' ' Cinema Romantico: 5 Coen Brothers Movies Performances That Really Tie The Film Together, plus one

Thursday, February 04, 2016

5 Coen Brothers Movies Performances That Really Tie The Film Together, plus one

As Dianna Sletten writes at SheKnows, “Tying a room together doesn’t mean having to spend a lot of money or buying several new items for the room. In most cases, you can tie a room together successfully with the furniture and accent pieces you already have, by displaying them properly. Or you can add one or two new items that will make the room pop.” She does know. She knows like The Dude knew in The Coen Brothers’ “The Big Lebowski” when he so desperately just wanted his fair-to-middlin' rug back because it really tied the room together. And I like to think The Coen Brothers added this little plot complication because they knew it was simultaneously nothing and everything. Because The Coen Brothers know that what truly ties their often intricate films together are not the star-making performances - like Jeff Bridges as The Dude, like Frances McDormand as the immortal Marge Gunderson, like Oscar Isaac as Llewyn Davis. No, it’s often the support to the supporting performances that ties a Coen Brothers movie together, like the little thought that goes a long way in a bit of fine dining plate presentation.

5 Coen Brothers Movies Performances That Really Tie The Film Together, plus one

Josh Brolin, True Grit

For most of this western opus, a US Marshal, a Texas Ranger and the spunky fourteen year old Mattie Ross try and track down the villainous Tom Chaney, the man responsible for killing Mattie’s father. Innumerable westerns have taught us to assume that Chaney is obligatorily vicious, requisitely unkillable, except when it comes to our heroes. But when we meet him, Brolin does a 180, playing the part like the filing cabinet of his mind is missing a lot of folders. Like, you know how there is speculation that mentally Billy the Kid wasn’t all there? Brolin plays that Billy the Kid.

Tara Reid, The Big Lebowski

Still, and probably forever, Tara Reid's singular silver screen moment, made famous by a single tawdry line that her scratchy voice turns into extraordinary Z-grade art.

Petra Boden, Fargo

She’s in a single scene, manning the cash register at the diner where Jerry Lundegaard, his father-in-law and Stan Grossman (who could appear in a different version of this list) have just held council. Upbeat to the nines, she ignores the distracted vibes emanating from Jerry to merrily ask how everything was. He offers a standard-issue reply followed by a rhetorical wondering of how she is. She doesn’t say anything because she doesn’t have to – she just improbably enlarges her grin like it’s literally her happiest day on Earth, which it probably is, until the next day.

Patrick Cranshaw, The Hudsucker Proxy

Most my age likely remember him as Blue, the ancient fraternity brother in “Old School”, but he’ll always he Ancient Sorter to me, the not-really-at-all apprentice to Norville Barnes’ first-day-on-the-job mail clerk. Every time I’ve dared to daydream about how I’ve got big ideas I’ve heard Cranshaw’s voice disinterestedly responding: “I’m sure you do.”

David Rasche, Burn After Reading

There’s an awful lotta plot happening in the Coens’ noirish screwball comedy, especially when the CIA finds itself involved in a myriad of strange goings-on involving a woman they don’t really know and that doesn’t really know as much as she claims to, and the few times when a Langley boss (J.K. Simmons) needs a briefing on all that what-have-you, it’s Rasche’s CIA officer Palmer who provides it. Really these sequences are un-essential because Rasche, with a laconic, Churchill-martini-dry voice, is merely explaining what has already happened. But then, that’s their innate beauty – the finer points of Central Intelligence bureaucracy rendered in Rasche’s poetical monotone “Ums” and “Uhs.”

Simon Helberg, A Serious Man

“Look at the parking lot, Larry.”


s. said...

Rasche is also amazing in In the Loop, he is so well suited to these funny, semi-political movies. Really terrific idea for the list! I think for me one that ties it all together in Big Lebowski is Jesus - he is such a strange and funny character and that mini flashback that is in his scene which lasts maybe 5 seconds encapsulates the bizarre factor of Lebowski so well

northierthanthou said...

Brolin is fantastic in True Grit.