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11.08.17 Rowan's Six Years on Here 09.19.17 ranked: all of bojack
09.08.17 bojack season four 08.05.17 Rowbro ranks Coenbros
08.01.17 2017 fever, baby 05.02.17 American Gods
02.27.17 Rowan's Playlists Deux: The Doof Years01.15.17 Dream Bowie setlist
12.04.16 Rowan's Top 20(16) 11.09.16 Top 20 Alkaline Trio
10.20.16 Best Choruses10.03.16 Rowan's Playlists
09.19.16 Cool aussie stuff08.21.16 Top 10 Blink + Blink projects
06.11.16 Rowan1000 Ratings 03.05.16 Flawless Pop Songs
01.04.16 Best 36 Chambers verses12.15.15 Birthing Day Jams
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Rowbro ranks Coenbros

did I create this list purely for that title pun? wouldn't you like to know? I don't have the time/masochistic tendencies to watch like bad santa and gambit and all that so just the essentials
20Tyler, the Creator
Flower Boy

The Ladykillers/Intolerable Cruelty/Crimewave - not seen these ones yet so placeholder. (I Ain't Got Time - get it?)
19Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
Abattoir Blues / The Lyre Of Orpheus

Hail, Caesar!

SUMMARY: In a filmography full of very smart movies about very stupid people, Hail, Caesar! is a very stupid movie about very stupid people. Very few laughs are apparent in this film’s half-hearted, lazy indictment of the movie industry, and some very lacklustre satire about Commies doesn’t make for anywhere near a decent critique on the Blacklisting phase of the 50s. Despite one genuinely great scene that rides purely thanks to Ralph Fiennes’ astronomical talents – “would that it twere so simple, would that it twerrrre so simple” - about halfway through HC gives up all pretense of having pacing or plot and instead becomes a series of increasingly lacklustre spins on the “producer bad, writer good” scenes that are done thousands of times better in Barton Fink. Channing Tatum’s tap-dance sequence is excruciantingly bad and eye-rolling.

RATING: Ugh, like 2/5
18Alice in Chains

True Grit

SUMMARY: Jeff Bridges mumbles a lot but is generally likable. Josh Brolin has a cameo as the guy the movie is supposed to be about, but the plot gets bored with him and moves on pretty much as soon as he shows up. Matt Damon sticks around long past his expected deathpoint, and actually pumps out a decent character arc by the end. All the best lines go to Hailee Stanfield, who finds her way around the Coens’ dialogue more effortlessly than co-stars quadruple her age. To be fair this is almost definitely better than I think it is, but honestly *the Dude voice* I just fuckin' hate Westerns, man!

17The Hotelier

No Country For Old Men

SUMMARY: The Coens craft a stark, tense, brutal thriller, and in doing so lose a lot of their charm and filmmaking magic. As an adaptation No Country is nearly perfect, but as a film? A middle ground had to be found between McCarthy’s bone-stark, desolate words and the Coen’s whipcrack dialogue, but that compromise in this movie ends up on a whole lot of silence because there’s not a whole lot to say. No Country takes place in a kind of limbo, where characters move forward solely from inertia. An incredible performance from Javier Bardem and a truly tense atmosphere don’t necessarily elevate a movie that reaches for grim existentialism but leans more towards dour meandering. Fun fact – second time I watched this movie was at a friends’ house. About a minute before Tommy Lee Jones’ great monologue actually ends, there was a massive power blackout all across that half of the town.
16The Hotelier

(cont.) Had it not been for the lights flashing and the cries of confusion from the loungeroom, I’m honestly not sure I would have noticed it had finished early.

RATING: 3.3/5
Blood Enough For Us All

Blood Simple

SUMMARY: An understated, almost spartan debut. Such a straightforward story that you almost get confused about how the characters know so much less than you do, but the writing is so clean it creates a solid mystery for Frances McDormand’s character without there ever being one for us – an ironic twist on dramatic irony. Points lost for some really sloppy editing and pacing issues, but gained for the incredibly tense, almost dialogue-free sequences in the middle and end, and for M. Emmet Walsh’s gleefully voyeuristic, scenery-chewing turn as the first great Coen villain.

RATING: 3.6/5
14A Perfect Circle
Mer de Noms

The Hudsucker Proxy

SUMMARY: The brothers, with Sam Raimi in tow for whatever reason, pay homage to the 50s with a fast-talking, business-headed, triumph of the common man story revolving in multiple ways around circles which, fittingly, decides to run around in circles for most of its runtime. The best part is the first 30 or so minutes while our lead character is trapped in an underground mailroom – I would call it Kafkaesque if I had read Kafka/was looking to score with an attractive literature student – but once he gets to the top floor, the movie becomes just another exercise in fast-paced banter. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Prez from the Wire turn in terrific performances, while Tim Robbins is decent as another dumbass lead character. A little more than half-hearted feint towards injecting some biblical/religious bent at end – because what Coen film would be complete without? – and some fine camerawork do a little bit to elevate a weaker work.

