Tag Archive: joel and ethan coen


UK Release Date: 21st November 2012

Stars: Michael Hoffman (director), Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, Cameron Diaz, Stanley Tucci

Plot: An art curator decides to seek revenge on his abusive boss by conning him into buying a fake Monet, but his plan requires the help of an eccentric and unpredictable Texas rodeo queen.

Unfortunately, this is not a trailer for a film based around the universally popular X-Men character of the same name, even though if you type ‘Gambit trailer’ into Youtube you will just be forced to watch Taylor Kitsch as Gambit for a few seconds. What this Gambit actually is is a remake of the 1966 Michael Caine film and this trailer is bound to put a smile on anyone’s face.

Written by Joel and Ethan Coen you are guaranteed a hit really, it just seems a shame that they’re not actually directing this one. But since the script is from them you can anticipate lots of humour and great characters. Michael Hoffman’s most recent film was The Last Station which managed to get Oscar nominations for both Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer, so maybe Hoffman can once again get the best out of his cast here.

The trailer for Gambit gives us plenty to look forward to in terms of a charming-as-ever Colin Firth and a hilarious and naked Alan Rickman; it also gives us something not to look forward to: Cameron Diaz putting on a ridiculously annoying accent as if she wasn’t irritating enough already! Luckily, the trailer puts across a suave sense of style and sophistication which Colin Firth can carry single handedly, but it looks as though Alan Rickman will be allowed to let loose and will be the cause of much laughter come the end of November.

Joel and Ethan Coen are very very recognisable names in the world of film making with almost all of their films achieving critical acclaim, the same can be said of Christopher Nolan and his occasional collaborator, the less famous brother Jonathan Nolan. There is no doubt that these two sets of brothers have a huge talent for film making and I think everyone has at least seen a film by each of them, if not count it among their favourite movies of all time.

The Coens are two of only seven directors to win three Oscars for one film.

The Coen brothers are the seasoned professionals of the two having been making movies since Blood Simple in 1984. Joel and Ethan are a perfect partnership; they write, produce, direct and edit all of their films together and rightly share joint credits in doing so. Their back catalogue of movies includes big hitters such as The Big Lebowski, Fargo, True Grit and No Country For Old Men; there aren’t many directors that can claim to have such a wealth of superb films in their locker.

The year is 1998: enter Christopher Nolan. Nolan first worked with his brother Jonathan on the absolutely fantastic Memento, adapted from Jonathan’s short story. Whilst not working together on every project like the Coen brothers Christopher and Jonathan Nolan have written The Dark Knight (often cited as one of the best films of all time), The Prestige and one of the most anticipated films of this year, The Dark Knight Rises, together. Some might say these films have enough about them to challenge the very best of the Coen brothers themselves.

The working partnership between the two brothers is obviously very different but there is no doubt that all four individuals have a huge love for the cinema and a passion to bring incredible films to huge, happy audiences. The films that the brothers make are also very different in themselves; the Nolan films, aside from Memento, are huge blockbusters with big budgets, whereas the Coen films are smaller scale, more intimate and more character related (something that Christopher Nolan might disagree with but this is my opinion).

The Nolans’ The Dark Knight is considered one of the all time greatest movies.

If we go by the highest accolade in film making, the Academy Awards we would believe that the Coens were the better of the two partnerships, racking up 33 Oscar nominations for their films collectively, winning six of them, including two for screenwriting and one for directing. The films written by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan have garnered 12 nominations, including two wins. However, with the Nolans having done only three films together it is highly likely that if they continue to work together their Oscar count will rise higher than the Coens’.

In my opinion, the experience that the Coen brothers have over the Nolans gives them the edge and I really believe that they make some of the best movies of our time, True Grit and No Country For Old Men being two of my favourites of theirs. Whilst the Nolans do make terrific films, there is no doubt about that, I feel that they still have a long way to go before being as good as the Coens but if they continue on the road they are on and continue to write films together than I have no doubt that they will surpass the directing duo that currently sits at the top of the tree.

One thing is for sure though, I will continue to enjoy the films made by the Nolans and the Coens for as long as they make movies. Film fans are lucky to have two such magnificent partnerships working today to create absolute works of art.

The Coen brothers have been hugely successful in the world of film making. Joel and Ethan Coen have produced hit after hit including Fargo, The Big Lebowski and True Grit (to name but a few). Released in 1991, Barton Fink is a genre defying movie that has since garnered a huge amount of critical praise and still causes discussions to this very day.

Barton Fink is a writer who has made it big on Broadway, because of his success Hollywood now has that ‘Barton Fink feeling’ and he has been hired by a huge movie company to write a motion picture about a wrestler. Unfortunately, Barton Fink has writer’s block and it is not until he enlists the help of able assistant Audrey and his neighbour at the hotel, Charlie, that he manages to find some real-life inspiration from a very sinister source.

In the title role, John Turturro is absolutely fantastic and was unfortunate to miss out on an Oscar nomination in my opinion. His portrayal of the socially conscious and kind of awkward writer is a very good one and really peaks interest in the character of Barton Fink. John Goodman as Charlie Meadows, Barton Fink’s neighbour and new ‘friend’, also pulls off a good performance and puts across a warm feeling of that ‘ordinary man’ that  Fink describes. Although, out of all the performances in the film it is Steve Buscemi’s very small part as Chet that I really enjoyed; unfortunately Chet doesn’t feature that much (it would probably distract from the point of the film if he did), but Buscemi makes him a character that will never be forgotten in reference to this film with his comedic turn.

Visually and in terms of its direction, Barton Fink is an absolute masterpiece. The shots, symbolism, transitions and the use of mise-en-scene are encapsulated almost to perfection within the screen and the world of Barton Fink, it’s an absolute delight to look at. However, I feel that the story lacks a little bit of something special, a certain spark seems to have gone missing and the Coen brothers couldn’t find it, in my opinion. The first half of the film, I felt, drags an awful lot and it seems like it’s getting pretty boring in some places. But the pace picks up in the second half of the film and a lot of the deeper meanings of Barton Fink come through here; the action picks up, relationships are tried and characters change. If you can put aside the fact that it seems like halfway through the film the Coen brothers decided to change their story completely then you will enjoy the film.

I get the impression that Barton Fink is a film that needs to be watched on more than one occasion to truly enjoy this work of art, but unfortunately this is the first time I have watched it and, whilst I now know what to look out for in repeated viewings, I was getting bored watching it.I do plan on watching it again and maybe I will change my opinion of the first half of the film as it is this that I feel lets Barton Fink down.

An enjoyable film but not one of the Coen brothers’ best in my opinion.

My Rating: 6/10