The Power of Data Visualization website has an infographic detailing the budgets, box offices, genres, Rotten Tomato scores and Oscar noms/wins of all 14 Coen brothers movies. The most interesting thing on it, if you ask me, is that The Hudsucker Proxy scores only 59% on Rotten Tomatoes!
Archive for the ‘The Ladykillers’ category
Buried at the foot of an article on Variety is a brief mention of Joel and Ethan Coen’s script for a remake of the 1966 Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine starring British heist movie, Gambit actually going into production. Un/fortunately they will not be directing. Producer, Mike Lobell, is apparently searching for a director. As you will have read here on YKFK before, the movie has been long mooted with cast members rumoured to include [Sir] Ben Kingsley and Colin Firth.
I’m kind of glad that the Coens aren’t going to direct this themselves as I much prefer them to work on their own material rather than adapting others’ work. Though I have no problem with No Country For Old Men, indeed it is among their very finest movies, or the forthcoming adaptation (it’s NOT a remake of the John Wayne movie!) of Charles Portis’ True Grit which I am very excited about, I just prefer their own, unique look at the world. Other material they have directed and/or adapted includes Intolerable Cruelty (for which they did a re-write of a story by Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone and John Romano with the intention of Barry Sonnenfeld directing but, when that fell through, they chose to do it themselves) and, of course, The Ladykillers.
Just spotted this on Twitter but, for some reason, the Raindance website has made the screenplays for EVERY, and I mean EVERY, Coen brothers’ movie available for download. Now, this includes the screenplays for both A Serious Man AND their next movie, True Grit!!! You heard me right- including TRUE GRIT!
Obviously most of them are available right here on YKFK and have been for a long time however, I have gotten into a bit of legal deep water in the past for posting up scripts for forthcoming movies before which is why I have not uploaded the ones for Burn After Reading, A Serious Man and True Grit…
I have been trying to formulate this into an article myself but I only go as far as making some notes. Vanity Fair has done a much better job than I would have done with a fun article about the chronology of the Coen brothers’ movie output to date and observes that, while they love to trip through time and period, they are yet to make a movie set in the 1970’s. To wit;
1920’s – Miller’s Crossing
1930’s – O Brother, Where Art Thou?
1950’s – The Hudsucker Proxy
1960’s – A Serious Man
Now, obviously some of these movies aren’t period movies at all but contemporary movies set during the time they were made. Interesting none the less.
What historic theme do you think they could tackle to fill this 1970’s-shaped void in their oevre? Watergate? The Beatles breaking up? The founding of Microsoft?
Ponders the Guardian’s Joe Queenan using the fact that the Coens are yet to make a tear-jerker as evidence that they are not fit to be so highly regarded. Once again a journalist bemoaning the fact that the Coens have gone from making a serious, Oscar-winning movie (No Country For Old Men) to a light, knock about comedy (Burn After Reading). Like that’s a bad thing! His comment that “the Coen brothers revert to being smart-alecks making films for snarky college students” is so boring, so well-trodden and so wrong that I almost stopped reading the article right there. And again the line about the Coen brothers “creative slump” is regurgitated, only this time, to fit the theme of his article, Queenan, has decided to make that slump a lot longer than the period in which the much maligned (unfairly, or at least overly harshly, in my opinion) Intolerable Cruelty (“a real horror”) and The Ladykillers (“a gabby, klutzy reworking of the 1955 British classic of the same name”). He extends it to include the period 1998-2006, a period in which he claims the Coen brothers “hit the skids”, conveniently beginning after most people’s favourite Coen movie, The Big Lebowski to the aforementioned serious, worthy movie, No Country For Old Men. This merely gives him the [false] evidence to back up his claims and overlooks two truly tremendous movie offerings in O Brother, Where Art Thou? ,which, in his esteemed opinion, has nothing to recommend it but (you guessed it) the multi-million selling, award winning soundtrack, and The Man Who Wasn’t There.
