Weekly Film Recap (Coen Bros)

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Some of the most idiosyncratic films to come out of the 80s, 90s, and present were made by the Coen Brothers and if they didn’t make them, a lot of gratitude is owed to them for creating such ha distinct style.

The Coen’s came on the scene in 1984 with their debut Blood Simple, which we discussed in our Neo-Noir recap! They introduced themselves as two young and exciting new filmmakers who took their inspiration from the Golden Age of Hollywood and repackaged and re-introduced it for a brand new audience!

Over the next 35 years following the release of Blood Simple, the Coen’s have wandered in various genres from period pieces to comedies to mysteries and they’ve shown that regardless the mood of the film, they’re able to execute and still make the film wholly theirs.

This week, we went over some of our favorite films of the Coen’s (that we haven’t talked about already) and gave our reviews on them. Check it out below!

RAISING ARIZONA     (dir. Coen Bros)   The Coen’s sophomore effort introduced them to the comedy genre, which would become a massive staple in the Coen’s filmography from this point on.  Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter star as the Mcdonough’s, a couple made up of Hi and Ed, a criminal and cop respectively. The two meet and get married after Hi’s frequent trips to the local jail. After finding out that Ed is infertile, herself and Hi get the idea that they ought to steal one of five Arizona children born to local millionaire Nathan Arizona. Once they get away with it, they realize that Mr. Arizona has sent a bounty hunter on their trail to return the missing child back to his rightful home.  The Coen’s have been known for their stark use of comedy and  Raising Arizona  still holds up as one of the funniest films in their lengthy filmography. Nicolas Cage gives the performance of a lifetime as Hi, while the Coen’s are able to masterfully match Cage’s high energy with an idiosyncratically bizarre universe where these characters traverse.    5/5     WATCH: Putlocker (FREE), iTunes (RENT)

RAISING ARIZONA

(dir. Coen Bros)

The Coen’s sophomore effort introduced them to the comedy genre, which would become a massive staple in the Coen’s filmography from this point on.

Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter star as the Mcdonough’s, a couple made up of Hi and Ed, a criminal and cop respectively. The two meet and get married after Hi’s frequent trips to the local jail. After finding out that Ed is infertile, herself and Hi get the idea that they ought to steal one of five Arizona children born to local millionaire Nathan Arizona. Once they get away with it, they realize that Mr. Arizona has sent a bounty hunter on their trail to return the missing child back to his rightful home.

The Coen’s have been known for their stark use of comedy and Raising Arizona still holds up as one of the funniest films in their lengthy filmography. Nicolas Cage gives the performance of a lifetime as Hi, while the Coen’s are able to masterfully match Cage’s high energy with an idiosyncratically bizarre universe where these characters traverse.

5/5

WATCH: Putlocker (FREE), iTunes (RENT)

BARTON FINK     (dir. Coen Bros)   The Coen’s followed  Raising Arizona  with a dense mystery noir,  Miller’s Crossing . However, during the creation of that film, the brothers had quite the battle with writer’s block and in the mean time banged out the script for Barton Fink in only a couple of weeks!  Barton Fink stars John Turturro as the titular character. He’s a well-respected theater director from New York who agrees to go out to Hollywood to work in the pictures. Once he gets to Hollywood and checks into the barely standing Hotel Earle, he begins to draw writer’s block as he attempts to write a wrestling script for a B-Movie. He takes his job as a writer seriously, while the executives at Columbia simply want him to write without any regard for his artistic integrity. While struggling with the intensity of being a writer, Barton begins experiencing strange events in the Hotel Earle before he finally finishes the script.  The Coen’s topped the wackiness of  Raising Arizona  with  Barton Fink  as they pull clear influences from directors like David Lynch and Roman Polanski while still melding their now identifiable sense of humor throughout the movie. The Coen’s, beautifully depict the stressed and otherworldly mindset of a writer and Charlie Kaufman even stated that this is the greatest film about writers ever made, which I’d agree with until Kaufman himself made  Adaptation  in 2002.    5/5     WATCH: Hulu

BARTON FINK

(dir. Coen Bros)

The Coen’s followed Raising Arizona with a dense mystery noir, Miller’s Crossing. However, during the creation of that film, the brothers had quite the battle with writer’s block and in the mean time banged out the script for Barton Fink in only a couple of weeks!

