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University Press of Kentucky
The Philosophy of the Coen Brothers / Edition 2

The Philosophy of the Coen Brothers / Edition 2

by Mark T. ConardMark T. Conard
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Many critics agree that Joel and Ethan Coen are one of the most visionary and idiosyncratic filmmaking teams of the last three decades. Combining thoughtful eccentricity, wry humor, irony, and often brutal violence, the Coen brothers have crafted a style of filmmaking that pays tribute to classic American movie genres yet maintains a distinctly postmodern feel. Since arriving on the film scene, the Coens have amassed an impressive body of work that has garnered them critical acclaim and a devoted cult following. From Raising Arizona and Fargo to O Brother, Where Art Thou? and No Country for Old Men, the Coens have left an unmistakable imprint on Hollywood. The Philosophy of the Coen Brothers investigates philosophical themes in the works of these master filmmakers and also uses their movies as vehicles to explore fundamental concepts of philosophy. The contributing authors discuss concepts such as justice, the problem of interpretation, existential role-playing, the philosophy of comedy, the uncertainty principle, and the coldness of modernity. The Philosophy of the Coen Brothers is not just for die-hard Lebowski Fest attendees, but for anyone who enjoys big ideas on the big screen.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813134451
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 03/30/2012
Series: The Philosophy of Popular Culture
Edition description: updated edition
Pages: 332
Sales rank: 722,061
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Mark T. Conard is assistant professor of philosophy at Marymount College. He is the series editor of The Philosophy of Popular Culture series and the editor of numerous books, including The Philosophy of Film Noir, The Philosophy of Neo-Noir, and The Philosophy of Martin Scorsese. He lives in New York, New York.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction Mark T. Conard 1

Part 1 The Coen Brand of Comedy and Tragedy

Raising Arizona as an American Comedy Richard Gilmore 7

The Human Comedy Perpetuates Itself: Nihilism and Comedy in Coen Neo-Noir Thomas S. Hibbs 27

Philosophies of Comedy in O Brother, Where Art Thou? Douglas McFarland 41

No Country for Old Men: The Coens' Tragic Western Richard Gilmore 55

Deceit, Desire, and Dark Comedy: Postmodern Dead Ends in Blood Simple Alan Woolfolk 79

Part 2 Ethics: Shame, Justice, and Virtue

"And It's Such a Beautiful Day!" Shame and Fargo Rebecca Hanrahan David Stearns 93

Justice, Power, and Love: The Political Philosophy of Intolerable Cruelty Shai Biderman William J. Devlin 109

Ethics, Heart, and Violence in Miller's Crossing Bradley L. Herling 125

"Takin"er Easy for All Us Sinners": Laziness as a Virtue in The Big Lebowski Matthew K. Douglass Jerry L. Walls 147

No Country for Old Men as Moral Philosophy Douglas McFarland 163

Part 3 Postmodernity, Interpretation, and the Construction of History

Heidegger and the Problem of Interpretation in Barton Fink Mark T. Conard 179

The Past Is Now: History and The Hudsucker Proxy Paul Coughlin 195

"A Homespun Murder Story": Film Noir and the Problem of Modernity in Fargo Jerold J. Abrams 211

Part 4 Existentialism, Alienation, and Despair

"What Kind of Man Are You?" The Coen Brothers and Existentialist Role Playing Richard Gaughran 227

Being the Barber: Kierkegaardian Despair in The Man Who Wasn't There Karen D. Hoffman 243

Thinking beyond the Failed Community: Blood Simple and The Man Who Wasn't There R. Barton Palmer 267

Part 5 God, Man, and Nature

How Job Begat Larry: The Present Situation in A Serious Man K. L. Evans 289

"A Lead Ball of Justice": The Logic of Retribution and the Ethics of Instruction in True Grit David LaRocca 307

List of Contributors 333

Index 339

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