Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Coen Brothers Rated


I know what you're thinking - you're thinking wait a minute
isn't that bit of subway sign on the left in Helvetica and Helvetica,
as we all know, didnt become the font of the NYC subway
system until the 1980s, well yes, but that sign isnt in the movie,
just this still...
Finally got a chance to see Inside Llewyn Davis, the latest Coen Brothers film, so I've been able to update this blog post from a few years back. 
...
I've been a somewhat obsessive fan of the Coen Brothers since high school when I caught Blood Simple at the Queens Film Theatre in Belfast, and I've seen every one since; here therefore is my attempt at a rating of their filmography in the standard A,B,C,D,E,F format. A is a classic. B is very good. C is good. D and E are sometimes watchable. F is basically unwatchable. And remember, as the Dude says, this is just, like, my opinion, man...

1984 Blood Simple B  
1987 Raising Arizona A
1990 Miller's Crossing 
1991 Barton Fink  A
1994 The Hudsucker Proxy E
1996 Fargo A
1998 The Big Lebowski A
2000 O Brother, Where Art Thou? E
2001 The Man Who Wasn't There  F
2003 Intolerable Cruelty  F
2004 The Ladykillers  E
2007 No Country for Old Men B
2008 Burn After Reading  D
2009 A Serious Man C
2010 True Grit B
2013 Inside Llewyn Davis B

Is there a pattern here? Yeah I think so. If you were to draw a Venn diagram with John Turturro, Steve Buscemi, Jeff Bridges and John Goodman as the sets then the intersection of these sets usually represents the higher rated films. 

48 comments:

John McFetridge said...

This one does look interesting.

Another name you may want to add to the Venn diagrams in Sam Raimi who was quite involved in e early movies.

adrian mckinty said...

John

Yes! I loved his little cameo in Millers Crossing as the fedora wearing gunman who attacks one of Leo's clubs.

R.T. said...

I guess I won't make it as film critic in your universe. I actually like O Brother and Ladykillers. I did not like Fargo. My god, what's wrong with me?

Peter Rozovsky said...

As usual, I dissent from your high opinion of the Coen brothers (while admitting I have missed a few of the movies on your list but insisting I would probably not survive doing the amount of drug it would take to make me like The Big Lebowski). But I give you props for zinging the hugely overrated O Brother, Where Art Thou?

seana graham said...

I don't have much to contribute to this conversation that I haven't contributed before, but I do think I should watch Raising Arizona again and see if it is as good as I remember it. Fargo left me a little cold, but I might like it a bit more now. O Brother had the handicap of having George Clooney in it, but on the other hand, the music was good.

sean crowley said...

Blood Simple was my intro to these two so I'd have to bump it up to an A maybe for sentimental reasons but anything with M Emmett Walsh in a main role is an A in my book.

sean crowley said...

Blood Simple gets an A in my book possibly for sentimental reasons as it was my intro the C Bros. M. Emmett Walsh is simply too g.d. funny.

Anti Money Laundering said...

I also like watching movies of The Coen Brothers. I think the movie Inside Llewyn Davis will be Rated A.

adrian mckinty said...

RT

Well everyone's entitled to their opinon arent they?

I do suggest that you watch the Alec Guinness Ladykillers and you might get what a travesty the remake was.

adrian mckinty said...

Peter

O Brother irritated the hell out of me. And to see The Culture suddenly embrace roots music in the wake of the film irritated me even more.

adrian mckinty said...

Seana

"Fargo left me a little cold"

Nice one.

Its probably best not to watch Raising Arizona again. Just keep those happy memories.

Although I think I've seen it half a dozen times.

adrian mckinty said...

Sean

My God he was good in that.

Blood Simple was so terrific. And I loved the fact that when they brought out the directors cut it was two minutes shorter. The opposite of a Ridley Scott directors cut.

adrian mckinty said...

Anti

I think it sounds very intriguing.

seana graham said...

My best puns are always inadvertent.

