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Peng Does Underseen Director#2: The Coens 
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#2: The Coens
Shade2 wrote:
Using Ken's System...

If anyone wonders where I got it from, here's a hint.

Just a bit of Ken-related trivia, which is going to come in handy when one of you gets on Jeopardy! and it comes up as an answer.

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Mon Jan 06, 2014 10:32 pm
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#2: The Coens
Ken wrote:
Shade2 wrote:
Using Ken's System...

If anyone wonders where I got it from, here's a hint.

Just a bit of Ken-related trivia, which is going to come in handy when one of you gets on Jeopardy! and it comes up as an answer.


That made me think of this: http://proxy.espn.go.com/espn/page2/sto ... ons/020108

I know you're not much of a sports guy, Kenster, but the Hall of Fame Pyramid (explained in the beginning portion of the linked article in reference to baseball) is an awfully attractive way of ranking films as well. The basic idea is that films/players/etc who are considered "great" get put somewhere in the pyramid, and by nature of the analogy, there's only so much room at the top and eventually you need to move something out to put something in.


Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:12 pm
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#2: The Coens
Blonde Almond wrote:
And even for someone who can tolerate a good deal of zaniness, Raising Arizona goes too far off the deep end for my tastes.

After reading through your David O. Russell thread, I was almost inspired to start my own for John Cassavetes. But then I came to the realization I wouldn't have the fortitude to get very far.


It is exactly my kind of zany though :) .

Yeah there are some directors whom I am curious about, but not enough to watch all of their works, or watch them in order for a period of time. Lars von Trier comes to mind.


Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:42 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#2: The Coens
2/16

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Raising Arizona (1987) - 9/10

Given my love for The Emperor's New Groove, it isn't surprising that I will fall hard for another comedy that has some absolutely inspired Looney Tunes-esque set pieces. That all the set pieces are leavened by strong, almost poetic proses just makes the comedy all the more appealing. It is helped tremendously by the Coens' assured direction, the actors playing all their roles with just the perfect notes, and delightfully vibrant colors. This immediately jumps to be one of my favorite Coens so far, alongside No Country for Old Men.

And now I know where the name and profile pic of one of our Reelviews members come from. :)


Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:43 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#2: The Coens
"Raising Arizona" was my first exposure to the Coens, and it remains my favorite film of theirs (as well as my favorite film of '87). The chase that ensues after H.I.'s convenience store robbery remains one of the most hilarious scenes in movie history for me. :)


Tue Jan 07, 2014 9:51 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#2: The Coens
peng wrote:
Given my love for The Emperor's New Groove, it isn't surprising that I will fall hard for another comedy that has some absolutely inspired Looney Tunes-esque set pieces. That all the set pieces are leavened by strong, almost poetic proses just makes the comedy all the more appealing. It is helped tremendously by the Coens' assured direction, the actors playing all their roles with just the perfect notes, and delightfully vibrant colors. This immediately jumps to be one of my favorite Coens so far, alongside No Country for Old Men.


I'm also a big fan of this one. I believe the man known as majoraphasia (or Mark III, if you like) once described it as Looney Tunes meets Shakespeare, and I think that's pretty apt. It's one of those movies that's completely enjoyable on the surface (if ridiculous comedies are your thing), but benefits from a deeper analysis. Like a lot of their work, it took 2 or 3 viewings for everything to really sink in for me. It manages to make comments on male maturation and debate the benefits of socialism vs. captialism. I love the way it's written, filmed, and acted, and I've always found H.I.'s dream sequence at the end one of the most touching moments in the Coen canon.


Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:28 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#2: The Coens
3/16

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Miller's Crossing (1990) - 8/10

The nicely twisty plot keeps my interest to the end. But it is hard to engage on an emotional level with the chilly style and distant characters. That emotional distance also makes it hard to be invested and follow the plot at times. It is a great style though, full of intricate composition, memorable shots (the hat floating in the wind, apart from being thematically purposeful, is just one of the best openings ever), and tense sequences. In retrospect, John Turturro's Bernie helps the film immensely, being an important character who always bares his feelings out. The mid-film scene with him in the woods snaps the movie's focus into place and establishes some needed emotional stake for the rest of the film. A masterfully shot and acted sequence.


Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:16 pm
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#2: The Coens
Forgot to mention "Danny Boy"... Another great, kick-ass scene:

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Image

Image


Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:21 pm
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#2: The Coens
peng wrote:
Forgot to mention "Danny Boy"... Another great, kick-ass scene:

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Image

Image


One of my favorite scenes, the more I watch this film the more I love it. It may have taken longer than some other Coen films to like but it's holds a grip years later.

