cover of book

Joel and Ethan Coen
by R. Barton Palmer
University of Illinois Press, 2004
Paper: 978-0-252-07185-0 | eISBN: 978-0-252-05414-3 | Cloth: 978-0-252-02936-3
Library of Congress Classification PN1998.3.C6635P35 2004
Dewey Decimal Classification 791.430233092273

With landmark films such as Fargo, O Brother Where art Thou?, Blood Simple, and Raising Arizona, the Coen brothers have achieved both critical and commercial success. Proving the existence of a viable market for "small" films that are also intellectually rewarding, their work has exploded generic conventions amid rich webs of transtextual references.

R. Barton Palmer argues that the Coen oeuvre forms a central element in what might be called postmodernist filmmaking. Mixing high and low cultural sources and blurring genres like noir and comedy, the use of pastiche and anti-realist elements in films such as The Hudsucker Proxy and Barton Fink clearly fit the postmodernist paradigm. Palmer argues that for a full understanding of the Coen brothers' unique position within film culture, it is important to see how they have developed a new type of text within general postmodernist practice that Palmer terms commercial/independent. Analyzing their substantial body of work from this "generic" framework is the central focus of this book.

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