I just watched the opening of season 3 of Downton Abbey, which wasn't as horrible as I thought it would be. Unfortunately, I was watching it sandwiched in the middle of an extremely anxiety ridden episode of Eastenders which showed the whole square coming together after a fun fair accident, bringing out the community in the way that only Eastenders can, and inadvertently putting paid to the idea that keeping a big country estate going was some kind of worthy project. Well, except for future film and TV endeavors. I'm thinking BBC and Julian Fellowes are happy that that particular structure wasn't razed during some sort of austerity measure.

adrian mckinty said...

This kid almost gets it completely right with his neat little video compilation.

adrian mckinty said...

Seana

I'm waiting for the Attlee government to come in 45 and tax the shit out of the plutocrat bastards. Thats an episode I'll enjoy though it'll lack some drama admittedly.

seana graham said...

Well, don't worry, I'm sure Bates will still be in jail and his wife will have almost finally exhausted the list of people who might of have had some intimate knowledge of his wife's intentions.

I'm surprised you don't have more sympathy for the Irish chauffeur's speaking truth to power schtick, although frankly it wears a little thin, especially since all he really wants is for Lord Crawley to call him Tom instead of Branson. And why would they name a supposedly sympathetic family Crawley anyway? Dickens never would have, but I suppose he had a better ear.

Macca said...

Coincidentally, we just caught the last 1/2 hour of The Big Lebowski on cable and I just had to keep watching to hear one of my all-time favourite lines (Dude to Walter):

"Everything's a fuckin' travesty with you, man"

I actually liked The Man Who Wasn't There.


Mark Burton said...

you may be surprised with timberlake, I was when I watched alpha dog.

John McFetridge said...

Yes, Raimi's acting cameos are usually funny, but I mean his 2nd unit direction and general behind the scenes help.

I do have to admit, I've never really understood the Coen brothers movies. They all seem too phony to me.

adrian mckinty said...

Seana

I think the Irish rebel's storyline is pathetic. The upper class are so sympathetic and understanding to a degree which is utterly anachronistic. These aren't toff's, they are time travelling saints.

The worst characters in the show - ie. with the redeeming qualities of gentleness, wit or humour are all below stairs which reflects Fellows' privileged boarding school life experience.

adrian mckinty said...

Mark

You're right and he was pretty good in The Social Network.

adrian mckinty said...

Macca

I may have seen TBL the most of all the Coen brothers films. Its especially fun to watch it here in Seattle where marijuana has been legalised and the home of the Seattle 7.

adrian mckinty said...

John

Fake you say?

I think I just noticed a mistake in the above still.

As you can see the subway sign Davis is walking past is in Helvetica.

But Helvetica didn't become the standard in the NY subways until the late 60's after the Worlds Fair in Queens. Llewyn Davis is set in the EARLY 60's.

This article delineates the history of NY subway fonts for those geeky enough to be interested:

http://www.aiga.org/the-mostly-true-story-of-helvetica-and-the-new-york-city-subway/

adrian mckinty said...

although the camera may be positioned to miss that Helvetica sign on the back and capture the non Helvetica sign on the side.

um...

clearly this is one of those things that only I will be interested in in the whole world.

adrian mckinty said...

Deb,

You probably know about this already but if not:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/08/world/europe/klemens-von-klemperer-dies-at-96-wrote-of-nazi-era.html

Kate said...

Are the Coens the best US filmmakers?
Miller's Crossing=great entertainment.
Liked No Country - great photography & Tommy Lee Jones. But Jones' own 3 Burials of M. Estrada is similar but better, IMO.





adrian mckinty said...

Kate

Well I dont know about the best. I don't think they're quite up there with David Lynch and Paul Thomas Anderson when they're on top form.

Deb Klemperer said...

Hi Adrian and other lovely people,

Just back from my first day back at work for a while. Ended it by doing another interview for that podcaster from Portland, Oregon about that ancient treasure loot from my neck of the woods.

Thanks for the Klemp link Adrian, I haven't looked at it yet. Edmund de Waal, potter + writer of Hare with the Amber Eyes, bought some of the Klemps Meissen collection - the stuff that was being stolen by the Nazis and was smashed to smithereens by a direct hit from an allied bomb on the truck carrying it (Dresden and all that), then painstakingly glued back together for its backstory value. God, I must write this stuff down properly eh?? Not while cooking tea after a long work day.
Coen Brothers - I love Raising A, No Country for Old Men, Fargo - but also like Oh Brother! - and care not a jot when folks get to hear about music they wouldn't otherwise know or encounter. Look at me - what I know about drum and base could now be written on the back of a postage stamp [since 2008 I have worked as a Fire Steward in the Dance Village at the Glastonbury Festival every year - just got my letter through - wooo).
One of my stories that I am procrastinating about writing (all here in my head) takes place at Glasto. It is a pretty amazing experience.

adrian mckinty said...

