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O brothers, where aren’t thou?

O brothers, where aren’t thou? 

Coen Brothers
Miramax Films
Ethan Coen (left) and brother Joel, on the set of “No Country for Old Men,” seem to have found that it’s still a country for middle-aged filmmakers.


It’s a better-than-average time to be a fan of Joel and Ethan Coen. The native Minnesotans’ pulpy Texas noir “No Country for Old Men”— the first three-quarters of which is damn near great — starts today at the Uptown.

An even stronger Coen work called “Tuileries” — albeit just six minutes long — comes out Tuesday on the “Paris je t’aime” DVD. And lest these legendarily elusive cult icons become too readily available, another, snarkier short from the brothers called “World Cinema” — wherein “No Country” hero Josh Brolin plays an unlikely film buff who waffles between seeing “La regle du jeu” and the Turkish “Climates” — remains curiously missing in action since its premiere six months ago in Cannes. (A fan known as “wetdogmeat” recently wailed into the IMDB message board: “Is there anywhere I can watch the Coens’ [‘World Cinema’]?”)

As for forthcoming features, the brothers’ spy comedy “Burn After Reading” will finally give them the chance to direct Brad Pitt, but it’s the one after that, “A Serious Man,” that seems worth waiting until 2009 for. Matter of fact, it sounded great two years ago when I first heard rumors of the film under the working title “Jews in Minnesota”— alleged back then to be a dark comedy set in St. Louis Park and featuring Coens regular Jon Polito (better known perhaps as Johnny Caspar in “Miller’s Crossing” and Lou Breeze in “Barton Fink”).

Now the timing of the film, which begins its Minnesota shoot in April, sounds more than ideal, since the all-time great Jews-in-Minnesota movie, “The Heartbreak Kid” (1972), was recently remade by another sibling duo (the Farrelly brothers) without, alas, Minnesota, and without the ethnic/regional culture-clash element that makes the first “Kid” a prerequisite for understanding “Minnesota movies.”

Is it possible that well-known “Kid”-lovers Joel and Ethan were motivated to get “Serious” together by the Farrellys’ futzing with a classic? Given the Coens’ reluctance to acknowledge even their own names in interviews, we’d probably have better luck learning the inscrutable motivations of “No Country” killer Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), whom Ethan not-so-vividly described to City Pages as “a character in a thriller.”

Hmm. Maybe another variety of Coen-coaxing would be more productive. Since the brothers are scheduled to be around these parts at the time of the next Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, might they agree to introduce a 10th-anniversary screening of their greatest movie, “The Big Lebowski”? Dude, that would be classic.

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