The Coen brothers: are you a fan? : LUSENET : Xeney : One Thread

Are you a Coen brothers fan? I am, since the first time I saw Raising Arizona (which I know by heart now). I was disappointed with The Big Lebowski, and I haven't seen Barton Fink or Blood Simple, but I love entering the weird little worlds they create in each movie. (And I think A Simple Plan would have been much better if it had been a Coen brothers movie.)

Are you a fan?

-- Anonymous, January 24, 2001


I am a fan because they dare to defy Hollywood convention. Even when their movies don't work for me (I also didn't care for "The Big Lebowski"), I appreciate their interesting spin on human character. I loved "The Hudsucker Proxy" and "Fargo" too. When I watch a Coen brothers movie, it completely transports me to another time and place. (I know, the whole point of movies!-but they make me be intrigued by the people I meet in the film). "Barton Fink" scared me. Again, a good film, but be warned. I haven't seen the latest film but I am looking forward to it.

-- Anonymous, January 24, 2001

Hell yes, I'm a fan. Keith and I went to go see the Egyptian's Coen Brothers film fest last fall. It was two Coen Brothers movies per night for an entire week. We saw all of 'em except Fargo and The Big Lebowski, which were the only two we'd both already seen.

I adored O Brother Where Art Thou. I've seen it twice, and it was even better the second time. I want to see it again before it's out of the theaters, too.

The only Coen Brothers movie I feel wishy-washy about is Barton Fink, which just left me a little cold, somehow. Too much overt symbolism or something, I don't know.

-- Anonymous, January 24, 2001

I absolutely adore the Coen Brothers. I saw Raising Arizona when I was in high school, and didn't like it much the first time, although I loved the Lone Biker of the Apocolypse. However, after seeing it a couple times on HBO it grew on me. I never saw Blood Simple or Barton Fink, but in college I saw Fargo which I thought was good but overrated (I'm surprised at how many non-Coen fans love that movie) and The Hudsucker Proxy which I really liked.

It wasn't until The Big Lebowski came out that I considered myself a Coen fan though. I've since gone back and watched a bunch of their stuff again and appreciate it a lot more. Lebowski is definitely my favorite Coen movie, and in fact has replaced Star Wars which was the first movie I ever saw in a theater, as my favorite movie of all time.

O Brother was fun but... weak. I had a few problems with the movie that I don't want to go in to here because I am saving them for an entry today or tomorrow.

I'm not much one for consumerism and commodity fetisization, but I really would love it if a Coen Brothers box set DVD series was released.

-- Anonymous, January 24, 2001

Yeah! A Simple Plan really disturbed me (maybe because afterward we went to the ER and I'm melding my memories) but under the Coen brothers it might actually have been good.

I just love the Lotos-Eaters and the Sirens in O Brother, Where Art Thou?

-- Anonymous, January 24, 2001

I really, really loved "O Brother" and the soundtrack is welded into the CD and haunting my dreams. I was absolutely transported by it; my husband less so.

Strangely, I have the constant hots for George Clooney but not in this movie. Was it because he was dirty? or was it the hairnet? Having been a hairnet-wearer in my time (I used to show horses, and hairnets are unfortunately de rigeur for that type of fanciness) I can't believe that anyone would choose to wear one, even for vanity.

I watched The Big Lebowski in a strange mood, and I liked it, but it didn't take me away like O Brother did.

-- Anonymous, January 24, 2001

I'm going to do another entry tonight or tomorrow about the Coens and a few quibbly little things based on the email I've been getting. (For example, three people wrote me to tell me that the names of the two kidnappers ARE mentioned in Fargo's dialogue - at the very beginning - which only proves it's time for me to see it again! When is the Coen DVD boxed set coming out?)

But here's the thing. As I noted, they ARE auteurs in the real sense, and one funny situation about auteurs I didn't mention: You tend to either love them or hate them. It's hard to say that auteurs make "good" or "bad" films - they make THEIR films, their way, take it or leave it. I have gotten several messages from people who literally cannot stand to watch any Coen films whatsoever.

