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Added by johanlefourbe on 7 Aug 2012 03:16
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A Complete Review of the Coen Brothers' work

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People who added this item 388 Average listal rating (231 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.3
Hail, Caesar! (2016)


Cast : Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Frances McDormand, Jonah Hill, Alison Pill, Christopher Lambert, Michael Gambon

What was it about?
A Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio's stars in line.

My two cents:
Well, to be honest, it wasn't really good. In fact, it was pretty much one of the Coen brothers's weakest efforts so far, I'm afraid. I mean, the whole thing looked fine and they had once again a really impressive cast at their disposal but this story was just rather boring. As a matter of fact, the plot was in fact really similar to the one they used for 'The Big Lebowski' as it was dealing with some rather pathetic kidnapping attempt and, in the process, they tried to throw at us all kinds of supposedly quirky and funny characters. Unfortunately, while 'The Big Lebowski' was just quite hilarious, this tale was on the other hand barely entertaining. Basically, from all these characters played by some really famous and usually talented actors, none of them was really interesting or fun, except for Alden Ehrenreich who was really the only one who managed to make his character work.

My rating: 06/10

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People who added this item 461 Average listal rating (320 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.6
It was actually directed by Steven Spielberg, the Coen brothers wrote the screenplay.

To be honest, I thought it was actually slightly disappointing. I mean, sure, Spielberg knows how to direct a movie so it was technically well made and visually appealing but I actually had a hard time to really care about this story. First of all, the first half, when Donovan was first fighting for Abel’s rights felt rather pointless and hypocritical. Indeed, I thought it was pointless because the movie was never about if Abel should have more rights or not, it was about exchanging him with an American spy. It felt also hypocritical because it is really easy to point fingers about how the American people used to intolerant 50 years ago. Then, the 2nd half about the actual exchange was better but still not really amazing. In this case, the issue was that the outcome was already obvious from the start and even though they tried to convince the viewers that everything might go south at some point, I never felt any real danger at any point.
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People who added this item 318 Average listal rating (210 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.2
Unbroken (2014)
It was actually directed by Angelina Jolie, the Coen brothers wrote the screenplay.

Before this movie was released, there was a really good buzz about the damned thing and many expected it to be a front-runner for the Best Picture Academy award and, as a result, launching for good the directing career of Angelina Jolie. Eventually, when it came out, it didn't turn out to be such a huge critical success after all and it vanished rather quickly. In fact, it is pretty easy to understand why. I mean, Jolie went for a project which seemed to be some pure gold. Indeed, she was working with acclaimed DOP Roger Deakins, the screenplay was written by the Coen brothers and, above all, it was simply an amazing story. Unfortunately, even though this true tale was quite incredible, it turned out to be a decent watch but it certainly didn't result in a great movie, I'm afraid. The main issue, I guess, was that even though Jolie made sure she didn't mess it up, she also never managed to go beyond simply telling the life story of Louis Zamperini. Indeed, there was really not much depth and, in this case, since we all knew how it would end, there was a desperate need to tell more than just the facts.
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People who added this item 644 Average listal rating (387 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.4


Cast : Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund

What was it about?
A week in the life of a young singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.

My two cents:
The main issue I always had with the Coen brothers is that it all depends on my mood. Depending on when I would watch one of their movies, I would either love it or it would make me indifferent. Apparently, this time, I was in a great mood since I really loved this flick. Indeed, I thought it was quite hilarious, one of their best sardonic comedies. Llewin Davis was a great character, some guy who decided at some point to become a folk singer but was never able to breakthrough, partly because of his lack of luck and partly because of his obnoxious behavior. It was such a flawed individual, indeed quite talented with his guitar and songs but so socially awkward and stubbornly making the wrong decisions.

My rating: 08/10

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People who added this item 200 Average listal rating (102 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 5.7
Gambit (2012)
It was actually directed by Michael Hoffman, the Coen brothers wrote the screenplay.

Before this movie was released, there was actually a pretty good buzz about it, mostly because it was written by the Coen brothers. Eventually, the whole thing was a big box-office and critical flop but I was still eager to check it out. Apparently, this project was in development hell for at least a decade and there has been a considerable number of re-writes so you wonder how much of the Coen brothers's work actually remain. I mean, you can spot from time to time their unique style but this movie was in general much below their directing work. I mean, the whole thing had some potential, especially after the introduction but, pretty quickly, it all fell apart. Sure, you can blame Cameron Diaz for playing one of the least convincing Texan cowgirls I have ever seen but the choice to make the main character played by Colin Firth as some kind of spineless loser was also rather misguided.
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People who added this item 1923 Average listal rating (1266 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.6
True Grit (2010)


Cast : Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper

What was it about?
A tough U.S. Marshal helps a stubborn young woman track down her father's murderer.

