Recently I was contemplating making a list of my favorite scenes in film, but I decided that instead of just…
Breaking up is hard to do.
The owner of a seedy small-town Texas bar discovers that one of his employees is having an affair with his wife. A chaotic chain of misunderstandings, lies and mischief ensues after he devises a plot to have them murdered.
Blood Simple may very well be the most powerful and confidant debut film of the last 50 years. It's a paranoid stunner: a film full of paranoia as a terrific means of suspense building. But also it's a film that is so good that it seems to have been made by a paranoid director and writer who feared that they would only be able to make only one film, so they made that one film the best representation of their talent imaginable. It's an explosively controlled and terrifically engaging piece of irrepressible intensity; and in the Coen Brother's hands, it's a debut masterpiece.
The film shows a duo of Coens who know exactly what they're doing. If, like most debuts,…
As awful as I found The Counselor to be, something good will come of it.
The subsequent discussion/scrum in the comments led to discussions about Cormac McCarthy and then No Country For Old Men. Then I started thinking, "Now there's a film I need to rewatch. Hmm, there are some Coens I haven't seen yet as well. Really need to get round to Barton Fink. And A Serious Man. It's been a few years since I've seen Fargo as well. And The Man Who Wasn't There. I wonder...."
And thus the decision was made to wade through all of the films directed by one or both of the Coens in chronological order,…
”If you point a gun at someone, you'd better make sure you shoot him, and if you shoot him you'd better make sure he's dead, because if he isn't then he's gonna get up and try to kill you.”
Smart, unpredictable, gripping and at times spine chilling, Blood Simple is the ultimate crime thriller and the marvelous debut of Joel and Ethan Coen, the genius brothers take the simple and even cliched story line of punishment and by adding their favorite elements turn it into an electrifying and fascinating neo-noir which with its dark humor and eye-catching violence never fails to surprise. Like other films from Coens here a simple matter that can be solved easily turns into series of…
As assured a debut as you will ever see. Blood Simple is a twisty, genuinely unpredictable thriller with a pitch black heart. The Coen brothers established themselves instantly as major talents in a mere ninety minutes of Southern noir style and invasive paranoia.
For a first-time viewing the other Coen work it most immediately brings to mind is No Country for Old Men. There is a devilish spirit of chaos at play in Blood Simple. It begins in darkness and rain and never lets up. If the night won't get you the day and its inexorable heat will. Hats waved in front of faces are a common visual beat, and Carter Burwell's oppressive pulsing score is accompanied by the thrum…
It had been years since I'd seen this, luckily after revisiting it remains my 2nd favorite from the Coens. Though they've made many other films, and all but 2 of them absolutely perfect, BLOOD SIMPLE still stands out as:
1. Their best use of soundtrack/sound design. They have put together some of the all-time best scores and soundtracks (my favorite is probably FARGO - goddamn!), but here they incorporate it as another "speaking" character. The sound of a lazily turning ceiling fan is made deeper and louder, becomes the sound of menacing footsteps or a slowly dying heartbeat.
2. Maybe their best "show don't tell", but of course the bits of dialogue pack a serious punch.
3. Their bleakest, and…
Finally, FRIGGIN' FINALLY I got around to witnessing the first film from the minds of Joel and Ethan Coen and my goodness what a confident debut it was. Blood Simple is a masterful noir that plays like it was made by a filmmaker at the top of his craft, a crime thriller that both feels soothing in its calm pacing yet is also unnerving for the very same reason.
I have long admired the Coens ability to make a brief film feel as if it was bursting at the seams with detail and meaningful dialogue. I had seen Fargo multiple times before I realized that it checked in at under 100 minutes and it seemed like a typo, an impossibility.…
As the Coen brothers first feature film, it does an outstanding job of creating a tense atmosphere and interesting story. And while it does wander a little aimlessly through the plot, there are some good performances that help develop the air of discomfort the film holds so dearly to in the third act. In my personal opinion, the movie fizzles out after the second act, but I would be lying if I said it didn't go out with a bang. I will say I'm a little disappointed, I expected something more attention getting, but once you start the grasp what the story has in store you can't really help but be compelled by it. And it has an undeniably attractive visual charm that the Coen's certainly grew into later in their careers. I probably wouldn't watch it again, but it re-solidified my love of the Coen's, and for that I'm grateful.
Now HERE is the true outlier in the Coens' filmography, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Blood Simple hints at the Coens' thematic and narrative preoccupations but, more than any of their other films, lacks the aesthetic that might be commonly characterized as Coenesque—in terms of their defining stylistic and rhythmic quirks. No Country is far and away the Coens film with which it shares the most DNA, as their two least chatty, tensest, most procedural films. I don't think that Blood Simple ultimately transcends being a superb filmmaking exercise, as it is, relative to their other output, fairly straightforward in focus and philosophy. A good comparison is Blue Ruin, and in fact Blood Simple feels ahead of its time…
Watched this with some folks from Four Star Video Heaven and then we all talked about it (and a bunch of other Coen flicks) for a soon-to-drop episode of their podcast, which I will dutifully link here as soon as it's out there.
Coen Brothers Film #4 is Blood Simple
What a debut. Eerily feeling like Hitchcock, the Coens cut their teeth with a very distinctive directing style.
The Coens clearly had a lot of chops out of the gate but this lacked a lot of personality, imo, the one thing I do really have no reservations about with the Coens. Which isn't to say it wasn't goofy enough or anything, No Country strikes pretty much the same tone but those characters are all specific and idiosyncratic and lead themselves through that big shitshow that befalls them as fully-fledged people. Everyone is very rote and stock in Blood Simple and the performances really don't elevate that at all. Add that to as simple a plot as you can get and whenever the Coens aren't like explicitly flexing their directorial muscles in a big showy tension setpiece it can get really dull imo. Those setpieces, though, something real special right away and more and more frequent as the movie goes on.
[Note: I watched the Director's Cut, which apparently mainly just tightened up some editing, and included music from the theatrical release that rights issues prevented from being in the original home release.]
I liked how unaware the characters were of their own situations; they might seem like fools in their extremely flawed understandings but they really just aren't aware of the whole picture. It reminds me of how so many films have characters crucially leaving out key information, leading to drama (rom-coms are particularly notorious for this), but it works perfectly in this film because it is so nihilistic and about the ironies of life and death. The sort of comic nihilism on picture here clearly is a precursor to…
HAIL, CAESAR! has me watching or re-watching all of the Coens' films in order.
There are few debut films as confident and stylistically cogent as this. I have a feeling that if history had not put it in the shadow of a fistful of masterpieces, I would be giving it five stars. But I know what the Coens are capable of, and remarkable as this film is, things basically only get better from here.
A confident and moody debut hinting of some of the great things to come from the Cohen brothers. And the finale is a masterpiece.
While some of the suspense sequences work fine, still, there's an odd contrivance to the script wherein Getz and McDormand keep not fully saying things to each other that don't make sense as complete human interactions. Its abruptness was jarring every time, but didn't seem intentional except as a way to keep the circuitous mystery going.
a truth you could see if only you had faith.
More Info to come