Posts Tagged ‘Ethan Coen’

Die Wunder der Enthaltsamkeit

Freitag, Oktober 7th, 2011

Wer diesen Blog schon länger verfolgt, der weiß, dass ich, bevor ich mich nach Australien aufgemacht habe, einer großen Passion komplett verfallen war. Dass es etwas gab in meinem Leben, was ganz klar an erster Stelle stand (sorry, liebe Freunde und Verwandte) und einen Großteil meiner Zeit und Energie konsumierte. Und dass ich überzeugt davon war, dass diese Leidenschaft – ich möchte fast sagen, diese Liebe – ewig währen würde. Ich spreche natürlich vom Film. Von Filmen. Vom Kino. Von der Macht der in Bildern erzählten Geschichte.

(weiterlesen …)

Burn After Reading – Minute Movie Review

Dienstag, April 27th, 2010


After he is fired from the CIA, analyst John Malkovich decides to write his memoirs. Meanwhile, his wife Tilda Swinton is having an affair with George Clooney and decides to divorce him, accidentally causing his computer files to be left in a gym bathroom, where Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt find them and decide to extort money for their return. However, them being idiots, makes the thing a little difficult, and before long, a clusterfuck (to quote J.K. Simmons’ CIA Supervisor) is underway, that is even more complicated than these few sentences can hope to indicate. The Coen Brothers made this film fresh off the success of No Country for Old Men and manage to make a very funny comedy with strong performances all around. Personally, I don’t see the subtext some people claim the film has, but that doesn’t really detract from the film being perfectly watchable.

Random Observations:

Burn After Reading at the IMDb

Brad Pitt is great at playing a moron. It’s good to see him move beyond his good looks once in a while and demonstrate that he can actually act.

Did you know that Frances McDormand is married to Joel Coen? I only recently discovered that and was quite surprised. However, my hopes that Ethan Coen was married to Steve Buscemi were quickly squashed.

Oscar Predictions and Preferences – 2010 Edition

Samstag, März 6th, 2010

Award Season is Crazy Season. If you follow these things at all, you have been bombarded by information about the superiority of one film above another for months now. If you blissfully ignore all that stuff, you might even not have heard that a producer on The Hurt Locker is in trouble for trying to convince Academy voters to vote for his film instead of Avatar. His crime: sending an e-mail to his friends. Yes, things are crazy. So it is a good thing that with the Oscar telecast on Sunday, Award Season will be over. Until May or so, when the first discussions for next year’s favourites and winners will begin once more.

But before the Oscars, the most important of all the meaningless awards, are handed out on Sunday, it is time for my annual Oscar predictions. Last year, I picked 19 of the 24 winners. This year, let’s try to improve on that. But unlike last year, this year I actually feel like I am entitled to my own opinion, having seen 20 of the 58 animated films, 18 of the 38 feature films, and actually having seen all nominated films in three categories. So not only will I now predict the Oscar winners as promised, I will also tell you who should win. (Yes, my opinion constitutes objective truth in these matters.) The following list is ordered rather randomly and incomplete, an alphabetical and complete breakdown of all categories and predictions follows at the end.

(weiterlesen …)

Fargo – Minute Movie Review

Montag, März 1st, 2010


A Minnesota car salesman decides to have his wife kidnapped and take the ransom money to get out from under his father-in-laws thumb. Naturally, everything goes wrong when the two small-time crooks he hires for the job are stopped by a highway patrol officer and shoot him. This gets the Chief of Police of the small time and thus the apparently only person in Minnesota with some intelligence involved. The film is an extremely dark crime story, boldly prefaced with the lie of it being a true story to increase its plausibility,  in which every single character is a complete idiot and most are annoying to boot with their fake sincerity and cheerfulness. The film by the Coen Brothers is regarded as one of their best, but even though it is very good, the fact that I was hoping for a violent death for every single character in the film made it almost unbearable to watch.

Random Observations:

Fargo at the IMDb

Are people from Minnesota really that “nice”? It seems possible, but highly undesirable.

This is a prime example of a film where I can see that it is very good, but which I didn’t like very much. Usually that is a judgement I reserve for horror films. (Actual horror films like The Shining or Rosemary’s Baby, not those startle horror films that have long replaced them.)

The acting in the film is really top-notch. There wasn’t a single actor in it I didn’t find incredibly annoying. Especially Frances McDormand really deserved her Oscar for the lead role.

The Hudsucker Proxy – Minute Movie Review

Sonntag, Februar 7th, 2010


After the owner and president of Hudsucker Industries jumps out of a window, the board decides to install an imbecile in the job to devalue the stock so they can buy the majority chair. But the man comes up with a brilliant idea (if you have seen the poster, you can guess what it is) and saves the company – at least for a while. But things never work out the way one expects. The film is a hilariously funny comedy that is somewhat diminished by the need to have a halfway coherent plot with a happy ending, resorting to fantasy to manage to get out of the many holes it dug. Nevertheless, the film is absolutely brilliant and should have firmly established the Coen Brothers as the leading comedy filmmakers of their time.

Random Observations:

The Hudsucker Proxy at the IMDb

John Goodman has a small cameo here and is credited as Karl Mundt, the name of his character in Barton Fink.

Also with a small cameo: the always awesome Steve Buscemi.

The dialogue in this film may be some of the funniest in the history of the medium.

I love how Tim Robbins, playing the lead guy, goes around showing people his circle, claiming that it is a great idea.

