THE COMPLETE COEN BROTHERS
February 8 - March 6
The Coen Brothers have created a dozen entertaining, often dazzling films over the past 20-odd years, and in this they are without peer among contemporary American filmmakers. In genre and tone, setting and period, they have roamed wild and free - across film noir, screwball comedy, gangster movies and thrillers, often in period settings and with regionalism in the foreground. Whether it's the Texas neo-noir of their debut, BLOOD SIMPLE; the colorful Capraesque New York of THE HUDSUCKER PROXY contrasted with the thoroughly noir California of THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE (two films set in the 1950s that couldn't be less alike); or their take on Homer's The Odyssey, O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?, set in the Depression-era South with bluegrass songs; the Coens' films put an original spin on any topic with which they engage.
The Coens have written the scripts for every one of their films, and their love of dialogue—especially the argot of the underworld and the local vernacular of rubes—may be their most abiding trademark. Genre-wise, they can't be pegged down as making a certain kind of film, but stylistically, they only make one: Coen Brothers films.
They've been regularly assisted by a team of top-notch collaborators, including five-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins, production designers Dennis Gassner and Rick Heinrichs, composer Carter Burwell, and, of course, editor "Roderick Jaynes" (a pseudonym for the brothers themselves) - not to mention an old-fashioned fondness for the character actors they've steadily employed in multiple films: Jon Polito; Steve Buscemi; John Goodman; Richard Jenkins; Tony Shalhoub; and John Turturro, all in roles both large and small, yet always at their best.
AFI Silver is proud to screen RAISING ARIZONA, BLOOD SIMPLE, THE HUDSUCKER PROXY, RAISING ARIZONA, INTOLERABLE CRUELTY, FARGO, THE LADYKILLERS, O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOUGH?, BARTON FINK, MILLER'S CROSSING, THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE and THE BIG LEBOWSKI.
Member passes will be accepted at all screenings in the Coen Brothers series.
Big-hearted policewoman Holly Hunter and reformed criminal Nicolas Cage make the perfect misfit couple, but no baby blesses their union ("Her insides were a rocky place where my seed could find no purchase.") The solution: redistribute one of the local celebrity quintuplets into their family. Quirkily comedic in the Preston Sturges mold and a leftfield hit, the film helped launch the careers of future Oscar winners Cage and Hunter. John Goodman steals his scenes as Cage's ne'er-do-well brother with family issues of his own.
DIR/SCR Joel Coen; SCR/PROD Ethan Coen. US, 1987, color, 94 min. Rated PG-13
Friday, February 8, 7:00; Saturday, February 9, 9:30; Sunday, February 10, 1:00; Tuesday, February 12, 9:10; Thursday, February 14, 7:00
1985 Grand Jury Prize, Sundance Film
The Coens' uncommonly assured debut film was a bona fide indie hit - in fact, it helped pioneer what an "indie hit" was. A Texas-set neo-noir full of grisly humor and a page or two stolen from the horror film playbook, the film features the Coens' first great screen villain in M. Emmet Walsh's Visser, a sleazy private eye hired by roadhouse proprietor Dan Hedaya to catch his cheating wife Frances McDormand. Greedy double-crossing and inventive plot twisting lead to a memorably thrilling climax.
DIR/SCR Joel Coen; SCR/PROD Ethan Coen US,1984, color, 94 min. Rated R
Friday, February 8, 9:15; Sunday, February 10, 9:30; Monday, February 11, 9:00; Wednesday, February 13, 9:20
THE HUDSUCKER PROXY
Tim Robbins goes from mailroom clerk to president of Hudsucker Industries in a single day, as the patsy in VP Paul Newman's scheme to devalue Hudsucker's stock before making a big grab. But Robbins's goofy product ideas—"you know, for kids"—actually pan out (namely the hula hoop). 1950s-set but 1930s-styled, the films boasts elaborate art deco sets, natty costuming and a bravura performance by Jennifer Jason Leigh, who, as a newshound sniffing out the dope on Hudsucker's new chief, channels Rosalind Russell in HIS GIRL FRIDAY by way of Barbara Stanwyck in MEET JOHN DOE with a Katharine Hepburn veneer.
DIR/SCR Joel Coen; SCR/PROD Ethan Coen; SCR Sam Raimi. UK/Germany/US, 1994, color, 111 min. Rated PG
Saturday, February 9, 3:05; Sunday, February 10, 3:05
Hotshot divorce attorney George Clooney goes ga-ga for golddigger Catherine Zeta-Jones, even while successfully defending husband Edward Herrmann against her. Later, handling the pre-nup for her second marriage to Texas oil magnate Billy Bob Thornton, he's gulled into thinking she's a changed woman -making him the perfect candidate for husband number three. Criminally underrated, this screwball comedy with a mean streak delivers big laughs, sure to please Valentine's Day celebrants and detractors alike.
DIR/SCR/PROD Joel Coen; SCR Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen; PROD Brian Grazer. US, 2003, color, 100 min. Rated PG-13
Thursday, February 14, 9:10; Friday, February 15, 9:15, Sat., February 16, 9:45
1997 Best Screenplay Oscar and 1997 Best Actress Oscar, Frances McDormand
The Coens' signature film is a hardboiled crime drama laced with flaky humor, local color, and deliriously memorable character grotesques. Hard-up used car dealer William H. Macy engineers the kidnapping of his own wife to ransom to his in-laws, but his hired goons Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare botch the job. Macy might have gotten away with the coverup, too, if it wasn't for sharp-eyed, quick-thinking and very pregnant Detective Marge Gunderson. "You betcha." Nominated for seven Oscars, with the brothers winning for Best Screenplay and Frances McDormand winning Best Actress for her much-loved turn as Marge.