Barton Fink stars John Turturro as the titular character. He’s a well-respected theater director from New York who agrees to go out to Hollywood to work in the pictures. Once he gets to Hollywood and checks into the barely standing Hotel Earle, he begins to draw writer’s block as he attempts to write a wrestling script for a B-Movie. He takes his job as a writer seriously, while the executives at Columbia simply want him to write without any regard for his artistic integrity. While struggling with the intensity of being a writer, Barton begins experiencing strange events in the Hotel Earle before he finally finishes the script.

The Coen’s topped the wackiness of Raising Arizona with Barton Fink as they pull clear influences from directors like David Lynch and Roman Polanski while still melding their now identifiable sense of humor throughout the movie. The Coen’s, beautifully depict the stressed and otherworldly mindset of a writer and Charlie Kaufman even stated that this is the greatest film about writers ever made, which I’d agree with until Kaufman himself made Adaptation in 2002.

5/5

WATCH: Hulu

THE BIG LEBOWSKI     (dir. Coen Brothers)   The Coen’s career had been in full effect for 14 years already, but  The Big Lebowski  launched the duo into the stratosphere.  Jeff Bridges stars as Jeff Lebowski, or ‘The Dude’, a pot-smoking, White Russian drinking slacker who spends his days getting high and bowling. One day, a couple of goons barge into The Dude’s apartment and mistake him for a different Jeff Lebowski and end up pissing on his rug. Rightfully upset, The Dude finds the actual Jeff Lebowski and asks him to reimburse him for his soiled rug. After refusing to pay the Dude back, Lebowski’s wife gets kidnapped by the goons who soiled The Dude’s rug and is being held for a million dollar ransom. Now, The Dude must go deliver the ransom and collect Lebowski’s wife back.   The Big Lebowski  is the Coen’s most praised, stylized, and popular film by far and for good reason.  The Big Lebowski  shows the Coen’s at their peak in terms of comedic effect and they intertwine this goofy stoner comedy in the mix with a Raymond Chandler-esque mystery that plays out almost like  The Long Goodbye  if the Coen’s got in the director’s chair for it.    5/5     WATCH: Putlocker (FREE), iTunes (RENT)

THE BIG LEBOWSKI

(dir. Coen Brothers)

The Coen’s career had been in full effect for 14 years already, but The Big Lebowski launched the duo into the stratosphere.

Jeff Bridges stars as Jeff Lebowski, or ‘The Dude’, a pot-smoking, White Russian drinking slacker who spends his days getting high and bowling. One day, a couple of goons barge into The Dude’s apartment and mistake him for a different Jeff Lebowski and end up pissing on his rug. Rightfully upset, The Dude finds the actual Jeff Lebowski and asks him to reimburse him for his soiled rug. After refusing to pay the Dude back, Lebowski’s wife gets kidnapped by the goons who soiled The Dude’s rug and is being held for a million dollar ransom. Now, The Dude must go deliver the ransom and collect Lebowski’s wife back.

The Big Lebowski is the Coen’s most praised, stylized, and popular film by far and for good reason. The Big Lebowski shows the Coen’s at their peak in terms of comedic effect and they intertwine this goofy stoner comedy in the mix with a Raymond Chandler-esque mystery that plays out almost like The Long Goodbye if the Coen’s got in the director’s chair for it.

5/5

WATCH: Putlocker (FREE), iTunes (RENT)

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN     (dir. Coen Brothers)   After a pretty stale decade after  The Big Lebowski , the Coen Brother’s reintroduced themselves to the world of cinema with  No Country for Old Men , a Neo-western that essentially redefined the genre forever.  Josh Brolin stars as Llewelyn Moss, a Texan welder who stumbles upon the remains fo a drug deal turned sour. In a deserted truck he sees piles of cash that he decides to take with him. However, hot on his trail is the demonically intimidating Javier Bardem as Chigurh, a killer sent out to recover and punish Moss for taking what isn’t his.  The Coen’s created this film in the vein of one of our favorite directors here, Sam Peckinpah, and through it re-created the Western genre altogether. Javier Bardem gives the performance of a lifetime as Chigurh and helped bring to life one of the most manically intense villains to ever grace the silver screen. As I said above, this film re-introduced the Coen’s to the limelight and in turn gave the Coen’s a revitalized and energizing feeling that’s stuck with them from this point onwards in their journey as filmmakers.    5/5     WATCH: Netflix

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

(dir. Coen Brothers)

After a pretty stale decade after The Big Lebowski, the Coen Brother’s reintroduced themselves to the world of cinema with No Country for Old Men, a Neo-western that essentially redefined the genre forever.

