The Coen Brothers

Given the recent talk of one half the duo looking to retire from movies, I was curious if we had any fans here? I’m certainly among those who consider them the greatest American filmmakers in my lifetime. It would truly be an end of an era if the rumors are true. Any favorites?

Mine is easy.

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I love them all, but have been in a real Hudsucker mood recently. You know … for kids.

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Their films are really hit-or-miss for me.

Favorite? Raising Arizona.

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Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? made my sister and I (both veterans of the Odyssey) howl in the theater. Loved it. And that soundtrack!

I also recently saw Hail, Caesar! and I enjoyed it. One of Josh Brolin’s best ever performances.

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Oh, there are some films of theirs that don’t live up to the extremely high standards (Ladykillers comes to mind though I’m an apologist for the admittedly sub-par Intolerable Cruelty)

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Hudsucker Proxy is one of top 5 for sure. Particularly because it was my first. Plus I’m big Paul Newman booster.

It was only a few weeks ago that Buzz the elevator boy is Pryzbylewski (a name I totally had to look up) in The Wire

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One of reasons I like the Coen Bros./George Clooney relationship is that they give him the chance to play big, absurd characters.

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And you can tell he’s having a blast doing it.

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So… that’s where I’d be coming from with The Big Lebowski. There’s probably a circle in Hell reserved for me and the fact that I really don’t like that movie.

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Bog standard favorite here - Fargo. Though I do like O Brother just as much.

And I’m probably in the minority for liking Burn After Reading.

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That’s just, like, your opinion, man. :wink:

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They’ve made tons of amazing movies but I’d go with “Miller’s Crossing” as my favorite.

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I’ll join you there. BAR may be my favorite Brad Pitt role. And JK Simmons “Come back when it all makes sense!” is one of my all-time fave movie exclamations.

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Just so you know you’re not alone… I wouldn’t say I dislike TBL but I’ve always been a little baffled by how popular it is. Then again I was also baffled that everyone loved Cry Wilderness so much but I’m coming around on the latter.

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Alright since in my experience Misties love lists here’s mine first to worst, skipping the ones I haven’t seen

Fargo
Raising Arizona
The Hudsucker Proxy
Oh Brother Where Art Thou
Burn After Reading
Hail, Caesar!
Barton Fink
Blood Simple
The Ladykillers
The Big Lebowski
No Country for Old Men

Mind you, the “worst” movie on my list, No Country for Old Men, is still a good movie. Just… not my favorite.

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It took me a while to warm up to The Big Lebowski. I kind of liked it but I didn’t really get it until the third or fourth viewing.

The only movie I disliked was The Man Who Wasn’t There, though I want to re-watch it.

I’m a huge fan of A Serious Man. To me, that is the Rosetta stone of Coen Bros. movies. The opening vignette, where the rabbi might (or might not) be a dybbuk, who might (or might not) have been killed, etc., and the whole bit with “The Mentaculus” kind of threw their whole oeuvre into focus.

Every single one of their movies (except Hail, Caesar!, which was after) involves characters involved in various plans and schemes, and not one of them ever knows what’s really going on. (Again, except Josh Brolin’s heavily romanticized Eddie Mannix.)

They’re daring you to find the cause-and-effect (which is very Jewish), or even the meaning in anything (which is very ex-Jewish). I believe this is why they’re accused of being cold. Filmmakers have all these cues they use to tell the audience “this is important”/“these are the good guys”/“you should care about this”, and they are reticent to use those cues, relying on their audience to come to its own conclusions.

This is really encapsulated at the end of A Serious Man, which is (of course) the book of Job transplanted to suburban Minnesota in the late '60s. Larry Gopnik finally caves to the pressure, passing the Asian student who has not done the work and has offered a bribe, and is greeted by a cyclone (a biblical sign of god’s fury) coming up to his window.

Is it the wrath of an angry God or just a coincidence? Does Larry’s brother have the secrets of the universe in The Mentaculus, or is he just nuts? The signs point to the former until he winds up winning huge at some gambling game (roulette?). The Coens aren’t going to tell you what any of it means or how to feel about it.

I’m sure that’s also why some people REALLY don’t like their work. And, honestly, that’s fair. It’s all well-and-good to (e.g.) write a piece on how the Empire in Star Wars is really the good guys or how Mr. Potter is the hero in It’s A Wonderful Life, but the fact is, most storytelling is done by giving the audience specific clues as to how to feel, and audiences seem to find that satisfying.

Anyway, as much as I love 'em, if Ethan doesn’t want to make movies any more, he really, really shouldn’t. Their body of work is amazing as it is.

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Very well said. And I completely agree about Ethan. He doesn’t owe me anything if he wants to hang it up, it’s an impressive legacy to leave behind. I’m excited and curious about Macbeth and hopefully Joel doesn’t put down the cinema crackpipe.

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I’ve enjoyed all of their films, but I regularly go back and re-watch Oh Brother Where Art Thou and The Big Lebowski.

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LOL. Boy, I hate Fargo so much.

(I live in Brainerd and the TV show’s first season was set in my hometown of Bemidji.)

It’s weird to see something familiar fictionalized to the point of being unrecognizable.

But I love their sense of humor; such as being asked to do a director’s cut of Blood Simple and making it shorter, or tricking the studios into paying for Hail Caesar. (Which I loved. It nailed Old Hollywood films.)

Miller’s Crossing and Hudsucker are fun. It’s been too long since I’ve seen most of their collected works.

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I never liked O Brother. I don’t know why. I actually hated Burn After Reading more. Because I had no idea what the moral was.

Only ones I really liked were The Big Lebowski and Hail Caesar.

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