My two cents:
From the start, before I even watched it, I wasn't really convinced by this project. First of all, they can say whatever they want, even though it may not be a remake, this story has already been done before so why don't they tell a new story ? Since I haven't seen the version starring John Wayne, I can't compare both movies but I think it is a good thing. Eventually, I liked the directing, the actors were great and I laughed a few times but at the end of the day, it is a rather standard Western story. I mean, there was absolutely no moment during the whole thing when I thought it was spellbinding. It was entertaining, that's for sure, but spellbindng? No way... To conclude, even though I think it is rather overrated, I still liked it and it is definitely worth a look.

My rating: 07/10

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People who added this item 1341 Average listal rating (811 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7
A Serious Man (2009)


Cast : Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Fred Melamed, Sari Lennick, Aaron Wolff, Jessica McManus

What was it about?
A black comedy drama centered on Larry Gopnik, a Midwestern professor who watches his life unravel through multiple sudden incidents. Though seeking for meaning and answers he seems to stay stalled.

My two cents:
Since I kept hearing here and there that it was awesome, I really had to watch this flick pretty bad. Eventually, I thought it was pretty good but it was nothing mindblowing, in my opinion. I mean, it is very well done and as expected with the Coen brothers, it was gloriously shot, all the (unknown to me) actors gave some pretty good performances but I had more difficulty with the story though. On one hand, there was some funny moments and it was sometimes mesmerizing but, on the other hand, was it really captivating? Not really. Maybe I just didn't get the point (for example, what was the whole point of the introduction?!?), I don't know but it remains a very interesting flick.

My rating: 07/10

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People who added this item 2530 Average listal rating (1641 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7


Cast : George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins, J.K. Simmons

What was it about?
A disk containing the memoirs of a CIA agent ends up in the hands of two unscrupulous gym employees who attempt to sell it.

My two cents:
Following their oscar winning flick, 'No Country for old men', the Coen brothers made this lighter comedy. First of all, there was a really top cast and they were all pretty good. I must say, even though the premise sounded really awesome, the end-result was pretty funny but nothing more than that. It was nice to see Brad Pitt playing with his image, being a goofball and all, but they didn't do much with it and that was about the same thing with the other characters. In my opinion, the best scenes were eventually the one involving J.K. Simmons and his colleague in the CIA office. Those scenes were just freaking hilarious. I guess it all depends what is the relationship you have with the Coen brothers, if you are fan of them, you will enjoy this flick, and if you don't like their style, you will probably think it is nothing special.

My rating: 07/10

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People who added this item 3909 Average listal rating (2538 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.1


Cast : Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Kelly Macdonald

What was it about?
Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong and more than two million dollars in cash near the Rio Grande.

My two cents:
At last, the Coen brothers finally did it. They finally got their deserved Oscar! And, yet, I have to admit that I actually ended up with some mixed feelings about this movie. The first issue with this movie was that there was such a hype when it came out and, to be honest, I was actually a slightly disappointed. I mean, sure, it was very good, no doubt it, but I’m not sure if it was really great. Eventually, I had to see the damned thing a 2nd time to really make up my mind. Well, even though I did appreciate it more than the first time, I was still not completely blown away. I mean, the directing was really neat, the acting was off the charts, the story was pretty good but something was missing there to make it truly spellbinding and, personally, I still prefer 'There will be blood' which was released the very same year. Still, there was a great cast, especially Brolin who, thanks to his performance in this movie, made an impressive comeback and is nowadays one of the most sought-after actors at work nowadays.

My rating: 08/10

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People who added this item 1386 Average listal rating (709 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.3


Cast : Steve Buscemi

What was it about?
An American tourist is assaulted after looking to a girl while waiting for the metro in Paris.

My two cents:
This anthology was pretty good and this little story was pretty good, even though it was not one of the best of the bunch. The brothers deliver here their usual dark humor and played around with the usual stereotypes about French people who seems a little too agressive but still so romantic. After watching this, you wonder what kind of relationship these guys have with this city since all their movies took place in America.

