About the book
Equally at home in mainstream and independent cinema, in latterday film noir as well as comedy, The Coen Brothers are unique in the annals of modern movie-making. For the critic, they present an exquisite problem as, in films such as Barton Fink they mock the pretensions of art and load their films with red herrings and deceptively empty motifs, such as the hat in Millers Crossing. Yet despite the disingenuous tone of their interviews, the Coens are clearly masters of the cinematic craft and schooled in film history, as countless allusions in their movies attest.
In this Cahiers Du Cinema edition Ian Nathan guides us through their ouevre, their successes and their occasional failures (though no one made more interesting failures than The Coens), from the low-budget beginnings of Blood Simple to their greatest hit to date, the relatively “straight” True Grit. He handles his slippery, enigmatic subject matter expertly and shrewdly; “They have drawn criticism as frigid postmodernist but there is heart, just buried deep,” he writes. His analyses of Fargo, O Brother Where Art Thou? Are both rich in anecdote and critical assessment, while the wealth of photo stills impel you to the DVD shelves to revisit the Coen canon and the “dark, funny and peculiar map of the human predicament” that their take on America represents.