By Sonja Rasula
Hilarious, morbid, perfect, the work of genius — these are a few of the ways that the films of Joel and Ethan Coen, AKA The Coen Brothers, have been described. Their unmistakable style combines exceptional visual artistry, fascinating dialogue, bizarre plots and a twisted sense of humour. The duo direct, produce and write, all with a very classic documentary style. If you’re a fan of Quentin Tarantino, Woody Allen or Kevin Smith (Clerks/Mallrats), the Coen Brothers films are for you. Notice that all their films star actors and actresses that were relatively unknown when made, but are now all stars (many recognized by the Academy Awards). The following four movies are must sees, and all are available on video.
Raising Arizona, starring Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter, received lots of praise when it came out in the mid ‘80s. It’s about a female cop who falls in love with a petty thief she arrests numerous times. Trouble, confusion and stupidity ensue when they steal a baby to flee from its owners and the mob.
Barton Fink stars John Turturro, John Goodman and Judy Davis. A black comedy, it’s about a writer who stoops to his lowest when he reaches Hollywood only to get writers block. The impeccable story gets really twisted when he decides to associate with “trashy people,” thinking it may inspire his writing, and has to pull himself from the immoral slime he gets trapped in.
The Hudsucker Proxy, starring Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Paul Newman, got a mixed reaction from the media. Many didn’t like or understand the type of humour the Coens’ had produced. I LOVED it. Set in the ‘50s, a company plots to hire the dumbest man they can find to be president (thinking he will ruin the company, therefore lowering the stock value, therefore allowing them to buy out the stock for next to nothing) but the man throws them for a loop. A dense mail clerk accidentally manages to raise the stock value with his hip invention, the hula-hoop!
Fargo, their most recent movie, stars Steve Buscemi and a slew of relative unknowns. Critically acclaimed, this black comedy is about a desperate, debt-ridden man and his plans to have his wife kidnapped. A couple of dumb (and I mean dumb) delinquents, a pregnant police chief and other strangely surprising characters perfectly recreate rural Minnesota life. Murder, stupidity and pure charisma make this a jewel.