Posts Tagged ‘the coens’

No Country For Old Men – An Argument

By Jason A. Hill & Ezra Stead

No Country for Old Men, USA, 2007

Written and Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

Based on the Novel No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men is full of excitement, suspense, and action, but I got the feeling that there was something deeper going on under the surface and I was expecting some revelation at the end. [Note: “An Argument” is a new feature on Movies I Didn’t Get, in which the site’s founder and owner, Jason A. Hill, and head editor, Ezra Stead, debate the relative merits (or lack thereof) of various beloved movies on which they disagree. Please feel free to get in on the argument in the comments section below.]

No Country for Old Men - An ArgumentJASON’S ORIGINAL REVIEW: I didn’t get this movie. I wanted to, and I was fully engaged as I watched the film. However, by the “end” of this film, the only way I knew it was over was by lights in the cinema coming up, and for a film that wins Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor, I really expected a lot more. Of course, I saw the movie before all of that.

No Country for Old Men is full of excitement, suspense, and action, but I got the feeling that there was something deeper going on under the surface and I was expecting some revelation at the end. What I got instead was that feeling you get when you’re at a big concert and the headlining band comes out on stage two hours late then leaves the stage after one song as the lead singer throws the mic down and flips off the crowd. At first, everyone thinks it’s a great gesture, but after a while they start to feel conned.  Read More

True Grit – A Classic Western From The Coen Brothers

Posted 19 Feb 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

True Grit, USA, 2010

Written and Directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Based on the Novel True Grit by Charles Portis

The Coens' True Grit is better than the original.

If I were going to direct a Western, I wouldn’t even consider any other cinematographer than Roger Deakins. A frequent collaborator of the Coen Brothers, Deakins shot two of the best films of 2007 – the Coens’ No Country For Old Men and Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (quite possibly the best Western ever made) – and it was his painterly eye and excellent use of light that created the mournful, elegiac and distinctly American feel of both those excellent films. Now he has reteamed with Joel and Ethan for their first true period Western, True Grit, and more than their wonderfully dry humor or the excellent performances by Jeff Bridges and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, it is his work that makes the film as good as it is.

Don’t get me wrong – the Coens have created a truly classic film here, a real Western with all the best parts of the 1969 original intact and amplified, and with a much stronger sense of the other characters besides Bridges’ Rooster Cogburn (whereas the original was mainly a vehicle to showcase John Wayne’s finest performance). Bridges is utterly believable and likable as the irascible Cogburn, and Steinfeld is a talent to watch in the coming years, imbuing young Mattie Ross with a steel resolve that makes me think the 14-year-old could probably beat me in a fight. As mentioned above, the script is full of wonderfully dry humor and startlingly realistic violence (I can’t imagine what they had to cut to whittle it down to a PG-13); there is much to praise about all aspects of the film, but for me it is definitely Deakins’ work that shines the brightest. Read More

The Big Lebowski – The Dude Is A Dud

Posted 07 Oct 2010 — by Jason A. Hill
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Jason A. Hill

The Big Lebowski, USA / UK, 1998

Directed by Joel Coen

jeff bridges john goodman“The dude abides” is the credo that has led this cult classic for more than ten years running now, and it wasn’t until just this past July that I finally sat down to The Big Lebowski. Now, after reading this one may get the sense that I really have something against the Coens; I mean, after all, my first article bashed the film that gave these indisputably talented filmmakers their first Oscar. However, I have to call ’em like I see ’em, and this film was either over my head or I need a pot brownie to fully appreciate it.

Let me mark off what I did get from this film. Many critics and viewers say that this film isn’t about its plot, it’s about attitude, that attitude being that no matter what happens to a person in life, there is always a silver lining. The Dude never lies, steals, or cheats, but when someone pisses on his carpet he sets out to do what’s right for himself. He’s the free American who lives on the fringes and is more than content with life with a White Russian in one hand, an occasional fling in the other, and maybe a roach in his toe. Read More