Saturday, January 19, 2008

Why I Hate Coen Brother's Movies

I've often been intrigued that so many people enjoy the movies of Joel and Ethan Coen. Why do so many otherwise reasonable and intelligent people enjoy the faux sophistication of this trash? Or, to put it another way, why do I always walk away from these movies shaking my head.

In the latest issue of Chronicles, George McCartney reviews "No Country For Old Men," which I saw recently, and provides an answer: it's the worldview, stupid. McCartney writes:

"One can see why the Coen brothers were drawn to McCarthy’s novel. All their films invoke chance as the ultimate arbiter in life. From their first feature, Blood Simple, to The Man Who Wasn’t There, they have indulged in a smart-alecky existentialism that cleverly sneered at the very notion that life has any rhyme or reason. Events happen, their characters suffer or prosper, that’s all. No appeal to a higher order of meaning. Nothing makes any sense."


Nothing makes sense. Precisely! There was a scene of a UFO-sighting in "The Man Who Wasn't There" which was completely out of place, disconnected in any way from the "plot". When the movie finished, I watched the scene again accompanied by the Coen's commentary. It turns out that they weren't exactly sure why the scene was in the movie, either. There was no rhyme or reason, it was just there. This is what passes for cinematic brilliance.

39 Comments:

Blogger Mary-Beth Shine said...

I'm so glad that there are others out there who find the Coen Brothers overatted, immature movie geeks. All style and no soul.

9:40 AM  
Blogger NOOGIE BROWN said...

Hooray. I'm not the only one.

I have struggled to see the appeal of various films of theirs that I have attempted watching. I find I have no interest in the characters and stop paying attention after a while. It's not like I can see the appeal of the movies, but they just happen to not appeal to me (like say classical music), it's that I fail even to see why these films would appeal to anyone.

5:44 AM  
Blogger Irreligious said...

I hate the Coens' movies, and I always have. I've never been able to figure out why the hell so many people rave about garbage like "No Country For Old Men", or "O Brother, Where Art Thou", or "The Big Lebowski". I don't find them funny when the supposedly are, and I don't find them entertaining. It's a whole lot of bullshit that makes no sense, and as was pointed out, that passes for cinematic brilliance.

I think most people are simply afraid to go against the grain. You're "supposed" to like this crap, and it's common to be afraid to criticize something that is wildly popular. Me, I'm not built that way. I couldn't care less what anyone else thinks.

We're in for a treat--another load of crap is forthcoming as I write this (August, 2008). It's called "Burn After Reading".

Oh boy!

8:56 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

Oh my God, I can't believe I've found others like me. I HATE their movies, ever since I was totally abused by Barton Stink. Their movies are the most borrrring crap on this planet. Then again, I feel the same way about the majority of Woody Allen flics.

9:46 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...

Yes boys and girls, we are not alone. Randy, I can't quite say the same about Allen. Though I think his view of the world is similar to the Coen's I think he pulls it off better in movies like 'Crimes and Misdemenors' as well as 'Match Point'. And his older stuff was funny.

Noogie is right--I hate all of their characters. Even the one movie I find tolerable, 'Raising Arizona', is filled with characters who are complete pieces of dung.

I wasn't aware that another movie was on the way. I've often been stupid enough to watch their stuff in the past, but no more.

6:10 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

I have only seen 2 Cohen brothers movies in the past and could not see the appeal that they seem to have to the masses. I decided to give Burn After Reading a chance, mostly because we were too late to catch anything else at the theater. I'm very sorry that I sat through that piece of crap. Had I driven myself to the theater I would have walked out. I hated virtually all aspects of the movie and could not crack a smile whenever the rest of the audience erupted with laughter. The worst thing about leaving the theater was wondering why it had evoked such an ill response from me while everyone else seemed to think it was great. What did they see that I didn't? I was grateful to come home and find this blog. I've decided that if I ever feel the need to watch something with characters that contain as much sensibility as they do in the Cohen's movies I will stay home and watch Cops.

1:58 AM  
Blogger Darrell said...

Mike,

It took me a long time to figure out what the Coen's appeal is, and really I still don't get it. I think your comment about the response of those watching the movie is interesting. It is demonstrative of some sort of flaw in us that we find this "entertaining."

8:16 AM  
Blogger Gautam Mahajan said...

