CSU reacts: What are your favorite Coen Brothers movies?

Nick Botkin

Quinn King smiles after describing her favorite part of the The Big Lebowski. (Devin Cornelius | Collegian)

People mangled in woodchippers. Nihilists with cricket paddles. Greek-style sirens in the 1930s South.

According to Colorado State University Professor Kevin Foskin, director of the interdisciplinary liberal arts program, the Coens have a distinctive style.


Foskin said his favorite Coen film is “The Man Who Wasn’t There.” Foskin said it fits a number of criteria for what constitutes a good film.

“What I like about that film is that the film is less about the story and more about the homage to a particular genre—obviously, the film noir genre of the `40s and `50s,” Foskin said.

It is worth studying Coen Brothers movies because they are well-made, entertaining, thoughtful and doing things that other movies shy from, Foskin said.

“Most films want to tell a story and that is it,” Foskin said. “Whereas the Coen brothers want to tell a good story but add that other element to it.”

Foskin also cited “O Brother Where Art Thou,” as another example.

“Not only it is a story about some convicts, but it is really a story about a particular kind of appreciation of a different kind of very important music,” Foskin said.

The film is less about the story and more about the homage to a particular genre.” Kevin Foskin, director, Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts

While many Colorado State students are not familiar with the Coens by name, they have also seen examples of their work.

Dan Sanders, a senior sociology major, said he likes “O Brother Where Art Thou.” He likes the movie’s humor, music and Greek mythology.

The movie, set in the South in 1937, loosely draws upon Homer’s “The Odyssey.” It follows three ex-convicts who seek a buried treasure.



McKenna Scott, a second-year school counseling graduate student, also likes “O Brother Where Art Thou.”

Mckenna Scott, a grad student here at CSU discusses the reasons why she loves Oh Brother Where Art Thou. (Devin Cornelius | Collegian) (Collegian | DEVIN CORNELIUS)

Scott has seen the movie two or three times. Scott likes the cast and overall message, along with the movie’s indirect humor.

“It is all about rebellion,” Scott said. “I like that.”

For students more familiar with the filmmakers’ oeuvre of work, the Coens’ filmmaking style holds appeal.

“In general, I feel I like the cinematography and production of the stuff the Coens do,” said Austin Luzbetak, a first-year sociology Ph.D student.

Luzbetak said she liked “Inside Llewyn Davis,” although she has not viewed the film in a while. Luzbetak said she liked the music in particular.

Fun fact

The Coens edit their movies jointly, utilizing the pseudonym Roderick Jaynes.

Other students relate to particular characters from the Coens’ work.

Quinn King, a freshman sociology major, is a fan of “The Big Lebowski.”

“Cause The Dude,” she said.

The Dude, a stoner and cynical ex-activist, is the protagonist of the 1998 classic.  Drawn into a kidnapping investigation, The Dude and his friends Walter and Donny engage in adventures both comic and surreal. Nihilists and severed toes, along with marmots are involved.

The Dude’s overall ethos speaks to King.

“I just appreciate his lifestyle,” King said. “He just does what he wants.”

King recommends the movie to other students.

“It is a classic and people reference it a lot, so you should look it up,” King said.

Foskin said he thinks that the Coens will be studied by future generations, he said. “I think they will endure.”

Collegian reporter  Nick Botkin can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com. His Twitter handle is @dudesosad.