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Coen brothers' NYC Film Forum series brings 'Big Lebowski' and more

There's a strong case to be made that the Coen brothers are the greatest living filmmakers.

But even if you disagree with that argument, and cite worthy contenders ranging from Martin Scorsese to Werner Herzog as a response, there's still no getting around the fundamental reality that Joel and Ethan have indelibly impacted cinema in a fashion that transcends simple excellence.

Their unique artistic perspective — with its affinity for kitsch, broad satire and uncompromising humanism, its small observant moments and sweeping perspective, its impeccable sense of genre craftsmanship and keen understanding of Americana in all its absurdity — has inspired a generation of imitators while irrevocably influencing the way narratives unfold on-screen.

With the latest from the brothers, the broad comedy “Hail, Caesar!,” starring Coens’ staple George Clooney hitting theaters Feb. 5, Film Forum is offering a can’t miss retrospective of this singular fraternal genius.

You can’t go wrong with any of the movies showing during this series, though the greatest Coens movie, “Fargo,” is currently in the final days of a weeklong run at Film Forum and won’t be around next week.

The Coen brothers film retrospective runs from Jan. 29 to Feb. 4 at Film Forum. For a full schedule, go to filmforum.org.

These are some of the best of the rest, in no particular order:

'The Big Lebowski'

The best thing to be said about this
Photo Credit: Handout

The best thing to be said about this movie is that it has earned its beloved pop cultural status. Everything, and we do mean everything (the Bob Dylan musical cues over slow-motion bowling imagery, each line reading, the dream sequences, the bar conversations with Sam Elliott's Stranger), is so funny, so smart, so electric that it simply never gets old.

Playing: Jan. 29 at 9:50 p.m., Jan. 30 at 9:45 p.m. and Jan. 31 at 1 p.m.

'Inside Llewyn Davis'

The Coens beautifully captured the soul of a
Photo Credit: Film Forum

The Coens beautifully captured the soul of a talented troubadour working the Greenwich Village music scene in the early 1960s and struggling desperately to translate his immense talent to commercial success. At once, it is dark and uncompromising and wholly sympathetic, a paean to the challenges of maintaining one's integrity in a world that demands the opposite.

Playing: Jan. 31 at 5:20 p.m.

'O Brother, Where Art Thou?'

Photo Credit: Film Forum

"The Odyssey" loosely transported to the Depression-era South is the ultimate Coens concept, and this playful musical fantasia combines a painterly aesthetic with plenty of grand slapstick and one of the all-time-great soundtracks.

Playing: Feb. 3 at 12:30 p.m., 4:40 p.m. and 9 p.m.

'The Hudsucker Proxy'

Critics were less-than-kind to the Coens about this
Photo Credit: Film Forum

Critics were less-than-kind to the Coens about this pastiche of midcentury corporate absurdities, starring Tim Robbins as the inventor of the Hula-Hoop, but it's a one-of-a-kind entertainment.

Playing: Feb. 2 at 3 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

'Miller's Crossing'

The Coens' genre chops are on full display
Photo Credit: Film Forum

The Coens' genre chops are on full display in this riveting Prohibition-era mob thriller.

Playing: Jan. 30 at 2:40 p.m. and 7:15 p.m., Feb. 4 at 2:30 p.m.

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