It's a big hairy deal, making the TIME 100after all, some 6.7 billion people were left offbut don't expect to hear whoops of joy from the brothers Coen. The space between ecstasy and depression, which for other filmmakers is a chasm, is for them the slimmest crevice. Their appearances this past Oscar night, to pick up statuettes for Best Picture, Direction and Adapted Screenplay for No Country for Old Men, might have been three trips to the dentist, so little joy did they betray. They're way too cool to be caught expressing emotion.
The brothers' admirers are more demonstrative, and with good reason: the Coens make damn fine movies. Since Blood Simple in 1984, they've lent their acute camera skill to tales of murder, kidnapping and other crimes of the heart, perpetrated by lost souls as funny as they are desperate. Miller's Crossing, Fargo, The Big Lebowski and The Man Who Wasn't There all possess the dry, distanced wit of an Old Testament God having a quiet laugh at the sad creatures he let run wild on Earth.
In their dozen features, Joel (below right), 53, and Ethan, 50, have shown what real independent cinema is: finding a unique voice, and eye, and being true to both. Here's hoping the Coens take just a little pleasure in that grand achievement.
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