Joel Coen

Actor, Director, Writer

29/11/1954 (67 years old) St. Louis Park, Minnesota, United States

American writer/director Joel Coen trained at New York University, then moved into films in the 1980s. Working in tandem with his producer/writer brother Ethan, Coen burst into the big time with a modestly budgeted "film noir" melodrama, Blood Simple (1984). The picture had one of those set-piece scenes that everybody talked about, thus increasing its box-office appeal; it was the scene wherein a murderer discovers that it's not so easy to clean a blood-soaked wooden floor, especially when company is coming in a few minutes. Joel and Ethan's next hit was Raising Arizona (1987), a determinedly nonconformist kidnap caper in which no one in the audience was sure who exactly to root for or whether or not to laugh. Arizona also established what has become a cliché in Hollywood films of the 1990s: the floor-level chase sequence. The Coens pursued the unorthodox so diligently that by 1990 they were in the "love them or hate them" classification. Miller's Crossing (1990) was a labyrinthine gangster film that alternated between spoofery and deadly seriousness, while Barton Fink (1991), a hallucinatory tale about Hollywood in the 1940s, had so many plot twists that the major critics came to a gentleman's agreement not to mention anything about the film except the cast and the photography. Fink received both the "Palme D'Or" and "Best Director" awards at Cannes. Joel Coen's 1994 directorial project The Hudsucker Proxy was a bit more conservative (and a lot more expensive) than his earlier films, though its skewering of American big-business intrigues had more in common with Fellini than Madison Avenue. In 1996, Coen was bestowed yet another Cannes "Best Director" honor for his offbeat, black comedy Fargo. The film also earned both brothers an Oscar for "Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen."

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