The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

ETHAN COEN, JOEL COEN Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.  USA, 2018.  Annapurna Pictures, Annapurna Television, Mike Zoss Productions.  Screenplay by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, segment All Gold Canyon based on a story by Jack London, segment The Gal Who Got Rattled inspired by a story by Stewart Edward White.  Cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel.  Produced by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen,…

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Hail, Caesar!

B.5 (out of 5) It’s 1951 and the post-war boom that has made America the leading industrial country in the world is reflected in the glorious movies being made in Hollywood. Josh Brolin plays the problem solver for a fictional movie studio whose job is to keep stars in line and their projects on track,…

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Inside Llewyn Davis

BBBB.5 (out of 5) Another terrific example of how magical the Coen Brothers can be when they let go their desire to be cute about their favourite movie genres.  This indelibly perfect tribute to the folk music scene in 1960s Greenwich Village has a superb Oscar Isaac as the title character, struggling and failing to…

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Barton Fink

BBB (out of 5) In this highly stylized Coen Brothers comedy, John Turturro plays a Broadway playwright who is brought out to Hollywood to write films. Initially thrilled at the prospect of changing media and bringing his intense story lines to the world of cinema, he ends up realizing that his dreams are all for…

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Miller’s Crossing

BB (out of 5) The Coen brothers get points for style and little else for this period gangster piece. Gabriel Byrne is boring as an advisor to a big-time Irish-American crime boss during Prohibition. Albert Finney and Jon Polito play rivals who get involved in a gang war when a small time bookie (John Turturro) cheats one of them and…

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Blood Simple

BBB.5 (out of 5) The Coen Brothers got off to a great start with their popular film debut, an excellent tale of murder and adultery in the style of the great 1940s film noirs. Frances McDormand leaves her husband to run away with bartender John Getz, but they don’t have far to go before her husband…

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True Grit (2010)

BBBB (out of 5) Hailee Steinfeld is excellent as a fourteen year-old girl who leaves her rural county to head to the big city and find the man who shot her father. Having deduced his name and the direction in which he has headed, this young spitfire works a miraculous deal with a banker in order…

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The Man Who Wasn’t There

BBBB.5 (out of 5) Brilliant Coen brothers film about a placid barber (Billy Bob Thornton) who tries to arrange a simple scam to get himself out of the boredom of his life. When a colourful entrepreneur comes to his small California town with the idea to start up a new retail scheme in something called…

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The Big Lebowski

BB (out of 5) Annoying Coen brothers film about mistaken identity has reprehensible loafer Jeff Bridges taking the heat from kidnappers when he is mistaken for a rich man with the same name as himself.   Fans of John Goodman and Julianne Moore will enjoy how much they shine in their small roles, but Bridges is so unlikable…

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The Hudsucker Proxy

BBB (out of 5) Stylish and witty film by the Coen brothers that pays tribute to the Frank Capra/Preston Sturges comedies of yesteryear. When Hudsucker Industries loses its president (Charles Durning) to suicide, crooked board member Paul Newman decides to get a lowly mail clerk (Tim Robbins) to take over as chairman in order to give…

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Raising Arizona

BBB.5 (out of 5) Early entry in the Coen Brothers canon that hit well enough with audiences and critics to put their name on the map. Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter are both terrific as an outlaw and a cop who fall in love and get married. When they realize they can’t have children, their…

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O Brother, Where Art Thou?

BBBB (out of 5) Set in the rural American south of the thirties, but still retaining the main events from Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey upon which it is based, the Coen Brothers use authentic bluegrass music and Roger Deakins’ golden-hued photography to tell the story of three convicts who escape jail and are on…

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