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Showing 1-10 of 136 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 141 reviews
on March 21, 2015
This imported set of five of Coen Brothers' movies on Blu-ray, currently selling for around $20, offers a unique brand of comedy at an exceptionally low cost; the discs are playable in all regions. The first three come with full complements of extras, but the last two ("Barton Fink" and "Intolerable Cruelty") do not, tempting me to dock the collection a star in my rating. However, the overall greatness of the films and the excellent value in this package prevent me from doing so.

The Coens are a prickly pair of daring auteurs whose sometimes affectionate and often misanthropic takes on humanity are not to everyone's taste. They write for their favorite actors, among them George Clooney, John Goodman, John Turturro, and Steve Buscemi, who repeatedly appear in their ensembles, providing them endlessly wry dialog and deliciously clever irony.

The films:

The critically praised but bleakly comic "A Serious Man" (2009) deals with a quest by a physics professor (Michael Stuhlbarg) to understand the purpose of his life, one continually beset by misfortune and absurdity. As his family, career, and finances disintegrate, the professor turns to his Jewish faith for a consolation that is questionable at best. The story inevitably brings to mind the biblical book of Job.

Set in Washington, DC, "Burn After Reading" (2008) features a terrific troupe of actors: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and John Malkovich. They play arrogant, avaricious, duplicitous, sex-obsessed, and downright stupid schmucks who collide with one another and with fate in myriad combinations and permutations. Spy thriller meets Laurel & Hardy and riotous misadventure ensues.

Cult classic "The Big Lebowski" (1998) is as odd as they come, a gleefully profane and hallucinatory story about bowling, mistaken identity, and mind-altering substances. Its characters include a philanthropist, a pornographer, a police chief, a Vietnam veteran, a farmer's daughter gone bad, a gang of German nihilists, and the ultimate slacker, indelibly portrayed by Jeff "The Dude" Bridges. He's joined by an all-star cast: John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Ben Gazzara, Tara Reid, David Thewlis, Sam Elliott, and others.

The surreal, paranoid "Barton Fink" (1991) is an atmospheric cross between Franz Kafka and William Burroughs. John Turturro plays a playwright-turned-screenwriter suffering from writer's block and John Goodman plays his insurance agent neighbor at a run-down hotel in Hollywood. Under pressure to complete a screenplay for a studio, Fink finds inspiration in a very dark source. What's in the box? That's for you to figure out!

Finally, there's "Intolerable Cruelty" (2003), which concerns a high-powered divorce attorney (George Clooney) and the beautiful gold-digger he falls for (Catherine Zeta-Jones). This is a very funny, take-no-prisoners battle of the sexes in which only the most relentlessly scheming character can win.

My recommendation:

Buy this collection. If you add the similarly low-priced -- and similarly wonderful -- Blu-ray anthology "From the Minds of the Coen Brothers" ("Blood Simple," "Fargo," "Miller's Crossing," and "Raising Arizona") and a few individual films ("O Brother, Where Art Thou?," "No Country for Old Men," and "True Grit"), you will have the 12 Coen movies that I think matter most, a weirdly enthralling mix of comedy and tragedy imbued with mystery, poetry, and genius.
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on August 30, 2011
Four great Coen Brothers early works from Fox, and a couple licensed from MGM. Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, and Miller's Crossing are all instant classic films from the Coen catalog, and Fargo is an Oscar favorite bundled with this set and previously available. The die-hard Coen fans probably already own Fargo, making its inclusion here a little annoying for them, but it's still a better value (at current prices) than buying the others as individual discs. For those who have been waiting to get Fargo, or want a headfirst introduction to some of America's coolest filmmakers, this is a great bargain and a fantastic set; for the rest of us who are already Coen converts, buy the set, enjoy it, resell or give your extra Fargo to a friend, and try not to stew too badly thinking about Barton Fink, which yes, would have been better suited for this set.

Fox has given us individual cases for each movie, which I like a lot better than the cheap cardboard packaging of other sets. The discs themselves look and sound great. Most knowledgeable Blu-ray buyers know that there's a sliding scale, the age of the film and the cost invested in the release will determine how good it will look, and those films that have suffered from poor storage or mishandling are special challenges. I think, on the sliding scale, the Coen Brothers films included here look fantastic. These are mostly independently made films, in the range of twenty to twenty-six years old (excluding Fargo), none of them using Hollywood blockbuster money. I think Fox has done a bang-up job on their MGM license releases, and the Coen Brothers set continues that streak. The colors are as vibrant as each film's color palette allows, and a welcome amount of detail is brought out on Blu-ray. For artistic and intelligent films, the Coen Brothers employ a lot of kinetic camerawork and striking visuals, more in line with big-money Hollywood films, and these releases showcase that better than the DVDs I've seen. Occasional softness or a little grain notwithstanding, these are very well-done Blu-ray, and I think easily the best these film have looked since they first hit theaters.

The sound is very solid, though I have to admit my system isn't the best way to test that. No noticeable flaws to me. English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby Digital Surround on Arizona and Miller's, Blood Simple is English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and French 5.1 DTS on Arizona and Miller's, no other language tracks on Blood Simple. Fargo is the same as before, English 5.1 DTS Master Audio and Dolby Digital Surround, Spanish, French, German, and Italian 5.1 DTS, Portugese and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. All are 50GB dual layer discs, ACV @ 39 MBPS (Blood Simple), 31 MBPS (Raising Arizona and Fargo), and 30 MBPS (Miller's Crossing).

