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lshap
Posted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:02 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 12 May 2004 Posts: 4246 Location: Montreal
Joel and Ethan Cohen are responsible for some of the funniest, scariest and altogether oddest characters to have hit the big screen. Discuss...
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whiskeypriest
Posted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:42 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 6916 Location: "It's a Dry Heat."
Some favorite Coen Brothers clips, limited to the movies I like the most, and the clips that are available on youtube. Some of my favorite scenes are not well represented by the clips and so are omitted, and some of the movies are less fully youtubed than others. So, there are other really great scenes I like more than those here, but this is a pretty good sampling. You don’t like these? You have other favorites? You think I’m full of shit? Well…

[url] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsogswrH6ck&feature=related[/url]

The very first Coen Bros scene ever:

[url] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oj6GmU4DX6g&feature=related[/url]

I saw Blood Simple at the Cedar Lee Theater in Cleveland Heights on April 1, 1985. I’d say the precision of the memory lets you know the impression the movie made on me – though I am aided on the date by the fact that I went to see the movie in lieu of staying home to watch the NCAA hoops final game because there was “no way Villanova is going to be able to stay on the same court with Georgetown,” making the date I went to see it Googleable. But I digress. I have been a huge Coen Bros fan since this scene.

The not at all visually similar opening to No Country for Old Men:

[url] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mx52S8ZkUg&feature=related[/url]

Both open with stationary shots of an empty Texas landscape, barren of people. Blood Simple, shot by Barry Sonnenfeld, stays with the long, low, flat horizon as it moves from day to night; No Country goes from night to daylight, and the ground begins to roll and swell through the narration. Both emphasize the empty vastness of the landscape, practically devoid of man.

Another opening, another show:

[url] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmCUYG2xuHI[/url]

The Coens have been wise and fortunate in their choice of collaborators. Roger Deakins has shot everything from Barton Fink on except Burn After Reading. All of their movies have been scored by Carter Burwell, and Skip Lievsay has been the sound editor on all of them. I think this credit sequence highlights all three. Some fairly obvious highlights are the way the ground and sky are inseparable until the car appears in the distance, and the way the elegiac music swells (and a tremendous score this is) just as the car appears over the rise. But what catches me are the two real world sounds that intrude into the sound edit: the flap of the bird’s wings as it flies away from Macy’s car, and the sound of the dragging chains from the trailer hitch as it emerges from the bells in the score. Freedom and chains.

[url] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpqSE6igjW8[/url]

Speaking of sound, pay attention at the very end of this clip; there’s a sound bleed of a bus’s pneumatic brakes deflating linking to the next scene –Llewellyn and Carla Jean on a bus – just as Chigurh leaves – deflated. The No Intfurmashun Lady is the only person to defeat Chigurh in the entire movie – albeit with the help of an unseen pisser, and a nail file she clearly knows how to, and intends to, use. I love a lot of the small performances in Coen Bros movies, like Kathy Lamkin here, often more than the larger ones. Sadly, the youtube clips for the late Harve Presnell in Fargo and the noir cops in Barton Fink are not the scenes I love the most. But there’s this:

[url] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4igGIRh3KSA&feature=related[/url]

Not only are the two performances great – Bardem’s sudden and growing malice and Gene Jones’s realization that he has opened up something better left closed – but note one of my favorite set decoration moments ever: the row of belts hanging behind Jones’s head like so many nooses, a note of menace somewhat but not completely offset by the smiley face air fresheners to his left. And of course the sound – the cashew wrapper! - as Burwell’s minimalist score slowly and almost imperceptibly rises out of the ambient sound about two minutes into the clip.

Also this one:

[url] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGkVBg6k9Rk&feature=related[/url]

Broadly comic and bombastic, sure. And since it was Oscar nominated, somewhat less obscure. But it is always nice to see a good, over the top, larger than life performance when the script calls for it.

<edit> Also from Fink, another great small part:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzLY6YHl7dc&feature=related

Tony Shalhoub's clipped dialogue is out of the same noir picture the cops come from.</edit>

I seriously wish this scene went on longer on youtube, because I think the second part is better. But these are two of my favorite performances:

[url] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGRrnRvMpTU[/url]

Note the focus of the background behind Sy and Judith is so much sharper and in focus than behind Larry, as Sy and Judith strong arm him out of the house. And of course Sy’s emphasis on the pool at the motel sets up a joke that is easy to miss later on, when Larry and Arthur talk outside by the pool – it’s drained, bone dry, not a drop of water. Poor Larry. Anyway, Fred Melamed is marvelous. Anyway, same movie:

[url] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnwOFfbeKRw [/url]

Arlen Finkle. To me, he is always italicized. Not Arlen Finkle, Arlen Finkle.

I suppose I can add this to the smaller characters as well, though it is not the performance but the scene that gets me – perhaps my second favorite Coen scene ever – and it can ease me into a run of just plain great scenes:

[url] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfam7rqSQ-s[/url]

I admit to being a sucker for really good shaggy dog stories, and that is one of the best. It is also crucial to the themes of the movie, but I’ll save that.

I wanted to find this entire scene, but while the clip is on youtube, they’ve all been dicked with. So, might as well go with the one professionally, hilariously, dicked with:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCcKBcZzGdA[/url]

Either the best TV edit ever, or the worst. Anyway, more John Goodman:

[url] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2AoT3QhtLM&feature=related[/url]

Once again, I wish the cops were better represented on youtube – particularly their response to Fink’s telling them, “We’re men! We wrestled!”: “You’re a sick fuck Fink.” It really has to be heard.