RATING: 3.6/5
13Alkaline Trio
Maybe I'll Catch Fire

Burn After Reading

SUMMARY: What happens if you just throw a bunch of A-list actors at the Coens with a heap of money? Burn After Reading, apparently. This movie is pretty much a goof, like they made it as an outlet for their more fun tendencies on the side of No Country (I would not at all be surprised if this were true). The fuckin' incredible duo of Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt provide the majority of the film’s side-splitting moments; Malkovich and Swinton make good early impressions but fade into the background after half an hour or so, a side effect of the film’s pacing issues; George Clooney gets a few chuckles but is clearly a cut below the rest. The two best moments both come with a perfectly placed J. K. Simmons cameo, basically the Coens admitting that yeah, we don’t know what’s happening at this point. An imperfect ride, but damn if it isn’t a fun one.

RATING: 3.9/5

FARGO (TV) REFERENCES: Wouldn't be amazed if Mr Wrench’s drum track took influence from the OST here.
Gangsta's Paradise

Miller’s Crossing

SUMMARY: The Coens do a straight up gangster movie, basically. It’s hard to shake the feeling that they’re more indebted to the genre than they are making it their own, like they usually would; characters wear fedoras, doublecross each other in smoky rooms, pour whiskey habitually upon entering any building, etc. But despite that, you find yourself engaged about 40 minutes in, and some tense and genuinely horrifying scenes – mainly involving John Turturro’s Buster-Bluth-turned-evil character, and the Dane’s super Lynchian death scene – turn the second half into a twisted mirror of the first, as dialogue and scenarios replay like we’re watching some hellscape instead of a city in the US. A flawed not-quite-masterpiece whose biggest claim to fame was supplying several of the actors who would appear in, as well as putting the Coens in the headspace to create Barton Fink.

RATING: 4.1/5
11Soundtrack (Film)
O Brother, Where Art Thou?

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

SUMMARY: A stupid, silly, ridiculous, dumb movie with a gimmick that should get old about 30 minutes in but somehow doesn’t. Retelling the story of Homer’s Odyssey as a cross-country trip by three dumb escaped convicts is ambitious, but it’s clear the movie only has a passing interest in the text it’s adapting and is much more interested in following its own muses down whatever rabbit holes. One of the best soundtracks ever compiled for any film lifts the entire effort up, like in the incredible scene where the main characters encounter the Sirens. Highlights include the aforementioned scene (one of the finest in the entire filmography) as well as John Goodman as Cyclops getting crushed by a cross at a KKK meeting - why the fuck not?

RATING: 4.2/5
10Soundtrack (Film)
Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn Davis

SUMMARY: This movie feels like the anti-O Brother in a lot of ways – the music is composed by the same artist and from roughly the same time period and genre, but in service of a script that couldn’t be further from the former’s infectious enthusiasm and quirk. Inside Llewyn Davis is a film that takes place long after the main action, the suicide of Llewyn’s partner – what we see is the emptiness and numbness afterwards, a depressing cycle of setbacks and fuckups which seem to be neverending. A film where the sound is vibrant while the visuals are muted and dull, and T Bone Burnett’s superb score sets it apart; but there’s a feeling at points that we’re watching more of a lowlight reel of great acting and depressing events than we are a fully fleshed out story.

RATING: 4.2/5

9Calling All Cars
Raise The People

Raising Arizona

SUMMARY: Has a pretty strong claim to be the most side-splitting Coen movie, if not the best. The first big step towards the whipcrack fast dialogue that defines most of their best movies, and one of the most well-cast movies on this list with terrific lead performances from Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter. Dragged down by a very stupid, boring villain and some repetitive writing, highlights include John Goodman (duh) and the genuinely touching ending.

RATING: 4.4/5

FARGO (TV REFERENCES): I'm gonna stretch and say “ohhhhhhhhhhkay then”
8Phil Collins
...But Seriously

A Serious Man

SUMMARY: Led by a moving, hilarious, beautiful performance from Michael Stuhlbarg, this terrific movie’s gift for understatement steer it through supernatural possession, natural disaster, stoner comedy and Hebrew tradition. While avoiding the minimalism of The Man Who Wasn’t There, A Serious Man chooses to comedically underplay almost every moment even as its main character drowns in a sea of ridiculous troubles. Despite overstaying its welcome just a tad, this is an incredible comedy that shows the Coen’s touch both delicate and brusque at adapting to any genre.

