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What I Really Want Is To Direct
June 17, 2008 7:40 AM   Subscribe

The films of Joel and Ethan Coen. The films of Tim Burton. The films of Stanley Kubrick.
posted by optovox (63 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
This Stanley Kubrick MySpace page has an insane mount of stills, photos, movie posters, information...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:47 AM on June 17, 2008


I must revisit "Barton Fink" because I just didn't get it the first time.
Excellent post, opto!
posted by Dizzy at 7:57 AM on June 17, 2008


Three directors whose entire bodies of work I've seen. Three personal favorites. I can understand this person's motivation, but I'm not amused. To anyone who's heard the word "auteur," these screen more like unfunny ribbing than informative commentary on the significance of their consistent tropes, or perhaps in Kubrick's case, consistent contrast. These are like a crayon-drawn roadmap of a familiar terrain, when what I'm ready for is some carbon dated geological samples. I see he's done Lynch, Mann, P.T. Anderson and Scorsese as well! It might be more fun to do this with a less cultish director, like Zemeckis or Tony Scott.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:05 AM on June 17, 2008


When you edit The Ladykillers into three second clips and mix it in with the Coen Brothers' good films, it makes it seem almost watchable.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:05 AM on June 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


The Card Cheat,

I agree entirely. The Ladykillers could have been cut down to a single scene. "Madam, we must have waffles! We must all have waffles forthwith!"
posted by kbanas at 8:07 AM on June 17, 2008


When the Ladykillers came out, I thought to myself the Coen Brothers had lost it forever. I was almost as depressed as when George W. Bush was reelected. Shows my priorities.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:16 AM on June 17, 2008


I'm glad I'm not the only one who had issues with The Ladykillers. I so wanted to like it, I kept thinking 'Damn it, it's a Coen brothers film, you love their stuff...' and it kept not being great.

Ah well, at least Burn After Reading sounds promising.
posted by quin at 8:22 AM on June 17, 2008


I also thought they'd lost it with the Ladykillers, but now they've made No Country, and Burn After Reading looks awesome.

Those guys are as good as it gets in American cinema. Brilliant dudes.
posted by ORthey at 8:34 AM on June 17, 2008


quin: "Ah well, at least Burn After Reading sounds promising."

The trailer is pretty funny (NSFW - language).
posted by octothorpe at 8:36 AM on June 17, 2008


This has very little to do with the post, but my wife's working as we speak to find office space for the Coen Brothers' production unit for A Serious Man. I'm jealous, although she says it's not really all that fun.
posted by COBRA! at 8:40 AM on June 17, 2008


Look at it this way; The Ladykillers was so bad that even the Coens knew they'd really screwed up, so bad that the fanboys (of whom I am one - I even liked Intolerable Cruelty) questioned their infalibility for the first time. So they knew their next film had to be something really special to make up for it. Hence; No Country.

Seriously, The Ladykillers was awful. Diarrhea jokes. Pratfalls. Marlon Wayans. Lousy ethnic stereotypes. Tom Hanks. Fart jokes. I didn't laugh, giggle, chuckle or even smile once the whole way through. It actually made me angry. If it had been a Sam Weisman film, it would have ranked somewhere between D2: The Mighty Ducks and What's The Worst That Could Happen, but as a Coen Brothers' flick it was...words fail me...
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:44 AM on June 17, 2008


I liked The Ladykillers. It's probably my favorite Tom Hanks movie, after Bachelor Party.
posted by Cookiebastard at 8:46 AM on June 17, 2008


It's probably my favorite Tom Hanks movie, after Bachelor Party.

*scans Tom Hanks IMDB entry*

Me too, now that you mention it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:53 AM on June 17, 2008


I always tend to call Barton Fink my favourite Coen Brothers film, but then I remember Big Lebowski, and Fargo, and Hudsucker, and... Oh, and Miller's Crossing. Damn that's a fine film! And No Country really did bring them back to form. Looking forward to more.