My rating: 07/10 (for their segment and for the whole movie)

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People who added this item 1324 Average listal rating (846 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 6.2


Cast : Tom Hanks, Marlon Wayans, J.K. Simmons

What was it about?
An eccentric, if not charming Southern professor and his crew pose as a band in order to rob a casino, all under the nose of his unsuspecting landlord: a sharp old woman.

My two cents:
Basically, this movie was a critical flop when it was released and it is arguably the only failure in their otherwise prestigious career (Personally, I do have a weak spot for ‘Intolerable Cruelty’ but it didn't get much love either). Anyway, in spite of its weak reputation, I still wanted to check it out and, at the end of the day, it was indeed a rather lazy and completely unnecessary remake. Sure, Tom Hanks did his best with this material and it was nice to see him playing a completely different kind of character for once but the whole thing, going from the plot to the characters involved, was just rather underwhelming. Anyway, even though the whole thing was disappointing, I still think it is worth a look though.

My rating: 06/10

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People who added this item 1212 Average listal rating (767 ratings) 5.6 IMDB Rating 6.3


Cast : George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Geoffrey Rush, Cedric the Entertainer, Richard Jenkins, Billy Bob Thornton

What was it about?
A revenge-seeking gold digger marries a womanizing Beverly Hills lawyer with the intention of making a killing in the divorce.

My two cents:
If you check the ratings for this movie(in Listal and Imdb), you will notice that it is one of the least appreciated movies directed by the Coen brothers and, even though it might not be one of their best flicks, I actually liked it a lot. Indeed, I'm a sucker for romantic comedies but most of those are really unoriginal and disappointing. So, this one was really refreshing as I thought it was quite hilarious with some rather messed up characters. Furthermore, I just loved the dark humor which was really refreshing and, on top of that, the chemistry between George Clooney and Catherina Zeta-Jones was very good. Neither of their character could be trusted and it made the whole thing even more compelling to watch. In my opinion, it is by far their most underrated effort.

My rating: 08/10

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People who added this item 1018 Average listal rating (605 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.6


Cast : Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, James Gandolfini, Scarlett Johansson, Richard Jenkins, Tony Shalhoub

What was it about?
A laconic, chain-smoking barber blackmails his wife's boss and lover for money to invest in dry cleaning, but his plan goes terribly wrong.

My two cents:
I have noticed that, even though it was very well received when it was released, it is pretty much forgotten nowadays but I think it might actually be one of the Coen brothers's best movies. First of all, the whole thing looked quite gorgeous and their directing style was just perfect for such a film noir. Furthermore, back in those days, I wasn’t really familiar with Billy Bob Thornton (at the time, he was more famous for his marriage with Angelina Jolie than his actual acting skills) but he was pretty impressive and he gave here pretty much one of his best performances. He definitely displayed some potential and it’s too bad he seems to get stuck in his 'Bad Santa' mode nowadays. Anyway, the rest of the cast was really solid as well.

My rating: 08/10

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People who added this item 2519 Average listal rating (1625 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.8


Cast : George Clooney, John Turturro Tim Blake Nelson, John Goodman, Holly Hunter

What was it about?
Homer's epic poem "The Odyssey", set in the deep south during the 1930's. In it, three escaped convicts search for hidden treasure while a relentless lawman pursues them.

My two cents:
On his journey to become one of the most interesting actors at work nowadays, this movie was definitely a milestone in George Clooney’s career. Indeed, it was the first collaboration between Clooney and the Coen brothers and arguably the best movie they made together. To be honest, I actually had some mixed feelings about this one but it is something I experienced with almost all the movies directed by the famous siblings. The main issue I always had with their work is that it all depends on my mood. Indeed, depending on when I would watch one of their movies, I would either love it or it would make me a little bit indifferent. Well, I actually saw this movie when it was released in the movie theater and, back then, even though I thought it was a nice watch, I can’t say I was completely blown away. Eventually I enjoyed it much more the 2nd time around. Basically, it is a nice wacky story with some solid directing, some awesome music and one of the best performances by Mr Clooney.

My rating: 08/10

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People who added this item 4117 Average listal rating (2686 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.2


Cast : Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tara Reid, Peter Stormare, Flea, John Turturro

What was it about?
"Dude" Lebowski, mistaken for a millionaire Lebowski, seeks restitution for his ruined rug and enlists his bowling buddies to help get it.

