MINNEAPOLIS, MN.- The Walker Art Center
celebrates the 50th Regis Dialogue and Retrospective with Joel and Ethan Coen: Raising Cain, from September 18October 17. A Regis Dialogue with the filmmakers takes place at 8 pm on Friday, September 25 (Regis Dialogue tickets are on sale exclusively to Walker Contributing members through September 9; beginning September 10 at 11 am, all Walker members can register to be on a waiting list for any remaining tickets). The retrospective includes screenings of all of the Coens feature films prior to their latest, A Serious Man, from their own directors cut print of their 1984 debut Blood Simple, now celebrating its 25th anniversary, to last years Burn After Reading. A Serious Man, which was shot in the Twin Cities, will be released in theaters October 2. A complete series schedule follows.
Regis Dialogue and Retrospective Series
The Walker Art Centers Regis Dialogue and Film Retrospective program brings together some of the most innovative and influential filmmakers of our time with leading critics, writers, and historians. The series, launched with support from the MacArthur Foundation (19901993) and funded by the Regis Foundation since 1994, provides an intimate space for directors and actors to discuss their creative process, influences, and body of work. Punctuated with film clips, anecdotes, and personal insights, these conversations take place in the Walkers 340-seat cinema. Audiences are also treated to a retrospective of the filmmakers work, which often includes screenings of rare and archival prints.
Since the inaugural conversation between Clint Eastwood and Richard Schickel in 1990, the series has now hosted 50 events, including international directors, American masters, independent visionaries, artists, auteurs, and leading screen actors in discussion with writers and critics who help shape the way we think about contemporary film. The list covers the history of cinema for the past 20 years, including international directors such as Mike Leigh, Werner Herzog, Milo Forman, and Agnès Varda; American independents like Spike Lee, Gus Van Sant, and Julie Dash; visionaries like John Waters and Jim Jarmusch; auteurs such as Robert Altman and Terry Gilliam; film artists from Stan Brakhage to the Brothers Quay to Guy Maddin; and leading actors such as Jessica Lange, Lili Taylor, Jodie Foster, and Tom Hanks.
Joel and Ethan Coen
Natives of St. Louis Park, Joel and Ethan Coen grew up leading self-proclaimed mundane lives, spending their childhood making 8mm versions of The Naked Prey, Advise & Consent, and other films theyd seen on the locally produced program Mel Jass Matinee Movie. In his 20s, Joel broke into the film business as an assistant editor, notably on Sam Raimis cult classic The Evil Dead. Fascinated by pulp fiction, the brothers admired the hard-boiled style of James M. Cains novels The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity.
With their first film, Blood Simple, in 1984, the Coens endeavored to make a modern version of a Cain story. It was a trial by fire, as virtually no one on the cast and crew, including writer/director/editor/producers Ethan and Joel, had ever been on a film set before. After rejections from every major studio, the film garnered critical notice at festivals and finally got distribution, launching the careers of the brothers known in the film business as the two-headed director, or as Ethan Coen has said, Two heads are better than none. The Coens movies are a cooperativesome might say conspiratorialenterprise, with Joel and Ethan writing, directing, and editing together (using the crusty pseudonym Roderick Jaynes for the latter role).
The brothers singular and elaborate worlds are a mix of pastiche and homage, referencing everything from musicals and old movies to Faulkner, pulp novels, and comic books, along with dazzling cinematography and intricate design. One cannot extract the films from their landscapes: the stifling hot Texas of Blood Simple; the stultifying, gleaming New York cityscape of The Hudsucker Proxy; the frozen tundra-like setting of Fargo, and so on. Their unique sense of place is flawlessly conceived, right down to the distinctive jargon of the characters, reflecting a stylized form of American vernacular to fit the time and place and genre. As the New York Times described it, the Coens create a postmodern cinematic world . . . where everything seems vaguely unhinged.
Within these worlds the brothers create open-ended stories, often using first-person narrations and a cavalry of gifted actors who sign on for the ride again and again. Frequent fellow-travelers include the intense John Turturro, the consummate everyman Steve Buscemi, and John Goodman, a boisterous and fearless kindred spirit. Frances McDormand first appeared in Blood Simple because her roommate, Holly Hunter, bowed out, and went on to become the brothers most prolific muse (and Joels wife), appearing in seven films and winning an Oscar for her portrayal of police detective Marge Gunderson in Fargo.
Though theyve mined many genres throughout their careers, noir seems to be the Coens touchstone. From the gritty thriller Blood Simple to the luminous, moody Man Who Wasnt There to The Big Lebowski with its Philip Marlow-esque Dude, they have done noir every which way, filtering its absurdity, sense of disorientation, alienation, and cynicism through their uniquely skewed sensibility. Yet the Coens also toss a funny bone into their movies, employing brazen slapstick, deliciously clever banter, gallows humor, and even sight gags with relish. Their films seem to embody the pure joy they take in their work.
Once called the Hardy Boys from Hell by Rolling Stone, the Coen brothers have confounded and at times divided critics and audiences alike. While their genre-bending, period-twisting shape-shifters can be difficult to pin down, its abundantly clear that they are filmmakers whose love for the movies is matched by the vastness of their imaginations.
Unless otherwise noted, all films are written, directed, and edited by Joel and Ethan Coen and screened in the Cinema. The retrospective is presented in 35mm, with rare prints coming from studio and individual archives. Tickets to screenings are $8 ($6 Walker members).