Sam Raimi, acclaimed horror (and Spider-Man) director, co-wrote the script with the Coen Brothers, almost ten years before the film was made.

I’m fairly certain that this film will prove to be even better on repeat viewings. It seems like one of the things it has in common with The Big Lebowski, which it precedes in many ways.

Barton Fink – Minute Movie Review

Sonntag, Januar 31st, 2010


Barton Fink just has a major hit on Broadway and taking his agent’s advice to cash in on that, he moves to Hollywood to work as a screenwriter. But he wants to write about the common man and not be caught up in the artificial world of Tinseltown, so he stays at a common hotel and turns to his neighbour, who claims to sell insurance, for inspiration. The film, written by the Coen Brothers while struggling to finish the screenplay for Miller’s Crossing, is the darkest comedy imaginable about Hollywood, writing, the desire of an intellectual elite to not lose touch with reality, and especially the blindness for inspiration writers and other creative types can often suffer from. If you can connect to any of that, you will enjoy this film, if you cannot, you’d probably consider it boring.

Random Observations:

Barton Fink at the IMDb

The film is set in 1941, but unlike in other Coen Brothers films, the specific setting doesn’t really feel necessary. It could really take place any time, even though Fink’s desire for stories about normal people instead of Kings and the like certainly has been fulfilled in the last six decades.

The funniest characters in the film are the bit players – studio mogul Michael Lerner, big-shot producer Tony Shalhoub and hotel page Steve Buscemi.

The film is also a quite gripping thriller, although that part didn’t really fit in with the overall tone for me.

A Serious Man – Minute Movie Review

Donnerstag, Januar 21st, 2010


In this newest film from the great filmmaking duo of Joel and Ethan Coen, the two brothers draw on their own childhood experiences to tell the story of a Jewish professor in 1967 Minnesota, whose life is falling apart. His wife wants a ritual divorce to marry another man, his brother is having trouble with the law, his children are selfish beyond belief and to top it all off, he has to deal with a bribe that could cost him his tenure. The film is a very dark (and Jewish) comedy that is extremely entertaining – but to get more out of it, you need to be at least somewhat religious. But no matter the message, there are laughs a plenty, and sometimes, that is more than enough.

Random Observations:

A Serious Man at the IMDb

This is definitely one of the weaker Coen Brothers films, which means that it is still a pretty good film compared to most.

If you watch movies and/or TV regularly, you will recognize many of the actors’ faces, even if you, like me, know none of them by name. Except for Simon Helberg, of course.

There is some serious awards consideration going to actor Michael Stuhlbarg right now and rightfully so. He is absolutely terrific in the lead role.

The ending, while clearly intended that way, still left a lot to be desired in my opinion. And yes, I understood that sometimes you just have to accept the mystery.

Miller’s Crossing – Minute Movie Review

Dienstag, Januar 5th, 2010


During the prohibition years, in a small American town, a local mob boss runs into trouble when one of the guys he allowed to grow big disagrees with him and attempts to take over the town. Caught in the middle is Gabriel Byrne, the smartest guy in the room, who tries very hard to avoid a war between the two sides. The film is even more complex than the usual gangster movie fare, but in this case, it’s a good thing. It perfectly captures the time, creating a timeless classic with great dialogue, a lot of very dark humour, great performances and a captivating story and characters. It may be one of the lesser known and appreciated films the Coen Brothers made, but it deserves some attention. A lot of it, actually.

Random Observations:

Miller’s Crossing at the IMDb

Director Sam Raimi has a small cameo in this film as a gunman. Coen Brother’s fixture Frances McDormand also appears for a few seconds.

The truly amazing thing about the Coen Brothers is that they make one excellent movie after another, while freely moving from one genre to the next and without relying on their own peculiar “style” that most directors use to cover up their lack of ideas.

Has anyone ever mentioned how much Tarantino ripped off from this film?

The Epic Search for Nicolas Cage’s Last Good Film!

Donnerstag, Oktober 8th, 2009

When I watched Raising Arizona, the delightful Coen Brothers comedy starring Nicolas Cage, I wondered how an actor as respected as him managed to turn his career to complete shit and, more importantly, when he actually last was in a good film. I asked a few people and they agreed that it was a complete mystery. So I decided to do the logical thing to solve the puzzle: poll the readers of this here blog. But since I am not a big fan of polls with hundreds of answers, I only included his last nine films (not counting voice work, etc.) in the first poll. But as it turns out, there are people who didn’t think any of these films were any good! So now the current poll goes further back and looks at the ten films he did before that. But I fear not even that might be enough for some people. Or those who only now find that poll will be disappointed not to have had a chance to vote in the earlier poll. So this post is simply to collect those polls (and their results) after the break, so they can be preserved for posterity’s sake. (weiterlesen …)

Raising Arizona – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, September 11th, 2009


The first comedy by the Coen Brothers already indicates their talent for absurdist tales. A young couple – former convenience store robber Hi and police photographer Ed – can’t have children. So when they hear about a woman giving birth to quintuplets, they decide to kidnap one to raise as their own. But of course things don’t work out quite as planned. The film balances the thin line between complete silliness and real insights and while it does not always do so successfully, it is nevertheless well worth watching.

Random Observations:

Raising Arizona at the IMDb

It’s interesting to see older movies with Nicolas Cage. It’s incredible how far he has come in the last two decades – from almost great to utterly horrible, of course. I wonder what his last good film was.

Another film that uses voice-over narration. I wonder what percentage of all films does.