They're known for writing and directing all their own movies, though in the case of "Bridge of Spies," the reins aren't in the Coen Brothers' hands.
The Minnesota-born filmmaking duo teamed up with the legendary Steven Spielberg for the new Tom Hanks film, which opens this Friday. In an unusual turn for the siblings, they wrote the script – but did not direct the movie.
With more Oscars between the three filmmakers than can fit on a mantlepiece, cinema-watchers are buzzing about the collaboration, with the Straits Times calling Spielberg and the Coens a "dream team."
According to the Wall Street Journal's "Speakeasy" blog, the writing-but-not-directing gig continues a trend of "for-hire work" the brothers began when they co-wrote the screenplay for Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken," a 2014 World War II epic about a U.S. olympian in a prisoner-of-war camp.
It's actually the brothers' second collaboration with Spielberg, though the first wasn't nearly as hands-on – the iconic director only executive-produced their adaptation of "True Grit," while they characteristically handled writing and directing duties.
Director Spielberg told WSJ the Coens came on board Bridge of Spies to "deepen an already cinematic screenplay" by British playwright Matt Charman, and that he interacted with the brothers only minimally, saying he "didn't want to get in the way of their process because it works so well."
A Cold War thriller
So, what's it about? In a nutshell, Bridge of Spies is an espionage thriller "set against the backdrop of historical events" and focuses on an American lawyer (played by Hanks) who is recruited by the CIA to "negotiate the release of a captured U-2 pilot," the official website says.
If the reviews are any indicator, the money Hollywood spent bringing Spielberg and the Coen Brothers together was well worth it: the New York Times called the film a "gravely moody, perfectly directed thriller," and USA Today says it "hits the spot."
In its four-star review, the Star Tribune says that although the Coens "tone down" their characteristic sardonic irony for the serious film, their signature style is still apparent with "a supply of pithy banter."
A busy time for the Coens
None of this is to say that the famous siblings, who were born in Minneapolis and grew up in St. Louis Park, are giving up the director's chair anytime soon.
The trailer for their upcoming film, "Hail, Caesar!", debuted last week.
Vox says it has fans "pumped," and commented that the movie – about a kidnapped 1950s Hollywood megastar – "already seems like it might be the most Coen-y Coen brothers movie in a long time."
It debuts this February. Have a look at the trailer: