The Coen Brothers


Raising Arizona (1987), Barton Fink (1991), The Big Lebowski (1998), No Country for Old Men (2007) and Burn After Reading (2008)

I find the Coen Brothers some of the most fascinating filmmakers in the industry, whilst not all of their films may appeal to me or entertain me, it amazes me how no matter what genre or atmosphere they are trying to create, they are created with precision and are all beautiful in their own unique way.

Raising Arizona:  Before I became a film student and before I’d even heard of the Coen Brothers, I was completely immersed in this film finding it highly entertaining and a chaotic, mad-capped adventure of quirky humour and action; something that appealed to the younger me, unaware of my quirkiness or off-beat humour at this age. From what I can remember I thought it was a brilliant film, and over the past year with my increased interests in the Coen brothers, I definitely think it’s time to revisit this film and view it now from a more analytical point of view and actually be able to appreciate the  brilliance of this film.

Burn After Reading: This was my next encounter with the Coen Brothers, by now however I was a Film student and I was introduced to this film by a friend whom I watched the film with and who had at least heard of the Coen Brothers unlike myself. Once again I enjoyed the off-beat, eccentric humour that was the driving force behind the film and found the characters to be well-developed and it was really interesting to see Brad Pitt in one of his less “beefed up” roles and further improved my view of him after seeing him in Fight Club and Interview with The Vampire. Overall it was an enjoyable film, but I wouldn’t say it was exactly a genre masterpiece as the Coen’s have well become known for.

Barton Fink: The first time I had watched a Coen brothers film knowing it was “THE” Coen Brothers and also my first time watching it from an analytical perspective, having studied it for one of my first year exams at University (it got me a nice first though: thank you Coen Brothers, Scorsese and Hitchcock). I really really enjoyed this film, whether it was the symbolism I was able to glean from this film, with a world of possibilities through hidden meanings. Also, I found John Goodman and John Turturro’s performances brilliant; the perfect blend of comedy, humility, quirkiness but also quite moving. Whilst the plot does sometimes seem to roam and have no purpose at times, this film has definitely gained a place within my favourites and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

No Country For Old Men: I am probably going to get so much hate for this, but I did not like this film. Whether it was because of the hype of Javier Bardem (whose performance was good but no match for his villainous role in Skyfall) or because I had been looking forward to seeing it for so long, I was sorely disappointed. The film itself just didn’t seem to have a lot of momentum and when it did, it seemed to make little sense, on top of which was little concern or connection the characters, with one exception perhaps being Kelly McDonald’s character(I didn’t even recognise her at first from her teenage Trainspotting days) whom I genuinely did feel sympathy for with her tragic ending. Once I’d seen the film I just pretty much felt empty, I had no particularly strong feelings to it either way, and an Oscar winner? Well…..let’s just agree to disagree.

The Big Lebowski: My latest venture into the world of the Coen Brothers, by now a fan of them, I expected to enjoy this film and I throughly did! I had heard about the film before and it seemed to be quite cult film, but a close friend with a similar film taste at university recommended it to me and I am so glad he did! As previously stated I LOVE the humour in their films, so no point in repeating myself. The characterisation in this film is the best out of any of their films hands down! John Goodman and Jeff Bridges are just simply “awesome” as the Dude would say! Plus I couldn’t write about this film without mentioning one of my favourite actors Steve Buscemi, who although had a small part, was probably one of the highlights in this film. Philip Seymour Hoffman was interesting to see too, as I haven’t seen many of his films, except most recently, The Master. Also John Turturro was pretty much unrecognisable as the spanish bowling rival after watching him as the neurotic writer in Barton Fink. This film is definitely up there as the best of the Coen Brothers films and along with Barton Fink are my favourites within their collection and films I would certainly recommend to anybody, film student or not!

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