I hate these idiots!!The movies make NO SENSE have no endings and have no plot!!Are people truly retarded to actually find pieces of turd like 'Fargo' and "No country for old men' GOOD?Please tell me what it is about these movies that I am supposed to like..Please someone..I beg of you..tell me if there is anything I can say was even tolerable about these crappy "movies"..I could kill those two for making me go through three hours of torture..

3:39 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Look cunts,
Not every movie has to be the mainstream, heroic Hollywood blockbuster shit that nonintellectuals like yourself are used to. The Coen Brothers evoke an artistic response in the minds of their viewers in a manner that very few other directors or filmmakers can achieve. Sure, there isn't a gigantic explosion to culminate their films like you would find in 95% of Fox productions, but there are plots, there are characters, and there are occurrences that are left up to chance. They definitely aren't as entertaining as you usually find, but they make a deeper comment on our society. The Coens are considered great by so many because A. they're outstanding filmmakers (if you know anything about film, cinematography, editing, narrative, etc. you'll know that); and B. they take a very artistic, unconventional approach to purport a complex worldview that we experience from all of their movies even if we can't readily throw that philosophy into a sentence.

Just don't watch Coen Bros. films if you NEED to see shit blow up and the guy get the hot girl. They aren't for you. But if you actually care to seek a deeper meaning in film as an art, then approach their films with an open mind and I promise you that you'll see something there.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Darrell said...

Well, Doug, that certainly was a highbrow, very intellectual response.

Indeed the Coen's do make cultural comment and it is post-modern BS through and through.

Are you a U of M student? That would explain the very cerebral and scholarly nature of your commentary.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Mary-Beth Shine said...

Hi Doug, I mean cunt...

The last films I saw and loved were Man on Wire and My Name is Albert Ayler. I studied art history and film history as an undergraduate. I see action films, art house films, documentaries, the whole gamut. I have no snobbery about movies or films or whatever you call them. My comment had nothing to do with mainstream vs. art film. The point is that those of us who have posted here feel that there is no deeper meaning to the Coen Brothers movies. I find no soul in their movies. They are nowhere near an Altman or a Cassavetes.

9:44 AM  
Blogger jase said...

I feel that the coen brothers tell stories that do not need to be told. People who claim to enjoy films such as no country for old men are suffering from the emperors new clothes syndrome, they pretend to enjoy the film in a vein attempt to not look stupid.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

It seems like the coen brothes need to take an 'introduction to screenwriting' course at their local community college. In all their films they leave out fundamental elements of narrative that leave me and you unmoved and uncaring of their characters. Whenever someone tells me they enjoyed a coen brother movie it’s easier to assume they are a pretentious twat.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Nikola said...

Doug, you're little fag.
Why don't you go and suck some dicks like you always do, just this time make a video about it and then send it to those two retards - Coen brothers. Then, they can make movie about that. The plot is - you're cock sucker. And at the end, a brick falls on your head by accident and you're dead.
The name of the movie should be "No country for Doug-cocksucker"

7:59 PM  
Blogger My Life is Pink said...

I was tortured nearly to death last night by watching A SERIOUS MAN.

Coen Brothers=Stupidity and No Plot.

Sorry, but movies like The Hurt Locker should win the Oscar this year. Not crap like A Serious Man or Inglourious Basterds.

6:02 PM  
Blogger Shanna said...

Doug,

I appreciate your words in favor for the Cohen Brothers films. In my opinion most people that claim that these films have no plot and that they create a sense of no rhyme or reason to life are probably very religious. Have you ever considered that there really is no rhyme or reason to life. No heaven no hell. Just this one life to live. I am not here to judge, there very well may be a God. It would be a lot more comforting then the idea of here today gone tomorrow. It offers a sense of hope. If you are religious open your minds to a simpler life. A better way to explain their movies is to understand they are giving you a glimpse of a story. It doesn't need a beginning or end. It just is. It's life.

And I completely agree with this statement as well:

"Just don't watch Coen Bros. films if you NEED to see shit blow up and the guy get the hot girl. They aren't for you. But if you actually care to seek a deeper meaning in film as an art, then approach their films with an open mind and I promise you that you'll see something there."

1:09 AM  
Blogger Sandaltan said...

I just watched "A Serious Man". I do seek movies that have depth unlike most of the hollywood blockbusters. Even though the Coen Brother's movies are supposed to be thought provoking and artistic, I can't help myself from feeling, afterwards, that I completely wasted my time. Yes, there may be interesting points for discussion, but that doesn't change the fact that I hated the movie.