DIR/SCR Joel Coen; SCR/PROD Ethan Coen. US, 1996, color, 98 min. Rated R
Friday, February 15, 7:00; Saturday, February 16, 7:30; Sunday, February 17, 3:00, 7:30; Tuesday, February 19, 9:00; Wednesday, February 20, 9:00; Thursday, February 21, 7:00
The Coens remake director Alexander Mackendrick's London-set dark comedy in Biloxi, Mississippi, with Tom Hanks essaying Alec Guinness's famous role as a con-man who thinks he can deceive an elderly landlady long enough to pull a heist from her property. Hanks leads a gang that includes motor-mouth inside man Marlon Wayans and demolitions expert/klutz J.K. Simmons. Irma P. Hall has many of the best lines as the not-so-frail little old lady, a performance that won her a Jury Prize at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.
DIR/SCR/PROD Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, based the movie by William Rose; PROD John Cameron, Tom Jacobson, Barry Josephson and Barry Sonnenfeld. US, 2004, color, 104 min. Rated R
Sunday, February 17, 9:40; Monday, February 18, 9:20; Thursday, February 21, 9:10
O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?
George Clooney mugs and charms his way through the Depression-era South, escaping from a chain gang with fellow cons John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson and circuitously making his way back to wife Holly Hunter in a winking parody of Homer's The Odyssey. Along the way Clooney and company pull a bank job with Baby Face Nelson, encounter backwoods magic, escape one-eyed Bible-selling maniac John Goodman, break up a Ku Klux Klan rally in high style and cut a hit single as the Soggy Bottom Boys. The smash hit bluegrass and country soundtrack won a Grammy for producer T-Bone Burnett.
DIR/SCR Joel Coen; SCR/PROD Ethan Coen; SCR based on Homer's The Odyssey. UK/France/US, 2000, color, 107 min. Rated PG-13
Friday, Feb. 22, 7:00; Saturday, Feb. 23, 7:00; Sunday, Feb. 24, 7:00; Weds. Feb. 27, 9:30
1991 Palme d'Or winner, Cannes Film Festival
This "writer's nightmare" from the not-so-Golden Age of Hollywood plays like Nathaniel West crossed with David Lynch, and its Cannes win launched the Coens' international reputation. New York playwright and "champion of the common man" John Turturro tries his luck writing for Hollywood and soon finds himself toiling hopelessly on a "wrestling picture" for Wallace Beery. Panic-stricken, he begs for help from his novelist hero John Mahoney, a Faulkneresque souse who's slumming in the studios himself and not above letting his secretary do his work for him. But if Turturro weren't so self-involved, he might listen more closely to real common man John Goodman, his neighbor at the seedy Hotel Earle, who "could tell you stories that would make your hair curl."
DIR/SCR Joel Coen; SCR/PROD Ethan Coen. US/UK, 1991, color, 116 min. Rated R
Friday, February 22, 9:15; Sunday, February 24, 9:15; Monday, February 25, 9:10
The Coens' ripping yarn of 1930s gang warfare boasts some of the most pyrotechnic gunplay to riddle the screen-and verbal fireworks to match. Italian mob boss Jon Polito wants to rub out Jewish gambler John Turturro, but he's protected by Irish Godfather Albert Finney, who's sweet on Turturro's sister Marcia Gay Harden. Finney's righthand man Gabriel Byrne advises his boss against letting his heart interfere with business, but he's hardly one to talk, as he's got a thing with Harden on the side. By turns frenetic and poetic, comedic and melodramatic, this one-of-a-kind crime saga was initially overlooked (it had the misfortune to be released the same year as GOODFELLAS), but now ranks as one of the Coens' greatest films.
DIR/SCR Joel Coen; SCR/PROD Ethan Coen. US, 1990, color, 115 min. Rated R
Saturday, February 23, 9:15; Sunday, February 24, 3:00; Tuesday, February 26, 7:00
THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE
2001 Best Director, Cannes Film Festival
Shot in glorious black & white by the Oscar-nominated Roger Deakins, the Coens' homage to novelist James M. Cain is a moody, existential meta-noir. Sad sack barber Billy Bob Thornton gets suckered into Jon Polito's dry cleaning scheme, secretly blackmailing department store magnate James Gandolfini about his affair with Thornton's wife Frances McDormand. These things never go right, of course, and the Coens delight in following down the dominos. The terrific cast also includes Richard Jenkins, Tony Shalhoub and Scarlett Johansson. Best Director, 2001 Cannes Film Festival—Joel's third such honor.
DIR/SCR Joel Coen; SCR/PROD Ethan Coen. US/UK, 2001, b&w, 116 min. Rated R
Friday, February 29, 7:00; Saturday, March 1, 3:00; Sunday, March 2, 9:15; Monday, March 3, 9:00
THE BIG LEBOWSKI
"The Dude abides."
A case of mistaken identity embroils slacker Jeff "the Dude" Lebowski (a sublimely comic Jeff Bridges) in a kidnapping case and throws him into the role of hapless detective in the Coens' cockeyed homage to Howard Hawks's THE BIG SLEEP. The shaggy dog shenanigans and pixilated dialogue deliver gut-busting hilarity from start to finish; and a stellar cast all with great comic gusto, including John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro as bad-ass bowler "Jesus."
DIR/SCR Joel Coen; SCR/PROD Ethan Coen. US/UK, 1998, color, 117 min. RATED R
Friday, February 29, 9:30; Saturday, March 1, 7:30, 10:00; Sunday, March 2, 3:00; Tuesday, March 4, 9:00; Thursday, March 6, 9:00