The majority of people who like Coen films seem to find Barton Fink the hardest one to connect to. I think it's because it's so relentlessly downbeat and also because all the characters are so emotionally disconnected from the world (and the viewer). But what do I know? Jette says she watches it after a bad day at the office - to cheer up.

I will sooner or later have to dig out my copy of The Odyssey and try to map it onto the scenes in O, Brother. Aside from the Sirens and the Lotus-Eaters - and Ulysses coming home in disguise to remove an usurper - the only other part I recognize is John Goodman as the Cyclops.

-- Anonymous, January 25, 2001

Good luck with that -- according to Roger Ebert, the brothers admitted they haven't actually read the Odyssey. Someone somewhere pointed out that some of the references actually come from the Illiad, but since I haven't read either since college, I couldn't tell you.

-- Anonymous, January 25, 2001

Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention, but there are plenty of Odyssey references. In the Odyssey, Odysseus (I hate all Latin take- offs) meets Sirens, like the babes doing their laundry; and lotos- eaters, like the folks blindly following the baptizing preacher; and a one-eyed fellow. Unlike in O Brother, Odysseus bests the Cyclops and escapes without being beaten up (or eaten, as happened to some of O's men. Dido turns other of the men into pigs and eventually back, like whatshisname being turned into a toadfrog. There's a blind prophet, Tierisias, whose name I'm mangling, who didn't ride the rails, but sort of. Others later.

-- Anonymous, January 25, 2001

That's all I could get, too, Lisa. But I think the idea was they had a rough outline of the Odyssey, or just knew of some of the events, but never actually read it. I didn't think the George Clooney character was very Ulysses-like, so I can believe that they didn't read it.

-- Anonymous, January 25, 2001

Also the mindless slaughter of the cows. That could be from the Tain as well (which is Irish, but as seminal to Irish civ as the Odyssey is to Europe in general). Of course his wife is Penny, which should be short for Penelope.

Aha! Here're two I didn't get. The first is quite veiled: "If you remember Charybdis is a whirlpool and Scylla the monster waiting on the shore between whom Odysseus must navigate his ship and crew. But in the film these two obstacles are played by the two political candidates - both as monstrous as each other." Also "One of Odysseus's men (who died) they see in the underworld as a ghost. He warns them of some problems. The guy back on the chain gang, who they thought was dead, represents this. He warns them not to search for the treasure." (from

Common ones from the Iliad would be Cassandra (who was fated to foretell the future but not be believed), the Trojan horse (Odysseus's idea, in fact), Lacooon and his sons being swallowed by serpents for reasons that escape me, the meddling of the immortals in the mortals' war, Helen, Paris, House of Atreus survivors Menelaus (Helen's husband before Paris had other ideas, starting the whole war) and Agamemnon. I saw none of these, but I'm not the most analytic movie-watcher who ever came down the pike. The only reason the bits that did stick out stuck out is that I'm a madwoman for Greek myth.

-- Anonymous, January 25, 2001

I love the Coens, and I loved 'O Brother...' - it was such a likeable, good humoured film. A few friends of mine were disappointed with it, but I thought it was hilarious - especially the slapsticky bits (like the on-stage dancing), which is weird, because I'm not a slapstick fan. For some reason, it came out in Ireland (where I am) and Britain back in September, and the reviews were unanimously good, so I was really shocked when I read the beatings it got in the U.S. media. Entertainment Weekly said it was one of the worst films of the year, which I just couldn't understand.

-- Anonymous, January 25, 2001

This is where Beth proclaims we can't be friends anymore.

I tried to watch "Fargo" this weekend. I turned it off after 45 minutes. I couldn't get into it. It seemed so boring... is that one an acquired taste or something?

Maybe Steve Buscemi's teeth scared me off.