11:41 PM  
Blogger Thomas said...

I saw the original (John Wayne version) of True Grit two days before seeing the Coen Brothers version. The latter has excellent performances from the four leads, but the movie is really not worth seeing. It is a remake of the superior original with some extra and superfluous scenes glommed on, possibly to support their claim that they were 'truer to the source material'. Someone should tell them that it don't help to put crap in a movie just cause it's from the book! Unforgivably, they made the movie butt ugly, unlike the original and unlike so many of the older westerns that celebrated the natural beauty of the land. I was never a big fan of Duke Wayne, but, by God, he was a force of nature (though not a great actor) and that was a quality supremely evident in the original. Nothing remotely like that was in this limp remake. Sorry, Jeff, Matt, and the others, your considerable talents were wasted, although this movie will probably give a big boost to your careers and bank accounts.

11:12 PM  
Blogger Flubly said...

This whole thread of comments is ridiculously self-indulgent ranting. Most of you, if pressed, would say that it's all taste anyway and yet you all are in rages claiming that these movies are objectively awful. These movies are bad because you find them boring and stupid? That's so experiential and invalid. Obviously those arguments are rendered irrelevant if you can find ONE person that has had a different experience with the movie. You think them pretentious? Who cares, I don't think they're pretentious. Are you going to scientifically prove that I'm wrong because my brain is broken and I can't interpret them correctly? I suggest actually working through your ideas, rather than taking comfort with like-minded people who are irrationally angry at an entertainment medium and just as inable to perform basic logic.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Mary-Beth Shine said...

then why, flubly, do you feel compelled at all to respond? don't nock a forum for opinions - it only got ugly when someone called the respondents to an open forum "cunts." that's the only rant i see her. i marvel when people get on high horses and say "who cares," insinuate that they are above judgement, and then they, like you, judge. go figure. all any of this is is opinion. why join the thread if you are so enlightened?

8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i love coen brothers movies, for several reasons. they are completely original and are true artists, you can't disagree with that. they combine their own stylistic ideas with sort of a "film history" lesson by paying tributes to old genres or to old movies themselves (you cannot deny the genius of the wizard of oz KKK scene in O Brother). whether you notice or not, there does seem to be an underlying philosophical meaning behind their movies, that are not explicit and require the viewer to interpret meaning based on his own viewing experience. that is what art should be. i mean seriously, how can anyone NOT like the big lebowski? don't take it seriously, at all. the movie is a 100% laugh riot, not one second of the movie should be taken seriously.

4:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said, Coen movies are shite. I have made a point to avoid their movies as they struggle to put together something coherent. I don't get why people rate their movies so highly. I've never found any of their movies enjoyable, clever or interesting. I think people are sucked in by the meaandering nature of their movies and think it must be "artistic" due to it. I would guess people who enjoy their movies are those who haven't seen many movies away from the mainstream or are just a little slow.

4:48 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

I watched Burn After Reading, Fargo, O Brother Where Art Thou, No Country For Old Men, etc... And I'll agree, there are funny moments and insightful quirks that I enjoyed. However my personal taste requires a little more entertainment for $7.50 and a few hours of my time. I'll definitely agree with whomever said that the Coen Brothers' films are very realistic, in that arbitrary events in the films reflect what our lives are really like. So next time you want to experience that, I strongly recommend that you stand up and walk outside. I find this much more fulfilling than relying on some film makers (who I personally find immature) to show me what life is REALLY like. Without getting too philosophical here I'd rather not watch Coen Brothers movies, and I'm not the sort to watch strictly Michael Bay or Christopher Nolan films either. I just like movies, and if they're good I might recommend them or watch them again. Burn After Reading, however, was back on its way to Netflix as soon as I could get it in the mailbox. And that's about it.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Stephen Carty said...

Flubly, that is such a contradictory non-argument, which also reeks of a Coen appreciator trying to masquerade as a neutral.

I have never found much merit in any of their movies (aside from Miller's Crossing, which actually wasn't bad) and was glad to find this post.

Reason being, nobody here is trying to prove that the Coens are definitively bad - it's just nice to find others of a like-mind. You'd know this if you were as logical as you attempt to appear.

