Posted on Friday, February 5th, 2016 by Jacob Hall
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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The Sundance Film Festival isn’t just a film festival, but a look into the future of cinema. As we travel to Park City Utah this year, I thought it would be nice to take a look back at the last 30 years of the festival. Today I begin part one of my two-day, two-part look at the best movies of Sundance Film Festival history. In part one I will focus on the first 15 years of the festival* as the small independent film festival grew into the launching pad for new filmmakers and ground zero for the independent movie boom of the 1990’s.
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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 »
Joel and Ethan Coen are not known for doing interviews. But over the weekend they took part in the opening celebration of the Film Society of Lincoln Center‘s new Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, by participating in an hour-long talk with director Noah Baumbach. The subject was primarily the openings to several films from all the participants, but the conversation ranged a bit wider than that.
Check out the entire conversation via video after the break, and we’ll also highlight the news that emerged about one of their possible next films. Read More »
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Texas is known for being flat, minimalistic but still incredibly beautiful and that’s certainly the theme of the posters for the 2011 Rolling Roadshow. This year, instead of going all across the country, the Alamo Drafthouse is keeping things close to home as they’ll travel across the Lone Star State and show Texas films set in Texas. Films such as Blood Simple, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Searchers, Red River and more. The posters premiered on Apple.com and, much like happened last year with Olly Moss, this year they were all done by one artist: Jason Munn. We’ve got all the images and schedule after the jump. Read More »
Feel like watching some of the biggest American films under the big skies of Texas? (I know Montana is the Big Sky state, but I’m briefly re-purposing the phrase.) For several years the Alamo Drafthouse has done a series of free, first come first seated screenings of famous films in locations featured in or related to the movies. There have been events like Close Encounters of the Third Kind at Devil’s Tower (pictured above), Deliverance in the North Georgia mountains, and The Warriors on Coney Island, complete with a scavenger hunt.
This year the Roadshow is targeting Texas in June, with ten screenings of Texas-appropriate films like Giant, No Country For Old Men, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and more. The full schedule is after the break. As is often the case with Rolling Roadshow screenings, most of these are taking place well outside major metro areas, so you might have to make a trip just for the film. But that’s part of the point, right? 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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In this episode of the /Filmcast, David Chen, Devindra Hardawar and Adam Quigley marvel at the new trailer for District 9, discuss the new batch of remakes that Hollywood is mulling over this week, reflect on the relative hopelessness of Eclipse, and spend 55 minutes conducting a review/therapy session over the fate of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Special guests Elisabeth Rappe from Cinematical and Neha Tiwari from DL.TV join us.
You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Join us next week as we review Star Trek (Date and time TBA).
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Cool Posts From Around the Web:
Variety have announced a new project from Zhang Yimou, director of Hero and House of Flying Daggers. They call it Amazing Tales – Three Guns and describe it as having two separate parts, one a thriller and the other a comedy. It’s hard to not suspect this is the result of a bad translation and simply, the film is to be a comedy-thriller or, as we might say, one part comedy, one part thriller, just mixed parts.
Here’s the bizarre bit, though. Monkey Peaches are reporting a rumor that the film is a remake of Blood Simple. Very, very odd.
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Welcome to another edition of Movie Playlist, where we talk to the writers, directors, and stars about their favorite films. I’ve always found the celebrity playlists on iTunes to be interesting. Most everyone in the film business moved to Hollywood after discovering their love of films. And I’ve always love talking to people about their favorite films. So talking to the people who make the movies about their favorite films just seemed like a natural idea.
Nanette Burstein is the Academy Award nominated documentary filmmaker behind On The Ropes and The Kid Stays in the Picture. Her latest film American Teen follows five high school students through their senior year. I hate to oversell the movie, but it’s literally one of my favorite films of the year.
Nanette Burstein: There are certain directors whose films, I could just watch them endlessly. Alexander Paine, I’m a huge fan of.
Peter Sciretta: You know, I saw a lot of like Election in American Teen…
Nanette Burstein: Yes, Election definitely influenced this film… Like the shots of the kids when you hear their voiceovers and they’re on the bed, I totally took that from Election. There was the night before election where there’s all these dolly shots into all the main characters and their thoughts and like they’re all crane…
Peter Sciretta: It was like those crane shots.
Nanette Burstein: Yeah, those shots are amazing, and that’s what inspired me to do that.
Nanette Burstein: There’s definitely different homages in this film, like Garden State which I love there’s this scene when Hannah goes to the party and she’s alienated and the way I cut that scene was completely influenced by that scene in Garden State where he’s alienated at the party.
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