Modern Matinees: The Coen Brothers

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Joel and Ethan Coen’s unexpected, often parodic twists on cinematic genres and historical events feature outrageous characters with offbeat regional accents and dubious work ethics. Which is ironic because the Coen brothers have worn many hats on set since their 1984 debut Blood Simple, which, like most of their subsequent films, was directed by Joel, produced by Ethan, and cowritten by the pair.

While their earlier films were twisted, injury-prone, identity-muddled capers in which characters are frequently mistaken for one another (see Raising Arizona, The Hudsucker Proxy,Fargo, and the ubiquitous The Big Lebowski), many later films, like The Man Who Wasn’t There, No Country for Old Men, and A Serious Man, have eschewed perverse comic ingredients in favor of melancholy character studies and examinations of human cruelty. This nimble dexterity across a range of genres has earned them legions of fans and plenty of award-season recognition, from Cannes to the Academy. All 35mm prints are drawn from MoMA’s collection.

Organized by Anne Morra, Associate Curator, Department of Film.