Archive for Coen Brothers

Barton Fink

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 10 November, 2008 by Ally
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Joel and Ethan Coen, 1991

FADE IN on a bedroom in an Oxfordshire suburb. Mr. Craig sits at a laptop computer. The rain can be heard outside, as can the cry of the fishmongers.

John Goodman enters.

GOODMAN

What are you up to there Al?

CRAIG

(Closing the lid of the computer)
Oh, hi there John. I’m trying to write a review of Barton Fink, but I just can’t get started. I can’t decide if I have too much to say about it, or not enough.

GOODMAN

Hell, I know how you feel. Reviewing films is damned difficult. Especially that one, even I don’t really know what it’s about and I was in it!

Continue reading

Burn After Reading

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 23 October, 2008 by Ally

WARNING: This review may or may not contain sensitive information. If you want to know absolutely nothing before seeing the film, it is recommended that you do not read this.

Joel and Ethan Coen, 2008

Burn After Reading is the latest film by the Coen Brothers, the two-headed director known to their friends as Joel and Ethan. It’s not an easy one to categorize, other than to say it’s “a Coen Brothers film”. You could say it’s a satirical screwball farce which blends verbal wit, visual gags and moments of genuinely shocking violence. You could say that it’s a high-tech screwball modernization of The Big Sleep, in that it’s difficult to explain but easy to enjoy. The gist of the story is as follows:

CIA analyst Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich) furiously quits his job after being handed an unexpected demotion. As revenge for this injustice, he begins writing a salacious memoir. He is unaware that his wife Katie (Tilda Swinton) is having an affair and intends to divorce him. Having been advised to do so by a divorce lawyer, she secretly copies all his personal and financial files to a blank CD. When the lawyer’s forgetful secretary leaves said disc at the gym, it falls into very much the wrong hands. The wrong hands in question are Hardbodies gym employees Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) and Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt). They decide to seize the opportunity and attempt to blackmail a deeply confused and increasingly furious Osbourne Cox, assuming that they’ve got their grubby little mitts on “secret CIA shit” and not just the egotistical rantings of a lowly analyst. Continue reading

Try This, Kids at Home!

Posted in Film, Film Noir, Nothing Really with tags , , , , , , , , , on 20 October, 2008 by Ally

I’m sure we all remember, or at least know of the controversy surrounding colorization. You know, when Orson Welles told Ted Turner to keep his crayons away from Citizen Kane, and film critics dedicated entire shows to preaching about the evils of colorization. As well as it being completely at odds with the artistic vision of the filmmakers, colorization’s biggest crime is somehow managing to look simultaneously garish and washed-out. Especially when it’s done wrong, giving Frank Sinatra brown eyes for example.

In short, it’s shit.

But have you ever considered viewing a colour film in black and white? I believe it was Billy Wilder that claimed black and white photography was best suited to performance-based films, as there are no colours to distract you from the acting. All you need to do is turn the colour down on your television and you have an instant decolorized film.

It’s a mere novelty, but sometimes it can allow you to appreciate certain aspects of a film that were previously hidden to you behind dazzling colours and effects. I tried it last night whilst watching The Big Lebowski, and you know what? It’s actually quite fun. The noir flourishes are more apparent in black and white, highlighting the Chandleresque plot rather nicely. I’m sure the Coen Brothers would be mortified to learn that their film was being viewed improperly, but fuck them. It’s my telly.