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Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:15 pm
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#2: The Coens
4/16

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Barton Fink (1991) - 8.5/10

Whoo boy, does this warrant a rewatch. In the middle of the film, when a crucial incident happened, I went "Hmm, what does that mean?" Towards the end, I was practically in a constant state of "WHAT DOES THAT EVER MEAN?" Unlike most pictures of this nature that I've seen, however, not understanding is not the same as not enjoying it. The talent and care put into the film are very evident, from the striking visual style of the hotel, contrasting with those of Hollywood people, to the entertaining, memorable performances by the two leads. I have pondered a few things and theories since watching it, but I still enjoyed it a great deal as an expertly crafted genre-bending film that puts my mind into overdrive towards the end.

I'd really love to hear what you guys have to say about the ending, but for now I have a few brief thoughts:

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Either 1.) It's a Fight Club scenario, 2.) A literal interpretation of heaven/hell, or 3.) The whole film is representative of his mind (this one is a bit shaky since I just thought it up), with the writer's block situation being turned outward. Number 2 seems the most likely, I think.


Thu Jan 09, 2014 6:55 pm
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#2: The Coens
I think it's a story about a man who gets the kind of life that he deserves... albeit in the harshest possible way.

Barton Fink is a film that represents a lot of things, but, to me, is much cooler for the things it doesn't have to "represent" per se--anxiety, frustration, fear of failure, and the constant unease of your place in the world--because those things are present in the psychological sense that the movie generates, rather than in a more one-to-one way through symbolism. It's not a movie where the images are tied specifically to a meaning, but more to a feeling.

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Thu Jan 09, 2014 8:07 pm
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#2: The Coens
I need to give Barton Fink a serious rewatch. Seeing it in my late teens, when I was barely getting into films left me a bit befuddled. I do remember enjoying it more or less, but I'm sure I would appreciate it more now.

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Thu Jan 09, 2014 8:34 pm
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#2: The Coens
What 'Barton Fink' is about?

Well, its about the common man, of course!

(Either that or it is about how a Wallace Beery wrestling picture might be more meaingful to "the common man" than an intellectual's conception of what should interest the common man, amongst other things.)


Fri Jan 10, 2014 3:41 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#2: The Coens
5/16

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The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) - 6.5/10

The film doesn't quite work as a whole. The focus grows increasingly aimless, especially in the second half of its too long running time. All the performances are on point for the classic screwball comedy satire (especially the delightful Jennifer Jason Leigh as a Katherine Hepburn-type take-down), but that also makes it hard to be invested in some characters enough when the narrative turns semi-serious later on. The hula hoop thing gets a little too cute for my taste as well.

There are still some absolute gems sprinkled throughout though: a background window joke that never happens of Paul Newman falling; two people narrating a meet-cute in a bar; the pure madcap fun of Newman talking on the phone while Tim Robbins flails around behind him; every scene with Leigh and Bruce Campbell; and a most hilariously failed suicide attempt.


Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:43 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#2: The Coens
Might as well keep churning. Now we come to my first Coens rewatch.

6/16

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Fargo (1996) - 8.5/10

A rewatch, previously 8/10. The supposed magic of "Coens rewatch" doesn't quite come out in full force, but still applicable to this movie nonetheless. In my first watch, I must have concentrated too intently on the plot to miss many of its small pleasures. Namely, this time I couldn't stop cracking up whenever "Yah?" came up. I don't know how the first time it didn't remind me immediately of my host mother when I lived in Minnesota. This is a very exaggerated accent, but the frequency almost matches. I appreciate the sharp contrast between grim violence and the surrounding comedy a lot more. The warmth and intelligence of Frances McDormand's performance also registers more on me, especially her relationship with Norm and her brief interaction with Mike Yanagita. Still not quite my favorite of theirs, but it does grow on me.


Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:50 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#2: The Coens
Your choice of image for Hudsucker is one of my favorite shots from the movie (which, shamefully, I have not seen in its entirety), and is a direct visual quote from Brazil.

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Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:54 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#2: The Coens
I agree with the good rather than great review of Fargo.

It's never been a firm Coens favourite of mine. It's kind of too close to a mainstream thriller, and instead of their idiosyncrasies forming the basis of the plot like they do in their great films, they're used more so as gimmicks in this.

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Fri Jan 10, 2014 10:15 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#2: The Coens
peng wrote:
Miller's Crossing (1990) - 8/10

The nicely twisty plot keeps my interest to the end. But it is hard to engage on an emotional level with the chilly style and distant characters. That emotional distance also makes it hard to be invested and follow the plot at times. It is a great style though, full of intricate composition, memorable shots (the hat floating in the wind, apart from being thematically purposeful, is just one of the best openings ever), and tense sequences. In retrospect, John Turturro's Bernie helps the film immensely, being an important character who always bares his feelings out. The mid-film scene with him in the woods snaps the movie's focus into place and establishes some needed emotional stake for the rest of the film. A masterfully shot and acted sequence.


