Like all sentient beings, I am looking forward to the Coens' new film, Hail Caesar!---and so I'm preparing a homework assignment for myself and all others who would like to join in.
ASSIGNMENT ONE: THE COENS DO OLD HOLLYWOOD
Barton Fink is a wonderfully haunting film, bizarre and troubling and grounded in the history of Hollywood. It gets bits of everything the Coens do best---darkness and mystery and uncertain hilarity---and wraps it around John Turtorro before throwing him off a rather attractive cliff. I will watch this movie with you anytime. I have a hard time finding people to watch it with me for some reason....
ASSIGNMENT TWO: THE COENS HAVE GEORGE CLOONEY PREEN
The primary selection here is Intolerable Cruelty, a film unfairly knocked by many Coen fans as one of their weaker offerings. I suggest they just haven't watched it enough times. The film is a screwball marvel and Clooney's is just one of its brilliant performances. His fixation on his teeth is what makes this your primary assignment.
The secondary assignment (replacement if you can't see the second, or supplemental if you have time for both) is O Brother, Where Art Thou? The time period's a bit closer to Hail, Caesar, but its a bit short on glam. Still: great movie.
ASSIGNMENT THREE: THE COENS PRESENT COMEDIC KIDNAPPING
Here we get to films I'm less familiar with. I'm ashamed to admit I've seen both of these films only once each. Because of this, I'm less certain that the primary/secondary arrangement is correct. At any rate, the primary selection is The Great Lebowski (which I didn't really like after first viewing, but you don't hear me knocking it---in fact, I've been meaning to revisit it) and the secondary selection is Fargo (which I did like on first viewing and have always meant to revisit---though right now the tv show feels more urgent)