Ladykillers, and the one after it (I think) are the only ones I didn't really like, though I still have to see The Man Who Wasn't There. Some of the best filmmakers around though for sure.
posted by opsin at 8:54 AM on June 17, 2008


Wow, Burn After Reading does look good. I want to hate Brad Pitt but I can't. And it's got Sledgehammer! Even chewing gum!
posted by DU at 9:03 AM on June 17, 2008


The Ladykillers didn't find an audience because slapstick doesn't really work anymore (no one has seen the Mackendrick original anyway, I'm sure the inferiority to the previous film was no factor in the film bombing), and also one fears the Coens core audience -- those who will also go see The Hudsucker Proxy, as opposed to the wider audience who only goes to Fargo and No Country) is much more ready to laugh at the expense of the Coens usual targets -- rednecks -- than at the expense of blacks, as the viewer is supposed to do in The Ladykillers. as I wrote here months ago, it'd be interesting to see what happens next to the Coens delight in making fun of the hicks, since with Bardem they have found their perfect hick-killing machine, and noother character will ever be more efficient that way. they might have to stop making fun of uneducated, provincial whites -- this is a bit like forbidding Scorsese to ever shoot a violent scene for the rest of his career.

Ladykillers made me laugh much more than Intolerable Cruelty did, and I'm afraid one has to judge silly comedies by that metric.
posted by matteo at 9:06 AM on June 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Man, Sledgehammer. Those were the days...
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:09 AM on June 17, 2008


This post, by the weird ebbing and flowing of the Internet, led me to discover Shotgun Stories. Thank you, optovox. Thank you, the Internet!
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:13 AM on June 17, 2008


I like The Ladykillers. Don't get me wrong, I can totally understand why y'all (especially the hardcore Coen fans) would despise it. It's dumb, yes, but it's got its moments. I'd take it over Raising Arizona or O Brother Where Art Thou any day of the week. Nthing the Tom Hanks comment.

The Ladykillers seems to fit the Coens' style, i.e. 'take a standard crime drama and cram it into another genre'--the genre in this case being something along the lines of Eddie Murphy's fat-suit movies. Taken in that light, I think it works as well as could be expected. It's just goofy, roll credits.

It does lack that certain special underlying pathos, though.

Here's the rest, BTW:
Woody Allen
P.T. Anderson
Wes Anderson
Tim Burton
David Lynch
Michael Mann
Scorsese 1, 2
posted by Sys Rq at 9:14 AM on June 17, 2008


than at the expense of blacks, as the viewer is supposed to do in The Ladykillers

huh?

I didn't get that at ALL from the movie.
posted by tadellin at 9:25 AM on June 17, 2008


I'd take it over Raising Arizona or O Brother Where Art Thou any day of the week.

This is pushing the boundaries of free speech, watch yourself
posted by poppo at 9:27 AM on June 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


Both the Coen Bros one and the Lynch one remind me that, with the right script and directors, Nicholas Cage can be fantastic. Both "Next" and "The Wicker Man" remind me that he can also be one of the worst actors. But in a best-worst way, at least.
posted by ORthey at 9:32 AM on June 17, 2008


All I can say is the Tim Burton clip made me weep for the Tim Burton that was. His take on Planet of the Apes was a shameful abomination and heralded in his recent sad streak of suck.

Where, oh where, is the man who did Ed Wood?

And that the Cohen Brothers had only one serious movie business fuck-up in an otherwise brilliant career? We should all be so lucky. I'd forgive them for doing Weekend at Bernie's 5 just for Blood Simple alone.
posted by tkchrist at 9:33 AM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


These all look like the work of someone whose greatest ambition is to cut the themed montages that appear during the Academy Awards.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:40 AM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Damn straigh tkchrist! Ed Wood is probably my favourite Burton film. It's just sublime!

That and I'm with you ORthey on the Cage thing. Adaptation is another one where he shines (as Leaving Las Vegas even if it's one of the most terminally depressing films ever made). And yet then he goes and makes National Treasure and Ghost Rider and other tripe.
posted by opsin at 9:59 AM on June 17, 2008


I actually fell asleep during Burton's Apes, the only time I've done that in a movie theater. What a pointless movie.
posted by octothorpe at 10:02 AM on June 17, 2008


I only watched the Tim Burton link, but I loved it. It's true that his Batman was a flawed masterpiece, and that the series reboot with Christian Bale is on the money -- but that shot of the Batmobile zooming through the autumn night is pure 100% Batman the way it ought to be. Fucking brilliant. I said so at the time and I say so again.

