Tag Archives: coen brothers

Pedler On Coens

This month, only two of us had seen each of the films we reviewed: Martyn and Sophie had seen Anomalisa, Sophie and Lee had seen The Pearl Button, and Lee and Martyn had seen Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Somehow, symmetrically, we made it work.

After the reviews, we look at new releases streaming into your home. Will technology allow you to watch the latest big screen releases without ever leaving your couch? It’s an issue that’s dividing the biggest filmmakers in the world, but it may simply be inevitable.

Then, Martyn takes us through the films of Joel and Ethan Coen, the masters who gave us everything from Raising Arizona to The Big Lebowski, Barton Fink to No Country For Old Men. What is it about the films of this beloved pair that is so unique and so appealing?

If you’re keen on further reading, their seminal Fargo has just turned 20. And the argument over the crucial Mike Yanagita scene continues today. But what did it all mean?

Also, Lee posits the theory that the better a Coen Bros trailer is, the less successful – or at least, the less regarded – the film itself is. Here are the trailers for some of their less beloved films so you can judge for yourself:

Outro music: score from Fargo (1996), composed by Carter Burwell

The new episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Martyn Pedler talking the Coen Brothers, can be listened to via Stitcher Smart Radio, subscribed to on iTunes, or downloaded directly from our website.

Hell Is For Hyphenates – March 2016

Writer Martyn Pedler joins us this month as we look at some of the key films of March 2016, including Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s stop motion animated drama Anomalisa, Patricio Guzmán’s documentary The Pearl Button, and Zack Snyder’s contention franchise-builder Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Martyn, Sophie and Lee then look at the push to stream new release films into the home, and whether we’ll soon be able to legally watch new releases from the comfort of our living room. Then Martyn takes us through the filmography of the unique and beloved American indie filmmakers, Joel and Ethan Coen.

The Coen Brothers Cheat Sheet

Coen Bros Direct

Want to become an instant expert in our filmmaker of the month without committing yourself to an entire filmography? Then you need the Hell Is For Hyphenates Cheat Sheet: we program you a double that will not only make for a great evening’s viewing, but bring you suitably up-to-speed before our next episode lands…

CB Films

FARGO (1996) and THE BIG LEBOWSKI (1998)

Usually we try to err on the side of films that come from the chronological extremes of a career, but there’s something about the one-two hit of these works that feel as if they encapsulates what the Coens are all about. 1996’s Fargo was a huge hit, its strange mix of comedy, violence and drama the perfect example of their interest in the dark and ugly side of polite society. And their follow-up? 1998’s The Big Lebowski is pure Coens: an ageing hippy finds himself in the middle of a gumshoe detective drama, one that he has no interest in or ability to navigate. This is arguably their most beloved film, a deeply funny film that pays tribute to a genre by subverting it.

Substitutions: If you can’t get or have already seen Fargo, you must watch 1990’s Miller’s Crossing, their extraordinary Italian mafia vs Irish mob thriller. If you can’t get or have already seen The Big Lebowski, then tap in 2000’s O Brother Where Art Thou, the 1930s deep south retelling of Homer’s Odyssey.

The Hidden Gem: How do you find a hidden gem in a filmography such as this? Probably the closest is 2009’s A Serious Man, their strangest and most niche film about a 1960s Jewish physics professor whose life is falling apart. It’s genius.

The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Martyn Pedler talking the films of the Coen Brothers, will be released on the morning of March 31 (AEST).

Our Next Hyphenate Martyn Pedler

Martyn Pedler (left) chats to Paul Thomas Anderson on stage at Melbourne’s Astor Theatre in 2012

We’ve been courting Martyn Pedler to come on the show for a long time, employing all manner of tactics from flowers and chocolates to Wile E Coyote-style holes in the ground that drop into a recording booth to sneaking recording dates into iTunes terms and conditions.

Okay, Martyn was actually happy to do the show. But even though we invited him a long time ago, we all decided to wait a while for a reason that we’ll explain below. But first, some Martyn Pedler bio.

Martyn has had a fascinating career as a writer, including comedy on Australian TV, a mostly-completed PhD on superhero stories, and the amazing Tumblr series And the Man Next To You, an astonishing series of tragic backstories for every character who dies in Under Siege. He’s worked for years as a film critic, writing for Triple J Magazine, Time Out Melbourne and others. He is also the screenwriter behind the brilliant indie arthouse feature EXIT, which premiered at Montreal’s Fantasia Festival. Seriously, go watch it now. It’s amazing.

So which filmmaker has Martyn chosen to talk about on the show?

Actually, it’s filmmakes plural: Martyn’s chosen the Coen Brothers!

Directed by Joel and Ethan CoenYes, we haven’t actually covered Joel and Ethan Coen on the show yet, so we’re pretty jazzed to be getting to them. And we decided it would be fun to hold off until the release of Hail, Caesar!, because how could we resist?

The Coens need little introduction, so we will keep it little: films like Blood Simple (1984), Raising Arizona (1987), Miller’s Crossing (1990), Barton Fink (1991), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), Fargo (1996), The Big Lebowski (1998), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)… okay, we were planning to just mention their classics, and here we are just listing all of their films. (And, yes, we cunningly stopped before the early 2000s. But there’s time for that later.)

So what is it about the Coens that so appeals to Martyn? We’ll all find out when the episode is released on March 31.

Our next filmmakers of the month, Joel & Ethan Coen