Three decades ago, on September 7, 1984, the Coen brothers’ first feature film, Blood Simple, made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival. I was 17 at the time, and I feel that to some degree I’ve grown up as a movie-watcher with the work of Joel and Ethan Coen. So in recognition, appreciation—and, in some instances, vexation or outright adoration—of what they’ve accomplished over the subsequent 30 years, I thought I’d re-watch their 16 features in sequence and, if all goes smoothly, jot down thoughts on 16 subsequent (work) days.
These thoughts will likely be idiosyncratic and will surely be opinionated, and they may evolve in format over time, depending on how the spirit moves me and on what seems to work best. Note that this in no way intended to be an authoritative account of the career of our preeminent filmmaking siblings: While I’ve seen a few of their movies a dozen times or more, others I’ve seen only once or twice, and I don’t pretend to have kept up with all of the many articles, analyses, interviews, and books that have accumulated over the course of the Coens’ cinematic lifetime.
This is, in other words, a moderately seat-of-the-pants exercise, and please regard it accordingly. I welcome further observations, insights, and (as is tragically necessary from time to time) corrections in the comments section. I’d be delighted if this exercise inspired others to go back for another helping of Coensiana, and hope that it can serve as an opportunity for thoughtful discussion of All Things Coen.