The Ladykillers... well, without Alec Guiness, of course, it wouldn't work. It is true, even his teeth were funny. I am a big Coen Brothers fan, but that movie and the horror that was Intolerable Cruelty simply reek. Other than those two dreadful misfires, however, those guys rock. I thought No Country was amazing.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 10:03 AM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anybody know the name of the track that opens the Kubrick clip? And was it used in a Kubrick movie? Sounds familiar but I can't place it. (It's a great way to start that clip.)
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 10:04 AM on June 17, 2008


Very well done.

I've seen The Man Who Wasn't There a couple of times now and it's the one Coen Brothers film that truly haunts me. The pacing and mood just paralyze you to his fate. I think it's their most underrated film and Billy Bob's best work outside of A Simple Plan.
posted by any major dude at 10:04 AM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anybody know the name of the track that opens the Kubrick clip? And was it used in a Kubrick movie? Sounds familiar but I can't place it. (It's a great way to start that clip.)

I believe that's the theme from "Lolita". I agree it was a great way to start the clip. It showed a greater sense of whimsy than one associates with Kubrick.
posted by wabbittwax at 10:20 AM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nic Cage is also very good in Bringing Out the Dead.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:24 AM on June 17, 2008


Nicolas Cage is prone to flights of ridiculousness. He needs to be directed by someone who knows how to either exploit this or reign him in.
posted by wabbittwax at 10:25 AM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Intolerable Cruelty was not bad. It's more like a Billy Wilder film than any other non-Billy-Wilder film I've seen. It's just that it's not as amazing as their other work, and The Ladykillers, which came next, drags it down.
posted by painquale at 10:27 AM on June 17, 2008


I must revisit "Barton Fink" because I just didn't get it the first time.

My theory about "Barton Fink" is that the key to understanding it is realizing that they're making fun of art-house films. So, it is freighted with a lot of "meaningful" symbols that are in essence red herrings.
posted by wabbittwax at 10:31 AM on June 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Anybody know the name of the track that opens the Kubrick clip? And was it used in a Kubrick movie? Sounds familiar but I can't place it. (It's a great way to start that clip.)

"Lolita Ya Ya" , from the soudtrack, composed by Nelson Riddle. I believe it may have been Sue Lyon singing.

The Ventures also did a great version.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:31 AM on June 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Where, oh where, is the man who did Ed Wood?

I happen to be watching that right now and my question is: What's the deal with Depp? Does he ever play a character straight, with a normal voice?
posted by DU at 10:57 AM on June 17, 2008


What's the deal with Depp? Does he ever play a character straight, with a normal voice?

21 Jump Street?
Nightmare on Elm Street?
posted by wabbittwax at 11:02 AM on June 17, 2008


Oh man, that first one has put a dread curse on my wallet. Now that it's made me remember that there are Coen Brothers movies out there that I still don't own, there will be no stopping me in my mad dash to the movie store. Fer christsakes, I don't own Oh Brother Where Art Thou or The Man Who Wasn't There! What will the neighbors think?

What hast thou wrought, oh maker of mediocre montages? What hast thou wrought?
posted by billypilgrim at 11:13 AM on June 17, 2008


I happen to be watching that right now and my question is: What's the deal with Depp? Does he ever play a character straight, with a normal voice?

Donnie Brasco and Dead Man.

Two excellent films I might add.
posted by tkchrist at 11:18 AM on June 17, 2008


Oh Brother Where Art Thou and The Big Lebowski (and Office Space or Caddy Shack) are my Flu Films. If I have to stay home sick from work those are the movies I watch as my cure.
posted by tkchrist at 11:21 AM on June 17, 2008


Dead Man was one of those films that just wouldn't let me go until long after it was over.
posted by Green With You at 11:27 AM on June 17, 2008



Dead Man was one of those films that just wouldn't let me go until long after it was over.

Yes. The scene around the camp fire with Iggy Pop in the settlers frock and bonnet particularly.

"Ya know I clean up real good... you sure have pretty skin there, Mister."
posted by tkchrist at 11:55 AM on June 17, 2008


The scene in Dead Man where Depp is first walking into the town of Machine is still, in my opinion, one of the best visual representations of Hell I've seen put to film.
posted by quin at 12:27 PM on June 17, 2008


Dead Man is the only Jarmusch film that I know I like. The others leave me wondering whether or not I actually enjoyed them.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 12:29 PM on June 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh , I see, by Sledgehammer you mean David Rasche. I forgot he existed, glad he's back.
My parents were friends with that guy's sister. True story.
posted by Liquidwolf at 12:31 PM on June 17, 2008


tkchrist you philistine!

