The Coen Brothers

Why Watch? The sheer joy of watching a Coen Brothers’ film in three minutes. This segment from To Each His Own Cinema (which should be seen by everyone ever) is like taking the last bite of your favorite desert. It’s completely satisfying with its slow comedy, Josh Brolin’s fish-out-of-water-who-thinks-the-water’s-fine behavior, and the pocket of truth that everyone here is trying to find in its most common form. Maybe that’s what’s so appealing here. There’s nothing false about this scene at all, and yet it’s still so funny. What does it cost? Just 3 minutes of your time. Check out World Cinema for yourself:

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Why Watch? A man walks into a Ralph’s, grabs a carton of half-and-half, and takes a sip. There are few movies that inspire annual celebrations, and there are fewer movies that turn their inspirations into celebrities. Jeff Dowd was already a certain type of celebrity after being part of The Seattle Seven, but he was introduced to the movie-going world when The Coen Brothers used him as the inspiration for The Dude in The Big Lebowski. This sharp documentary lets him tell his story which includes protesting, working with the Coens, and being His Dudeness at a Lebowski Fest in Miami. What does it cost? Just 18 minute of your time. Check out The Dude for yourself:

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Drinking Games

What would you do if someone broke into your house, peed on your rug and demanded that you pay a pornographer a boat-load of money that you really don’t owe him? Would you track down a millionaire with your name and demand a new rug? Would you get involved in a kidnapping scheme? Or would you just abide? Now that the Coen Brothers’ masterpiece The Big Lebowski is available on Blu-ray, you can contemplate these questions in high definition. And you might want to do so while drinking a white Russian.

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Constantly working. Always interesting. The Coen Brothers are creating at a Woody Allen-esque pace, and their next project is apparently going to focus on the Greenwich Village folk scene with its unwashed masses of poets, creatives, and crazies. Instead of Bob Dylan (who could totally still play himself), the writer/director/producers will tell the tale of Dave van Ronk. According to 24 Frames, the script will come partially with help and inspiration from van Ronk’s memoirs, titled “The Mayor of MacDougal Street.” The New York native stood at the threshhold between old timey music and a new wave of sonic stylings – playing unbelievable blues style guitar, improving in a modern way, but always exuding an air that came from the past. His stoneware jug filled with hooch sitting on stage helped. Telling his story no doubt leaves room for cameos from notables like Joni Mitchell and Dylan, but van Ronk was in the middle of a movement that extended beyond music, past politics, and into the streets. It could be a hell of a project. In an unrelated note, that brings us to Day 459 in the Search For the Missing Coen Adaptation of “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union.” Of course, they might just be making it and several other movies all at the same time. They could teach Malick a thing or too about scheduling.

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Criterion Files

When I write this column, I typically don’t get the opportunity to write about movies from my teen years. I, like many, came into a cinephilic love for art and foreign cinema during college, and in that process grew to appreciate The Criterion Collection. Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused (1993), however, is a movie that’s followed me through various changes in my life for (I’m just now realizing as I write this) about half of my time thus far spent on Earth.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk with sex symbol and film legend Angie Dickinson, discuss the parasitic relationship between studios and theaters, talk Bellflower‘s marketing strategy, and play a game we’re calling “Co-Directors.” Former assistant theater manager, massive film fan, and creative director at Rock Sauce Studios John Gholson explains how studios and theaters work together. He also makes a sex comedy featuring Andy Griffith seem just as enticing as it is in real life. Angie Dickinson has starred in over 50 films, played iconic roles from Rio Bravo to Ocean’s Eleven, and she was kind enough to spend some time talking to us about working with Sam Fuller and Frank Sinatra, creating her characters, and how movie-making has changed. FSR’s own Culture Warrior (and one of the Talking Heads) Landon Palmer braves a segment where we come up with directors we’d like to see work together, pitch a project for them, and figure out if it has a chance of getting made. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Murder sounds like it could be a massive hit. Plus, our very own Jeremy Kirk matches movie news wits with Peter Hall from Hollywood.com. Who will triumph at the sound of the correct answer bell and who will be forced to narfle the garthok? Loosen up your tie and stay a while. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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In case you didn’t catch it, there was a pretty awesome art show back in November. This art show was called Bad Dads, and featured some art inspired by the films of Wes Anderson. Well if you did catch it, you knew it was awesome. Now we have an exclusive to show you something ever more awesomer.

