Joel & Ethan Coen


In each of the five films nominated for Best Director by the Directors Guild yesterday, overcoming an obstacle to become a winner drives the main characters. Micky needs to rid himself of his brother’s shadow and his own lack of self worth, Nina needs to rid herself of her repressed, infantilized vision of herself to become a perfect dancer. Cobb needs to overcome the guilt he feels in planting the idea in his wife’s head that the dream was the reality. And finally, George VI needed to overcome his fears of being King, of speaking publicly, of rising to the occasion and ruling a country at war.
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Craig Kennedy discusses True Grit
and prior business with the Coen Brothers

In many ways, Joel and Ethan Coen are responsible for me being a little bit crazy about movies. I was a late bloomer when it comes to movie fandom. I didn’t live and breathe movies when I was a little kid like many of the other movie freaks I know, rather I caught the bug late in high school. At that time I fell in love with the filmmakers who were already established as great: Hitchcock, Kubrick, Scorsese, Coppola, Altman, Hawks, Ford, and you can pretty much fill in the names yourself from there. They are received wisdom. I liked these directors at first because I knew I was supposed to like them.

Then in 1987 I discovered Raising Arizona and the Coen Brothers. Blood Simple came first of course, but I only saw that delightful bit of neo-noir sometime after I’d lost my Coen cherry with Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter as an unlikely couple who will do anything to start their own family. This was before “Coenesque” was an adjective. No one told me I had to like them. I found them all by myself and they represent the point at which I was transformed from a movie consumer into a movie lover.

The point is, the Coens are a very big deal to me personally so you might imagine the mixture of thrill and fear I felt when Sasha asked me if I wanted to interview them. Talking to them has always been a wish of mine, but the problem is they’re not exactly known for being an easy interview. They don’t appear to be comfortable talking about themselves and seem to prefer that the work speak for itself. Was I setting myself up to realize my biggest dream only to have it turn into my worst nightmare? Absolutely, but I also knew I’d regret it forever if I didn’t do it.

It turns out I needn’t have worried. Comfortably ensconced in their suite at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills as assorted publicists and manager types shuffled this or that buffet-gorged journalist from one room to the next like worker bees in a gigantic publicity hive, the brothers were relaxed and gracious and very easy to talk to. Continue reading…

Paramount offered passes to advance screenings of True Grit last night in a dozen cities across the country. If you were one of the lucky witnesses at these events, please let us know what you thought. The rest of us will have to be content with this clip and another one after the cut.

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