Monday, December 20, 2010

Coen Bros.

Somebody asked which Coen Bros. movies I had seen and not seen, and which one I did not like.

Good questions.

I am mostly just "in" when it comes to the Coen Bros. I stumbled across Miller's Crossing and Raising Arizona around the ages of 14 and 16, and it was my first understanding of anything resembling auteur-ship.

At the end of the day, I think these guys are at their best when they work in the crime mega-genre, which is more or less where they work most of the time. And of late, since Big Lebwoski, I kind of keep my mouth shut about their movies for a day or so, because I want to wait for the movie to sort itself out a little more in my head. Most certainly Blood Simple is noir, and Miller's Crossing is pure American gangster picture. I'd argue that the Coen's played with noir with Fargo and No Country for Old Men, and that's where they're excelling. They've dropped some of the post-Sam Raimi early career eccentricities for more nuanced story-telling, and I don't mind the switch.

I, initially, didn't really groove to The Big Lebowski, but a week later, I feel like I'd given it time to marinate, and the whole "it's classic noir, just with a completely detached protagonist" joke the Coens were laying down finally really caught on the gears.

Similarly, the more I think about A Serious Man, the more I like that movie, too (and I read it as sort of a modern, Minnesota-based Book of Job).

Anyway, here's a fairly complete list, omitting movies where I think the Coens were only loosely involved as executive producers.

I should note: The two Coen Bros. movies I did not see came out when I lived in Arizona. The cinemas in Chandler absolutely would not have carried a Coen Bros. movie. It was a lot of Hillary Duff, Disney movies, whatever... but that's part of how I missed them. Also, again, when movies come out at Christmas, its very hard for me to get out to see them.

At the theatrical release, neither The Ladykillers nor Intolerable Cruelty were terribly loved either by reviews or word of mouth, and I just never bothered.

True Grit - plan to see it

2009 A Serious Man - seen it

2008 Burn After Reading - seen it

2007 No Country for Old Men - seen it

2004 The Ladykillers - did not see it

2003 Bad Santa - only producers on this, but I finally saw this last Christmas, and its really good

2003 Intolerable Cruelty - did not see it

2001 The Man Who Wasn't There - this is the one I didn't like, but I saw it

2000 O Brother, Where Art Thou? - seen it

1998 The Big Lebowski - seen it

1996 Fargo - who didn't see it?

1994 The Hudsucker Proxy - saw it for my 19th birthday in college

1991 Barton Fink - seen it

1990 Miller's Crossin - seen it

1987 Raising Arizona - seen it

1984 Blood Simple - seen it

1 comment:

J.S. said...

Yeah, I'm not sure whether I'm going out on a limb or just citing the obvious (I guess maybe it would depend who you ask), but, for my money, the Coen Brothers are probably the most talented directors making American films today. I can't necessarily speak to all of the art/indie directors because I don't catch all of their films, but of the big budget, major motion pictures I definitely feel this to be true. Just looking over their list of movies, it seems like a really significant number of them are destined to either be classics or well respected cult classics.