Special features are a little thin, but we would be complaining about the wait if Fox put off these releases until the Coen Brothers wanted to contribute more in-depth features and commentary. Raising Arizona essentially gets nothing (trailers and TV spots, and if ever a film was overdue praise, it's this one. A loaded special edition may be planned for some time (25th anniversary is next year), but for anyone who wants the film looking its best (or pretty damn good), this edition is commendable. Blu-ray buyers know the bread and butter of most studios are new releases, not catalog titles, so this is nothing we haven't seen before, and better than a lot of them.

Menus and playback features are pretty stylish. Studios seldom get credit for that, but the extra work is appreciated.

It would have been downright heroic to get Barton Fink with these other early Coen Brothers favorites for the same price, but Fox probably makes a better profit including a previously-released film which has already been paid for, and they've been pretty generous to make the other three titles individually available, if you only want one or two. Not a bad compromise. These are excellent films, fantastic stories and great acting, incredible directing and original ideas, must-owns for me, and if they haven't been given Lord of the Rings-level attention, they've at least been treated pretty respectfully. I'll wait for Barton Fink to get its own release, and get my Coen Brothers fix in the meantime with the four that are included.
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on February 16, 2014
As there are other review that provide better details on the movies themselves, I'm not getting into it. I just wanted to clarify on the issue about them or some not playing in the US. I have a US Sony blu-ray player and all 5 movies played perfectly, so each disc is region free. Not sure why on some review says that some discs don't work, but just wanted to post this as I was a bit skeptic when I ordered this product and basically had my fingers crossed everytime I played each disc.
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on March 19, 2017
This is another one of those great bargains I love to find on Amazon. It's four of the Coen Brothers' best early films sold together as a single set. Each movie comes in it's own case (probably the original individual blu-ray releases) within a simple sleeve, so you can store them together or separately if you need to.

It's really hard to go wrong with this set. It's basically $6.00 per individually packaged blu-ray of some the Coen's most critically acclaimed and entertaining films. There aren't a huge number of special features, but the ones they have are worthwhile, especially on "Miller's Crossing" and "Fargo".

If you're a hardcore Coen Brothers fan, you might already have these. But if you're a neophyte, this collection of four movies for the price of one is the best place to start.
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on January 24, 2017
Good grab for the price. I want to give it 5 just because these are Coen movies, but the box set just isn't 5 stars in my opinion. I still haven't watched A Serious Man though, but overall this set shouldn't disappoint fans or someone who hasn't heard of the Coen brothers. I really like Burn After Reading and the Big Lebowski, and Bartton Fink is pretty good. Intolerably Cruelty was ok, but not one of their best. Clooney is good in it, but the movie just doesn't click in some ways that leave it lacking. I actually didn't care for Burn After Reading the first time i watched it, but I happened to watch it again a couple years later and now I think it's one of their funniest movies. Since these are all Blue Ray too it helped me fill my collection with movies I didn't have, plus updating one or two that I didn't have on Blue Ray, and the price was worth it. Something like $20? I also couldn't find a box set that had everything i wanted, and this one was kind of unique i thought.
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on May 26, 2015
Blood and Millers were decent transfers.
However, Arizona and especially Fargo were the grainiest things I've ever seen.
I habitually scout reviews for bad transfers but I assumed these more or less modern masterpieces were gonna be at least alright. I put on "Lawrence of Arabia" circa 1962) just to make sure my Bluray wasn't malfunctioning. Amazing restoration.
Who ever signed off on these transfers should find another line of work.
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on January 29, 2016
Hadn't ever seen Blood Simple before. It was in the noir vein of No Country For Old Men and truly great considering the resources available, and a damn fine film even without such consideration. The other three are all pure classics, and Miller's Crossing is actually my favorite gangster movie of all time. A great mix of early Coen brothers movies, and the digitalization process was very well done. The scenes that should be more vivid, are, and the scenes that belong to that analog look, keep it. Highly recommended from a big fan of the Brothers.
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on March 4, 2017
Although I bought this set strictly for Fargo and Raising Arizona I thought the other two were pretty good too. Nice price and cool looking case too!
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on December 29, 2013
There are plenty of reviews already posted which describe the story line for each of these four movies. So no need to dwell upon that. The Coen Brothers write with a style like few others. Probably not for everyone. But if it happens to be a style which you enjoy, then stand by for some fantastic entertainment. I would easily compare the Coen Brothers to Quentin Tarantino in terms of writing, production and presentation. Not your everyday humor and, for sure, not the run of the mill violence. For example, Fargo is a crazy mix of a PG Movie with some very violent R Movie thrown in on top of it. I've seen more than one person leave the room during this movie. On the other hand, I have watched it time and time again. Upon each viewing I have come to appreciate more and more the way the movie is put together. Again, not for everyone, but....if it is your cup of tea, you will want a second cup.
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on August 10, 2013
these 4 movies are really some of the best movies of the coen brothers I feel in love with the characters in Raising Arizona. You could feel his frustration and need to provide the best he could for his wife and child even if he was stolen. Fargo is just simple strange but yet belivable in a real fashion. the other 2 gave rise to suspense and drama that keep you pinned to you sit. Great movies all of them
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