Stoner noir certainly replaces the unflappable, sardonic hero of the hardboiled detective novel with a type of fool– the pothead being an ideal modern archetype of the fool, a figure whose fraught relationship with the hardships and nuisances of everyday life we can all identity with to some extent. The Dude, as the Stranger observes, takes it easy for all us sinners – all us perhaps greater fools who are guilty of the sin of actually trying to stay up on the bucking bronco of life, rather than just kicking back and hoping its severer mood swings will just pass us by.
Because the Coens have tried their hand at numerous genres, from noir to screwball to outright surrealism, it wasn’t immediately apparent that they were making the same basic movie over and over. After 30 years and 16 features, however, it’s now hard not to notice that prototypical Coen protagonists are hapless, well-meaning schlemiels upon whom life exacts a toll that’s much worse than they deserve. In the films of Joel and Ethan Coen, it’s a hard world for little things (and everyone else)
Though Llewyn appears stuck, he’s the nomad always ecstatic in his circumlocutions. He’s on a road to nowhere but at least trudging on a path to somewhere. The rest of the world marks time, gliding smoothly along the straight line of the future, arrested comfortably in the steady flow of the ever-present, and being naively present relieves one from the nightmare of history. Maybe the materialization of Dylan’s music in the final minutes, when it wasn’t there in the beginning, is another sign that Llewyn’s time has passed, and it’s time to, um, face the music. Like clockwork he goes into the alley to confront the shadowy figure, and takes his punch (this time not saying “I’m sorry?” before the fist collides with his face, however). Consigned again to this cesspool, he doesn't stay down but ascends through iron bar shadows and follows his bellicose aggressor, who gets into a cab and drives off. Llewyn looks on somewhat wistfully, not saying “farewell” in accord with Dylan but rather says “Au revoir”—indicating they’ll see each other again. At that quiet utterance the cab’s wheels screech and turn a sharp corner. The linear trajectory forward is thwarted and Fate's Emissary will inevitably come around again. The Orbital Noose: Inside Llewyn Davis
The Dissolve (previously, previously) looks at the Coen Brothers' 1996 "homespun Midwestern murder story" Fargo: Masculinity And Mike Yanagita, Keynote: Fargo in Five Quotes, Morality And The Coens
The Coen Brothers latest film "Inside Llewyn Davis" is fictional, but it aims to portray the very specific time and place of the Greenwich Village Folk scene in the early 60's. Reviewers have already noted the similarities between the movies characters and some real life counterparts, starting with Llewyn Davis himself and legendary folk singer Dave Van Ronk. [more inside]
In 1904, John A. Lomax recorded Dink, a levee worker, singing a folk song. In 1934, Lomax published the song in his book, American Ballads and Folk Songs. It went on to become a folk staple. Recently, the Coen Brothers used a new recording of the song by Marcus Mumford and Oscar Isaac in the trailer for the film Inside Llewyn Davis. (Isaac plays the title role.) Jool's Musical Flowers, a blog dedicated to "the ORIGINAL versions of [mostly blues and gospel music] famous songs and songs covered by famous poeople" has compiled a thorough list of covers. The only two I might add are Jeff Buckley's 1992 performance at WFMU, and Joan Baez's 2004 performance at the Bowery Ballroom. (Previously)
The Howling Fat Men of the Coen Brothers (slyt & nsfw)
The entire soundtrack to the Coen brother's upcoming movie "Inside Llewyn Davis" can now be listened to in its entirety online, and for free. [more inside]
Trailer for Inside Llewyn Davis - the new film by the Coen brothers possibly inspired by the album cover for The Freewheeling' Bob Dylan.
Bond film Skyfall has been nominated for its first Academy Awards since 1982. Skyfall was nominated for original score, sound mixing, sound editing, original song, and cinematography. It is also cinematographer Roger Deakins' tenth nomination without a win. [more inside]
Raising Arizona is notable among the Coen Brothers’ filmography for seamlessly fusing the ravishing grimness of their drama with the slapstick antics of their comedy. ... [It] is an intensely bittersweet film. That it is admittedly hilarious distracts from this sorrow, but it doesn’t dampen it. If not the absolute best by the Coens, it’s certainly their most charming. - Michael Nordine [more inside]
From director Jeff Feuerzeig, The Dude is a documentary short that follows Jeff Dowd to a Tampa Lebowski Fest. Dowd was a friend of the Coen Brothers and the real-life inspiration for the iconic film character in the Big Lebowski. (Previously: Jeff Dowd of the Seattle Seven is the model for The Dude in The Big Lebowski)
A decade on, the Coen brothers' woefully underrated O Brother, Where Art Thou? [alt] is remembered for a lot of things: its sun-drenched, sepia-rich cinematography (a pioneer of digital color grading), its whimsical humor, fluid vernacular, and many subtle references to Homer's Odyssey. But one part of its legacy truly stands out: the music. Assembled by T-Bone Burnett, the soundtrack is a cornucopia of American folk music, exhibiting everything from cheery ballads and angelic hymns to wistful blues and chain-gang anthems. Woven into the plot of the film through radio and live performances, the songs lent the story a heartfelt, homespun feel that echoed its cultural heritage, a paean and uchronia of the Old South. Though the multiplatinum album was recently reissued, the movie's medley is best heard via famed documentarian D. A. Pennebaker's Down from the Mountain, an extraordinary yet intimate concert film focused on a night of live music by the soundtrack's stars (among them Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Chris Thomas King, bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley) and wryly hosted by John Hartford, an accomplished fiddler, riverboat captain, and raconteur whose struggle with terminal cancer made this his last major performance. The film is free in its entirety on Hulu and YouTube -- click inside for individual clips, song links, and breakdowns of the set list's fascinating history. [more inside]
A number of the 2011 Oscar nominated screenplays are here as PDFs. The site also has a archives of Coen Brothers and Charlie Kaufman scripts.
The Coenfographic (large jpg), by Tom Muller, is a visual representation of actors in Coen Brothers films.
Joel and Ethan Coen rarely disappoint. Their new film, No Country for Old Men (based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy), is no exception. See also: Cannes.
Rustic lake cabin near Stillwater, MN, heart of the Lakes Country. 650 square feet with vintage 1950s appliances and furnishings---lot and woodchipper not included.
This proves my theory that in reality Fargo is much stranger than the Coen Brothers movie. This is the new way to get people to come to North Dakota: Drive from Florida to knock-over a Super8 motel using, as your threat, an imaginary bomb in a Winnie the Pooh backpack---do all of this to fufill your request to spend the remainder of your life in the country's safest jail.