A little something different for this post… After watching The Tragedy of Macbeth, I decided to watch the Coen Brothers’ entire filmography in chronological order a few months back. I had seen many of them but had missed a decent amount too. And it gave me a chance to watch some classics I hadn’t seen in years. So without further ado, here is my very, very subjective ranking of the films of Joel and Ethan Coen.
19) The Ladykillers
The only Coen Brothers’ movie that I thought was just plain bad. Nothing quite worked for me from the dated, stereotypical portrayal of a churchgoing, Black southern lady, the over-the-top performances, especially Marlon Wayans, or the humor, which was often childish and scatological. I’m all for a good fart joke, but using IBS over and over as a joke wasn’t funny. What did work? Tom Hanks’ weird hybrid of Colonel Sanders as a thief was mostly a fun time.
18) Hudsucker Proxy
Another film that just didn’t work for me. Tim Robbins’ overly cartoonish performance just wasn’t the right tone for the movie, I thought. Besides the invention of the Hula Hoop, the Capraesque plot wasn’t particularly interesting, especially its too-on-the-nose critique of corporate capitalism. But Hudsucker had enough going for it to make it at least watchable, including a fabulous set design of Art Deco New York, and Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Katherine Hepburn impression of a dame with a heart of gold.
17) Barton Fink
I had never seen Barton Fink, but it had a sterling reputation, including winning 3 awards at the Cannes Film Festival. I by no means disliked this movie. It had much going for it, including John Turturro’s performance as the titular character, and John Goodman as Charlie was charming as ever. But it lost me in the second half of the movie. I’ve read that the murder and fiery hellscape in the hotel could be read as a critique of liberalism being ineffectual against the rising of fascism, which I can get behind. But the metaphor was just a bit opaque for me.