Joel and Ethan Coen, the beloved filmmaking duo, have been gathering a cult following with their unique blend of darkly comic -- or just flat-out dark or comic -- films for over thirty years. From Fargo to O Brother, Where Art Thou? to No Country For Old Men and The Hudsucker Proxy, the brothers' films have attracted a dedicated fan base eager to devour every project. Followers will have to wait until 2016 to see their next movie, Hail, Caesar!, but thanks to two popular local film lovers, The Church of Coen is now open for worship.
Starting this Sunday, and continuing every second Sunday of the month thereafter, Syntax Psychic Opera will host free screenings of all the Coen Brothers films, in chronological order. This homage is the brainchild of Theresa Mercado, curator of the Cruel Summer/Winter/Spring film series and the Alamo's new Screen Scream, and Ian O'Dougherty, musician and producer with Uphollow, Tauntaun and Ian Cooke, who have a shared history of Coen love.
"We went to UCD (University of Colorado at Denver) together, back in the day, where there was actually a class on the Coen Brothers," explains Mercado. "We didn't just watch the films, we read books about each one, wrote papers and the whole thing really took us to the next level with their work." With that kind of dedication to the work, the two aren't planning to just throw the films up on a screen and call it a day. Instead, this will be a truly religious experience, complete with a hymn and sermon, of sorts.
"When I was watching and learning about Raising Arizona, I saw just how important music and score was to driving a film," says O'Dougherty. "The Coens have worked with Carter Burwell on so many films, and he has the ability to not just create new music but adapt existing tunes to the film's sensibility and really do some miraculous things."
And so each presentation will have not just pre- and post- film discussions, but it will start with a special musical performance tied in some way to the music in the film. For the debut session, Blood Simple, O'Dougherty will be joined on stage by beloved crooner Nathaniel Rateliff, who will lead the congregation in a rousing version of a key song tied to the Coen masterpiece.
February's title is the hilarious Raising Arizona; the showing will be proceeded by a musical performance by Slim Cessna's Auto Club adapting that film's classic music.
So put on your Sunday best and head to the Church of Coen to testify your respect to these cinematic saints. Respectfully. "The Syntax isn't a dive bar," Mercado points out. "It's a beautiful, unique space that deserves your attention == so shut the fuck up, listen to some music and let's celebrate the most amazing filmmaking duo of all-time."
Amen to that.
The Church of Coen will convene at 7 p.m. Sunday, January 10 at Syntax Psychic Opera, 554 South Broadway; a performance by Nathaniel Rateliff will precede the showing of Blood Simple.Admission is free, 21+; find out more atpsychicopera.com.
Dear Constant Reader, you can learn more about Keith Garcia on Twitter: @ConstantWatcher
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.