For more than three decades, Joel and Ethan Coen have produced some of the most unique and thought-provoking works in modern cinema. In broad comedies such as Raising Arizona, violent thrillers like No Country for Old Men, and black comedies such as Fargo, the filmmakers have offered brilliant takes on a variety of film genres. One of the most distinctive features of their movies is their skewed view of America itself.
In The Coen Brothers' America, M. Keith Booker discusses feature films produced by the pair since their 1984 debut Blood Simple. The author focuses on how the Coen brothers' films engage with American cultural history and are embedded in specific geographical settings. From New York to Los Angeles, from Texas to Minnesota, the Coens capture the essence of real locations from unusual angles, which often make the films appear as if they are taking place in an alternate reality. In addition, many of the brothers' films are steeped in America's cultural past, from the deep south of the 1930s in O Brother, Where Art Thou to the Greenwich Village of the 1960s in Inside Llewyn Davis. The Coens make particularly effective use of films from Hollywood's Golden Age, producing their own updated versions of such genres as film noir (The Man Who Wasn't There), the Western (True Grit), and screwball comedy (The Hudsucker Proxy)-not to mention their idiosyncratic depictions of Hollywood itself in Barton Fink and Hail Caesar!
This book also explores how the Coens draw upon cultural phenomena outside of film, including literature, music, and television. Approaching each film within the framework of Ethan and Joel's overall vision. The Coen Brothers' America provides an entertaining look at the pair's work that will appeal to scholars and fans alike.