Sunday, July 19, 2009

Coen brothers double bill

The Coen brothers' filmography is a hymn to crime cinema, deviating from the brutally serious to the seriously off-kilter in typically subversive and iconic style.

Consider the brooding neo-noirs of their remarkable debut 'Blood Simple' and their masterful return to form 'No Country for Old Men'. Consider the slapstick capers on display in their frenetic sophomore film 'Raising Arizona' and their somewhat misconceived Ealing comedy remake 'The Ladykillers'. Consider the complications of kidnapping in wintry police prodecural 'Fargo' and Chandleresque slacker fave 'The Big Lebowski'.

Consider crims on the run in 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' and gangsters whose hats have a tendency to gust poetically through the woods in 'Miller's Crossing'. Consider a man who just cuts hair getting in deeper and deeper in 'The Man Who Wasn't There'.

Even their more lightweight films are layered with lawlessness, be it corporate crookery in 'The Hudsucker Proxy' or a plot development involving a bumbling asthmatic hitman in 'Intolerable Cruelty'.

In fact, with 'Burn After Reading' just a stone's throw from the crime genre (it's an espionage tale, but one set in motion by an act of theft), there's really only 'Barton Fink' that doesn't fit into the scheme of things. Unless of course the crime in question is that done by Hollywood to the artist.

Two Coen classics in the offing today, both from the personal faves list.

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