Blu-Ray Review: Coen Brothers Hit HD With Four of Their Best

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CHICAGO – Few directors have ever kickstarted their career more confidently than Joel and Ethan Coen. And they did it with such an array of genre and subject matter from the gritty noir of “Blood Simple” to the subversive comedy of “Raising Arizona” to the gangster epic “Miller’s Crossing” to the heavily-symbolic drama “Barton Fink” to the whimsical charmer “The Hudsucker Proxy” and head-first into one of the best movies ever made — “Fargo.” Four of their first six films have been collected in the “Coen Brothers Collection” and while Fox was, very sadly, only able to send over one of them individually, we didn’t want this stellar collection to go unmentioned.

The “Coen Brothers Collection” would be worth the purchase price if any single one of the films in it were removed. In other words, all four of these flicks are SO good that you could take any one of them out and the strength of the other three would still leave customers satisfied. These are incredible films — all of them 5-star worthy — that have only grown in time.

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0

The one we were sent from the quartet of greatness is the Coen’s debut, the riveting “Blood Simple.” Starring a young Frances McDormand and spectacular Dan Hedaya, “Blood Simple” is one of the best noirs outside of the prime of the genre in the ’40s and ’50s. “Body Heat” got all the press when it came to ’80s noirs (along with the remake of “The Postman Always Rings Twice”) but “Blood Simple” has arguably held up better than any genre pic of the era. It’s a great movie with double-crosses, twists, turns, and an amazingly-dark death scene. If you haven’t seen it and have only caught on to the Coens through later-career films like “The Big Lebowski” or “True Grit,” do yourself a favor and go back to the beginning.

Coen Brothers Collection was released on Blu-ray on August 30th, 2011
Coen Brothers Collection was released on Blu-ray on August 30th, 2011
Photo credit: Fox/MGM

Synopsis:
The films of Academy Award winners Joel Coen and Ethan Coen are breathtakingly bold, stunningly original and marvelously entertaining. This must-own collection from these visionary filmmakers includes four iconic movies, presented in breathtaking Blu-ray high definition.

Includes:
Blood Simple:
This critically-acclaimed thriller set in rural Texas combines chilling suspense with offbeat humor to create an all-American version of the classic “film noir.”

Abby (Frances McDormand) is cheating on her saloonkeeper husband, Marty (Dan Hedaya). The object of her affections is Ray (John Getz), one of Marty’s bartenders. Marty hires Visser (M.Emmet Walsh), an unscrupulous detective, to kill them but Visser has other, more lucrative plans of his own. So begins a calculating round of double and triple crosses that build to a bloodcurdling, surprise-filled climax. It’s an evil-minded masterpiece from the exciting team of Joel and Ethan Coen.

Fargo:
The sixth collaboration of filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, Fargo brings the Coen Brothers’ unique sensibility to the frozen Minnesota winter, capturing the pathos of a kidnapping scheme gone wildly wrong. Its literate script, nuanced performances and crisp direction have received the industry’s highest honors, including nominations for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Miller’s Crossing:
Filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen (Barton Fink, Fargo) create a complex and graphic vision of gangsterism set during Prohibition and featuring a riveting rouges’ gallery of killers and con men.

Leo (Albert Finney), a likeable Irish gangster boss, rules an Eastern city along with Tom (Gabriel Byrne), his trusted lieutenant and counselor. But just as their authority is challenged by an Italian underboss (J.E. Freeman), Leo and Tom also fall for the same woman. Tom, caught in the jaws of a gangland power struggle, walks a deadly tightrope as he tries to control and manipulate its violent outcomes.

Raising Arizona:
Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter and John Goodman star in Ethan and Joel Coen’s acclaimed screwball love story filled with mad chases, unexpected plot twists and wild pyrotechnics. Vowing to go straight, a convenience store bandit (Cage) proposes marriage to the police department’s photographer (Hunter). All is wedded bliss until they discover she’s unable to get pregnant and are turned down by every adoption agency in town. It doesn’t take long before they realize the only solution is to kidnap one of the town’s celebrated quintuplets and hit the road!

Special Features:

Blood Simple
o Commentary With Kenneth Loring Of Forever Young Films
o Theatrical Trailer

Fargo
o Audio Commentary with Director of Photography Roger A. Deakins
o Minnesota Nice Featurette
o Trivia Track
o American Cinematographer Article
o Still Photo Gallery

Miller’s Crossing
o Shooting Miller’s Crossing - A Conversation with Barry Sonnenfeld
o Still Gallery
o Theatrical Trailers
o Cast Interviews with Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden and John Turturro

Raising Arizona
None…boo.

“Coen Brothers Collection” was released by Fox/MGM on August 30th, 2011.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

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