Sunday, June 13, 2004

Defining Coen-ingenuity and other shit.

This is my response to PL's response.

First: allow me to define "Coen-style ingenuity."
The Coens used to be able to take a cinematic form and, despite Josh's assertions, do something interesting and special with it. For example, they took film noir (which literally means black film) and perversely bathe it in white and make a knocked-up woman with a funny accent their Philip Marlow. Another example: they took the screwball comedy--which traditionally exalts the wealthy and smart--and made a couple of poor-ass yokels without a clue their protagonists. These are, to my mind, breezy, inspired ideas that are sorely missing from their latest work.

As for the City of Fire argument.
There's no doubt that QT should have been more open about the origins of Resevoir Dogs, esp. when he has been so forthright about the inspiration(s) for Kill Bill. That said, how is it any different from the Coens aping Chandler by turning The Big Sleep into the stoner farce that is The Big Lebowski and submitting it for a best original screenplay nomination?

Re: PL's dismissal of QT as a filmmaker (he's merely as "scenarist"), this is a can of worms that I would love to delve into at another time... the whole cult of the writer/director (and singer/songwriter). But let me just say that there are so many worse examples of "scenarists" posing as filmmakers. Kevin Smith being the most egregious, Neil LaBute being the most unfortunate (given his skill as a writer).

PL asked where I put O Brother... in the Coens' canon. I would put it as the beginning of the end. (For the record, Josh, it came right before the pile of doodoo-feces that is The Man Who Wasn't There.) It's silly and fun and ultimately entertaining, but it's an ominous sign of what's to come. (In places it's oppressively glib and smug and hermetically sealed.)

While I personally worship Preston Sturges, I guess I have to accept that some might not dig him. Hey, it all comes down to personal taste. But I do find it funny that PL dismisses the very writer/director that the Coens emulate the most.

As for the Coens "selling out" or "going Hollywood" concept... Look, I'm just judging what's put in front of me. For instance, I loved the idea of Cronie directing Basic Instinct 2. Ultimately, he realized (or the studio did, whatever, etc.) that he was ill-fitted for the project and he left it at that. I wish the Coens had come to the same conclusion in the preproduction phase of Intolerable Cruelty.

Finally, PL states that the Coens' work has clearly declined but based what's out there, it's still a blessing. Um, I guess. But to determine something's quality by comparing it to shit is not a way to define its worth. And for the record, Troy is better than Intolerable Cruelty. (And while we're at it, let me tell you, The 400 Blows is so much better than Barbershop 2: Back In Business.)


Post a Comment

<< Home