The Hollywood machine is responsible for churning out not just the commercial gems of Madea Goes to Jail and Confessions of a Shopaholic, but also the perceived intellectual offerings of the overrated, self-aggrandizing cabal of current directors, among which the Coen brothers possess a strong foothold.
For as perplexingly revered as the Coen brothers are, it is difficult to deny that they have displayed genuine artistic progression, both scriptorially and directorially. The Hudsucker Proxy, one of the few films that isn’t constantly mentioned in reference to the directing team, is a chief example of their climb from extremely lackluster to just plain lackluster.
Admittedly, the early to mid-nineties were a strange time for everyone, but the Coen brothers really got away with releasing a stockpile of banal shit (see Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, and The Hudsucker Proxy for the trilogy of evidence).
With the exception of The Big Lebowski, the Coen brothers have done nothing that has truly added to the extremely scant list of decent films in the world, save for proving that an arsenal of Hebrew friends and lovers of indie bull shit that seems profound because it’s so esoteric and nonsensical will pave the way for commercial and artistic success.
Naturally, the Coen brothers are not alone in their elevated mediocrity. Quentin Tarantino, Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, Michel Gondry, and Baz Luhrmann, to name a few, are all current directors who share the same benefit of being lauded for creating work that is on par with a USC senior, only with a higher budget to mask the inanity of the content.
What is so maddening about this ever pervasive existence of run of the mill “talent” is that it is all based on luck and whose backside you decide to forcibly stick your head up. The Coen brothers are a demonstration in the importance of never overstepping one’s bounds creatively, of how breaking barriers cannot occur unless the studio executive okays it first. Is it anything novel to point out that H’wood is fond of stifling innovation? Absolutely not. But one has to wonder how long it needs to be mentioned before something actually changes.
Based on the Coen brothers’ recent Oscar win, it seems there will be no sign of slowing down the omnipresent nurturing of the hack director’s sizable ego. And maybe this whole diatribe is just the bitter ranting of a failed screenwriter, but I still have to believe that I know when exaltation is deserved and when it is not. Federico Fellini: Deserved exaltation. Billy Wilder: Deserved exaltation. Stanley Kubrick: Deserved exaltation. The aforementioned directors are some of the last vestiges to give hope of there ever being another time when Hollywood could overlook its monetary voracity and instead consider what they are choosing to put out into the world and leave behind as an indication of humanity.