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Coens. 
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Post Re: Coens.
moulton4 wrote:
You can throw stats around all day about "critical success" and "acclamation" but that still doesn't sell the Coen's to me, not that it matters much haha. Fargo, O, Brother, and Miller's Crossing are WONDERFUL, but I feel, because of this, that other, less thought-out work of theirs is deemed equal to them (No Country, Burn After Reading).



Hi Moulton

It's still hard to think of current directors working today who have a stronger track record over the past 25 years.
I'm not their greatest fan, but they command my utmost respect.

Rob


Mon Apr 13, 2009 3:56 pm
Post Re: Coens.
From previous post

Although No Country for Old Men (which they adapted from the novel as they were at a loss as to where to go) was a return to form of sorts, it felt very similar to Blood Simple, remade with a bigger budget.

Tuco wrote:
Here's a question: are all book adaptations attributable to writer's block or some other lack of creativity (being "at a loss as to where to go")? There have been some excellent films made from books, after all.


Of course there have. There’s been countless times when extremely talented Directors
have adapted a book and made a great film. In the Coens case though, they hadn’t made a classic film in ten years and their previous effort, The Ladykillers was terrible.

Would they have considered adapting a book when they were at the peak of their powers in the mid 90’s? Of course not. They were churning out some of the best original screenplays in the history of cinema. That was their strength.

Tuco wrote:
If it's not that simple, is it that the film didn't work for you that indicates to you that they turned to that book out of some sort of desperation? I ask because there have been failed films from excellent filmmakers that weren't based on books.


No Country For Old Men worked, there was much to like. The cinematography was flawless, as was the acting. It was an above average film but they needed to adapt a great novel as they simply couldn’t write another timeless original screenplay. Their next original screenplay, Burn After Reading, was proof of that. Another poorly written film by their high standards.

Tuco wrote:
I'm just trying to understand your declarative statement that they were at a loss, which seems a fairly big leap to me. After all, there are many examples throughout the history of cinema where filmmakers have actively fought, over time and whatever degree of hardship, to get a film version of a favorite book made.


Yes. Your right, there have been. We’re only referring to the Coens here though. At the stage of their careers when they decided to adapt a book they’d lost their pen for originality. They didn't have to fight terribly hard to get the rights for the book.

Tuco wrote:
If the Coens were all hot and bothered to do this film, even while they had other projects in various stages, does that indicate a loss of direction, or maybe that they just didn't make as good a film as you'd hope?


As stated, the film was above average. *** They made a very good film. A safe film for their talents.

Tuco wrote:
Incidentally, from where I'm sitting, framing 'No Country for Old Men' as a rehash of 'Blood Simple' is a gross oversimplification, no less so than saying 'Fargo' is basically "Blood Simple Minnesota."


Perhaps that was a ‘gross oversimplification,’ but both films were predominantly set in “eerie Texas” in the early 80’s, with a serial killer on the loose. One of the more memorable scenes in both films contained a man being shot through a window by the killer.

The similarities between Fargo and Blood Simple is more of a stretch as, although it can be viewed in a number of ways, (part of it’s genius) Fargo is essentially a comedy. Blood Simple and No Country for Old Men are violent thrillers, with next to no comedy.

Tuco wrote:
Also, other than 'O Brother Where Art Thou' (which I really liked) and 'Intolerable Cruelty' (which I find amusing, if subpar on the Coen scale), your star ratings for the Coen films match mine, so I'm not meaning to take potshots. I just think you're being incredibly cynical in your view of 'No Country for Old Men.


Not cynical on No Country for Old Men, just stating the fact that adapting a book was the Coens best option. IMO a slightly desperate option, considering their previous films and the apparent lack of ideas that brought about their next original screenplay, Burn After Reading.


Wed Apr 15, 2009 4:55 am
Post Re: Coens.
PeachyPete wrote:

There is a zero percent chance adapting a book means a director is out of ideas. That's just flat out untrue. By that logic a director is also out of ideas when they use a screenplay they didn't write. These things happen all the time and quality movies are still made. Maybe it is more impressive when someone can write and direct, but a great movie is a great movie regardless of whether the director also wrote the script.


You’re right, I miswrote. They weren't out of ideas. They were out of ideas as to how to write an original screenplay that would sparkle like they once could. Perhaps they didn't want too. Their last three original screenplays, Burn After Reading, The Ladykillers and Intolerable Cruelty were ordinary at best.

Obviously too, a great movie doesn't have to be written by the Director/s, but in the Coens case, it's when they've produced classic films. No Country For Old Men was very good, but not a classic.


Wed Apr 15, 2009 5:31 am
Post Re: Coens.
wisey wrote:
PeachyPete wrote:

There is a zero percent chance adapting a book means a director is out of ideas. That's just flat out untrue. By that logic a director is also out of ideas when they use a screenplay they didn't write. These things happen all the time and quality movies are still made. Maybe it is more impressive when someone can write and direct, but a great movie is a great movie regardless of whether the director also wrote the script.


