• The retrospective includes films such as ‘Fargo’ and ‘The Big Lebowski’ and it follows the line set by the cycle dedicated to young Brian de Palma in the previous edition
• The festival will also screen the film awarded with the Palme d’Or in Cannes 1991, ‘Barton Fink’, that also received the Best Actor and Best Director awards
• The Coen brothers’ cycle will be screened from the 22nd to the 29th of June in the cloister of the Centre del Carme Cultura Contemporània
The 34th edition of València International Film Festival – Cinema Jove, organized by the Institut Valencià de Cultura, dedicates a retrospective to the early years of the most prolific and original filmmaking duo, brothers Joel (1954) and Ethan Coen (1957), who have won four Oscars, two BAFTA, a Golden Globe and three Best Director Awards at Cannes, among other awards.
The cycle ‘The young Coens’ compiles seven of the early films of the two directors, that have already become a reference in the contemporary film industry. Carlos Madrid, director of the festival considers them as independent filmmakers in the broadest sense as, he praises, “they have not allowed the production companies that have worked with throughout their career to condition or impose any of the content or form of their projects.”
The retrospective is part of the parallel section of the 34th edition of Cinema Jove, and covers the production of the filmmakers until they turned 40. “Their first films display their early talent, and include film classics such as ‘Miller’s Crossing’ (1990), ‘Barton Fink’ (1991) and ‘Fargo’ (1996)”, highlights the director of Cinema Jove.
Their career alternates drama and comedy through technical virtuosity, led by extravagant characters that live through comical and devastating experiences, in stories where high culture fusions with pop expression. They are a unique example of team work. In their debut, Joel appeared as director and Ethan as a producer, but they soon started to co-appear in many roles, as they both worked in production, direction and scriptwriting.
“The Coen brothers have a very defined filmmaking, full of sarcasm. They have achieved a recognizable style, and this is not something all contemporary filmmakers have achieved. It has resulted in vast fan following,” considers Carlos Madrid.
Blood and babies
The review of their early years will be screened from the 22nd to the 28th of June, in the cloister of the Centre del Carme Cultura Contemporània, at 10.30pm. The first film will be their debut, ‘Blood Simple’ (1984), a low-budget film that pays homage to a Dashiell Hammet, with the title being part of a sentence of his first novel, ‘Red Harvest’. This ‘thriller noir’ already displays a defining trait of their filmography – the inspiration taken from the thrillers they read as kids – and includes their first collaboration with Frances McDormand.
The actress is part of a group of artists that regularly work with the duo, including Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, John Goodman, Jeff Bridges and Holly Hunter, who starred, together with Nicolas Cage, in the second film of the cycle, ‘Arizona Baby’ (1987). This outrageous comedy almost seems to follow the tempo of a crazy cartoon film, and portrays the romance between a policewoman and a criminal that discover they won’t be able to have children. This film presented another customary feature in Joel and Ethan’s filmmaking: the presence of eccentric secondary characters.
On Tuesday, June 25th, the first Coen masterpiece will be screened, ‘Miller’s Crossing’ (1990). This elegant and eccentric gangster thriller is inspired by Hammet’s classics ‘The Glass Key’ and, again, ‘Red Harvest’. The shooting scene scored by traditional Irish song ‘Danny Boy’ is unforgettable.
Surprisingly, their following success, ‘Barton Fink’, was inspired by the writer’s block the brothers went through while filming ‘Miller’s Crossing.’. Their effort got them the Palm d’Or in Cannes 1991, as well as the Best Actor award for John Turturro, and the Best Director award. Madrid considers that “this satire of the golden age of Hollywood is an existentialist, philosophical and introspective piece on the world of creativity; a great addition to a group of crisis films that include ‘Fellini 8½’ (Federico Fellini, 1963) or ‘Deconstructing Harry’ (Woody Allen, 1997).”
It was followed by a comedy inspired by Frank Capra, ‘The Hudsucker Proxy’ (1994), where Tim Robbins portrays a simple, uncharismatic man that is elevated to the summit of big corporations when he invents the ‘hula-hoop’.
The cycle will close with two films that are considered cult classics, ‘Fargo’ (1996) and ‘The Big Lebowski’ (1998), scheduled, respectively, for Friday the 28th and Saturday the 29th of June. The most oppressive film of the duo is also set in their home state of Minnesota. For this film, they received their second Best Director award and the lead actress, Frances McDormand, received the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of a very pregnant policewoman. The film, funny and terrible at a time, is living a second life on the TV screen, with a series in its third season.
The final touch will be led by Jeff Bridges portraying a character that has become part of film history, The Dude. A theme shop in the Village of New York selling merchandising, where shoppers attend screenings and recite all of the dialogues of the film exemplifies how ‘The Big Lebowski’ (1998) has become a cult film. Carlos Madrid highlights how “the Cinema Jove retrospective will allow a new generation of film lovers to get to know the early filmography of the Coen brothers on the silver screen.”