Ever since True Grit came out in late December of last year, there’s been a lot of speculation over what the Coen brothers would deliver next. Speculation regarding them can be difficult to make, as they often mention ideas for projects in passing. That makes it hard to get an idea of what they’re planning until something is officially announced. Most recently, they said that they were working on “a full-on horror movie,” that would have Joel’s wife, Frances McDormand, as “the monster.”
We can now add another movie to that list, although this one seems like it may actually be happening in the near future. Cory Everett from ThePlaylist was at Film Society of Lincoln Center‘s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center last night, where an event was hosted by the siblings and Noah Baumbach – in which they all presented and discussed several of the opening scenes of their own films – where they were asked by an audience member about a quote that’s been attributed to them for about twenty years. In this quote, they apparently said that doing a musical is out of the question for them, as they apparently find the process of having actors lip sync to prerecorded music to be “to be tedious and cumbersome.”
Kind of an odd thing for them to say, as one of their most popular films is O Brother, Where Art Thou?, in which George Clooney happens to lip sync extensively. They not only don’t remember saying that, but they also added that their experience on that film means that they certainly don’t believe the process to be a chore.
Things got interesting when Baumbach said that they were “working on a movie now that has quite a bit of music in it.” Joel said that it probably wouldn’t “have any playback,” with Ethan also commenting that he thought it would “be mostly live.” Joel also went on to say that it would be “single instrument so it’s hard to tell.” Oddly enough, they compared it to Baumbach‘s Margot at the Wedding, as this would also open right in the middle of a scene, with the audience not knowing what’s going on.
It’s interesting to imagine what a Coen brothers musical would be like, as they often take genres – like the slapstick comedy with The Hudsucker Proxy or the police procedural with Fargo – and give them a new spin. They did it to a certain degree with O Brother, yes, but an actual musical is a whole different story, and one that I want to see them tell.
When it comes to casting and writing parts for actors, Joel was quoted as saying:
“In adaptations that we’ve done, even if we have ended up using the same actors, they have, generally speaking, been written because the characters are presented to you in an adaptation. So they’re written without regard to who’s necessarily going to play them, from our point of view. But in stories that we’re coming up with ourselves it’s frequently the case that we write for specific people although I have to say, the [musical] thing we’re doing now, we’re not writing specifically for any of the parts which is unusual for us.”
Some already think that this could lead to it having no stars, and one of the few movies they’ve done in their careers that had no really big names in it was A Serious Man, which ended up being one of the best things they’ve ever made. While the lack of big names isn’t necessarily what made it such a great film, going in that same direction is something to be elated about. Well, really, them working on anything is something to be elated about. I mean, we only know this much and I’m already beyond excited to see it. That’s the kind of trust you earn when you make The Big Lebowski and No Country for Old Men within ten years of each other, after all.
Do you want to see the Coen brothers do a musical? What do you think of it possibly not having any stars in it?