Joel and Ethan Coen (b. 1954, 1957) started their careers in obscurity on a shoestring budget cajoled from family and friends in Minneapolis. Working entirely outside the studio system, the Coen brothers scored an unlikely first success in 1984 with their postmodern noir film Blood Simple. Two decades and nearly a dozen movies later, the Coens are now among the best-known writer/directors in Hollywood, turning out major studio releases featuring such stars as George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Tom Hanks.
The Coens' films all share a distinctive, quirky ambience that critics have come to identify as "that Coen brothers feeling." Tricky moving camera work, frequent use of the voiceover, homages to directors and cinematic genres, a fascination with unexpected and off-kilter violence, and omnipresent black humor are all defining elements of the Coens' cinematic world.
From such highly stylized movies as Barton Fink and The Man Who Wasn't There to more mainstream but dark comedies such as Raising Arizona, Intolerable Cruelty, and O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the Coens are equally at home with existential despair and comic exuberance and are known for scripts packed with an obvious love for language. This collection of their most important interviews spans twenty years and is the most comprehensive published on the brothers.
William Rodney Allen teaches at Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts. He is the author of Walker Percy: A Southern Wayfarer and the editor of Conversations with Kurt Vonnegut, both published by University Press of Mississippi.