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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Coen Brothers Completism (Insecurities Included)


Do I have any company on the bell curve admitting it's often difficult to differentiate between what is popular and acclaimed vs. what our own opinion actually is about an art form? Take the eighteen films the Coen Bros. have released between 1984 (Blood Simple) and 2018 (Ballad of Buster Scruggs), for example. Because I've seen all eighteen once or more, my view is at least minimally informed. But starting there and then arriving at my own opinion of which film works best - given the whole popular/acclaimed thing - is tricky. I'm forced to instead rely on the less-than-erudite notion of which film I enjoyed most. And even that can get muddied by what was popular and/or acclaimed.      

If you share my film geekiness and semi-obsessive completism - i.e. you've seen all eighteen Coen Bros. films - which of them did you most enjoy? Burn After Reading tops my list. Many of the laughs from the Coen Bros. oeuvre can lodge in your throat; not so in this 2008 release. Add to the humor an incisive, timely script and unimprovable ensemble acting - topped off by Brad Pitt's portrayal of a dim-witted personal trainer - and you can't go wrong.

OK, now let me ease you into the danger zone. Provided you've seen them all, and putting aside the two most popular/acclaimed (Fargo & No Country for Old Men), which of the eighteen works best end-to-end? I'm going with Inside Llewyn Davis. It's possible my view is biased because the protagonist is a musician. But today I'm holding fast to my opinion that this 2013 release works as well or better, end-to-end, than the two more widely known and acclaimed films. Watch it and tell me what you think, my insecurities aside. 

Reflections From The Bell Curve: Stepping On Dreams


  1. Inside Llewyn Davis didn't depress you, being a musician as well? It felt melancholy to me.

    1. Anonymous; Thanks for the comment. Although that Coen Bros. film didn't depress me, I agree it was melancholy. But it was also a spot-on portrayal of how fickle the music industry can be and the protagonist was expertly written and acted, major warts and all.