Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Oh, how very clearly I remember looking forward to The Ladykillers, back in the first few months of 2004! After being extremely disappointed in Intolerable Cruelty the previous fall, it felt like this was going to see the Coen brothers right the ship: it didn’t exude the same unengaged aura of “we had a gap […]

The first question about 2003’s Intolerable Cruelty to tackle is, why in God’s name did the Coen brothers make it? Their tenth feature as co-directors (and the last one which Joel took sole official credit for directing and Ethan for producing – that is, Ethan was credited along with Brian Grazer, but I hope you […]

By 2001, Joel & Ethan Coen had already written and directed a free adaptation of Dashiell Hammett in the form of 1990’s Miller’s Crossing, and a riff on Raymond Chandler in the form of 1998’s The Big Lebowski. So of course they’d have to do their version of a James M. Cain story, to wrap up […]

The eighth film made by Joel & Ethan Coen, 2000’s O Brother, Where Art Thou? also has the distinction of being their first full-on no-two-ways-about-it major studio production. 20th Century Fox had distributed Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing, and Barton Fink, but the financing and production of those films was still closer to a conventional indie […]

Joel & Ethan Coen have made a career-long habit of never repeating themselves two films in a row – maybe to keep themselves entertained, or looking to keep themselves from being pigeonholed, I don’t know. Even so, there’s nothing in their career that compares to how hard they switched things up after the great success […]

Author’s note: I’m going to be treating this like you already know the story, and after a quarter of a century, you really ought to. Still, probably best to hold off on reading this if you haven’t seen the film – and also, I strongly urge you to see the film. There are so many […]

The Hudsucker Proxy is damn weird. Weird in and of itself, weird that it came into existence, weird for its place in the career of Joel & Ethan Coen. The origins of the film go all the way back to 1981, when Joel had just met Sam Raimi while working as an assistant editor on […]

If there’s a key to cracking Barton Fink, and honestly I’m pretty sure that there isn’t, it might be the simplest bit of production trivia of all. The 1991 film, the fourth written and directed by Joel & Ethan Coen, was written in a brief burst of activity when they were stuck on the labyrinthine […]

With their first feature, 1984’s Blood Simple, filmmaking brothers Joel & Ethan Coen proved that they were talented as hell, and worth paying attention to. But it’s simply not possible to see in that film the seeds for their second feature, 1987’s Raising Arizona, which is the point at which they became The Coen Brothers, among […]

It’s right around the 14-minute mark in 1984’s Blood Simple that Joel & Ethan Coen first become “the Coen Brothers”. It’s a short, single-take scene set in bar, and the scene starts all the way at the far end of the bar from the characters we actually care about. So the camera tracks forward, right […]

Want another opinion? Check out Conrado’s thoughts on the film! Joel and Ethan Coen have, in their long career as the most interesting and probably best American-born filmmakers alive, dabbled in damn near every genre that a filmmakers in the last 30 years could possibly get away with dabbling in, but in some way it […]

My instinct to say of Hail, Caesar! that you will love it if you fall into the enormously specific niche of people who adore Studio Era Hollywood but are still totally okay with making fun of it, and also consider themselves somewhere firmly entrenched in the Leftist-Socialist-Marxist end of the spectrum but are still totally […]