Can’t do Coens clips without some of the old ultraviolence. This scene, from Blood Simple, made the entire audience cry out when I saw it in the theater. Sadly, I can only find it either buried in really long clips, or in stuff like this. Ignore the talking heads. The moment starts about 1:14 in:

[url] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRwZD9Q-Zjo&feature=related[/url]

It also cuts too soon: I love the look of the light streaming through holes Visser shoots through the wall so he can free his hand.

Miller’s Crossing’s use of violence is beautifully exaggerated – like almost everything else in the movie.

[url] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IEet3GLWzs[/url]

You know what I really love in that clip? Leo’s cigar. No sense letting a good smoke go to waste! Anyway, I don’t think there are a whole lot of other film makers who would marry a Ku Klux Klan Klose Order Drill, the Wizard of Oz. Old Time Reliogion and that Old Timey Music:

[url] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsogswrH6ck&feature=related[/url]

Here’s another great suspense clip:

[url] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lo2LoCUJ-Us&feature=related[/url] live burial

Though it cuts out before the punch line. The camera pulls back from that house, and we see Ray standing by his car, in the middle of a freshly plowed field about 200 yards from the house, his car’s tire tracks clearly visible, standing beside something that can never be mistaken for anything except a freshly dug grave. Ooops.

Anyway, couldn’t do one Coen Bros body disposal scene without this one. Of course:

[url] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qWFhDvURLg&feature=related[/url] wood chipper

You either find that scene funny beyond measure or horrifying. To me, it isn’t about someone getting shoved into a wood chipper. It’s about the visual of someone’s leg sticking out of the wood chipper.

I was going to end with the last scene from A Serious Man, for symmetry’s sake, but really, how can I give the last word to anyone else but Marge Gunderson?

[url] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmoYpJIUWhY&feature=related[/url]


Last edited by whiskeypriest on Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:43 pm; edited 1 time in total

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whiskeypriest
Posted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:15 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 6916 Location: "It's a Dry Heat."
So.... What specific films might we discuss? My list:

Blood Simple
Raising Arizona
Barton Fink
Miller's Crossing
Fargo
The Big Lebowski
O Brother Where Art Thou?
No Country for Old Men
A Serious Man


befade's volunteered for A Serious Man
marc for Blood Simple and Miller's Crossing
billy for Burn After Reading and Fargo
gromit for Raising AZ and maybe O Brother
I'm going to dragoon knox for Big Lebowski - he's "knox harrington" in Elba, so it serves him right.

Which leaves Barton Fink and No Country for me.

Any other movies we should discuss? Anyone want to volunteer to take away one of the doubles?

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whiskeypriest
Posted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:18 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 6916 Location: "It's a Dry Heat."
And where to begin? There are three obvious starting points: their first movie, Blood Simple., their most recent, A Serious Man, or their best per critical mass, Fargo. But I kind of feel a responsibility to kick it all off, which might mean their Oscar winner, No Country. Though as I mentioned I have a lot on my plate for the next week, and may only be able to peak in until next Wednesday.

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Marc
Posted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:42 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 May 2004 Posts: 8423
Great start Whiskey.

I could start with Blood Simple. If anybody wants to handle Miller's Crossing, I'd be happy to let it go.
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billyweeds
Posted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:46 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 20415 Location: New York City
I also volunteered for The Hudsucker Proxy if anyone is interested.
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whiskeypriest
Posted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:00 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 6916 Location: "It's a Dry Heat."
billyweeds wrote:
I also volunteered for The Hudsucker Proxy if anyone is interested.
I noted that, but Hudsucker was not on my personal list of movies I wanted to discuss - I didn't like it when it came out and haven't seen it since - though obviously if anyone else wants to discuss it, then it goes on the list.

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Marc
Posted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:01 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 May 2004 Posts: 8423
I didn't care for Hudsucker. But, The Man Who Wasn't There is a pretty good film.
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whiskeypriest
Posted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:20 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 6916 Location: "It's a Dry Heat."
My list was not intended as a definitive one, but a suggestion for a handful of movies. It can be enlarged or contracted as the forum likes.

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whiskeypriest
Posted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:24 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 6916 Location: "It's a Dry Heat."
Ah! My cops:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvLPlAv2KcY&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wR7_7aaYE24&NR=1

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whiskeypriest
Posted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:56 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 6916 Location: "It's a Dry Heat."
Marc wrote:
Great start Whiskey.

I could start with Blood Simple. If anybody wants to handle Miller's Crossing, I'd be happy to let it go.
Actually, Miller's Crossing is the one movie I really want to read the opinions of others on. My sense of it is that it is a great genre - parody's not the right word, salute maybe - but not much else. I know many people who consider it the Coens' best, and I want to know what I've missed.

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Marc
Posted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 4:55 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 May 2004 Posts: 8423
Miller's Crossing, The Big Lebowski, The Man Who Wasn't There and Raising Arizona are all available for free on Netflix.
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marantzo
Posted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 5:44 pm Reply with quote
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The first Coen Bros. movie I saw was Raising Arizona (on TV). I didn't see it in the theatre because the title turned me off for some reason. Didn't no much about the Coens either. After I saw Raising Arizona, I rented Blood Simple. That was it. They were my guys from then on. Miller's Crossing was next on my list of videos.The list went on and I'll be damned if I can remember the first Coens' film I saw in a theatre. It might have been Fargo.
Befade
Posted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 11:15 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 3637 Location: AZ
Whiskey........I've never seen you so jazzed! My energy is at a low but once I know what we're starting with I'll get going.......if slowly.

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Marc
Posted: Thu Apr 22, 2010 12:21 am Reply with quote
Joined: 19 May 2004 Posts: 8423
Whiskey, do you want to do this in chronological order? If so, I need to get my hands on a copy of Blood Simple right away.
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