When I interview filmmakers I really admire, I often save the last question for myself, knowing it probably won't make it into the story I'm writing, but is something I personally want to know.
When my allotted time for interviewing Joel and Ethan Coen about A Serious Man was almost up, I told them I had gone back and watched all their movies again in chronological order earlier this year and discovered some of the films I hadn't liked the first time around (like Barton Fink or The Man Who Wasn't There) now struck me as near-masterpieces, and that Miller's Crossing, which I had always loved, has only gotten better with time. (I didn't mention that I still don't like O Brother, Where Art Thou? because there's no really need to be rude.)
Then I asked the Coens whether they ever go back and watch their own movies again, because I've never heard them talk about their previous work much. Here's what Ethan said, which might surprise you.
"We almost never watch our movies again. I usually have to be forced to go back and watch them for a specific reason. We don't do it recreationally. But I just happened to have reviewed new video masters of two movies, Raising Arizona and Miller's Crossing, so I watched them for the first time since we made them. Raising Arizona, that one ain't so hot. But Miller's Crossing, I had the same reaction you did. I kinda liked it. The actors are pretty good and the movie kind of works. I enjoyed that one. I didn't enjoy the other one."
I would have loved to have asked Ethan more about his thoughts on Raising Arizona, but my time was up. I'm guessing he was approving new video masters for impending Blu-ray releases of those two movies, which would be very cool. A note to 20th Century Fox home video execs: Getting Barton Fink on Blu would be awesome, too.
My interview with the Coens about A Serious Man appears in Sunday's paper, but you can read it online here now.