Fall Focus on Directors - Joel & Ethan Coen

 Joel (l) and Ethan Coen (r) have been successfuly making highly original films on their own terms for nearly thirty years.

Joel (l) and Ethan Coen (r) have been successfuly making highly original films on their own terms for nearly thirty years.

Upon accepting one of the three Oscars that he and his brother would each collect for their 2007 masterpiece No Country for Old Men, Joel Coen harkened back to some of their earliest childhood efforts - including "a movie about shuttle diplomacy called Henry Kissinger: Man on the Go" - and confessed, "what we do now doesn't feel that much different."

There is no further explanation than that needed for the enduring cinematic success of the Brothers Coen. Indeed, the pair cannot help but frustrate the critics and interviewers who would attempt to glean some explanatory insight into their process, some trick for keeping their cinematic odysseys from ever growing stale or uninspired, because there is no secret. They are merely a pair of brilliant and talented guys who have honed their storytelling gifts and followed their own interests without deviation for the entirety of their lives, let alone for that of their 30-year careers as filmmakers. They are a testament to the fragile promise that if an artist stays true to their own vision, no matter how personal or specific, the audience will not only find you but follow you anywhere. 

You will be hard-pressed to find filmmakers with an output that has been, by every definition of the word, as consistent as that of the Coens. At an average of one film every other year, with only one arguable stumble during that whole span (Ladykillers defenders, make your presence known in the comments!), the Coens are mystifying in their ability to hop so effortlessly over lines of genre and tone while maintaining a level of quality that leaves their fans in constant awe and delight . 

And they're only getting better. 

Atlanta Film Festival 365 is proud to present local cinephiles a chance to view a sampling of the Coens' best films on the big screen. We're starting with their debut feature, Blood Simple, this Thursday at 9:00 with an encore Sunday afternoon at 1:00. An equal mix of James M Cain and EC Comics, the film shows how fully-formed the skills and sensibilities of the brothers were right out of the box. It's also the first instance of the duo giving their unique twist on the Film Noir genre, a thread that continues through the rest of the series as we present No Country for Old Men on October 10th and 13th, Fargo on October 17th and 20th, and The Big Lebowski on October 24th and 27th.

Showtimes for all screenings are 9:00pm for Thursday shows and 1:00pm for Sunday matinees. Don't forget that members get in free, so tell all of your non-member friends to buy a pass to this year's festival and enjoy some of the best movies of the last 30 years on us. I'll be in the center row, grinning like an idiot the whole time, and I hope to see you there.

- cs

Christopher Sailor is the Programmer of Education for the Atlanta Film Festival. He also waxes cinematic at  chrissailor.com.