You’re right, I miswrote. They weren't out of ideas. They were out of ideas as to how to write an original screenplay that would sparkle like they once could. Perhaps they didn't want too. Their last three original screenplays, Burn After Reading, The Ladykillers and Intolerable Cruelty were ordinary at best.

Obviously too, a great movie doesn't have to be written by the Director/s, but in the Coens case, it's when they've produced classic films. No Country For Old Men was very good, but not a classic.


I just think you're oversimplifying this whole thing. First of all, it's hard to call 'The Ladykillers' an original screenplay because it is a remake. They also based 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' on 'The Odyssey', so there is a precedent of them adapting or basing their movies on other works prior to NCFOM. I'll concede that between TBL and NCFOM, their work was subpar compared to the standards they set. I also don't think NCFOM is a classic, but I do think it is a damn good film and worthy of winning Best Picture. I just think that you're saying the Coens can no longer write a good screenplay because of what amounts to 2 failed screenplays (in your eyes). Those being 'The Man Who Wasn't There' and 'Intolerable Cruelty'. I think that's a little too quick to write off the guys who have written, like you said, some of the best original screenplays ever. It's a "What have you done for me lately?" mentality that doesn't take into account that they have FAR more successes than failures.


Wed Apr 15, 2009 9:44 am
Post Re: Coens.
The one calling himself PeachyPete is right:

Robert Altman was at a nadir before The Player and, after that, he never had a point as low as those years in the mid-80's. Whatever it means that the Coen's adapted a book is unknowable in terms of creativity/originality but guessing that they'd run out of ideas is groundless speculation. They've had many hits and misses and they'll continue to until retirement.


Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:27 am
Post Re: Coens.
They take what most everyone said was an unfilmable book, and turned it into a movie that won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

That means they are out of ideas?

I am personally not sure it deserved the Award, but then again I am not sure ANY winner for the past 10+ years deserved it, so...


Thu Apr 16, 2009 8:01 am
Post Re: Coens.
I've been on a major Coens kick lately and, for what it's worth, here's how I'd rank and grade their films

Miller's Crossing, A
Raising Arizona, A
The Big Lebowski, A
The Hudsucker Proxy, A-
O Brother, Where Art Thou?, A-
Barton Fink, A-
The Man Who Wasn't There, B+
No Country for Old Men, B+
Fargo, B+
Burn After Reading, B-
Blood Simple, B-
The Ladykillers, B-
Intolerable Cruelty, B-


Sat Jul 25, 2009 8:32 pm
Post Re: Coens.
Looks like the new movie is a winner. Anyone seen it besides Sir James?


Sat Oct 10, 2009 9:53 am
Post Re: Coens.
I'm going to try and see it next weekend (maybe some time this week with it being at the Embarcadero). I'll report back then.


Sat Oct 10, 2009 5:56 pm
Post Re: Coens.
I'm really looking forward to it. Trailer looks pretty good too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_FjvR6H8xo


Sun Oct 11, 2009 11:47 am
Post Re: Coens.
I watched 'Blood Simple' the other day, for the first time in a few years. Despite being their darkest film (even 'No Country' isn't as consistently lacerating ), it is also their weakest in numerous aspects. It is an amazing debut, and an even better modern noir, but it pales in comparison to simply better works such as "Fargo" (their masterpiece), the miraculous tone-juggler "Miller's Crossing", and their most focused effort to date, the aforementioned "No Country For Old Men". It is nevertheless entirely successful on a pure visceral level; of all films, I think it feels most like "The Terminator" with it's steel blue, nightmarish glow.


Mon Oct 12, 2009 12:06 am
Post Re: Coens.
Evenflow8112 wrote:
"Fargo" (their masterpiece)


For my money, Hudsucker is their true masterpiece.

Its Howard Hawks meshed with Terry Gilliam. Who else but the Coens?


Mon Oct 12, 2009 7:22 am
Post Re: Coens.
Hudsucker is one of my favorite movies...Then again I also liked Burn After Reading a lot more than anyone else here it seems lol


Mon Oct 12, 2009 9:10 am
Director

Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 8:28 pm
Posts: 1537
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Post Re: Coens.
Miller's Crossing is a well mad efilm with one issue:

[Reveal] Spoiler:
How did John Tuturro put the body at the woods at the right time?


I've thought about my review and I'm sticking with my 3.5 stars.


Mon Oct 12, 2009 9:36 am
Profile YIM
Post Re: Coens.
corpen11 wrote:
Miller's Crossing is a well mad efilm with one issue:

[Reveal] Spoiler:
How did John Tuturro put the body at the woods at the right time?


I've thought about my review and I'm sticking with my 3.5 stars.


Didn't Gabriel Byrne help with that?