Deb

I'm a pinched and easily upset music snob so it was probably just sheer jealousy on my part that T Bone Burnett got all the credit for discovering that blue grass stuff on Oh Brother.

Portland you say? That's where I am right now. Although only for another hour or so.

Deb Klemperer said...

Jamie rang me just after he got out of bed this morning! (so 4pm my time)I told him about your reposting his blog. He was pleased, to say the least.

Deb Klemperer said...

His podcast, I mean..

Deb Klemperer said...

Very interesting obituary, thanks, will now look up on family tree.

What were you doing in Portland?

adrian mckinty said...

Deb

Just having a quick visit. Nice down there but strangely colder than Seattle.

Deb Klemperer said...

score for 'Burn After Reading' - I'd forgotten I had seen it, which says it all

seana graham said...

One odd thing about that first Downton Abbey sequence is that the Irish former chauffeur says exactly what he thinks, but then is forgiven because some rival spiked his drink. It seemed entirely plausible that he would say the same thing stone cold sober, since he had more or less in previous scenes.

As to fonts, apparently you are not the only one...

Alan said...

Adrian,,Blood simple was for me superb.It tapped into human primal fears and motivations.Death and fears of being buried alive,greed,lust and hate.I have not seen the latest film billed as a reprise of the era before drugged love I can relate to it as I did with American Graffiti.Finished your book and wow, History,poetry,actin and lots of truth.I am fascinated by Morrigan of the crows?I will put up a review this weekend on Amazon .Best Alan

adrian mckinty said...

Alan

I loved Blood Simple. The scene where the other driver reminded him that his lights were still on is one of the greatest in American cinema I think.

Anne said...

'I'm waiting for the Attlee government to come in 45 and tax the shit out of the plutocrat bastards. Thats an episode I'll enjoy though it'll lack some drama admittedly'.

The part where the servant class rise up against the aristocracy and put them all up against the wall to be shot will be quite dramatic. Er...wait a minute, that didn't actually happen, did it? Bugger!

adrian mckinty said...

Anne

That would be one I would watch.

Matt said...

Speaking of New York movies, Adrian, try to track down a miniseries called 'The Bronx is Burning', about the 1977 Yankees and the hunt for the Son of Sam killer. John Turturro is a terrific Billy Martin and Oliver Platt is a great Steinbrenner.

adrian mckinty said...

Matt

Id like to see that one. Esp after Artie Lange story about the 77 WS. But in gd news probably never see Arod again.

Andy Dickson said...

Hi Adrian,

Have to disagree on Intolerable Cruelty, as a(n)? homage to 'His Girl Friday" or "It Happened One Night' its a cracking wee film. Clooney is brilliantly oily and your woman sends up herself (or at least her contemporary gold-digging media image) perfectly. p.s. were do you find the time to do all this??

Peter Rozovsky said...

"Clooney" and any form of "brilliant" should never occur in the same sentence.

As for where Adrian finds time to do this, one of my two verification words is "fanaticism."

adrian mckinty said...

Andy

Hmmm maybe I should revisit Intolerable? I'm always willing to give Catherine Zeta Jones another chance...

The time? I dont bloody sleep. Its not even funny.

adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Have you see the reviews for Monuments Men? Yikes. Some of the self congratulatroy sheen may finally be starting to come off as his act wears thin...

Peter Rozovsky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Rozovsky said...

I've read references to bad reviews for Monuments Men. Because of its subject, I had a passing interest in the movie until I saw a news story that said George Clooney thinks returning the Parthenon Marbles to Greece is a good idea.

That George Clooney should think his opinion on an issue of the day is worth hearing is no shock. That he would utter that opinion as such a blatant piece of promotion for his own movie says all that needs saying about George Clooney.