Agreed with your take here completely. The first time I saw this one, I straight up didn't like it because of what you mention - it really keeps the audience at a distance. The second time I watched it, and knowing that going in, I was more able to appreciate just exactly what the movie was trying to do. It ends up being one of their more underrated and overlooked films (more because of how excellent a lot of the rest of their filmography is), but I'd rank it firmly in the second tier of the Coen canon, which means it's better than just about everything else, but not up to par with their masterworks.

peng wrote:
Barton Fink (1991) - 8.5/10

Whoo boy, does this warrant a rewatch. In the middle of the film, when a crucial incident happened, I went "Hmm, what does that mean?" Towards the end, I was practically in a constant state of "WHAT DOES THAT EVER MEAN?" Unlike most pictures of this nature that I've seen, however, not understanding is not the same as not enjoying it. The talent and care put into the film are very evident, from the striking visual style of the hotel, contrasting with those of Hollywood people, to the entertaining, memorable performances by the two leads. I have pondered a few things and theories since watching it, but I still enjoyed it a great deal as an expertly crafted genre-bending film that puts my mind into overdrive towards the end.

I'd really love to hear what you guys have to say about the ending, but for now I have a few brief thoughts:

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Either 1.) It's a Fight Club scenario, 2.) A literal interpretation of heaven/hell, or 3.) The whole film is representative of his mind (this one is a bit shaky since I just thought it up), with the writer's block situation being turned outward. Number 2 seems the most likely, I think.


Another movie we covered with the movie club all those years ago. Really good stuff in there, much about the ending, much about the rest of the film. Like, really, really good from a bunch of different folks.

Barton Fink is certainly one of the masterworks. It's just, I mean, there just aren't words to do it justice. Although I'm sure Barton would try to force some kind of pretentious nonsense in there to describe just how great it is. Beacuse he's a douche.

I haven't seen The Hudsucker Proxy, so I can't comment. That and The Ladykillers are their only movies I haven't seen, and I don't really have much interest in seeing The Ladykillers.

peng wrote:
Fargo (1996) - 8.5/10

A rewatch, previously 8/10. The supposed magic of "Coens rewatch" doesn't quite come out in full force, but still applicable to this movie nonetheless. In my first watch, I must have concentrated too intently on the plot to miss many of its small pleasures. Namely, this time I couldn't stop cracking up whenever "Yah?" came up. I don't know how the first time it didn't remind me immediately of my host mother when I lived in Minnesota. This is a very exaggerated accent, but the frequency almost matches. I appreciate the sharp contrast between grim violence and the surrounding comedy a lot more. The warmth and intelligence of Frances McDormand's performance also registers more on me, especially her relationship with Norm and her brief interaction with Mike Yanagita. Still not quite my favorite of theirs, but it does grow on me.


My favorite movie of all-time. I could endlessly wax poetic about this one, but I'll instead tell you my very favorite thing about the movie: The idea that there's a really warm, loving relationship between Marge and Norm at the center of the movie that's in complete contrast to the brutally harsh, cold world outside of their home. It turns what could have been an entertaining genre flick into a great piece of humanitarian art. That movie makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside because of that. It really is something to cherish.


Fri Jan 10, 2014 10:21 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#2: The Coens
PeachyPete wrote:
My favorite movie of all-time. I could endlessly wax poetic about this one, but I'll instead tell you my very favorite thing about the movie: The idea that there's a really warm, loving relationship between Marge and Norm at the center of the movie that's in complete contrast to the brutally harsh, cold world outside of their home. It turns what could have been an entertaining genre flick into a great piece of humanitarian art. That movie makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside because of that. It really is something to cherish.

I've seen this film only once, and it was my first-ever Coen film, but this is exactly how I felt about the film as well. As someone who loves warm and fuzzy relationships, I found the relationship between Marge and her husband to be understated and beautiful. As you rightly pointed out, when compared to the madness and cynical view of the world the rest of the film holds, it becomes even more special. I can imagine this film growing better in my mind on subsequent viewings.

Plus,
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Peter Stormare feeding Steve Buscemi's body into the wood chipper remains the single craziest screen in my film-viewing history. No matter what Tarantino does in his films, I don't think he can come close to the craziness the Coens achieved in that scene.

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Fri Jan 10, 2014 10:29 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#2: The Coens
Balaji Sivaraman wrote:
I've seen this film only once, and it was my first-ever Coen film, but this is exactly how I felt about the film as well. As someone who loves warm and fuzzy relationships, I found the relationship between Marge and her husband to be understated and beautiful. As you rightly pointed out, when compared to the madness and cynical view of the world the rest of the film holds, it becomes even more special. I can imagine this film growing better in my mind on subsequent viewings.

Plus,
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Peter Stormare feeding Steve Buscemi's body into the wood chipper remains the single craziest screen in my film-viewing history. No matter what Tarantino does in his films, I don't think he can come close to the craziness the Coens achieved in that scene.


Right on. The Coens do so much in the movie, and touch on so many different things, but it all comes back to that relationship. A lesser movie would drown in the cynicism of the world presented, but the more I watch Fargo the more hope I see in it.


Fri Jan 10, 2014 4:44 pm
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