He also contends that- “Everything the Coen brothers do is clever, eye-opening, and stylish. That puts them in a class with Salvador Dalí. It doesn’t put them in a class with Rembrandt”. Suits me, I much prefer the work of the surrealist master over that of Rembrandt.
In my opinion it is Queenan’s article that is a “recycling – more like a regurgitation” displaying for all to see how easy it is to write from a grumpy stand point. Of course, much like this post, his article is merely one man’s opinion to which he is entitled, however wrong it may be.
What with all the news of The Dark Knight being the bestest movie in the world since time began (according to it’s IMDB user rating) and in conjunction with YKFK’s currently running poll to find out which was the best (or more accurately- most favourite) Coen brothers movie, I thought it might be interesting to see what the IMDB users thought in comparison. In terms of ratings here’s IMDB’s rundown of Coen awesomeness first by rating and, where there’s a tie, I’ve given preference to the one with the most votes…
- No Country For Old Men (8.4, 118,396 votes)
- Fargo (8.3, 122,902)
- The Big Lebowski (8.2, 122,119)
- Miller’s Crossing (8.0, 31,861)
- O Brother, Where Art Thou? (7.8, 71,292)
- Blood Simple (7.8, 19,584)
- The Man Who Wasn’t There (7.7, 30,891)
- Barton Fink (7.7, 22,073)
- Raising Arizona (7.5, 35,918)
- The Hudsucker Proxy (7.4, 23,968)
- Intolerable Cruelty (6.4, 26, 521)
- The Ladykillers (6.2, 27,747)
Now, obviously, this is a live list so it will change over time. I just thought it might be interesting to compare what general movie fans think as opposed to specific Coen brothers fans who visit YKFK. At the moment the YKFK poll has Miller’s Crossing and The Big Lebowski tied at the top with 19% of the votes a piece. Next up is Fargo with 16% followed by Barton Fink with 13%. The bottom two in the YKFK poll unsurprisingly mirror the bottom two in the IMDB rankings, each taking up zero percent of the votes thus far- come on- SOMEONE must like them .
I was very surprised to see No Country For Old Men top the IMDB list whilst it is sixth on ours, but these type of things are always coloured by short memory. Will the IMDB voters still consider No Country superior to Fargo and The Big Lebowski in 10 years time?
Come the end of the YKFK poll (I ain’t decided how long to run it really- perhaps it should never end- your thoughts welcome) we need to decide which of the two polls is more important to us here at YKFK- the one voted for by dedicated Coen nuts or the one voted for by a more general movie fan…
Incidentally, I’m seeing The Dark Knight tomorrow afternoon and am looking forward to it immensely. I am expecting great things but the best movie of all time… nope.
My copy of Empire (July 2008) arrived today and the first article in it (after the reader’s letter page) is a four-pager on the Coen’s next movie, Burn After Reading. It confirmed the UK release date of October 17th and also contains five new images which I will scan in and post on YKFK in the next few days. Here is the text from said article lovingly transcribed by yours truly…
“After the (relative) seriousness of No Country For Old Men, it seems the Coens are back to more traditional turf for their next. It’s a thriller that’s kind of a comedy (or the other way around) born of one of their own brainstorming sessions (and not a famous novel), where the characters go by such typically syllable-torturing Coen-esque monikers as Harry Pfarrer, Linda Litzke and Chad Feldheimer.
“It’s in the vein of Fargo and Lebowski,” delights Eric Fellner from Working Title, completing his sixth film with the brothers. “Somebody comes across something they shouldn’t, they completely misinterpret what they’ve got, and because they are fairly stupid, everything spirals horribly out of control. Mayhem and dead bodies ensue.”
More precisely, it is a spy caper about boozy CIA operative Ozzie Cox (John Malkovich), so incensed at being fired he writes some inflammatory memoirs, the disc of which he accidentally leaves in a gym. It is discovered by less-than-intellectual instructor Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt), who attempts to blackmail Ozzie, while his boss Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) meets smooth-talking Harry Pfarrer (George Clooneey) via online dating. He’s the CIA lug assigned to clear the whole matter up, who also ends up sleeping with Katie Cox (Tilda Swinton), estranged wife of Ozzie.
