The Coen Brothers Collection Joel and Ethan Coen

The Coen Brothers Collection Joel and Ethan Coen
This has to be, what, the third or fourth Coen brothers box set to see DVD release in the past decade? It seems as if every time the two-headed director release a new film on DVD, the studios repackage it with half-a-dozen others in an attempt to unload their remaining stock. This box proves no exception, filing existent discs of No Country For Old Men, Intolerable Cruelty, The Big Lebowski, Burn After Reading, The Man Who Wasn't There and A Serious Man in space-saving slim packs and ramming them into a cardboard box. Without Blood Simple, Fargo, The Hudsucker Proxy and Miller's Crossing (and, depending who you ask, Barton Fink) it's hardly a best-of box. And it does include a few of the brothers Coen's more noteworthy misfires: middle-of-the-road rom-com Intolerable Cruelty and the excessively zany Burn After Reading. But it's exceptional for a few reasons. First is the inclusion of The Man Who Wasn't There, their oft-forgotten (and at one time, fairly hard to find on DVD) neo-noir starring Billy Bob Thornton as a grizzled barber who goes into a business with a shady dry cleaning impresario. The premise sounds dopey, but it's a fine, instantly compelling crime picture, a nice complement to the more madcap, half-baked capering of Lebowski. Next is A Serious Man; the Coens' most recent film ranks as one of their best, a deeply personal existential comedy. These two discs are worth the price of the set alone, especially considering that any fan of the Coens is bound to already own its other highlights: Lebowski and No Country For Old Men. If you're resigned to not upgrading to Blu-Ray and are looking for a fairly wallet-friendly way to expand your DVD collection, this set makes a worthy addition. And you can always use the Intolerable Cruelty disc to prop up the leg on that rickety old card table. (Alliance)