best coen brothers scenes

The filmography of Joel and Ethan Coen is untouchable. Of their 17 films, at least a dozen of them are arguably great films and more than a few of them are genuine masterpieces. Ranking them is a fool’s errand. I know this because I have tried. Within a year, I wanted to erase the whole thing. Their work sticks with you, attaches itself to your mind and grows with you. Minor films become masterpieces over time. Little moments reveal their layers, their profundity, upon repeat viewings. The Coen brothers filmography feels alive – it’s always growing, always changing. Even their newest film Hail, Caesar (out today) threw me for a loop. I literally have no idea how I’ll feel about it tomorrow or six months from now.

So I’ve assembled a list of ten perfect scenes from the Coen canon. They are unranked, presented in chronological order, because I do not want to impose rigid form on something that I know will shift and change within a year or two. But right now, these scenes sum up why they’re special and their work should be celebrated. Few modern artists have showcased such range and fewer have dabbled in so many different genres and forms while maintaining their voice at every moment. These scenes represent a sublime partnership and the best modern cinema has to offer.

Spoilers follow, of course.

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Big Lebowski spinoff

Joel and Ethan Coen have made it pretty clear that they have no intention of making a Big Lebowski sequel, but John Turturro is still hoping for that Big Lebowski spinoff. The actor recently reiterated his desire to make a Jesus Quintana film, although it doesn’t seem like it’s happening just yet.

He may have better luck with the Barton Fink sequel, which he also wants to do — because the Coens are actually interested in that one. Hit the jump for Turturro’s latest updates on the Big Lebowski spinoff and the Barton Fink sequel.

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the coen brothers

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.

Check out the doc below. Read More »

Let’s get one thing straight: John Turturro is a treasure of an actor. (I don’t think that needs clarifying, but still.) While he has a broad and impressive resume both in front of and behind the camera (I don’t care what people say; I kinda love Romance and Cigarettes) it is his work with Joel and Ethan Coen that will likely be his most well-known down the trail into the future.

Speaking to the AV Club in yet another one of the site’s wonderful Random Roles interviews, Mr. Turturro talked about making his own films and working with Spike Lee and the Coens, among other things. In doing so he reiterated the idea of a spin-off from The Big Lebowski and a sequel to Barton Fink. Both are ideas that have been mentioned over the years, and neither is really likely to be made. But they’re still fun to think about. Read More »

UK graphic artist Tom Muller has created an awesome infographic connecting the dots of reoccurring actors in the movies of Coen Bothers. Hit the jump to see the graphic.

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