“I’m a guy that goes around killing people,” says Clooney, who would happily play a corpse for the Coens. “It looks really fun. This will be my third idiot – the Coens call it my trilogy of idiots.”
Shooting with typical zest (taking only 50 days) between No Country’s debut in Cannes 2007 and its rapturous US release last autumn, the New York boys stuck fairly close to home: Brooklyn Heights and Washington, DC are the main locations. And despite regular cinematographer Roger Deakins missing his first gig since Barton Fink (due to prior commitments) – Emmanuel Lubezki (Children Of Men) replaces him - the production ran as smoothly as ever.
“They are so brilliant, Joel and Ethan, they just know what they want,” continues Fellner. “Most of the techs and craftsmen have all worked with Joel and Ethan many times. There is never a panic on set. You are never running out of time.”
However, the film, which will open this year’s Venice Film Festival (it wasn’t ready for Cannes 2008), finds its makers at something of a crossroads. Does the Oscar victory and box-office success of No Country For Old Men (a best ever $160 million worldwide) mean they are now a mainstream act and no longer the clever-cloging wiseacres only deciphearable by their army of delirious fans?
“That is the issue – how do you sell the Coens?” agrees Fellner. “Our experience at Working Title is that the point where we’re made mistakes is when we’ve not sold the film to the real audience. You have to start with the real audience and then go bolder. With some of their recent films made with studios (Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers were both studio-based films not produced by Working Title) , that could be where they went wrong: looking for too big an audience. This is quite mainstream, but not too mainstream.”
The Coens have been very busy of late. They will soon start another comedy, A Serious Man (also with Working Title), which Ethan has claimed will be ever-so slightly autobiographical: “It’s about a family of four in the Midwest, in 1967, and one of the kids is about to be Bar Mitzvahed. Horrible things happen…” After which they will get going on an adaptation of Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, a couldn’t-be-more-Coens noir pastiche set in a reimagined Jewish state in Alaska. Meanwhile, Ethan has also found time to write a trilogy of short plays currenlty being staged together off-Broadway under the title Almost An Evening, produced with the help of Coens’ regular composor, Carter Burwell. The plays, one of which involves two opposing versions of God having a scrap, are helpfully described as Camus-meets-Kafka-meets-the Marx Brothers. Definitely not too mainstream.”
So there you have it. I found this article to put my mind at ease about their two next projects, both of which I’m looking forward to temendously, especially The Yiddish Policemen’s Union which, like the article says, is perfectly suited to the Coen brothers. If you haven’t read the book yet, I cannot recommend it enough.
February 18th sees the release of The Complete Coen 1984-2004 on DVD. It features, as you might expect, all 11 Coen brothers movies from Blood Simple to The Ladykillers. The RRP is £69.99 but you can get it for less than £49.98 at amazon.co.uk and £55.99 at play.com. I almost wish I hadn’t bought them all already!
So Coen brothers movies are like buses. You wait for ages and then, bam, three come at once!
Hot on the heels of the news regarding Burn After Reading comes news of the Coen’s 14th movie- A Serious Man. Nothing is know about it as yet other than it is “a dark comedy in the vein of Fargo” which cannot be a bad thing.
Coen conspirator, Carter Burwell, is feeling generous. Nip on over to his site and you can download, for free, MP3s of his fine scores for many a movie. Of particular interest to us Coen obsessives are previously unreleased cuts from The Ladykillers and Intolerable Cruelty. For those who don’t have the CDs there are also many tracks from Barton Fink, Fargo and The Big Lebwoski. Also, there are one or two clips from Theater of the New Ear, but you can download the entire Coen brother’s part, Sawbones, right here at You Know, For Kids! Thanks to Stephen for pointing this recent site update out.