Author: Ian Nathan
Publisher: Aurum Press
If you are a movie buff, you are probably very familiar with the iconic Coen Brothers and their film work. For those who don't know who they are, Joel and Ethan Coen were born in in a predominantly Jewish suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their parents were both professors in nearby universities and as young kids they saved up enough money from their various jobs that they were able to purchase in the mid 1960s for four hundred dollars a Super 8 camera, which they could probably attribute to their rise to becoming the most recognizable names in contemporary American cinema.
With their new camera the brothers decided to make a film with their friends willing in as actors and as they confess they did “crib” from other films as Zeimers in Zambezi was apparently a remake of Cornel Wilde's The Naked Prey.
Film journalist Ian Nathan with The Coen Brothers: the iconic filmakers and their work, which is an unofficial and unauthorized picture tome that has not been endorsed, sponsored or authorized either by any studio or the Coen Brothers, gives us an insight into the brothers work and their cinematic styles as he explores such fascinating films as Raising Arizona, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Blood Simple, No Country for Old Men and True Grit, The Evil Dead, Paris, je t'aime and A Serious Man.
As mentioned in the publicity of the book, the films are distinctive, dark, funny, challenging, provoking, creative, and above all else, good. A quote from William Peter Robertson in the book just about sums up their creativity: “...an impossible mix of offbeat, free range intellectualism, slapstick of both the physical and metaphysical type, extremely subtle irony, extremely obvious irony, idiotic repetitive wordplay and weakness for silly haircuts.” And to this description you can also add convoluted plots and eccentric characters who early on in their careers were acknowledged as being idiosyncratic talents. Throughout this table top book, Nathan reinforces this description as he provides his readers with dozens of photos that feature candid shots, on-set photography, movie skills and an abundance of very interesting tidbits about the brothers and their films.
From the outset, Nathan sketches a biographical timeline of how these two creative brothers gained the spotlight beginning with the first of two significant catalysts in their story, Barry Sonnenfeld whom Joel became friendly with at film school and Sonnenfeld served as cinematographer on the brothers' first three films. The second individual that played an important role was Sam Raimi who had an immense influence on the Coens's early career, collaborating with them on several scripts. Initially, the reception the brothers received from investors was not exactly warm and in many of their films they present images of titans sitting behind desks who represent power whom Joel met when canvassing for funds.
As we read on and savour the many photo images, Nathan brings to life the influence these two brothers had on the movie industry as he covers their personal and professional lives with fascinating details and insightful analysis of several of their films.
Nathan is a well-know UK film writer who has written extensively on every aspect of the film world as well as managing several editorial teams to produce movie content. He has authored Alien Vault, Inside the Magic: The Making of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Terminator Vault.