It can be tough to take the Coen Brothers at their word – after all, the duo claims (seemingly in jest) that they never read Homer’s The Odyssey despite basing O Brother, Where Art Thou? on it. But if they were forthright about the origins of their latest work, the anthology film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, then it serves as a kind of career compendium. They wrote the film’s first segment, a comedic musical western, decades ago when their work had a more overtly comical bent. They wrote the final segment, on the other hand, just before starting production on the film in order to put an adequate bow on the project.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs functions like a greatest hits album for the Coens, though somehow with songs we’ve never heard before. It spans and encompasses the many styles of filmmaking they mastered over decades behind the camera. Their expert wielding of tone and mood has rarely been so evident as it is within each yarn they tell, all from a book of stories complete with color plates. Read More »
Posted on Monday, February 8th, 2016 by Jacob Hall
With Hail, Caesar!, Joel and Ethan Coen have crafted a movie that’s amusing but baffling, challenging but easygoing, and frivolous but about everything. It’s a film that wears its frustration on its sleeve like a badge of honor, inviting you to engage with it even as it tries to hard to keep you at a distance. It’s funny and sad, silly and serious. In other words, it’s a Coen brothers movie. We’re all probably going to like it a lot more in five years if we’re unsure about it now.
Now that Hail, Caesar! has been out for an entire weekend and you’ve had a chance to see it (because you definitely went out and saw the new Coen brothers film on its opening weekend, right?), let’s take this opportunity to explore how this Hollywood farce fits into the larger Coen canon. Like all of their films, this film reflects their larger worldview and shares ideas with some of their best work. Hail, Caesar!, halfway between Barton Fink and A Serious Man, a cousin of Inside Llewyn Davis and Miller’s Crossing, feels like it fills a specific gap in their overall filmography.
Naturally, spoilers lurk ahead.
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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 directing duo of Joel and Ethan Coen has done some great work with American treasure George Clooney. They first worked together in 2000 with the spectacular O Brother Where Art Thou (one of my favorite Coen Brothers movies) and followed it up with Intolerable Cruelty in 2003 and Burn After Reading in 2008. However, it sounds like their next collaboration will shake things up a bit in more ways than one.
George Clooney is currently in talks to direct Suburbicon, a script from the Coen Brothers that has been gestating for over a decade. Find out more about the new George Clooney Coen Brothers collaboration below! Read More »
In 2011, the Spoke Art Gallery in San Francisco, CA came up with the great, simple idea for an art show. Take the wildly varied films of two of the most eclectic and revered filmmakers out there, and mash them together. The result, Quentin vs Coen, opens yet again Saturday July 5.
Quentin Tarantino and The Coen Brothers are obviously successful, talented filmmakers. But what makes them so similar to each other is how different they continue to be. From film to film to film, audiences never know what they’re going to get when they sit down for a Tarantino or Coen Brothers film. A film noir masked as a stoner comedy, a murder mystery set in Minnesota, a series of stories told out of order, a near four hour samurai movie. The sky is the limit.
And that’s reflected in the art show, too. The huge scope of films made by these filmmakers, filled with iconic imagery and classic characters, is paradise for an artist looking to do something different. Below, we’ve got a small sampling of what’s in store for the show, as well as information on how you can attend and buy online. Read More »
Posted on Friday, May 16th, 2014 by Angie Han
If the plot of Inside Llewyn Davis didn’t break your heart, the soundtrack surely did. No wonder, then, that the Coens are now ready for some sunnier fare.
Joel and Ethan Coen are reportedly gearing up for Hail Caesar, a comedy set in ’50s California. While this isn’t the first we’ve heard about this project, the plot details sound a bit different from the last time we checked on it. Hit the jump for all the new info.
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Posted on Wednesday, December 4th, 2013 by Angie Han
The Coen Brothers‘ Inside Llewyn Davis has earned strong buzz from the get-go, picking up the Grand Jury Prize shortly after its Cannes debut and earning Best Feature at the Gotham Independent Film Awards this past weekend. Now, after months of hype and even more months of marketing, it’s finally about to arrive in theaters.
Oscar Isaac leads the drama as Llewyn, a singer trying to make his way around the folk scene in the early ’60s. He’s not having an easy go of it: his solo career isn’t taking off, his best friend’s girlfriend is pissed at him, and he doesn’t even have a proper coat to keep him warm through the winter. But his misfortune is our good luck, as his many trials make for a pretty great film. Watch the newest U.K. trailer after the jump.
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Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? This week we get the UK version of Inside Llewyn Davis, literally raise the roof, get weird with Lana Del Rey, catch something worse than the herps with a one night fling, and be entranced by a blacksmith…blacksmithing.
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Unless you were at a film festival recently, you’re probably still waiting for the new Coen Brothers movie, Inside Llewyn Davis. The tale of a ’60s New York folk singer got stellar reviews out of Cannes and Telluride. It hits US theaters on December 20.
Of course, with the pending release of one Coen Brothers movie, fans can start to look towards their next work. At the Telluride Film Festival, Joel and Ethan gave a small hint at what they’re currently writing. It’s a film with an opera singer as the main character. Read More »
Posted on Monday, July 1st, 2013 by Angie Han
Whereas some filmmakers prefer to stick with one mode or another, the Coen Bros. have shown an ability to leap from Depression-era Greek musical epic to ’90s stoner neo-noir comedy to violent Oscar-winning thriller. Their newest film, Inside Llewyn Davis, sees them dropping by ’60s New York for an intimate character study of a folk musician.
Oscar Isaac stars as the title character, who’s loosely based on real-life singer Dave Von Ronk. Backing him up are an intriguing supporting cast, including Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Justin Timberlake, and Garrett Hedlund, and a poignant soundtrack mostly comprised of folk covers. Watch the newest trailer and get the soundtrack info after the jump.
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