-- Anonymous, January 29, 2001

No, Fargo is usually considered their most accessible movie. It's not my favorite, but I did like it. We can still be friends unless you start talking shit about Raising Arizona.

-- Anonymous, January 29, 2001

Considering I've watched it five times since you loaned it to me last week, I don't think that will be a problem.

-- Anonymous, January 29, 2001

OK I watched Barton Fink last night.

What a great fucking film. Wonderful camera and lighting work, superb acting (my love for John Goodman helped too), excellent story.

Yes, it's downbeat. But I didn't think it was depressing.

-- Anonymous, February 01, 2001

I love these guys, even when they're at their worst they're still way better than average.

Having said that, I think the Odyssee connection in 'O Brother' is something of a sham to cover up the truth. Personally, I was more reminded of the Blues Brothers. There were just a little too much similarities between the two: ex-cons on a musical quest to help further a worthy cause, having to run from baddies in the process? A movie that ends with a huge musical extravaganza? Mmmm, sounds very familiar.

Not that I didn't love it, of course.....

-- Anonymous, February 02, 2001

I forgot to mention another Odyssey reference I caught from O Brother ... when Ulysses comes back to Penelope and finds all the suitors there, he disguises himself as an old man to spy on them. Homer didn't mention anything about a ZZ Top beard, though.

-- Anonymous, February 02, 2001

Hey! I'm working my way throught these suckers pretty quick here. Just finished The Big Lebowski and it was great. The end

-- Anonymous, February 04, 2001

I am playing catchup as a Coen Brothers fan. I loved Fargo, Raising Arizona and just did The Big Lebowski which made me laugh. With regard to Blood Simple. As I watched this film I kept thinking about Poe's "Telltale Heart". Is that just me or did other people get this notion? PS: I haven't felt the urge to applaud at the end of a movie in years, but I did at the end of Oh Brother... I have also just about worn out the CD.

-- Anonymous, March 12, 2001

Every one of their films that I have seen is great. I LAUGH AT ALMOST EVERY SINGLE LINE IN THE BIG LEBOWSKI. I've seen it at least 80 times. I saw O Brother in the theater twice and didn't think it was as funny, but I thought it was a better movie. I also don't usually like George Clooney, but I thought he did great in this film.

-- Anonymous, May 09, 2001

Has anyone heard about their new movie at Cannes film festival I think it is called, "The Man Who Wasn't There." if anyone can tell me where a website about this film is I'd greatly appreciate it.

-- Anonymous, May 09, 2001

I'm a die hard Coen Brothers fan. Loved all their films with the exception of Hudsucker. I can't believe nobody mentioned their greatest film Miller's Crossing. One of the greatest films ever made. Excellent dialog and cinematography. This movie never gets old. Gabriel Byrne, Albert Finney, Jon Polito, Melissa Harden, John Tuturro were all excellent. I really liked the guy who played The Dane. So many memorable lines from this film. Can't wait for The Man Who Wasn't There. Billy Bob Thorton is a great actor to star in a Coen film

-- Anonymous, June 15, 2001

I'm sorry folks but movie's like Oh brother and lebowski are who the coen brothers are. Fargo is a great film, and it definitly has the coen touch, but too many people seem to associate that style w/ them. Just because "a simple plan" was in a snowy place and it delt goofy backwoods people in extraordinary situations(as did fargo), does not mean that the coen brothers should have made it. All you people love to shrug off Oh brother and lebowski as lesser efforts than fargo. But if they had been fresh off critical from fargo and jumped into a project like "a simple plan", that would been just about the lamest sell out move ever. Thank the good lord they aren't sell outs. Their post fargo efforts are exactly what should be expected from the directors of "Raising Arizona", "Barton Fink", and "The Hudsucker Proxy". So folks please, please, please stop stereotyping the brothers for one film. I do however love fargo, but looking at their career as a whole, the film alone hardly represents their overall style.

-- Anonymous, August 13, 2001

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