Mary-Beth was spot-on, it only got ugly when a defensive Coen fan came in, dropped the C-bomb and went off-tangent on a rant presuming that the only reason anyone doesn't like Coen movies has to be that they're a dumb action movie fan. Which isn't the case.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

coen brothers movies are all the same:
a. dumbass characters trying to swindle others
b. setting is in nowhere u.s.a.
c. something goes awry, usually a murder, and things get worse from then on
d. unfinished and unsatisfying endings

although they are visually excellent, the stories are shallow and never leave you thinking about anything profound or meaningful.

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tonight, I walked out of "no country for old men" aka "no movie for smart men" 15 painful minutes into the movie and 14 minutes too late. The production of the coen's psuedo-intellectual rubbish, which always seem to take place in some sort-of parallel universe inhabited by retards, are a waste of precious resources. The intellects of people who "get" and praise the coen's dreck are weak. Fuck me, but their movies really suck.

10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It especially sucks living here in Minneapolis because of the overabundance of pretentious half-wits who sing the praises of coen's in order to somehow validate their otherwise sad lives out here on the prairie.

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with a lot of your comments. The Coen films seem to be little more than empty, pretentious pieces of 'art' - akin to paintings of tinned soup - and I cannot understand why they receive such acclaim.

5:19 PM  
Blogger jj olla said...

Watching Coen movies is like eating a meal that is mostly delicious sauce.

By the time you reach the end, you realize there was no meat. You don't feel satisfied one bit.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Entity 81 said...

I just watched A serious man and found this blog. I liked the music and some of the cinematography...that's about it

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Stephen B. said...

BIG LEBOWSKI proves to be much funnier after seeing the movie a second time, or that was my personal experience.

Probably my favorite movie or one of the best gangster (fictional) era movies is MILLER'S CROSSING. It has style and substance and has a character that is - at best - an anti-hero. I've seen that movie countless times.

Are there other Coen movies I liked quite as much? No. But they have style, and I would submit the examples here that they are able to and do make good movies.

S

5:02 PM  
Blogger Bob robertson said...

Hi all.

I've just noticed that George clooney is starring in yet another Cohen bros film and it has prompted me to do something which I've wanted to do for a long time and which I never had time to do before ....that is "Google" "what is so good about Cohen bros films? "
I found this blog and am so relieved to find that I'm not alone on this planet in wondering why Cohen bros films leave me feeling empty at best and bemused at worst. I've watched probably all of them . I'm a cinema addict have been for twenty years so I've seen so many films from art house to out and out blockbuster nonsense.... But I still just don't get it?? .... I think I mostly agree with the earlier poster who said that its the " emperor' new clothes syndrome" ... It would be hard to be a top film critic and suddenly break out to citicize the Cohen brothers.
I do wonder if there are any analogous examples of film makers or authors or artists who seem to have had the same Svengali hold over consumers.. I certainly can't think of an example in cinema ....

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just watched o brother where art thou. I felt nausea on more than one occasion because I felt like something was actually wrong with me for not finding it one bit interesting. In turns out, something is wrong with the sheeple who acclaim this kind of bs.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant! That was funnier and more entertaining than the coen brothers have ever and will ever be. Doug, you're a moron. Do yourself a favour, put the cock down and put on any Tarentino film. Find out what it is to be entertained and not sedated.

9:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Serious man was a real torture. The genre of the movie was comedy and still I could not find anything funny about that.

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hate, hate, hate their movies. Overrated crud.

7:49 PM  
Blogger William Grady said...

I started to watch 'The Big Lebowski' once and I could never get into it. I have avoided their films ever since.

'Crimes and Misdemeanors' was a very good film. I disagree with Allen's conclusion but he pointed to some profound questions. The movie was laid out nicely too. 'The Purple Rose of Cairo' was really funny and creative. The supernatural part was handled just right. Again though, his atheism makes his conclusions depressing.

12:43 PM  
Blogger William Grady said...

I started to watch 'The Big Lebowski' once and I could never get into it. I have avoided their films ever since.

'Crimes and Misdemeanors' was a very good film. I disagree with Allen's conclusion but he pointed to some profound questions. The movie was laid out nicely too. 'The Purple Rose of Cairo' was really funny and creative. The supernatural part was handled just right. Again though, his atheism makes his conclusions depressing.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...

I love "Crimes and Misdemeanors." If you never watched it, you should see Allen's "Matchpoint." I thought it was effectively the same movie as "Crimes and Misdemeanors" only more consistent in its worldview (nihilism).

8:14 AM  

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