Josh Brolin stars as Llewelyn Moss, a Texan welder who stumbles upon the remains fo a drug deal turned sour. In a deserted truck he sees piles of cash that he decides to take with him. However, hot on his trail is the demonically intimidating Javier Bardem as Chigurh, a killer sent out to recover and punish Moss for taking what isn’t his.

The Coen’s created this film in the vein of one of our favorite directors here, Sam Peckinpah, and through it re-created the Western genre altogether. Javier Bardem gives the performance of a lifetime as Chigurh and helped bring to life one of the most manically intense villains to ever grace the silver screen. As I said above, this film re-introduced the Coen’s to the limelight and in turn gave the Coen’s a revitalized and energizing feeling that’s stuck with them from this point onwards in their journey as filmmakers.

5/5

WATCH: Netflix

TRUE GRIT     (dir. Coen Brothers)   The Coen’s always had quite an affection for the Western genre, however they never really fully explored it until  No Country For Old Men , which plays as more of a Neo-Western than anything. However, they followed that up with a remake of one of the most iconic westerns ever:  True Grit !  Jeff Bridges stars in John Wayne’s place as Rooster Cogburn, a one-eyed US Marshal bounty hunter who’s been hired by a 14 year old girl named Mattie. Her father has been murdered by a man named Tom Chaney and she’s paid Cogburn to go after him and avenge her father’s death. While the two are at odds from the beginning of the film, as the story progresses, the two develop a close relationship that forces Rooster to look after Mattie like she was one of his own.  The Coen’s adaptation was a lot more in line with the original 1968 novel than the 69 film starring John Wayne. The Coen’s noted that the book had more funny moments in it than the original film adaptation kept in, and knowing the Coen’s, they gravitated towards that. However, that’s not to say that they turned this into a comedy by any means.  True Grit , for lack of a better term, is incredibly gritty and has some pretty intense moments throughout the film that make it tough as a viewer to watch the type of violence that took place in the Wild West. Despite the intense violence, the Coen’s still flawlessly draw humanity in all the characters, specifically in Mattie and Rooster to make for one of the more sympathetic films in their filmography.    4/5     WATCH: Putlocker (FREE), iTunes (RENT)

TRUE GRIT

(dir. Coen Brothers)

The Coen’s always had quite an affection for the Western genre, however they never really fully explored it until No Country For Old Men, which plays as more of a Neo-Western than anything. However, they followed that up with a remake of one of the most iconic westerns ever: True Grit!

Jeff Bridges stars in John Wayne’s place as Rooster Cogburn, a one-eyed US Marshal bounty hunter who’s been hired by a 14 year old girl named Mattie. Her father has been murdered by a man named Tom Chaney and she’s paid Cogburn to go after him and avenge her father’s death. While the two are at odds from the beginning of the film, as the story progresses, the two develop a close relationship that forces Rooster to look after Mattie like she was one of his own.

The Coen’s adaptation was a lot more in line with the original 1968 novel than the 69 film starring John Wayne. The Coen’s noted that the book had more funny moments in it than the original film adaptation kept in, and knowing the Coen’s, they gravitated towards that. However, that’s not to say that they turned this into a comedy by any means. True Grit, for lack of a better term, is incredibly gritty and has some pretty intense moments throughout the film that make it tough as a viewer to watch the type of violence that took place in the Wild West. Despite the intense violence, the Coen’s still flawlessly draw humanity in all the characters, specifically in Mattie and Rooster to make for one of the more sympathetic films in their filmography.

