Posts Tagged ‘Coen Brothers’

Media Update 11/26/20

November 26, 2020

Blood Simple

This is the Coen Brothers’ first movie which they were able to both direct and write. It is a simmering crime movie with a small cast. John Getz plays a quiet but reckless bartender who gets into trouble for sleeping with the wrong woman. Dan Madaya plays the paranoid bar owner, a rich man who thinks he can buy anything. Frances McDormand plays a somewhat mousy but extremely likable woman who gets mixed up in things. Finally, M. Emmet Walsh plays the corrupt and silly private detective who acts as comic relief and to move the plot along. The movie is an interesting character study about what happens when a single act of violence eventually drives everybody crazy. It is a brilliant movie especially with its use of silence. There is a 14 minute sequence without any dialogue and it is the best. The movie is amazing for a first attempt and really just a good movie period. You can see how Frances McDormand was going to become a superstar actress even then. I recommend this movie.

Miller’s Crossing

This is a straight up neo-noir film about a clash between the Italian and Irish mobs during prohibition. Gabriel Byrne plays a straight shooter and strategist behind the throne of the largest mobster in town who gets mixed up in a lot of intrigue. John Turturro plays the Jewish gangster who sparks the whole conflict and he is so likable and weaselly. Albert Finney plays the big shot Irish mob boss. Jon Polito steals every scene he was in as the hot-headed Italian gangster with a bit of a Napoleon complex. Finally, Marcia Gay Harden plays the fickle love interest, a classic femme fatale in a noir story. The movie is a classic gangster story with that layered story that the Coen Brothers do so well. I would liken it to movies like No Country For Old Men, Burn After Reading, and a little of The Big Lebowski. The story has a lot of good twists and turns that I was not expecting. Nobody comes off as a hero but you meet a lot of interesting characters. I definitely recommend this movie.

The Man Who Wasn’t There

This is definitely a weird movie and the Coen brothers like to ocassionally make this kind of movie. It is similar to Barton Fink and A Simple Man in that we follow one character as he tries to navigate increasingly chaotic events. Billy Bob Thornton plays the main character, a very low key and taciturn barber who wants to get ahead in life. Frances McDormand plays his spitfire wife who is a social climber. James Gandolfini plays her boss, a gruff but nice man. John Polito plays a travelling salesman who has the gift for gab. Tony Shalhoub plays an eccentric defense attorney who has a motormouth. A pretty young Scarlett Johansson plays a naïve young girl. The story moves pretty slowly but at some point it gains momentum and kicks into a higher gear. I really loved Thornton’s monotone performance as it was an interesting choice and he also narrates the movie like a film noir piece. The movie is also in black and white and feels like a throwback to earlier cinema. I recommend this movie with the caveat that it is weird and moves slowly at first.

Music of the Week:


Qveen Herby – ALL THESE HOES

Surfaces – Bloom

French 79 – Hometown

Killer Mike – Reagan

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “The Coen Brothers Period Pieces”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched more Doctor Who Season 11
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
I watched more Young Justice Season 3
I watched more EVIL Season 1
I watched more The Haunting of Bly Manor
I watched more Agents of Shield Season 7
I watched more Cults and Extreme Belief Season 1

Media Update 1/3/19

January 3, 2019

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

I like a good western (although not as much as my stepfather) so it was with great excitement that I heard that the Coen Brothers were returning to that genre. Their version of True Grit far outshines the original and their period pieces are always fresh and interesting. The Coen Brothers have had my love ever since I first watched Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? This movie felt kind of like a mix between the two movies. The movie has six stories that run a fairly broad spectrum of tones. From happy, to dismal, to heartwarming, to exciting, to sad, and on to scary there it felt like a story buffet. One of the things that I found they all shared was a certain dark comedy. Each story is pulled along at a good pace toward its inevitable conclusion. Of course, each story’s pace matches its tone so the darker tales feel longer and the happy ones feel quicker. However, this actually worked for me. All of the stories were compelling and all of the characters were interesting. With great actors like Liam Neeson, Clancy Brown, Tim Blake Nelson, Zoe Kazan, Stephen Root, Harry Melling, Tom Waits, Brendan Gleeson, Saul Rubinek, and Tyne Daly this is definitely an ensemble work. However, with the star power divided into six parts it does not feel too crowded at all. While I usually get turned off by darker movies, this one did not have that effect. I definitely recommend this movie.

A Serious Man

Some of the Coen Brothers films are not as well received, like Burn After Reading. I feel that since I had never heard about this movie before stumbling on it on Netflix, it was definitely not a huge hit. I would compare this movie with one of the Coen Brothers’ less popular films, Barton Fink. Like that movie, it is a character study where we view a character being pushed further and further out of their comfort zone. The movie is about a Jewish physics professor in the 1960s whose life starts to fall apart around him as he tries to navigate an increasingly bizarre set of situations. It stars a lot of relative unknowns because almost all of the characters are Jewish and the Coen Brothers wanted a departure from using their regulars. Pretty much the only exceptions are Fred Melamed and Richard Kind, two brilliant character actors whose names most would not recognize. The rest of the cast they did find are also excellent and special kudos go to the star Michael Stuhlbarg who later went on to become a bigger star with The Shape of Water, Doctor Strange, Call Me By Your Name and a lot more popular movies. He is a great character to follow. He is very sympathetic and likable so it is heartbreaking to root for him in his sisyphean tasks. I would also say that I felt some influences from other directors like David Lynch and Wes Anderson as there is plenty of quirky weirdness. I also recommend this movie.

Inside Llewyn Davis

This one was another character study. This one is also set in the sixties but follows a down and out folk musician in New York City just trying to scrape by and pursue his dream. Things have started to get desperate and it is literally just a slice of life story about a few days in linear time. Oscar Isaac plays the title and lead role and, although he is a little bit of a dick, he is really easy to root for. The other two major parts in the movie are played by Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake and they are also pretty likable. There is a history between all three characters and it is just fun to watch them interact. Also, thee is just so much fun folky music from a time where musicians were really starting to branch out. There are also great smaller parts from Adam Driver (yup they were in this together first), F. Murray Abraham and John Goodman. This movie has even less of a plot than A Serious Man but it is full of good actors just doing what good actors do. At the same time, it feels like a great little story about moving on with your life. I feel like watching both movies is a great contrast as they take place in the same decade but take place in completely different communities. I recommend this too.

Music of the Week:
The Killers – The Man

Pretty Vicious – Are You Entertained?

The Dollyrots – Walking On Sunshine

Deca – Mammon’s Mantra

James Chance and the Contortions- Designed to Kill

Weekly Update (Two weeks full!):
– This week’s theme is “Coen Brothers”
– I finished Lucifer Season 2
– I watched more Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I finished Chilling Tales of Sabrina Season 1
– I finished Designated Survivor Season 2
– I watched more The Dragon Prince Season One
– I started watching The Magicians Season 3
– I started watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Season 6
– It’s a new year and I feel ready for it

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