The Coen Brothers movies ranked from worst to best

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“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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