The Coen Brothers (Second Edition)
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Brought completely up to date, this insightful biography remains "a must for any self-respecting Coen fan" (Screentrade).
This fully updated edition of the first biography of the Coen Brothers includes their complete work so far, from Blood Simple to Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), with a reassessment of their remarkable career as a whole. Joel and Ethan Coen have pulled off the ultimate balancing act. Despite having their movies financed and distributed by major studios, they have managed to remain true independents, rejecting commercial clichés and never giving up on their own fiercely idiosyncratic vision. While doing so, they have established themselves among the world's leading filmmakers.
From their startling debut, Blood Simple (1984), all of their movies reveal a distinctive stamp: a flamboyant visual style, richly conceived characters, crisp dialogue, and brilliant casting. They have revitalized old Hollywood genres such as noir, screwball, and the western, giving them a contemporary sensibility. In this biography, Ronald Bergan traces the brothers' Jewish roots, their beginnings as film geeks in suburban Minneapolis, their battle to get their first feature made and released, through their early features and the movies of their maturity. He gives blow-by-blow accounts of the making of each movie. New chapters cover all those released since O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), with which the first edition of this book ended.
236–37, 247, 249, 250, 273–77 O Brother, Where Art Thou?, 4, 6, 7, 9, 24, 26, 28, 34, 36, 46, 48, 60, 73, 112–13, 125, 127, 149, 158, 168, 187, 188, 192–208, 211, 232, 252, 284, 289 Odets, Clifford, 127, 130, 131 Ono, Yoko, 21, 182–83 Paris Je T’Aime, 236 Peckinpah, Sam, 244 Pitt, Brad, 149, 210, 250–51, 253, 255–56 Polito, Jon, 9, 13, 112–13, 213 Portis, Charles, 257, 273, 275–76, 278 Raimi, Sam, 13, 21, 38, 61–64, 66, 84, 86, 108, 110, 139, 150, 152 Raising Arizona, 6, 9–10, 15,
Fargo. 48 The Ghost Hotel The production designer, Dennis Gassner, who had designed Miller’s Crossing, got to work on the hotel, the pivotal set of Barton Fink. Joel explained: “We spent three weeks shooting in the hotel, where half the film takes place. We wanted an art deco style. It had to be organically linked to the film. In a way, it was an exteriorization of the John Goodman character. The sweat falls from his brow as the wallpaper falls from the walls. At the end, when Goodman says
North Carolina because Dino De Laurentiis had built a big soundstage complex there. The film takes place inside Hudsucker Industries, a gigantic office building and factory that has much in common with the soulless, monolithic organization in Brazil (1985), which its director Terry Gilliam called “Walter Mitty meets Franz Kafka,” a description that could be applied to The Hudsucker Proxy, another design-led movie. Production designer Dennis Gassner, who won an Oscar for his forties art direction
first of the Coens’ star-driven Hollywood movies, was produced by Brian Grazer, responsible for such broad commercial comedy hits as Parenthood, The Nutty Professor, and Liar Liar. According to Grazer: “Joel and Ethan are the coolest, purest filmmakers in modern movies. Here you have a romantic comedy with these mainstream movie stars. And then you add the Coens’ irreverence—and it’s their irreverence injected into this romance that makes the whole journey very sexy and very unpredictable.” As
private detective hired by his wife to gather evidence for a divorce. As the film reaches its climax, the blacker parodic side, until then dominated by fatuous sex farce elements, takes over, with all the characters giving in to paranoia, seeing men in dark glasses, people on cell phones, and helicopters hovering above as personal threats. Besides the “self-defense” killing of Pitt by Clooney, Jenkins is hacked to death by Malkovich, who mistakenly takes Jenkins for his wife’s lover, and