Netflix sure has turned film distribution on its ear, and the trickle down effect has now reached even my humble website. When I began reviewing films here, back in early 2000, I abided by one rule: that I would only review new films that I saw in theaters. The idea, delusional as it may have been, was that people would… read more!
Movies Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen (in alphabetical order)
This good but not great Coen Brothers outing has been underrated by many in the wake of their Oscar-winning No County for Old Men, but diehard fans of the Coens will probably enjoy this non-flashy dramedy, as the brothers serve up yet another tale of lunk-headed ordinary joes who turn to petty crime in order to score some easy money,… read more!
Hail, Caesar! has been marketed as a zippy farce. It is not. Coen Brothers devotees might expect a cutting, surreal black comedy. It is not that either. Truth is, I don't know what Hail, Caesar! is, though I can tell you what it isn't: very good. The film is set in 1951 Hollywood at the fictional Capitol Pictures. The plot – the MacGuffin, really – has the star (George Clooney) of… read more!
Inside Llewyn Davis begins with its titular character (played by Oscar Isaac), a folk singer in 1961 Greenwich Village, wrapping up a gig at a small venue. After he finishes his lovely take on a mundane old folk tune, he's told to go outside where a "friend" is waiting. This "friend" turns out to be a mysterious stranger in a… read more!
The least typical of the Coen Brothers' output, owing to the unusual participation of another producer (blandmeister Brian Grazer, responsible for Ron Howard's unmemorable, financially successful pictures) and no less than three other screenwriters (all hacks, judging by their filmographies), Intolerable Cruelty is thus their least satisfying. One gets the feeling that, after nine wholly idiosyncratic films, the Coens decided… read more!
The Coen Brothers play it (comparatively) straight this time around, with a somber black and white noir about a nondescript barber named Ed (Billy Bob Thornton) living in a small California town in 1949, who decides to take a chance in life by investing in a get-rich-quick scheme involving the burgeoning dry cleaning industry. In order to raise the capital… read more!
After two disastrously-received studio comedies (Intolerable Cruelty and the Ladykillers remake), cult filmmakers Joel & Ethan Coen return to the West Texas badlands that put them on the map over 20 years ago, when they unleashed Blood Simple on an unsuspecting public. Like their auspicious debut, No Country for Old Men opens with a montage of bleak but beautiful Texas… read more!
This Depression-era comedy opens with a statement that this tale of an escaped convict (George Clooney) who treks across the South with his simple-minded buddies (John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson) to get home to his wife is an adaptation of Homer's The Odyssey. But the Coens, ever the tricksters, are pulling your leg. Their "adaptation" is only a goofy pastiche… read more!
Offbeat even for a Coen Brothers movie, A Serious Man opens in a Jewish village in 19th century Poland, with a scene in subtitled Yiddish that has a never-explained connection to the rest of the story, set in 1967 Minneapolis and centering on Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg), a nerdy physics professor whose finds his quiet life suddenly falling apart: his… read more!
The Coens' remake of the 1969 John Wayne classic – hewing closer to Charles Portis' 1968 novel (which I haven't read) than the original – is a visually stunning Western, peppered with the brothers' trademark sadistic violence and gallows humor but otherwise remarkably mainstream and, shall we say, un-Coen-like. You probably know the story by now: In 1870s Arkansas, 14-year-old… read more!