Imagine successfully working with your sibling. Now imagine two siblings whose collaborative efforts rank them among the foremost directors of independent filmmaking. Meet Joel and Ethan Coen.
Happening upon the Coens’ films is comparable to finding $10 in an old pair of jeans, or discovering residual Halloween candy that sneaked under the couch while you were counting the loot with your little sister.
In other words, if you don’t know the Coen brothers, you don’t know what you’ve been missing.
In 1984, the duo released a neo-noir masterpiece called Blood Simple that was so remarkable; it not only established the Coen brothers’ filmmaking prowess, but also, according to Ronald Bergan’s book titled Film this movie "helped ignite the indie film movement."
In fact, currently on Rotten Tomatoes.com, a popular movie Web site, the "Critics Tomatometer" rates Blood Simple at a perfect 100 percent; whereas, the beloved film The Matrix (1999), for example, only has 86 percent. Sorry Keanu.
Many critics liberally toss around the term "must-see," but if any films merit such a description, the two following Coen films do.
Blood Simple (1984)-One of the biggest inconveniences of murder is knowing how and where to dispose of the body … and its remnants. Blood Simple is, like many Coen films, a peculiar blend of film noir, horror and even a little dark comedy. When an unscrupulous bar owner hires a low-life private detective to kill his adulterous wife, a troubling story of intrigue unfolds. Watching Blood Simple is most fun if, with each devious plot development, you continually ask yourself, "What would I do now?"
Fargo (1996)-This is another Coen movie that exponentially gets more fun as it progresses. "Based on a true story," Fargo is about a tragically flawed, financially strapped car salesman who hires two goons to kidnap his wife so he can collect on his rich father-in-law’s ransom money. But, of course, things go hideously wrong.
Blood Simple and Fargo are available for free rental in the UVSC library.
Want more Coen brothers? Though it’s not exhaustive, this list has a few of their other noteworthy films: Raising Arizona (1987), Miller’s Crossing (1990), The Big Lebowski (1998), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) and The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001).
Postscript: The Coen brothers’ new film, No Country for Old Men which hits theaters Nov. 21, has been receiving rave reviews at film festivals.