My two cents:
Surprisingly, according to the IMDb ratings, this movie is, the best one delivered by the Coen brothers so far. On the other hand, it does have a huge cult following. Personally, I actually always go back and forth with this movie. Indeed, depending on my mood, I would find it really awesome but, at some other moment, it would be just decent only. In fact, I actually saw the damned thing in the movie theater when it was released and, at the time, I thought it was a step down from ‘Fargo’ but, after a few re-watch, it did grow on me after all. Anyway, there was plenty of stuff to enjoy in this flick, no doubt about it. Indeed, the cast was just awesome and, like anyone else, I especially loved Jeff Bridges who gave here his best and most legendary performance. Finally, it was probably the funniest movie those guys made so far.

My rating: 08/10

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People who added this item 3278 Average listal rating (2144 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8.1
Fargo (1996)


Cast : William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare, Frances McDormand

What was it about?
Jerry Lundegaard's inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen's bungling and the persistent police work of pregnant Marge Gunderson.

My two cents:
It is above all thanks to this flick that the Coen brothers became pretty huge. I mean, before that they had a solid cult following (my older sister, for example, introduced me to their work even before this movie was released) but it is only after this feature came out that their popularity grew up exponentially. Personally, I have a strange relationship with this movie. The first time I watched it, I thought it was great, the second time, it was just Ok, the third time, it was great again, the fourth time, just ok again.... Weird ain't it ? I guess, it all depends on my mood. Still, there is a great cast, they all delivered some terrific performances and, if you are in the right mood, the whole thing is funny as hell.

My rating: 08/10

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People who added this item 716 Average listal rating (443 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.3


Cast : Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Newman, Charles Durning , Bruce Campbell

What was it about?
A naive business graduate is installed as president of a manufacturing company as part of a stock scam.

My two cents:
To be honest, it has been a while since I have seen this movie and I should definitely re-watch it at some point. Anyway, even though it is probably not one of the most popular flicks directed by the Coen brothers, I still have some fond memories concerning this movie. Indeed, if I’m not mistaken, it was the first movie directed by those guys that I saw. I must have been 15 years old, I remember it very well, back then my sister was talking all the time about this movie that just came out and I really had to see it according to her. And she was right, I really enjoyed it and I was quite blown away by their directing style. Back in those days, the Coen brothers already had a faithful fan base but it’s only with ‘Fargo’ (their following directing effort) that they would finally have their first major breakthrough. Anyway, coming back to our main feature, Tim Robbins was pretty good here as well. However, I have to admit that the story was fairly entertaining but nothing really mind-blowing though.

My rating: 07/10

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People who added this item 1265 Average listal rating (713 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.7
Barton Fink (1991)


Cast : John Turturro, John Goodman, Judy Davis, Tony Shalhoub, Steve Buscemi

What was it about?
In 1941, New York intellectual playwright Barton Fink comes to Hollywood to write a Wallace Beery wrestling picture. Staying in the eerie Hotel Earle, Barton develops severe writer's block. His neighbor, jovial insurance salesman Charlie Meadows, tries to help, but Barton continues to struggle as a bizarre sequence of events distracts him even further from his task.

My two cents:
Even though this movie seems to be overlooked nowadays, it was another big critical success for the Coen brothers. Indeed, they even managed to win the Golden Palm at the Cannes film festival. Well, to be honest, even though I thought it was not bad, I actually always had some mixed feelings about the damned thing. In fact, I even watched it a couple of times to make up my mind for good and to make sure I didn't miss anything the first time around but I still ended up with the same feeling. Basically, in my opinion, it must be the least accessible movie made by the Coen brothers so far, even more than 'A Serious Man' which was already terribly obscure. I mean, it is definitely a good movie with an interesting mood and some typical Coen characters but I can't say I was blown away by the whole thing. It is not very often that came across a movie like this one who seems to be about something deep and, yet, I wasn’t able at all to grasp what those guy were trying to achieve here.

My rating: 07/10

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People who added this item 1095 Average listal rating (655 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.8


Cast : Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, John Turturro, Albert Finney, Steve Buscemi, Frances McDormand

What was it about?
Tom Regan, an advisor to a Prohibition-era crime boss, tries to keep the peace between warring mobs but gets caught in divided loyalties.

