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Elaborated re-post: Not watching your own movies

Any good interview, even one that’s entirely friendly on the surface, should have a slight adversarial quality, since the reporter and the subject have inherently different goals. The Coens don’t always suffer fools gladly, but they give good copy, even in one-word answers to questions that don’t interest them. (“Do you get excited about the Cannes competition?” one reporter asked them. “Does that get your heart pumping?” Ethan Coen: “No.”) Over the years the Coens have developed a routine that lies somewhere between practiced shtick and a psychological coping mechanism. Ethan, the younger, shorter, lighter-haired brother, delivers brief responses, often glib or acrid in tone, and then the taller, older and more loquacious Joel bails him out, expounding generously on the original question or diverting it into friendlier terrain.
[. . .]
Well, I feel like one aspect of that is that your movies almost always reward a second viewing. There’s always stuff I didn’t see or didn’t understand at first. Which definitely isn’t true of most movies!
J.C.: That’s a marketing trick!
E.C.: We endorse it! [Laughter.] But, my God, we don’t watch our own movies. No. You work on it for a year, a year and a half, and especially by the final stage when you’re fussing over every little thing — and we cut them ourselves — and everything is problem-solving, fixing stuff up. There’s a job involved, and beyond that when there’s nothing to be done, why would you look at it again? I mean, you know how it comes out. ("Joen and Ethan Coen: 'My God, we don't watch our own movies!'" interview with Andrew O'hehir,
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"Don't watch our own movies"

I hate that answer; it's designed to make them seem remote from us, as if we're rabidly chasing down appetites they're removed from. There's no way they haven't replayed the experience of making the movies—key scenes, reverberating portrayals—many times, even as they go about their next projects. Piecemeal, over time, they've seen them as much as any of us ... I, personally, would have made this clear. Join the rest of us, Coens, and particular yourself from there. It'd be more interesting. 


Graham Clark

I hate that answer; it's designed to make them seem remote from us

Or it's just the honest truth.

And they don't need to make themselves seem remote from you; they are remote from you.



@Graham Clark They don't watch their own movies, but they know that by saying that that they're going to seem as if they dump everything they've done without a need to look back ... this draws us to envy and be in awe of them (they're very psychologically sophisticated people). I think part of them likes to pretend they've garnered some kind of enlightenment, but won't from within their cloaks, show it to us. Someone ought to chastise them for their limiting tendency to withhold, and me, Emporium, just did my limited bit. 

Also, I enjoy their movies. They're different from me, can show me things about people that'd learn and excite me a lot; but they're not all that remote from me, good sir. 

Graham Clark

but they're not all that remote from me, good sir.

They are indeed all that remote from you, and you know it. Hence the resentment:

this draws us to envy and awe them (they're very psychologically sophisticated people). I think part of them likes to pretend they've garnered paradise (or at least, enlightenment), but won't from within their cloaks, show it to us. Someone ought to chastise them for their limiting tendency to withhold



@Graham Clark Graham, do you cling to the authorized, so to make fun of those below? I'm always willing to re-fresh my take, but I seem to remember that was the fit you unfortunately found you belonged to. 


Graham Clark

Graham, do you cling to the authorized, so to make fun of those below?

No, but I do have an unfortunate compulsion to make probably futile attempts at encouraging those below to do something more productive with their time than nip at the heels of the angels.

but I seem to remember that was the fit you unfortunately found you belonged to.




@Graham Clark My art is different from theirs, but they are amazing. Still, they withhold, and it's meant to draw ... but frustrate. And just as your everyday average Magna Carta human being — with a nifty, remote, admittedly "you-denying" pseudonym — who'd prefer none of us had too much a taste for heights and angels (that was the real 60s, after all), I'm for sure going to point that out. 

Andrew's piece had it that if we were left with only the younger, we'd be warranted to mob at and burn them — did you catch that?

* * *


@Emporium Nothing ruins the fun of watching a movie more than working on it. At the end, just like they say, everyone's just trying to get it out the door on time and all too aware of everything that could have been done differently and better. I doubt that novelists spend much time reading their own novels either: too busy working on the next one. Mailer claimed to not read at all: "I'm more a writer than a reader." Poets though - they read their own stuff compulsively... 


@rdnaso @Emporium If that were generally true, by now it wouldn't be a surprise to learn they don't watch their own — in fact we'd be surprised if they did. I think many creators know that it sounds sort of masculine to always be onto the next work, and feminine, to admit watching the whole film with an audience is a rewarding good time. They toss things off as soon as possible and don't look back, while we, their dependents, indulge. Masculine to our feminine. 

Emporium / Patrick McEvoy-Halston


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