Tag Archives: Ethan Coen

The Set of 400: #117 – My Favorite Pomade

Today! Because we’re in a tight spot –

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Directed by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (x4)

Starring George Clooney (x4), John Turturro (x3), Tim Blake Nelson, Holly Hunter, John Goodman (x5), Charles Durning (x3), Stephen Root (x4), Michael Badalucco (x3), Chris Thomas King, Daniel von Bargen (x3), Ray McKinnon, Frank Collison, Lee Weaver, Wayne Duvall, Ed Gale

When I first saw O Brother, Where Art Thou? in theaters, I was not overly impressed. In my Epinions.com review from that time (R.I.P. Epinions!), I believe I titled the post “The Acme of Foolishness,” taking a line directly from the film, because I thought I was one cute motherfucker. Whereas I normally quickly and whole-heartedly embrace Coen films, this one just didn’t work for me. Initially.

However, one thing I did glom onto right quick was the soundtrack – probably the lasting memory most people have of this movie, if they ever bothered to see it. So popular was T. Bone Burnett’s compilation/re-imagining of that sweet old timey music (#1 on the Billboard chart! 8x Platinum!), that it stayed in the public consciousness far longer than the film remained in theaters (It did gross $45 million – decent by Coen standards). And as you’ve likely gathered from what’s come before on this list, music/musicals register pretty high with this guy, so incessant listening to this CD kept me thinking and reevaluating this movie until finally I learned to like it, then madly love it. Epinions Joe got it way wrong!

And I don’t think Clooney has ever been properly credited for his dancing

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The Set of 400: #128 – My Favorite Three-Cent Stamp

Today! Because I’m not sure I agree with you a hundred percent on your police work, there, Lou –

Fargo (1996)

Directed by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (x3)

Starring Frances McDormand (x2), William H. Macy (x2), Steve Buscemi (x2), Peter Stormare, John Carroll Lynch (x3), Harve Presnell (x2), Kristin Rudrud, Steve Reevis

I was well on board with the Coens by 1996 – even if it had been a few years since a really strong outing. The Hudsucker Proxy is weird fun and Barton Fink is surrealistic madness, but prior to those we got Miller’s Crossing, Raising Arizona, and Blood Simple – a pretty range-y group of movies sharing some bits of that Coen sensibility we’d all come to know and love. But I’d venture the majority of viewers didn’t really get into the Coens until they made Fargo, which kicked off arguably their best period of filmmaking, in tight competition with the last decade’s output of No Country For Old Men, True Grit, A Serious Man, and Inside Llewyn Davis.

In addition to ultimately spawning the excellent FX inspired-by TV show, Fargo provided instantly iconic characters and moments, superseded in the Coen canon only (probably) by their next film, The Big Lebowski. Between Frances McDormand’s pregnant police chief Marge Gunderson and William H. Macy’s bitter, inept criminal plotter Jerry Lundegaard and the case of loot buried in the snow and the wood chipper, this movie finally brought the brothers around to the full-on pseudo-comic mayhem and violence their earlier movies hinted at. And while it wasn’t exactly a box office hit – they didn’t really have any hits per se, until No Country won Best Picture and cracked $50 million for the brothers – it was the awards darling that had long eluded them, and a massive cult favorite.

Their later take on Prince Valiant was unconventional, I’ll give you that

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The Set of 400: #197 – My Favorite Runaway Cat

Today! Because I don’t see a lot of money here –

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (x2)

Starring Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman (x3), Garrett Hedlund, F. Murray Abraham (x2), Justin Timberlake, Adam Driver, Ethan Phillips, Robin Bartlett, Max Casella, Stark Sands, Jeanine Serralles

I debated when starting this list whether to include a cut-off at all, but once I landed on needing space to fairly evaluate these movies against each other, I had to resolve where the line would get drawn. In retrospect, maybe four years was too little (figure, all this was compiled in the summer of 2018, so I placed the eligibility date at January 1st, 2014). Thus only four 2013 movies made this list, and we’ve already reached the last of them. And yeah, maybe 2013 wasn’t the world’s greatest year for films, but hell, 2012 has 13 movies and 2011 has 8.

But, knowing what I know about 2013, having been there and looked around quite a bit, I’m still fairly confident Inside Llewyn Davis would emerge as my favorite. I’m not saying ’13 was a bad year, it’s just not a lovable year – 12 Years a Slave, Her, Nebraska, Prisoners, The Great Gatsby, and American Hustle almost made the list – an admirable group of movies, but none fought their way on. Nope, it’s only #388 The Wolf of Wall Street, #390 Gravity, #265 Iron Man 3, and this. Thin going! Jeez, Iron Man 3 is my second favorite movie of 2013? That can’t be right.

Nonetheless!

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