In what has to be one of the most interesting photo shoots I think I’ve ever seen the New York Times has comissioned a shoot involving past Coen alumni including Javier Bardem, Kelly MacDonald, Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Jon Polito, Holly Hunter, Tara Reid, Sam Elliot, Steve Buscemi and John Turturro in a series of strange scenes. I think it’s best if you just look for yourself. Below is the accompanying text.
At first glance, “No Country,” which is a kind of modern western with almost mythological themes set against the landscape of Texas, would seem to be a surprising fit with the Coens, who are known for dark, almost surrealistic comedies like the Oscar-winning “Fargo,” the Hollywood noir “Barton Fink” and their ode to stoner iconoclasm, “The Big Lebowski.” But “No Country,” like their other movies, allowed them to create unique characters and simultaneously twist a genre. From the start of their career, with the film “Blood Simple” in 1984, the Coens have consistently reinvented conventional types of cinema by tweaking and reimagining instantly recognizable archetypes. In “No Country,” Javier Bardem plays an unstoppable, coldblooded killer with an existential streak. Though he is not described this way in McCarthy’s book, the Coens pictured him with a Prince Valiant haircut and a fastidious style of dress — a potentially stock cinematic character transformed into a new western classic. “He’s like the man who fell to earth,” Joel suggested. “He’s the thing that doesn’t grow out of that landscape.”
The West was built on transplants, on men and women who sought to redefine themselves in a land of opportunity. Since many of their movies are set in that part of America, the Coen brothers have observed and then reimagined many of those strivers, weirdos, beauties, believers and would-be prophets. From Holly Hunter’s baby-nabbing cop in “Raising Arizona” to Sam Elliott’s philosophical cowboy in “The Big Lebowski,” the Coens have created, again and again, instantly iconic creatures of the West. In this portfolio, photographed by Finlay MacKay, we sought to further the adventures of those Coen-devised personalities.
“We still want to make a real period western,” Joel said. “With no cars and in black and white. But it might be a little narrow.” Ethan nodded. “ ‘No Country’ was kind of like a genre thing, but in a genre thing the characters end up differently,” he said. “ ‘No Country’ is perverse. And we always like something perverse.”
Thanks to John on the forum for alerting us.