No one will mistake the annual Coen Brothers Film Festivals for better-known events like Cannes and Sundance. This event is limited to movies written or directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, and the venue lacks views of the French Riviera or Wasatch Mountains.
But, for some local fans of the Coens’ handiwork, the living room of Chris Frink and Emily Taylor is the place to be for one week in summer.
This is that week, which started with “O Brother, Where Art Thou” on Sunday and ends with “Inside Llewyn Davis” on Saturday. (“The Big Lebowski,” the popularity of which makes it the only one shown every year, is Friday night.) Some of the Coen aficionados who show up have seen these films many times, but they never seem to get enough.
“I would stand in line for any Coen brothers movie,” said Ara Rubyan, who joined Gus and Sherry Wilkes, and Jimmy and Sharon Wetherford to see Monday’s showing of “The Hudsucker Proxy.” “I’ve seen all their films at least once or twice.”
A lot of people have seen some of the more successful Coen films, including the oddball comedy “Raising Arizona” and crime films “Fargo” and “No Country for Old Men.” But the Coens’ penchant for dark themes and atypical humor has meant those interested in seeing their movies in theaters often must act quickly.
“We made our plans to see ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ the first night it opened in New Orleans two or four weeks before it opened here,” Frink said. “It didn’t stay here long.
“For each of us, there are a couple of Coen brothers movies that are deeply important and help us try to understand life a little more deeply. Some of them are just fun, but some of them are serious explorations of, like, the place of good and evil on the earth in ‘No Country for Old Men,’ or what’s God doing to us, why are we here on earth in ‘A Serious Man.’”
Of course, a lot of people like certain types of movies. Most of them, however, don’t go to this length to enjoy them.
This humble festival began both as a celebration of Taylor’s and Frink’s favorite filmmakers and their determination to take advantage of a rare window of parental non-responsibility.
In 2009, with their two daughters attending summer camp, Taylor came up with the idea: Seven nights, seven movies, a house filled with adult friends.
“We’ve got an empty house and nothing to do,” Taylor said. “We really enjoy these movies, so I thought we could have some low-cost adult fun while the girls were away for a week.”
“The one advantage is we’ve got a really clean house for an entire week in a row. It forces you to clean the house,” Frink said. “Once you get it done, the house stays clean.”
They set up a schedule of movies, advertise them to about 100 friends via Facebook, then wait to see who shows up. That is a bit of a crapshoot. They don’t ask people to reserve spots, but they’ve never had more people show up than the living room could hold.
Other than the movies themselves, the festivities include Frink preparing prodigious amounts of popcorn, plus a basket filled with candies typically sold in movie theaters. After the movie ends, they discuss what they watched.
Not that they necessarily wait that long to offer commentary. When “The Hudsucker Proxy” was playing on Monday night, seasoned observers were quick to point out how minor characters had similar appearances in other Coen movies.
“Hudsucker” isn’t one of the better-known Coen movies, but it was enough to bring a half-dozen friends to the comedy starring Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Paul Newman.
“Even a bottom-tier Coen brothers movie tends to be far better than a lot of other movies,” Frink said.