From their black comedy-drama “A Serious Man,” a movie that touches on Jewish identity in America and portrays the Job-like view of life that is embedded in Jewish culture, to their Academy Award Winning Best Picture “No Country for Old Men,” the Coen Brothers’ movies frequently amuse, sometimes horrify, but always entertain us. Rising above our chuckling and our squirming as we watch, the movies challenge us to examine the subtle differences between sometimes surprisingly ambiguous choices of right and wrong, of good and evil. This SDG examines 14 of their movies that portray eternal themes that we frequently encounter, yet often ignore or overlook as we scurry about in the conduct of our daily lives. Each week, SDG participants will be expected to: view the assigned movie; gather additional material that discusses and critiques the script, actors, methods and themes employed by the film makers; and, discuss and share that knowledge with their colleagues. “Step out of your car…” (and, for SDG members, out of your comfort zone), as the amoral villain Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) commands the unsuspecting motorist in “No Country for Old Men,” and into the filmography of the Coen Brothers’ movies.
(A note to reviewers: this is an updated version -- some new and different movies -- of a highly successful SDG coordinated by Paul Markowitz during the Winter, 2013 term. We checked with Paul to make sure that our submission was "not stepping on his toes." He approved of our submission and recommended that we submit.)
One movie each week for 14 weeks:
Week 1: A Serious Man (2009)
Week 2: Fargo (1996)
Week 3: Raising Arizona (1987)
Week 4: Barton Fink (1991)
Week 5: The Big Lebowski (1998)
Week 6: O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000)
Week 7: Burn After Reading (2008)
Week 8: The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)
Week 9: No Country for Old Men (2007)
Week 10: True Grit (2010)
Week 11: Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Week 12: Unbroken (2014)
Week 13: Hail Caesar (2016)
Week 14: Bridge of Spies (2015)
Movie DVDs (some public libraries may have available for borrowing), Netflix, Amazon Prime Video as primary source material.
Short Critiques and Reviews (examples):
In depth interviews with the Coen Brothers and critiques of some of their films also are available in book form, including some that are inexpensively available as used books.