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With DJ Caruso directing Preacher, it becomes the second cult western literary adaptation to be taken on by an averagely talented, workhorse director (although Caruso doesn’t even come close to Ron Howard’s league). This might be the natural evolution of “geek” properties being co-opted by Hollywood. A decade ago, it was Sam Raimi bringing his Evil Dead prowess to a web-slinging comic of note. Now, the grittier material is getting notice, but middling directors will start earning the paycheck. So it goes. The list of directors who could bring the story of a Texas preacher man whose been imbued with the power of pure goodness and pure evil (and the power to command people to do his bidding) to life is a long one. So is the list of directors better suited than DJ Caruso. Here are just seven of them (ranging from the obvious to the not-so), but feel free to brainstorm more:

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Sound Works Collection has done a panel interview with the sound team of True Grit that is an interesting listen for a couple of reasons. They’ve gathered together longtime Coen collaborators Skip Lievsay, who is the Sound Re-recording Mixer and Supervising Sound Editor, Greg Orloff, who is also a Sound Re-recording Mixer, and Byron Wilson, who is a Dialogue/ADR Editor. Much of the interview centers on their work on True Grit, complete with clips of key scenes and their analysis of what they did and why to create the sound of the film. They go into not just the technical aspect of how they got the job done, but also explore the themes of the film and why they made the choices that they did in order to support the storytelling as a whole. It’s an interesting listen in that respect for audiophiles and prospective filmmakers.

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. If you’re thinking about going out to Hollywood, especially in the 1940s, to make it big – this trailer might have something to say about it. Pro tip: Don’t set up shop in a hotel next to John Goodman, don’t fall for the wrong woman, and don’t flirt with the Devil. Think you know what it is? Check out the trailer after the jump.

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As the only literate Reject, it’s my duty to find the latest, the greatest and the untouched classics that would make great source material for film adaptations. I read so you don’t have to. There has been a lot of commotion and debate surrounding the new edition of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” because it waters down the language (at least a certain part of it). It has shocked people that a classic could be so obliterated for the sake of political correctness, but the book was weakened years ago considerably – by movies. It’s time for a fresh cinematic take on Mark Twain‘s – a take that is gritty and hilarious and strongly-worded as the book truly is.

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Culture Warrior

It’s become common wisdom to say that the best remakes are those made of non-canonical, non-classic films; that is, it’s typically better to give a second go to a film that – while possibly venerated, is hardly deemed a work of perfection that can’t be improved upon – than to redo a classic. Such a rule isn’t set in stone, of course, but it can be argued through example via some of the most celebrated of remakes (like The Thing or, in a more modest and more recent example of improvement-on-imperfection, The Crazies), and are often a result of a genuine inspiration from the source material rather than a simple means of capitalizing from its name. With the Coen brothers’ quite popular and much celebrated remake of True Grit, however, the distinction of what kind of a remake it is isn’t exactly so clear, as what kind of movie the original is proves to be something of an enigma in of itself.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr dresses up in a big red suit and sneaks into people’s houses. The only difference is that he sneaks into the houses of all the naughty girls. But before he can manage that undertaking, he sets his sights on the last wash of movies hitting the multiplexes this season. He travels with Jack Black to the Bermuda Triangle in Gulliver’s Travels then heads out west to catch a killer with True Grit. Finally, he brings his Christmas movie watching to a close by stabbing himself in the face with Little Fockers. Ho ho ho, the humanity!

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There’s a core lesson somewhere inside the remake (or novel re-adaptation) of True Grit about pulling on bootstraps, feeling the bitter cold of the ride, and doing what needs to be done. Of course, that lesson is buried beneath a lot of snide remarks and funny moments. Even if the lesson is hard to find, the film itself is a reminder that there are few things quite as entertaining as seeing a snotty little girl and an eye-patched drunkard go exact a little buck shot revenge. Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) is desperate to track down the man who killed her father, so she enlists the reluctant help of sodden U.S. Marshal Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) who takes every opportunity to brag about himself. Through a tough ride in Indian Territory, Mattie comes gun barrel to gun barrel with murderer Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) with a chance to pull the trigger and right his wrong.

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Martin Scorsese

Last week I wrote about the history of the auteur theory and its strengths and weaknesses when applied to actual film practice. Regardless of the theory’s apparent problems, it’s clear that the idea of the auteur still holds great weight in framing the way even the most casual of filmgoer goes about experiencing cinema.

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Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

Read as we break down the films nominated for Best Picture and what their chances are of taking home the prize. We’re pretty sure it won’t be Crash.

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It’s Academy Awards time again, and even though we all know the awards are basically an irrelevant exercise in mutual masturbation it’s still fun to watch. This year sees a wide variety of films gain entry into Oscar history via nominations for Best Screenplay, Original and Adapted. Some deserve the honor, while others are based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire.

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So Lars Von Trier isn’t forcing Martin Scorsese to remake Taxi Driver. Who cares? Here are ten directors that the madman should punish for being geniuses.

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Fat Guys at the Movies

Kevin and Neil meet up in the Magical Studio in the Sky to have a Fat Guy Smackdown to beat all Fat Guy Smackdowns. While they don’t come to odds so much with A Serious Man, they certainly disagree about Michael Jackson’s This Is It.

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seriousman-header

Do you remember the movie Stranger Than Fiction? There’s a scene where Dustin Hoffman explains to Will Ferrell the difference between comedy and tragedy and has him tally up events that would fit into either genre. The Coen Brother’s new film, A Serious Man, seems to live this debate as I can’t really tell if it’s a dark comedy depicting tragic events or a tragedy with comedic characters.

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published: 04.17.2014
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published: 04.17.2014
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published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.16.2014
B+

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