December 16, 2013 |
Despite the new (old) setting - the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early '60s - the character Oscar Isaac plays in Inside Llewyn Davis has much in common with many of the sorry souls who populate previous Joel and Ethan Coen affairs. There are shades of Billy Bob Thornton's barbershop sap from The Man Who Wasn't There , of Michael Stuhlbarg's Job-ian loser in A Serious Man , and of John Turturro's playwright-gone-Hollywood-turned-doomed dreamer in Barton Fink . "That's what's so great about Joel and Ethan," says Isaac.
October 16, 2009 |
A Serious Man, the Book of Job according to the Coen Brothers, is set to the music of Jefferson Airplane. This unsettling, shaggy, surrealistic pillow of a movie - a mixed bag more funny-strange than ha-ha - goes something like this: There was a man in the land of Minneapolis, circa 1967, whose name was Larry Gopnik. That man was blameless and upright, one that feared God and eschewed evil. There were born unto him one son, about to become a bar mitzvah, and one daughter, secretly taking money from Larry's wallet to procure a nose job. His substance was an associate professorship in physics at the university, where he had 7,000 calculations and 500 proofs and was up for tenure, and a tidy suburban split-level with a television antenna unreliably receiving signals of F Troop and from God. It was not Larry's students who were tested; it was Larry, the man of science who cannot explain the mystical tragedies that befell him. He was blackmailed by a student, betrayed by his wife, deceived by his children, and the victim of slander.
June 22, 2007 |
Who knew Karen Carpenter was scary? In 1408, a Stephen King spookfest set in a seriously poltergeisted hotel, the clock radio keeps clicking on the same old song. It's the Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun," over and over and over. Even when travel writer Mike Enslin (John Cusack) yanks the cord from the wall, the tune keeps playing. It's enough to make you scream. An entertainingly hairy paranormal affair based on a King short story, and directed by Swede-gone-Hollywood Mikael H?fstr?m (the Jennifer Aniston/Clive Owen thriller, Derailed)
December 29, 2000 |
A unique conflation - nobody else could have done this, or would have contemplated doing it - of Homer's The Odyssey, Southern-fried bluegrass and gospel, convicts-on-the-lam movies, and The Wizard of Oz (yes, with George Clooney as a pomaded, silver-tongued Dorothy), O Brother, Where Art Thou? finds Joel and Ethan Coen in one of their less serious, but no less poetic modes. Grabbing references from hither and yon (the title is lifted from the Preston Sturges classic Sullivan's Travels; Clooney's gelled coif and jaunty mustache straight from Clark Gable)
March 12, 1999 |
To call Myles Berkowitz's documentary "20 dates" a warts-and-all autobiography would be redundant. The guy is one giant wart - according to his ex-wife, his closest friends, his teachers, the women he dates, and himself. It is this last part that makes Berkowitz tolerable, and makes it possible to laugh at things that occur in "20 Dates," billed as the filmmaker's true-life attempt to find true love on 20 blind dates in Los Angeles. He begins the movie by describing his failed attempts at filmmaking and marriage, then announces his intention to combine these two failures into one giant disaster - a filmed account of his interaction with women.
February 26, 1999 |
I've been in some pretty nasty hotels. Once, while shaving at a roadside establishment, I noticed a foul smell and felt water dripping on my head. I called the manager and was informed that the toilet in the room above had overflowed. Nasty. But not as nasty as the hotels you see in "Eight Millimeter," where management cares so little about impressing the customer they just go ahead and paint the room black. What is that - the Johnny Cash Suite? If nothing else, "Eight Millimeter" erases the old "Barton Fink" standard for seedy, nightmare hotels.
March 1, 1998 |
After winning an Olympic medal or Super Bowl, some celebrities head for Disney World. Ethan and Joel Coen collected an Oscar for their Fargo screenplay last March and promptly went bowling. Bowling is the ostensible subject, sport, and metaphor of The Big Lebowski, which opens Friday. Just call it the next colorful stop in the exotic cinematic country known as Coenland. A curious place, Coenland is a destination that rewards the adventurous traveler seeking physical and mental challenges.
September 18, 1995 |
Just another Brooklyn guy sitting on his stoop shooting the breeze. "Just Do It" Nike T-shirt, shorts, cotton athletic socks. John Turturro is flailing his arms while he talks, his expressive face and gestures punctuating the late-summer day. Turturro may be a movie star, but he looks as if he never left the 'hood. He will never be a classic leading man - the big nose, crooked teeth and Queens accent make that a Hollywood impossibility. But you'd be hard-pressed to name a better character actor.
February 21, 1995 |
Rom, Max Grodenchik's character on "Deep Space Nine," is on the rise. In the upcoming episode "Prophet Motive," Rom, who is Quark's brother and Nog's father, finds himself in a most unusual position - in the good graces of Ferengi leader Grand Nagus Zek (Wallace Shawn). "To get a jump on making a profit in the Gamma Quadrant and to determine how best to steer the course of all Ferengi, the Nagus has sought the advice of the aliens in the wormhole," Grodenchik said by phone from his home in Glendale, Calif.
April 8, 1994 |
Nirvana is out and Smashing Pumpkins in as the headliner in this summer's fourth annual Lollapalooza tour, which starts July 1 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Also in the lineup - the Beastie Boys, the Breeders, George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars, A Tribe Called Quest, L7, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, and a group from Japan called the Boredoms, which specializes in "shrieks, gargles, growls . . . " No Philly date has been announced yet, but more stops are promised, and an Electric Factory spokesman said negotiations were underway to bring the tour here.