Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

"The two Coen brothers are quite singular in contemporary Hollywood. They are the doyens of American independent cinema, creating movies, indeed worlds, that are uniquely and identifiably theirs. The Coens are consummate puppet masters, dextrously pulling the strings of their characters, who are usually one sandwich short of a picnic." - Lloyd Hughes (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)

Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

Director / Screenwriter / Producer / Editor
Joel Coen: (1954- ) Born November 29, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Ethan Coen: (1957- ) Born September 21, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Top 250 Directors / 21st Century's Top 50 Directors

Key Production Countries: USA, UK, France
Key Genres: Comedy, Crime, Crime Comedy, Black Comedy, Screwball Comedy, Crime Thriller, Post-Noir (Modern Noir), Americana, Buddy Film, Comedy Drama, Period Film
Key Collaborators: Carter Burwell (Composer), Roger Deakins (Cinematographer), Frances McDormand (Leading Character Actress), Dennis Gassner (Production Designer), John Goodman (Character Actor), Steve Buscemi (Leading Character Actor), Jess Gonchor (Production Designer), Jon Polito (Character Actor), John Turturro (Leading Character Actor), George Clooney (Leading Actor), Scott Rudin (Producer), Barry Sonnenfeld (Cinematographer)

"The Coen brothers' films might lack the high artistic or philosophical intent of Lynch or Cronenberg, but they do have an auteurist sense of absurd incongruity, in addition to an ear for the peculiarities of colloquial speech. Laced in strangely surreal black comedy, intertextual references and mischievous re-workings of genre conventions, their films draw on the collective archetypes of Hollywood. From their bleak nor negativism of Blood Simple to the endearing comedy of The Big Lebowski, their films delight in self-reflexive play, leading some critics to claim them for a postmodern aesthetic." - Tanya Krzywinska (Contemporary North American Film Directors, 2002)
"The only way to define the writing and directing duo of the Coen brothers is through their resistance to definition itself. Geeky, quirky, and postmodern, their movies are among the most remarkable in post-1980s U.S. independent cinema." - Ernest Mathijs (501 Movie Directors, 2007)
"Given the stability of the Coens’ core personnel – their works have been written, photographed, scored, produced, and directed by a total of five technicians, and they have returned repeatedly to cast such favorite actors as John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, and Joel Coen’s wife, Frances McDormand – it is no wonder that their films have been so distinctive." - Thomas Leitch (Crime Films: Genres in American Cinema, 2002)
"For all the visual flair and deft performances on display in their films, the Coens' greatest virtue lies in writing. In terms of pacy stories, witty dialogue and the creation of a coherent, plausible fantasy world peopled by vivid characters, their ability to work original and entertaining variations on a genre bodes well for the future." - Geoff Andrew (The Film Handbook, 1989)
"I am still unresolved, I liked Fargo nearly as much as its many fans, but then Lebowski felt too cute by half, like a film watching itself, more intent on being droll than life. Is it just my shortcoming, or is there something in fraternal support that means they need never feel alone? I can't shake the feeling of one dude showing the picture to the other, and then chuckling together." - David Thomson, (The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, 2002)
"The Coens appear to have abandoned for good the stylized realism and Aristotelian narrative that made Blood Simple such a success. But in an era that has witnessed the commercial success of cartoonish anti-naturalism (Dick Tracy, the Batman films), their concern with striking visual and aural effects may provide the basis for a long career, though difficult films like Barton Fink, despite critical acclaim, will never gain a wider audience." - R. Barton Palmer (The St. James Film Directors Encyclopedia, 1998)
"Admired for the innovative style and wit of their films, they have brought their distinctive black humour to hard-boiled crime yarns and screwball comedies, and won a Best Original Screenplay Academy Award for Fargo (1996)." - Chambers Film Factfinder, 2006
"Generally we work with our own material, so why would they want us to do it but then get their hands in it? It's different when the studio is doing some teen film. It's a studio product, and maybe in that case the director is driven crazy. But we don't do those kinds of movies." - Joel Coen
"I mean, Joel talks to the actors more than I do and I probably do production stuff a little more than he does." - Ethan Coen
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
Blood Simple (1984) , Raising Arizona (1987) , Miller's Crossing (1990) , Barton Fink (1991) , Fargo (1996) , The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), No Country for Old Men (2007)
Recommended
The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), The Big Lebowski (1998) , O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), True Grit (2010), Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Worth a Look
Intolerable Cruelty (2003), The Ladykillers (2004), Burn After Reading (2008), A Serious Man (2009)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
Joel Coen / Favourite Films
Dames (1934) Ray Enright, The Fortune (1974) Mike Nichols, High and Low (1963) Akira Kurosawa, Separate Tables (1958) Delbert Mann, Where Eagles Dare (1969) Brian G. Hutton.
Source: Time Out (1995)
Ethan Coen / Favourite Films
The Bad News Bears (1976) Michael Ritchie, Il Bidone (1955) Federico Fellini, Brother's Keeper (1992) Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky, The Fortune (1974) Mike Nichols, Salesman (1968) Albert Maysles, David Maysles & Charlotte Zwerin.
Source: Time Out (1995)
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