The Coen Brothers movies ranked from worst to best


“I’m talking about ethics,” begins Jon Polito’s Johnny Caspar in “Miller’s Crossing”. In case anyone missed the memo, the Coens are shaping up to be “serious” S-capital filmmakers with their third directorial venture. Their not-so-crazy column of organized crime of the Roaring Twenties is well done, of course, but it’s also a little pompously heavy. While Gabriel Byrne’s Tom Reagan plays both sides of a dispute between rival ethnic gangs against each other, the Coen brothers tend to proclaim their themes as tensions erupt. While filmmakers normally find a way to convey their idiosyncrasies organically into a film, they only make themselves too present here through grand choices in many consciously styled sequences. It’s perfectly fine as a crowd flick and by no means a disaster, but the heaviness of the Coens pops in and distracts when she’s looking for something bigger than the genre.

Over time, they became better at weaving these peculiarities in a more complex way into the texture of their threads, so that a declarative sequence would no longer be necessary. In Coen’s later works, the meanings of the stories speak for themselves. In “Miller’s Crossing”, the characters express the meaning of the story.

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