4/5

WATCH: Putlocker (FREE), iTunes (RENT)

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS     (dir. Coen Brothers)   Inspired by the life of the influential folk singer Dave Van Ronk,  Inside Llewyn Davis  has not only been regarded as one of the best Coen Brothers films to date, but one of the best films of the 21st Century so far.  Oscar Isaac stars as Llewyn Davis, a struggling folk singer in 1960’s Greenwich Village who attempts to make a name for himself and find success as a singer after his first album is a complete flop. Along the way, Llewyn must deal with a myriad of life situations that continuously find themselves getting in the way of Llewyn’s path to the top. From finding (and losing) his friend’s cat to dealing with a pending abortion he has to pay for, we see how each decision Llewyn makes slowly affects everything else that happens to him from there on out.  The Coen’s used Llewyn Davis as a platform to dive into the world of a struggling artist who refuses to compromise his artistic integrity for success. Being such unwavering and sincere artists themselves, you can feel the genuine nature of the brothers as they act as a voice for all musicians, filmmakers, and artists out there who aspire to share their gift with a world that doesn't want true artistry.    4.5/5     WATCH:     Prime Video

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS

(dir. Coen Brothers)

Inspired by the life of the influential folk singer Dave Van Ronk, Inside Llewyn Davis has not only been regarded as one of the best Coen Brothers films to date, but one of the best films of the 21st Century so far.

Oscar Isaac stars as Llewyn Davis, a struggling folk singer in 1960’s Greenwich Village who attempts to make a name for himself and find success as a singer after his first album is a complete flop. Along the way, Llewyn must deal with a myriad of life situations that continuously find themselves getting in the way of Llewyn’s path to the top. From finding (and losing) his friend’s cat to dealing with a pending abortion he has to pay for, we see how each decision Llewyn makes slowly affects everything else that happens to him from there on out.

The Coen’s used Llewyn Davis as a platform to dive into the world of a struggling artist who refuses to compromise his artistic integrity for success. Being such unwavering and sincere artists themselves, you can feel the genuine nature of the brothers as they act as a voice for all musicians, filmmakers, and artists out there who aspire to share their gift with a world that doesn't want true artistry.

4.5/5

WATCH: Prime Video

HAIL, CAESAR!     (dir. Coen Brothers)   The Coen Brothers’ star vehicle of a film boasts their biggest cast to date in this play on the studio system in the Golden Age of Hollywood.  Josh Brolin stars as Eddie Mannix, a ‘fixer’ at Capitol Pictures, who spends his days and nights fixing all the issues that take place in dealing with actors, directors, and reporters in Hollywood. Among everything going on at the Capitol Pictures lot, George Clooney, starring as actor Baird Whitlock, has been kidnapped by the Communists and held for ransom. It’s up to Mannix to bring Whitlock back so they can finish his film  Hail Caesar !   Hail, Caesar!  is nowhere near one of the Coen’s best films, but it’s massive cast gives it quite a bit of charm. Since there are so many stars like Clooney, Brolin, Scarlet Johansson, Jonah Hill, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, and more, we barely get a chance to dive into any of their stories so the film unfortunately feels so facial that it’s hard to really attach yourself to any of the characters. It’s not a great film, but it is fun to say the least!    3/5     WATCH: Putlocker (FREE), iTunes (RENT)

HAIL, CAESAR!

(dir. Coen Brothers)

The Coen Brothers’ star vehicle of a film boasts their biggest cast to date in this play on the studio system in the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Josh Brolin stars as Eddie Mannix, a ‘fixer’ at Capitol Pictures, who spends his days and nights fixing all the issues that take place in dealing with actors, directors, and reporters in Hollywood. Among everything going on at the Capitol Pictures lot, George Clooney, starring as actor Baird Whitlock, has been kidnapped by the Communists and held for ransom. It’s up to Mannix to bring Whitlock back so they can finish his film Hail Caesar!

Hail, Caesar! is nowhere near one of the Coen’s best films, but it’s massive cast gives it quite a bit of charm. Since there are so many stars like Clooney, Brolin, Scarlet Johansson, Jonah Hill, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, and more, we barely get a chance to dive into any of their stories so the film unfortunately feels so facial that it’s hard to really attach yourself to any of the characters. It’s not a great film, but it is fun to say the least!

3/5

WATCH: Putlocker (FREE), iTunes (RENT)