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The FINAL DeN Double Feature! The Coen Brothers @ DeN

Vol. 11 - The Last One! featuring The Coen Brothers

DeN rides off into the sunset at the end of this month. Shoot. Well that about does her. Wraps her all up. Things seemed to have worked out pretty good for DeN Double Feature nights. We don’t like seeing DeN go, but maybe, just maybe, there will be a lil’ DeN on the way somewhere down the trail. I guess that’s how the whole darned human comedy keeps perpetuatin’ itself, down through the generations, westward the wagons, across the sands of time...aw, look at us. We’re ramblin’ again.

We’ve decided to close out DeN Double Feature nights with a double helping of Joel and Ethan Coen, who need no introduction to any film lover.

In 1990 Joel and Ethan Coen were not yet the Oscar-winning, cinephile-worshipped filmmaking legends they are today. They had only written and directed two films: 1984’s inventive neo-noir Blood Simple and 1987’s screwball kidnapping comedy Raising Arizona. Though the brothers had drawn critical acclaim for both, they hadn’t yet proven themselves as the true cinematic chameleons we know them as now. With Miller’s Crossing, an intricate gangster drama that contrasts fedoras and overcoats with the serenity of the forest, the Coens proved they were capable of even more than their brilliant first two efforts suggested. Though it was critically acclaimed, Miller’s Crossing was lost to most audiences in the mire of that year’s other gangster pictures (most notably Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, which was released just two weeks ahead of Miller’s Crossing) and as such is one of the lesser-known entries in the Coens’ filmography. Containing numerous references to earlier noir and gangster genre films and literature, Miller’s Crossing is as much fun to watch for it’s dense dialogue and beautiful cinematography (by Barry Sonnenfield) as it is for cinephiles to name the various movie and crime novel references as they pop up, from The Godfather to uber-noir pulp crime novelist Dashiell Hammet.

The Big Lebowski needs no introduction at this point. It has become *the* cult film of the past 25 years, with an untold number of hardcore devotees (known as Achievers in the parlance of our times) celebrating the shaggy dog stoner noir comedy in any and every way conceivable, from dropping as many quotes from the film as possible into everyday conversation to attending annual Lebowski Fests across America. The film has even inspired the creation of an all-new religion/philosophy/lifestyle known as Dudeism. The Coens once again pull a page from Dashiell Hammet and two more pages from Raymond Chandler. In fact, the rambling nature of the dense plot, which follows an affable stoner / accidental private eye into a web of kidnapping and double crossings so thick that you have to wave your hand to clear the smoke, draws heavily in tone from Chandler’s classic The Big Sleep. Just swap out Humphrey Bogart’s whiskey for Jeff Bridges’ caucasian and a J, Bogie’s slick shoes for The Dude’s jelly sandals and add a stolen rug into the mix and you’re almost there. This aggression will not stand, man. Look for career highlight supporting roles and cameos from a whole lot of great actors in this one. And remember...The Dude abides.

The two films will be presented by UNIS Hanoi film teachers Colin Campbell and Jackson Garland, who will provide some historical context for the films and lead us in an open roundtable/Q&A discussion after each screening, liberally dropping Lebowski quotes throughout the evening. He’s a nihilist? Ah, that must be exhausting.

Come on down for one last roll at the bowling alley, ask Gary behind the bar to make you a caucasian and do film with us one more time. Well, we hope you folks enjoyed yourself. See you on down the trail.

*****

Films:

MILLER’S CROSSING (1990, Dir: Joel and Ethan Coen 115 minutes)

“Substance is here in spades, along with the twisted, brilliantly controlled style on which filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen made a name.”
- Variety

“The Coens' take on Depression-era gangster flicks, looks gorgeous and showcases John Turturro's best acting ever.”
- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“Miller’s Crossing remains my choice for Joel and Ethan Coen’s masterwork. The picture showcases the brothers at their most philosophically serious without diluting their signature humor and style. The trickiness that ensues involves all sorts of double crosses, bluffs and fast, fancy talk – inspired beat for beat by the classic film noirs of the period and its signature men’s hats.”
- Josh Larsen, LarsenOnFilm

“The Coens play this icy gangster tale mostly straight, but they can't help throwing in a few of their dark, comic explosions; it's one of their best, most cohesive films and it holds up to repeated viewings.”
- Jeffrey Anderson, Combustible Celluloid



*****

THE BIG LEBOWSKI (1998, Dir: Joel and Ethan Coen 119 minutes)

"Like a good Caucasian, Joel and Ethan Coen's L.A.-based crime-caper-comedy is an acquired taste, but potentially addictive once you take to its perfectly offbeat blend of seemingly disparate elements.”
- James Kendrick, Q Network Film Desk

“The Coens concoct an absurdist Chandler-esque mystery, drop in a couple hilarious dream fantasies, and even bring in a drawling Sam Elliott to narrate this tall tale like a western myth.”
- Sean Axmaker, MSN

“One of the funniest, coolest, most absurd cult films ever made, and one of the best from the dynamic duo - Joel and Ethan Coen.”
- R.L. Shaffer, IGN

“I could tell you how much I love this movie but that's just, like, my opinion, man.”
- Brian Gill, Mad About Movies

Does anyone ever read this far into these Double Feature event descriptions I probably spend way too long writing up? If so, come find me and tell me you read this line and I’ll buy you a drink on Sunday night.

 

Sunday, March 9

6:30pm - 11:30am

DeN | 49 Làng Yên Phụ, Hanoi

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