Mon Oct 12, 2009 10:35 am
Post Re: Coens.
I saw A Serious Man over the weekend, and it's really, really good. Like any Coen Brothers film, it's not really like anything they've done before. It's just as bleak as Blood Simple or No Country for Old Men, but it doesn't relish in that bleakness like those two films did. It's also actually somewhat hopeful. It has some of the black comedy they are known for, but I definitely wouldn't call it anything close to a straight comedy. It's got a NCFOM style ending, which is going to divide audiences, which is to be expected from the brothers. At it's core it has a simple, upbeat message, yet it's told through an incredibly depressing story. Any other year, this wins my best film award, but a little film you all may have heard of called Inglourious something or other came out a while back. Apparently, I love Jews.


Mon Oct 12, 2009 10:40 am
Post Re: Coens.
I've seen very few Coen Bros films. But from what I see about them, or read, or hear, or whatever, I can tell they're pretty unique and diverse filmmakers who make the films they want to make.

Out of the ones, I've seen...

Fargo is one of my all-time favorite films, I find it hilarious and tragic at the same time (though when I first watched it as a kid I didn't realize it was meant to be comedic).

No Country for Old Men was a solid thriller, and again, very different from what I was expecting (the ending, and how some situations get resolved). I'm not about to call it a masterpiece, but it was good.

I tried reading the book afterwards, however, and found it unbearable due to McCarthy's style ("Lewellyn stared through the binoculars, he found a deer, he put the binoculars on the ground, he picked up his rifle, he scratched his balls, he aimed at the deer, he pulled the trigger, etc.". 100+ pages of that monotone writing was too much).

The Big Lebowski annoyed the hell out of me for some reason. Jeff Bridges acting like a clueless stoner and John Goodman shouting and insulting everyone and saying "fuck" every three seconds wasn't probably my cup of tea, though I have to watch it again.

Burn After Reading was hilarious, simply a film about stupid people getting all worked up about NOTHING. After I saw that abrupt ending, it occurred to me that the Coens were simply having fun with their audience and nothing more.

I am very interested in the rest of their films, so I'll make it a point to check them out.


Thu Oct 29, 2009 1:54 am
Post Re: Coens.
"Accept the mystery."

Is that the way the Coens would like people to approach their films?

"Yes! Please!" Joel begs. "We don't engage in a lot of reflection when it comes to our movies -- "

" -- and we'd love it if everyone followed our lead," Ethan adds, chuckling.

But when you immerse yourself in their work, there are certain themes, certain threads that, you know, really tie the room together. And while the Coens might dispute that, calling themselves mere "storytellers," we can't help but think that "A Serious Man" is just the latest example of the brothers' idiosyncratically personal filmmaking.


Very good little article where the LA Times tries to connect themes throughout the Coen's filmography. Just thought I link it here for anyone interested.

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-ca-coens4-2009oct04,0,645163.story


Thu Oct 29, 2009 1:05 pm
Post Re: Coens.
ram1312 wrote:
"Accept the mystery."

Is that the way the Coens would like people to approach their films?

"Yes! Please!" Joel begs. "We don't engage in a lot of reflection when it comes to our movies -- "

" -- and we'd love it if everyone followed our lead," Ethan adds, chuckling.

But when you immerse yourself in their work, there are certain themes, certain threads that, you know, really tie the room together. And while the Coens might dispute that, calling themselves mere "storytellers," we can't help but think that "A Serious Man" is just the latest example of the brothers' idiosyncratically personal filmmaking.


Very good little article where the LA Times tries to connect themes throughout the Coen's filmography. Just thought I link it here for anyone interested.

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-ca-coens4-2009oct04,0,645163.story


Thanks for the link. It's not the first time I've heard them downplay what they do, but that doesn't lessen the impact for me. Just because they don't intend the subtext doesn't mean that it isn't there. Besides, I think they're being coy...they must know that their movies are awesome.


Thu Oct 29, 2009 3:42 pm
Post Re: Coens.
ed_metal_head wrote:
ram1312 wrote:
"Accept the mystery."

Is that the way the Coens would like people to approach their films?

"Yes! Please!" Joel begs. "We don't engage in a lot of reflection when it comes to our movies -- "

" -- and we'd love it if everyone followed our lead," Ethan adds, chuckling.

But when you immerse yourself in their work, there are certain themes, certain threads that, you know, really tie the room together. And while the Coens might dispute that, calling themselves mere "storytellers," we can't help but think that "A Serious Man" is just the latest example of the brothers' idiosyncratically personal filmmaking.


Very good little article where the LA Times tries to connect themes throughout the Coen's filmography. Just thought I link it here for anyone interested.

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-ca-coens4-2009oct04,0,645163.story


Thanks for the link. It's not the first time I've heard them downplay what they do, but that doesn't lessen the impact for me. Just because they don't intend the subtext doesn't mean that it isn't there. Besides, I think they're being coy...they must know that their movies are awesome.


I agree with Ed. I think they know exactly what they're doing. They're guys who tend to shy away from the spotlight, and I can imagine trying to explain the meaning of their films is something they equally despise. Honestly, it does seem a bit pretentious and self-serving to expound on about this or that meant, or how important some obscure detail is. They even have an faux intro to The Big Lebowski that pokes fun at this a bit.


Thu Oct 29, 2009 4:07 pm
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