Less than a month after I passively challenged the PR strategy for Joel and Ethan Coen's upcoming A Serious Man, out comes a press release from the always ahead-of-the-curve Walker Art Center that they are planning to turn the volume on A Serious Man chatter up to "Deafening" when they bring the brothers to town as part of a career-spanning, 50th Anniversary Regis Dialogue & Retrospective this September. It will be a Coen-anza like no other for the hometown heroes, who were profiled in this space last year.
Joel and Ethan Coen: Raising Cain kicks off on September 18th with a Director's Cut, 25th-anniversary-commemorating, 35mm screening of Blood Simple, followed by a post-screening reception (at Wolfgang Puck's 20.21? I suspect so). The next Friday, September 25th, the brothers will sit down to discuss their career in the 50th Regis Dialogue. Tickets are $100 and include access to the post-show reception, where, if you're lucky, you can ask the brothers themselves about the mystery behind Anton Chigurh's whereabouts at the Desert Sands Motor Hotel.
Here are the details from the press release:
"Minneapolis, July 28, 2009 — The Walker Art Center celebrates its 50th Regis Dialogue and Retrospective with Minnesota’s own Joel and Ethan Coen in conjunction with the 25th-anniversary year of their stunning debut, Blood Simple, and upon the release of their 14th feature, the shot-in-Minnesota A Serious Man. The Coen Brothers Regis Dialogue and Film Retrospective, entitled “Raising Cain” and presented September 18-October 17, will showcase all 13 of the feature films they have written, directed, and edited leading up to this newest release: Blood Simple; Raising Arizona; Miller’s Crossing; Barton Fink; The Hudsucker Proxy; Fargo; The Big Lebowski; O Brother, Where Art Thou?; The Man Who Wasn’t There; The Ladykillers; Intolerable Cruelty; No Country for Old Men; and Burn After Reading. The Regis Dialogue, featuring Joel and Ethan Coen in conversation, will take place Friday, September 25, in the Walker Cinema. The retrospective kicks off on September 18 with the directors’ cut of Blood Simple, shown on a special archival 35mm print. The event includes a post-screening reception. Dates for individual programs in the series will be released by August 18.
The Coen brothers’ singular and elaborate worlds reveal a distinct vision that combines pastiche and homage, referencing everything from musicals and old movies to Faulkner to pulp novels and comic books, along with dazzling cinematography and intricate design. Their unique sense of place is flawlessly conceived, right down to the distinctive jargon of the characters, reflecting a stylized form of American vernacular to fit the time and place and genre. As the New York Times described it, the Coens create “a postmodern cinematic world . . . where everything seems vaguely unhinged.” While they’ve mined many genres throughout their career, it is noir which they have done every which way, filtering its absurdity, sense of disorientation, alienation, and cynicism through their unique sensibility. Yet the Coens also toss a funny bone into their movies, employing brazen slapstick, deliciously clever banter, gallows humor, and even sight gags with relish. The films seem to embody the pure joy of their creators.
Once called “the Hardy Boys from Hell” (Rolling Stone), the Coen brothers have confounded and at times divided critics and audiences alike. While these genre-bending, period-twisting shape-shifters can be difficult to pin down, it’s abundantly clear that they are filmmakers whose love for the movies is matched by the vastness of their imagination."
To be honest I'm just as scared as I am excited for this series because lives may be lost in the battle for tickets. The Walker, in a brilliant membership development strategy, is giving August 17th priority ticket access to its Contributing Members ($250+/year), followed by a release to all Walker members on September 10th. Get the rub? If you're not a Walker member you can forget about getting tickets to the Regis Dialogue on the 25th, but you have a couple weeks to join before those tickets go on sale.
Maybe the most bizarre detail about this retrospective, of course, is that it does not include a local premiere of A Serious Man, which opens right in the middle of the month-long series. Why this could not be arranged I don't know, but needless to say the Walker might lose some audience that weekend of October 2nd as locals flock to the Landmark Uptown Theater, where I expect it will open in limited engagement.
For more information about the Regis series schedule as it becomes available, visit the "Raising Cain" page (everytime I hear that I'm going to think of that intolerable "Raisin' McCain" song...) on the Walker's website. When tickets go on sale, the stand-alone Coens section on the Walker website should be up and running.