24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Coen Bros.

Around Town: 'Last Picture Show' and Duncan Jones

November 17, 2011 |  6:00 am

A 40th-anniversary reunion screening of “The Last Picture Show,” a tribute to the vintage TV series “Insight” and a personal appearance by filmmaker Duncan Jones with screenings of his films “Moon” and “Source Code” are among the offerings this weekend.

Director Peter Bogdanovich and stars Cybill Shepherd, Cloris Leachman, Timothy Bottoms and Eileen Brennan join host Luke Wilson on Thursday evening at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Samuel Goldwyn Theater for the special presentation of “The Last Picture Show.”

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'The Big Lebowski': It's an art show, man

September 29, 2011 | 12:26 pm


The movie "The Big Lebowski" left a definite imprint on popular culture, spawning everything from an online religion called Dudeism to a surge in White Russian cocktail orders. Now Orange County artist Joe Forkan is unveiling a particularly high-minded tribute to the Coen brothers' 1998 film.

Forkan's "The Lebowski Cycle" is a series of 14 paintings and drawings inspired by two sources -- masterpieces of Western art and the Coens' comedy about an avid bowler named the Dude (Jeff Bridges), who is a victim of mistaken identity.

Forkan's painting above depicts a scene from the film in which the Dude and his bowling buddies, played by John Goodman and Steve Buscemi, try to decide how to handle the loss of a favorite throw rug that "really tied the room together." The piece takes as its thematic inspiration a 1784 painting by French artist Jacques-Louis David, "Oath of the Horatii," in which three Roman brothers are also forging a plan.

"In the movie, they play it like it's a drama," said Forkan, who is an associate professor of art at Cal State Fullerton. "There’s no mugging for the camera. Everything has this level of seriousness. In the 'Oath of the Horatii' they’re talking about the future of Rome. In the film they’re talking about a rug that got peed on, but they’re as serious about that as the characters in the painting were. I liked that level of drama in these images that were also loaded with humor."

PHOTOS: Joe Forkan's 'Big Lebowski' paintings

Forkan will be discussing the paintings in the series -- and the classical works that inspired them -- in a gallery talk tonight at 7 at Orange Coast College's Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion, where the paintings are on display until Oct. 28. For a closer look at Forkan's work, check out our slideshow.


'The Achievers: The Story of the Lebowski Fans' explores The Dude phenomenon

'The Big Lebowski' reunion

--Rebecca Keegan


Image: "Oath of the Horatii (After David)." Credit: Joe Forkan

The Coen Bros. have an urge for going to the New York folk scene

June 24, 2011 |  8:55 pm

EXCLUSIVE: The Coen Bros. told an audience at New York's Lincoln Center earlier this month that they were working on a music-related film, but didn't offer any specifics.

Now a clearer picture is emerging on the subject of that movie: the Greenwich Village folk scene seen through the eyes of its larger-than-life patriarch.

The Coen Bros. are working on a script that's loosely based on the life of Dave van Ronk, said a source who was briefed on the project but who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak on the filmmakers' behalf. Van Ronk is a legendary musician who presided over New York city's iconoclastic coffeehouse period of the mid-20th century,

The musician, who died in 2002, was known as the uncle of the coffeehouse scene, a big personality famed for his musical acumen, left-wing politics, general erudition and entertaining storytelling. On his watch, era-defining musicians such as Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell were discovered and cultivated. Van Ronk also was a noted blues guitarist in his own right. A spokeswoman for the Coens did not immediately have a  comment on her clients' behalf.

Van Ronk, who died in 2002 at the age of 66, published a posthumous memoir three years later titled "The Mayor of MacDougal Street" which a collaborator helped collate. The source said the Coens are drawing in part from material in the book.

The Greenwich Village figure, a noted supporter of progressive causes, was also arrested during the neighborhood's famous Stonewall Riots, an event that gives a van Ronk movie a certain relevance in light of the New York State legislature's move to legalize gay marriage on Friday.

At the Lincoln Center talk, the Coens compared their movie to "Margot at the Wedding" (Noah Baumbach was on stage with them) suggesting that, like that film, their new work will offer natural dialogue and a feeling of being dropped into the middle of a world. They also said they expected the film to contain musical performances. "We’re working on a movie now that has music in it [that's] pretty much all performed live, single instrument," Joel Coen said.

The Coens, who had what was by far their biggest success box-office ever with the western "True Grit" last year, are often known for tackling wildly disparate subjects from film to film. They've made one notable music-heavy movie before, spotlighting a decidedly different era in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Dave Van Ronk (extreme right), with Bob Dylan (second from right), Arlo Guthrie (second from left) and Dennis Hopper (extreme left) at Madison Square Garden in 1974. Credit: Ray Stubblebine / Associated Press

The Coen brothers show their true grit

September 27, 2010 |  4:48 pm

It's been a season for eye-catching, ominous-seeming teasers. "Black Swan" has its melodramatic scares. "The Social Network" gave us campus conniving set to the tune of Radiohead. And now the kings of the dark side of the human soul, the Coen brothers, save some of the creepiest for last with this new teaser for their "True Grit" remake.

Wild beards, John Ford-style photography, spooky voice-overs and music, intimidating stares from Josh Brolin and Jeff Bridges, a "retribution" tag line ... and is that Paul Giamatti dressed up as the dead man? It's "No Country for Old Men" re-imagined in the Old West (or maybe just a more Coen brothers-y "All the Pretty Horses"). December and the Oscar race just got more interesting.

-- Steven Zeitchik



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