This BBC doc on Joel and Ethan Coen is hardly new — it was created in 2000, during the production of O Brother, Where Art Thou?. But seeing the brothers in action is rare enough that even a 13-year old behind the scenes look is going to count as new for many people. There’s even some interview footage with cinematographer Roger Deakins, who almost as reclusive as the Coens.
The films of Joel and Ethan Coen are so fully formed, and so specific to a recognizable point of view, that viewers seem to want an explanation for the origin of that sensibility. It’s a fool’s errand to some extent; explaining anyone’s artistic work tends to be, and the Coens are more reluctant than most to discuss “reasons.” The ready affability of the brothers in this interview even mocks any attempt to paint them as weird, aloof geniuses. And given that the doc opens with some explicitly outlandish myth-making, it’s worth keeping in mind that there could well be some low-level mythologizing going on throughout. But the Coens’ work is so good that such legend-building is pretty natural.
There’s great stuff here, notably the contradiction between what seems to be a very easygoing shoot, and the rigorously structured production that allows it to be that way. Then, of course, there’s the communication between the brothers, which is so ingrained that it barely even looks like communication at all. And the idea that Fargo was shot just because it was the cheapest script they happened to have laying around at the time is the sort of thing that will make some other filmmakers bang their heads on a table in frustration.
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The Hangover Part III isn’t much of a comedy. It wants to be funny (I think) but there are stretches without even an attempt at a joke. It’s closer to a hallucinogenic drama, decorated occasionally with an bloom of laughter. There are wild moments, but compared to the first two movies this one pushes the needle towards a different form of “outrageous.” (The most conventionally extreme jokes come when a mid-credits stinger scene goes straight for what viewers of the second film jeered: a flat-out reprise of the scenario from the original film.)
The focus this time is Zach Galifianakis as the damaged, nearly deranged Alan. Entitled and abusive, Alan is domineering at home and ever more reckless in the wild. His grossly disastrous attempt to domesticate a giraffe leads to horror at home; soon his wolf pack “friends” from the previous two films unite to stage an intervention. The Hangover Part III doesn’t go very far with the intervention idea, because further trouble takes precedence. A gangster once robbed by Lesley Chow (Ken Jeong) coerces the guys into tracking Chow, and life goes off the rails once more.
Director Todd Phillips, who co-wrote with Craig Mazin, seems stuck halfway between two extremes. On one side there’s a super-dark movie about mental illness; on the other there’s an Id-indulging comedy. In a way that is almost perversely appropriate for a film series about hijacked plans, The Hangover Part III never gets close to either point.
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Update: The broadcast is finished! Thanks to everyone who joined.
The 11th Annual Independent Film Festival of Boston (IFFB) is just around the corner! Tickets are already on sale online, and their lineup looks incredible as always. Regrettably, I’ll be unable to make the festival this year, but I was able get actor/writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait to agree to a live, 1-hour Q&A with the /Film audience. Goldthwait’s newest film, Willow Creek, will be premiering at IFFB.
We’ll be broadcasting this conversation on Monday night (April 14th) beginning at 7 PM Pacific. Just bookmark this post and return to it at that time to see the live stream below (we’ll also bring it back to the top of slashfilm.com then). Feel free to submit your questions below in the comments, or use the hashtag #IFFBoston on Twitter. See you tomorrow night!
Update: The broadcast is now complete. Thanks to all our amazing guests who showed up, and thanks to all of you who listened in and donated!
On Saturday, (March 30th), the /Filmcast will be broadcasting live for 10 hours, beginning at 9 AM Pacific, in support of FilmAid. You guys gave generously during our fundraiser; now it’s our turn to deliver on the ultimate /Filmcast marathon.
If you bookmark this page, you should be able to see the live broadcast on Saturday morning when the appointed time arrives. We’ll also be moving this post back to the top of slashfilm.com, so it’ll be tough to miss. You can take a look at our amazing guest line-up below, and feel free to submit questions in the comments if you have them. You can also tweet and submit questions using the hashtag #SlashFilmAid. Again, many portions of this episode will be recorded and released later as a /Filmcast episode. In the meantime, if you do enjoy the podcast, please keep donating and supporting this great cause!
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Posted on Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 by David Chen
In the past month, /Film readers and /Filmcast listeners have helped us raise over $10,000 for the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. This money will go towards FilmAid‘s important work there, which will bring media training and workshops to thousands of people in need. Now it’s our turn to fulfill our end of the bargain: delivering you guys a 10-hour long broadcast, this Saturday (March 30th), from 9 AM – 7 PM Pacific time. I’ve been busy locking down the final schedule and while I can’t announce it publicly yet, I can promise that there will be some pretty great guests, both familiar and unfamiliar, during the broadcast. I’m super excited! Also note: huge portions of this podcast will be recorded and released over the course of the next few weeks.
We hope you guys will tune in on Saturday and help us support this great cause. In the meantime, I recently had a chance to speak with Mark Somen from the board of directors of FilmAid. He told me about where our $10,000 is going, what it will help to accomplish, and also discussed the launch of Dadaab Stories, a FilmAid project that helps to bring bring the Dadaab people’s stories to life. You can download and listen to our interview after the jump. And if you want to support the cause, FilmAid could always use it.
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Well, you guys really did it: through our fundraiser, as of yesterday afternoon, the readers of /Film and listeners to the /Filmcast have raised over $10,000 for FilmAid! The work that FilmAid is doing there is changing lives, so by the transitive property, we’re now helping to change lives! I’m gobsmacked, humbled, and so, so grateful that you’ve all joined us for this journey — hopefully, the first of many.
There’s still much work to do in terms of planning the logistics of a 10-hour long broadcast. But in the meantime, mark your calendars: March 30th, 2013, will be an epic day of live /Filmcasting. And don’t let the fact that we’ve already reached the goal stop you from giving even more.
FilmAid’s full press release follows after the jump.
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Posted on Tuesday, February 26th, 2013 by David Chen
One of the reasons I started the /Filmcast was because I believe film has the power to change our lives. I’m sure all of us at some point have been moved, changed, or informed by a film that we’ve seen. In fact, in the U.S. and in other countries, film has the power to convey life-changing information to those in need.
That’s why I’d like you to help us raise $10,000 to bring the power of film to an African refugee camp by sponsoring a 10-hour long live broadcast of the /Filmcast. Intrigued? You can read more details after the jump, or you can head straight to the donate page right now.
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Posted on Monday, February 11th, 2013 by David Chen
Many people have asked what’s going on with The Tobolowsky Files. I can promise that once things have calmed (hopefully in the next few weeks), new episodes will resume on the old feed. In the meantime, Stephen is just finishing up the last leg of his book tour. New Yorkers: won’t you come support him? Stephen Tobolowsky will be at the 92Y this Saturday (12/16) at 7 PM. I’ve had the privilege of seeing him live and I can promise that it’ll be an unforgettable evening of storytelling and Q&A. I wish I could make it myself, but the East Coast is just too far for me these days.
Head on over to the 92Y’s website for the full details.
Stephen Tobolowsky’s book based on The Tobolowsky Files has recently hit the shelves, but he’s soon going to take a break from his intense book tour to join me in Seattle. Together, we’ll be performing The Tobolowsky Files live at the Moore Theatre on October 13th! If you have a chance, please come check out the show and say hi afterwards if you get the chance.
Seattle has always been extraordinarily welcoming of our podcast and our live show. Our show last January at the Neptune Theater sold out and our show at the Moore looks to be on the same track. If you’re available, I invite you to come join us. Buy tickets and find out more info by clicking on this link.
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