Sunday, November 15, 2009

newnoise1 falls for the Coen brothers

newnoise1 falls for the Coen brothers

I am not an ignoramus. I know lots of stuff, such as which year the Second World War ended, who Einstein was, why you don't mix your alcohol with your medication. But, I confess, I never realized I was a Coen brother's fan.

How did they get to me? I mean I thought I was successfully avoiding the Coen brothers all these years. I'm not one for blood and guts. I'm a female writer, sensitive and easily grossed out. There's only one way you're going to get me to voluntarily watch violence and that's by handing me buckets of popcorn as a distraction.

The end of my innocence started when I watched The Big Lebowski for the third time last night. I thought this will be a good movie to blog about, it's hilarious and thought provoking.

I googled The Big Lebowski and guess what? Blogging robs us of our own ignoramias. It dawned on me, somewhat surprisingly, that at least five of my favorite movies were written and directed by none other than the Coen brothers. I felt like a traitor to myself and my kind.

Obviously I'm no movie buff. I always thought of the Coen brothers as similar to the Kray twins, the kind of men any decent girl should avoid. Coen brothers and Kray twins sounded the same to me.

Remember the foot with the sock on sticking out of the corn mill in Fargo? Remember Barton Fink swatting away at flies trying to get over his writers block in that boiling hot Hollywood hotel room? Remember Razing Arizona? Neither do I but I plan to watch it again I can remember I liked it.

Remember the Big Lebowski? The Dude, walking down the aisle in the supermarket wearing shorts, looking so Salvation Army, opening and smelling the milk as if whatever the Dude does must be cool?

I love this film. Not because every sentence contains the f-word, no, but to cast Jeff Bridges, that stylish hunk, as the sloppy Dude was some stroke of genius. I love it because the Dude is so trying to hang on to his cool while life gets so weird it makes his own extreme weirdness look normal.

Not to talk about the effect all the narcotics is having on his mind . . . like trying to remember what he was talking about and being unable to finish his sentences. Forgetting that the car window is closed and throwing his smoke out . . .that's the Dude.

It was like finding a favorite author who was writing under some other name all along.

The Coen brothers create Big characters, Marge in Fargo, cool, calm and collected. Barton Fink, completely stressed out, slapping away at flies and The Big Lebowski, the Dude with his floppy shorts and habit of exposing his hairy belly at the drop of a hat. Burn After Reading . . . it could happen . . . did you see the Russian embassy? I still don't know if it's really the Russian embassy but still . . . it does have a certain ring to it.

To find your writing voice you have to create memorable characters. I'm not sure where the Coen brothers found them. Apparently the Dude is based on a guy they knew who owned a crummy flat and a carpet that 'Tied the room together'.

Notice the odd little things about your friends and family. Your family should be the best place to start to look for weird characters. If you can't notice what's weird about your family you can't notice anything. Starting there, you have great characters, observe them carefully and find ways to express their eccentricities in your writing.

The Coen brothers grew up in Minneapolis and were born in the early fifties. I wish they first published their movies as books before they filmed them. I am going to write to them, care of their agent, to request this . . .

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