
Paris, Je t'aime


Which films are your favorites and why? Let's worship the Coen Brothers (I hopped on the band wagon a little too late) :)

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You're missing out on some of their best stuff! You'll love most of these.

People shit on Burn After Reading, but I liked it. Intolerable Cruelty is their worst film for me (I never saw the Alec Guinness remake, but people claim it to be worse). I get what they were trying to do with it, but I felt like it was kind of rubbish.

Blood Simple, Raising Ariona, Miller's Crossing, and Man Who Wasn't There are all prime Coens.

Burn After Reading

Blood Simple

Raising Arizona

Miller's Crossing

The Hudsucker Proxy

The Man Who Wasn't There

Intolerable Cruelty

Paris, Je t'aime

Which films are your favorites and why? Let's worship the Coen Brothers (I hopped on the band wagon a little too late) :)

The movies you quoted are the ones I haven't watched yet. Just started Burn After Reading. Trying to avoid checking reviews before I start each movie, because I find they effect my opinion.

I remember when Burn After Reading was coming out and the trailers made it look like it had an impeccable cast, I wonder why people shit on it.

I guess I'll find out in a few hours :lol:

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The Coen Brothers have clearly gotten much grimmer in their more recent films.

True. I can't even watch their new stuff anymore, it just feels like torture porn.

Seen a bit of that, have you? :lol:

Quite like em myself, seen Millers Crossing, Blood Simple, Lebowski, Raising Arizona, O Brother Where Art T...bollocks, i can't be bothered listing them all, seen quite a few, most i think. Didn't watch their True Grit, i refuse to watch a remake of a John Wayne film, they shouldn't be allowed.

Edited by Len B'stard
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The Coen Brothers have clearly gotten much grimmer in their more recent films.

True. I can't even watch their new stuff anymore, it just feels like torture porn.

Seen a bit of that, have you? :lol:

Quite like em myself, seen Millers Crossing, Blood Simple, Lebowski, Raising Arizona, O Brother Where Art T...bollocks, i can't be bothered listing them all, seen quite a few, most i think. Didn't watch their True Grit, i refuse to watch a remake of a John Wayne film, they shouldn't be allowed.

My understanding of their True Grit adaptation, was that they were using only the book as source material, and actually were a little more faithful to it than the John Wayne film.

Granted, I have not seen the John Wayne film and I haven't read the book, but that seems to be the general thought on that issue

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The Coen Brothers have clearly gotten much grimmer in their more recent films.

True. I can't even watch their new stuff anymore, it just feels like torture porn.

Seen a bit of that, have you? :lol:

Quite like em myself, seen Millers Crossing, Blood Simple, Lebowski, Raising Arizona, O Brother Where Art T...bollocks, i can't be bothered listing them all, seen quite a few, most i think. Didn't watch their True Grit, i refuse to watch a remake of a John Wayne film, they shouldn't be allowed.

My understanding of their True Grit adaptation, was that they were using only the book as source material, and actually were a little more faithful to it than the John Wayne film.

Granted, I have not seen the John Wayne film and I haven't read the book, but that seems to be the general thought on that issue

Yeah i know, im just profoundly prejudiced and precious about certain Hollywood iconography.

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Hudsucker is a criminally underrated masterpiece. Aside from Ladykillers and Intolerable Cruelty their body of work is pretty much faultless.

True Grit was an interesting detour for them, not top tier but certainly superior to the original.

Edited by Angelica
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Lebowski rules all. Not just for them, for cinema.

I actually enjoyed Ladykillers a bit, just for Tom Hanks. O Brother is good for the creative adaptation, Fargo is hilariously dark, which is always good. Burn After Reading had moments but overall was meh. No Country kicked ass but felt like it drug on a bit.

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True Grit was an interesting detour for them, not top tier but certainly superior to the original.

NO IT WASN'T! :lol: You of all people should know better, no Duke Wayne role can ever be done better by anyone ever in the history of ever!

Stagecoach, Rio Bravo, True Grit, The Big Trail, these are classics of the genre, you cant just 'remake' em. You're messing with the DNA of Hollywood or something, its like some kinda weird crazy stem cell research, its like remaking Bullitt or something, you cant do that shit, its against the law or something.

If they remake Cagney or Bogie stuff I'm just gonna become a terrorist and bomb Hollywood studios. Thats the fuckin' problem with the world today, people dont watch movies with their hearts anymore...goddamn yous :lol:

Edited by Len B'stard
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