My two cents:
The attention to the details, the weird characters, the dark humor, the slow tempo, it has everything and it is a very typical Coen flick. For the Coen brothers, it is when they really started to get serious. Indeed, ‘Blood Simple’ and ‘Raising Arizona’ were both pretty good and they both became eventually cult-classics but they were rather modest when you consider the scale and, with this flick, you could see that the two siblings were getting quite ambitious. Basically, it is a gangster flick with a rather slow pace but it is a great mix combining the Coen brothers directing style with the gangster-prohibition genre. Personally, each time I watch this flick, I enjoy it even more but, with its rather slow pace, I still believe it is an acquired taste. The cast was also pretty terrific with an all-time best performance by Gabriel Byrne but the rest of the cast was really solid as well.

My rating: 08/10

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People who added this item 1326 Average listal rating (834 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.4


Cast : Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter, John Goodman, Frances McDormand

What was it about?
When a childless couple of an ex-con and an ex-cop decide to help themselves to one of another family's quintupelets, their lives get more complicated than they anticipated.

My two cents:
The point is that I always had some rather mixed feelings about this flick (like most of the movies directed by the Coen brothers as a matter of fact). And, apparently, I’m not the only one feeling this way. Indeed, on one hand, it is nowadays regarded as a cult-classic but, on the other hand, some other people like Roger Ebert really didn’t care for the whole thing. In my opinion, it is indeed quite a wild comedy but, that’s also the problem, it is actually so wild and so over-the-top, it makes it actually rather difficult to take the whole thing seriously. Still, there were many things to enjoy here. For example, even though some people consider Nicolas Cage as one of the worst actors in the world, he actually worked with some of the greatest directors ever and, in this movie, he gave one of his unique weird performances and he was just pretty awesome.

My rating: 07/10

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People who added this item 63 Average listal rating (43 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 5.8
Crimewave (1985)
It was actually directed by Sam Raimi, the Coen brothers wrote the screenplay.

A movie directed by Sam Raimi and written by the Coen brothers did sound amazing on paper but the end-result was just awful and, unsurprisingly, Raimi has disowned the whole thing. Basically, it was some kind of weird manic black comedy but it was never funny and entertaining at any moment, in fact, it was rather even seriously annoying to watch. I mean, seriously, it is one of those movies that provides a cartoon noise each time there is a lame joke which is probably one of the most useless gimmicks ever used in a film.
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People who added this item 767 Average listal rating (456 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.7
Blood Simple. (1984)


Cast : Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya, M. Emmet Walsh

What was it about?
A rich but jealous man hires a private investigator to kill his cheating wife and her new man. But, when blood is involved, nothing is simple.

My two cents:
The most impressive thing about this directing debut was to see that the Coen brothers had their own style right from the very beginning. I mean, right from the very first minutes, with this very sarcastic voice-over, they established their very own tone and style, and 30 years later, they still have this unique touch which is quite remarkable. Since they were just starting, the scale was rather small, you just had a handful of characters, and, to be honest, the story was a little too pedestrian but, like I said before, they were above all interested in the mood and they definitely succeeded in this area. The other interesting thing about this flick is how they created no character who seemed smarter than the rest, they were all guided by their impulse and sometimes rather poor judgement and it would definitely become another trademark in their work.

My rating: 07/10

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The 4th list in this serie wil focus on the Coen Brothers. Honestly, I do think that they tend to go get overhyped but their work remains damned interesting. Enjoy!

Added to

36 votes
A Complete Review of various directors' work (46 lists)
list by johanlefourbe
Published 5 years, 3 months ago 7 comments
6 votes
A Complete review of various directors' work (8 lists)
list by chandu
Published 5 years, 2 months ago



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Comments

Posted: 5 years, 3 months ago at Aug 17 16:02
Nicely done again, man. The Coens' films generally get better with repeat viewings as there's a lot going on in each to pick up on. Raising Arizona was my first film of theirs to watch, then Fargo which I didn't like the first time I watched it, then O Brother, Where Art Thou? really got me into their films.

Still need to watch 3 of these.
Posted: 5 years, 3 months ago at Aug 17 17:20
Impressive, as before... I agree with most of the things you've said, especially on Big Lebowski and Miller's Crossing
Posted: 5 years, 2 months ago at Aug 30 6:42
Fargo is my hands-down favorite of the bunch. From there it kind of rotates depending upon what I've seen most recently. Miller's Crossing is the one that I definitely need to revisit the most. Still need to watch Hudsucker. And eventually Ladykillers.

Nice job!

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