Diarrhea jokes. Pratfalls. Marlon Wayans. Lousy ethnic stereotypes. Tom Hanks. Fart jokes

You do realize, minus Hanks and Wayans, these things are included in other Coen brother films?

I didn't think that much of The Ladykillers when I first saw it. I've re-watched it and (surprisingly) thoroughly enjoyed it.

Actually, Barton Fink is not unlike Dead Man in that it is one mans slow descent into hell.
(Yeah, I know I just glossed over a whole hell of a lot of stuff.)
posted by P.o.B. at 12:56 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just about have O Brother Where Art Thou memorized. Every time I see it I find a new facet to appreciate.
posted by konolia at 3:13 PM on June 17, 2008


"Lolita Ya Ya" , from the soudtrack, composed by Nelson Riddle.

Thanks, Astro. I didn't even realized a soundtrack from that film had been released.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 3:36 PM on June 17, 2008


Fargo — snow.
O Brother — water.
Hudsucker — air.
Barton Fink — fire.
Miller's Crossing — earth.

I leave the others undone as a genteel diversion for the cinematically inclined.
posted by Wolof at 6:29 PM on June 17, 2008


Like a few others here, the Coen montage has set me wanting to stay up all night and watch them again (and buy the ones I don't have). The only thing that didn't fit for me was the music playing while Jeff Bridges dances with his shadow against the giant white wall, where there can only be Just Dropped In by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:17 PM on June 17, 2008


This may be old news to people more on the up then me, but I've heard Tim Burton is doing an Alice in Wonderland movie. I am anticipating either a boring, mediocre film or something truly spectacular.
posted by Suparnova at 12:29 AM on June 18, 2008


Fargo — snow.
O Brother — water.
Hudsucker — air.
Barton Fink — fire.
Miller's Crossing — earth.


I'm hearing you, Wolof, but to get that all-important fifth element into there, I think you'd have to add:

The Man Who Wasn't There — hopelessness.

That is the fifth element, right?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:49 AM on June 18, 2008


No, the fifth element is Mila Jokovich.

Also, I have already kindly donated the potential reader five of these whale sharks. I don't think we are talking pedantic schemas here — let us say, for example, smoke + Coens? Which film would that be?

This sort of structuring is an extremely economical device that knits together disparate filmic components into a package that appears neater than it is. It's a very intelligent procedure for producing visual continuity that generates alternative readings at the same time.
posted by Wolof at 5:36 AM on June 18, 2008


You're blowing my mind, Wolof.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:39 AM on June 18, 2008


But actually, if it's "smoke + Coens", I guess I'd offer up The Man Who Wasn't There once again. That's some smoky stuff.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:41 AM on June 18, 2008


At the same time as the viewer is assembling the various strands of meaning posited by the film and deciding on their relative "truth value", that is. The distinction between sjuzhet and fabula is also relevant in this context.
posted by Wolof at 5:49 AM on June 18, 2008


The distinction between sjuzhet and fabula is also relevant in this context.

I've said that many times.
posted by wabbittwax at 8:10 AM on June 18, 2008


A high school student I taught had a similar idea to the Nic Cage theory, but directed it towards John Goodman.

Is John Goodman only good in Coen Brothers films?
posted by daedsiluap at 9:18 AM on June 18, 2008


Tim Burton with no Nitemare Before Christmas? Were they afraid of Disney? What's the deal?
posted by es_de_bah at 9:38 AM on June 18, 2008


John Goodman is good in everything. You could argue that the films themselves aren't so good. But he, at least, is good in everything. I would argue that his presence in a film automatically improves it, if only slightly.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:40 AM on June 18, 2008


Billy Bob Thornton's eyebrows should have won an Oscar for The Man Who Wasn't There.

And this reading of O Brother is worth a look.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 10:25 AM on June 18, 2008


Tim Burton with no Nitemare Before Christmas? Were they afraid of Disney? What's the deal?

He didn't direct that.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:34 AM on June 18, 2008


True, but he did write the original story for it, produce it, and art direct it. And it was kind of his baby.
posted by es_de_bah at 8:37 AM on June 19, 2008


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