The youngest of the Coen brothers no longer wants to make films and is tempted by the theater

While Joel Coen released at the end of the year his first feature film written and directed alone, his brother Ethan seems to be embracing his career as a playwright.

Like the Beatles or the Daft Punks. The daring duo of American filmmakers to whom we owe The Big Lebowski , Fargo or No Country for Old Men might have dissolved for good. At least that’s what one understands by listening to the last statements of Carter Burwell, the appointed composer of the brothers Joel and Ethan Coen. Invited at the end of July on the American music-loving podcast Score, the musician spoke in very clear terms about the sole rider of Joel Coen – the eldest of the siblings – who is working on the upcoming release of his new film, The Tragedy of Macbeth. A solo cinematic journey that could continue beyond this film.

The new adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, which premieres at the New York Film Festival in early fall, is whetting the appetites of moviegoers. His arguments abound, like his cast of choice worn by Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, as well as his palette in black and white. But the film is just as intriguing by its small backyard event: its realization by – and only by – Joel Coen who signs his first feature film there after forty years devoted to cinema with four hands. And for good reason, the youngest of the band has traded in his filmmaker’s camera for the playwright’s pen and the film set for the limelight.

The authenticity of the theater rather than the artifice of the cinema

“Ethan just didn’t want to make films anymore”, commented on this matter Carter Burwell, who has collaborated with the duo since their first production, Blood for blood (1984). “Ethan seems very happy to do what he’s doing, and I’m not sure what Joel will do after that”, said the musician. After a first theatrical experience in 2008, Ethan Coen inaugurated his last play – A Play is a Poem – in the fall of 2019. And seems more than satisfied with his new activity. “I’m resting from the movies”, he confided two years ago to Los Angeles Times , suggesting that he could perhaps return to the cinema. “Working on films is a very chaotic and technical thing, he had also clarified by comparing these two forms of artistic expression. It is the exact opposite of that. It’s a fluid, fragile thing, where everything affects the next thing. (…) It’s not like making a movie, where you can always recover from mistakes and put things together and give them a different meaning. That, my God, is really different. ”

Inseparable since their beginnings behind the camera in the 1980s, the Coen brothers have made no less than twenty films together, until The Ballad of Buster Scruggs , released in 2018 on Netflix. Will this western anthology remain their last joint work? Carter Burwell wants to believe not. “They keep a lot of scripts that they wrote together that are dusting off. I hope they will get back to it. I’ve read some of them, and they’re awesome, he indicated at the microphone of the American podcasters of Score. We’re all at an age where we could all retire, although I don’t think that will happen. It’s a wonderfully unpredictable job. ” Will the director turned playwright ever come back behind the camera? This twist, if it were to occur, would certainly not have been denied by the Coen brothers.


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