RATING: 4.4/5

FARGO (TV) REFERENCES: Stuhlbarg’s appearance in Season 3 – as a character named Sy no less. In a broader sense, the dybbuk scene at the film’s beginning speaks to a lot of Coen themes that Hawley liked to reflect – the possibility of the supernatural edging on our rational world, the idea of a cruel universe that makes people pay for things they couldn’t possibly be held accountable for, etc.
7David Bowie
The Man Who Sold the World

The Man Who Wasn’t There

SUMMARY: (once again) An incredible performance from Billy Bob Thornton anchors a highly stylised, meditative, deeply underrated effort. More an extended musing on life and how fate can fuck you over than anything else, The Man Who Wasn’t There gradually turns up the dial on absurdity without Billy’s character ever showing more than a passing interest in how his life is spinning out of control. Highlights include a typically unnerving James Gandolfini, and an unnerving dive into horror when a widow – well, watch it and see for yourself.

RATING: 4.5/5

FARGO (TV) REFERENCES: SPOILERS WOW the UFO that saves Patrick Wilson’s life in the final episode of S2 is a direct reference to the ending of this movie. Also, my boy Billy Bob.
The Snow Goose


SUMMARY: Fargo is essentially a perfect piece of cinema up for the first hour and a half. It’s not that the ending is bad, per se, but there’s something trite about the way things spin out: we barely even see William H Macy except for a brief shot of him trying to wiggle out of a window; Peter Stormare kills Steve Buscemi (duh) offscreen, while Gene has been dead probably for the entire second half of the movie as far as we know (which is admittedly pretty funny); and despite Frances McDormand’s finest performance, her monologuing into the snowy white distance about how there’s more to life than money and she doesn’t understand any of it is just a little too “now what did we learn, kids?”.
The Snow Goose

(cont.) But, an okay ending still doesn’t sink the defining black comedy movie of its time; the Coen brothers created a cinematic universe almost by accident in the process of writing this hilarious movie with its stupid, heavily accented characters performing horrific acts of violence on a whim. On some days, it’s still their finest achievement.

RATING: 4.5/5

FARGO (TV REFERENCES): dunno, might have noticed a few…:thinking:
Hotel California

The Big Lebowski

SUMMARY: What is there to say? The Big Lebowski is a movie so niche it became a cult classic almost immediately, and the cult then grew so large that the movie did a full circle and came right back around to become a movie that pretty much everyone knows and accepts as a classic. Despite 'shut the fuck up Donny' and 'that’s just, like, your opinion man' being thoroughly memed to the point of overkill, every single line in this movie is still so funny and perfectly delivered that it has a strong case for holding the finest dialogue of all time. The Big Lebowski manages in the end to be about absolutely nothing and still somehow be incredibly watchable for its entire runtime: the highlight, of course, being Jeff Bridges, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi as probably the finest trio of actors to grace any comedy. No flaws.
Hotel California



FARGO (TV) REFERENCES: The best scene in Season 3 – if not the whole damn show – takes place in a sort of limbo/afterlife decked out as a bowling alley, as a direct nod to the Dude’s main hangout in this movie. Also David Thewlis appears for a minute, giving no hints whatsoever as to how utterly disgusting he will eventually be in S3 of Fargo.
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Barton Fink

SUMMARY: A masterpiece. I could go on and on about the symbolism, the ambiguity, the emotional honesty and religious allegories; about how John Goodman’s Charlie is the finest character the Coens ever produced by far, or how completely John Turturro inhabits the titular character for both the laughs and the heart-wrenching sadness, without judgement or pretense. But there’s one simple truth that keeps this movie to a rock solid throughline even while it aesthetically drifts into about five different genres (all mastered); it’s that this movie is at the heart a simple story about how hard it is to create art sometimes, and the people we become in the search for a good story to tell. If The Big Lebowski didn’t already convince you, this movie makes a decent case for John Goodman and the Coens being the finest directors/actor pairing of our generation. Who else could have brought Charlie Meadows – a character I would call the best villain in the Coens filmography,
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

(cont.) if not for the fact that “villain” just feels reductive and not at all accurate to the scope of the character – to life so effortlessly? Imagine getting the call that this role was written specifically for you? The way that you never know whether it’s sweat or tears on John Goodman’s face, the whine of wind whenever Barton’s door opens or closes, Tony Shalhoub taking the stereotypical shady exec. role and making it his bitch. What else could you possibly want?

RATING: Words fail, ratings fail, but a stone cold 5/5

FARGO (TV) REFERENCES: This is way above my nerd level, but thanks to the internet - when Gloria journeys to Hollywood in S3 she ends up sitting on the beach in the exact same pose the model is striking in the framed photo in Barton Fink. Crazy stuff here.
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