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There's a new movie by a Coen brother this Friday, the Ethan Coen-directed caper "Drive-Away Dolls." But to answer the question on movie fans' minds: Yes, there will be more movies made by both Coens.

The St. Louis Park natives have collaborated on dozens of screenplays but Ethan wrote "Drive-Away Dolls" with his wife, Tricia Cooke, who has been an assistant editor on many of the brothers' films and with whom he also worked on the documentary "Jerry Lee Lewis: Trouble in Mind." Asked if the future will bring solo or joint Coen movies, Ethan replied, in a Zoom interview with Cooke last week: "A combination of both, it seems. I wrote something with Joel this past summer, which we'll do eventually, but the next one I do is with Trish. We start shooting in about a month."

Both "Drive-Away Dolls" and that next one, "Honey Don't," star Margaret Qualley. In "Drive-Away," she and Geraldine Viswanathan play friends who agree to drive a car from their home in New England to Tallahassee, Fla. They discover, during a side trip, that they're carrying a mysterious suitcase and a mysterious-er box.

Chaos ensues in a story about finding love (both main characters are lesbians, as are most of the supporting characters), sex toys and incompetent gangsters. The movie is dedicated to Cynthia Plaster Caster, a groupie who was famous for making molds of rock stars' privates. It all plays a lot like the Coen brothers in the goofing-around mode of "Raising Arizona" or "The Big Lebowski."

That's no surprise, since Ethan said he continues to draw inspiration from the movies he and Joel watched as kids on Channel 11, hosted by Mel Jass. Ethan and Cooke have said "Drive-Away" is influenced by film noir classics "Kiss Me Deadly" and "Gun Crazy," which also have mysterious suitcases, as well as early movies by Swedish master Ingmar Bergman.

"Along with Hercules movies, [Jass] would show the occasional [Federico] Fellini movie," said Ethan. "Joel later speculated that he had bought the whole Joseph E. Levine [a midcentury Hollywood producer] catalog. But no 'Wild Strawberries,' no Bergman at all. You'd think in Minneapolis they'd be showing Bergman, with the huge, under-served audience of Swedes."

As in most of the brothers' movies, hapless crooks figure into "Drive-Away." The two blithe friends introduce many twists and turns into their road trip. By the end of the movie, when we learn what's in the suitcase, "Drive-Away" has become a full-on sex comedy, with prominent appearances by two big stars whose identity it's best not to spoil.

Why so many Coen capers?

"You want stakes, something important that everyone wants," said Ethan. "That's the story engine. Wow, that's hopelessly general but it's true."

"You hope there's comedy," said Cooke, noting that theirs is a "juvenile" (in the sense of silly, slight) caper movie. "There are a lot of misdirects, and that can be fun."

"And in some caper movies: What is everyone after? What's in the case? There's something that pays off," added Ethan.

"Drive-Away Dolls" began with a title, which popped up in a conversation Cooke had many years ago with a friend. (The filmmakers had to change the final word of the original title, a slang word for "lesbians," which still appears at the end of the film, and which Ethan said "was always the title of the movie and still is in our minds and should be in yours.") Ethan and Tricia wrote the screenplay in 2002, later updating it, shifting the time period and de-aging the characters from their 30s to their 20s ("I kept thinking, 'Are we making "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion?" This is weird,'" joked Ethan).

Filming followed a period of pandemic-enforced inactivity.

"We got sick of being idle," said Ethan, who also sometimes gets sick of working. "You think, 'Why am I doing this? I could be doing nothing.' But then you do nothing and you think, 'Why am I doing nothing? It's boring.'"

Creating the Jerry Lee Lewis documentary reminded him that "making movies is pretty fun," said Ethan, who also was reminded that he enjoys the socializing with the cast and crew (composer Carter Burwell and sound editor Skip Lievsay, who have worked on every Coen film, also did "Drive-Away").

"Those are words I never thought I'd hear you say: 'social, which I enjoy,'" joked Cooke, to which Ethan replied, "You do find out that you miss it."

Not for long, with "Honey Don't" — which co-stars Chris Evans and also features a main character who's a lesbian — and more Coen brothers movies on the way.

The latter may take some finagling with their union. The Directors Guild of America typically insists on solo directing credits, which is why early Coen movies, although co-directed by the brothers, had to be credited to Joel as director and Ethan as producer. Exceptions are now allowed in the case of directing pairs who argue they only work as a unit — which was the case with "Everything Everywhere All at Once" directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert — but it remains to be seen if the DGA buys that argument now that the Coens have worked independently (Joel's "Macbeth" was released in 2021).

In any case, the Coens and Cooke are likely to reunite for that future project, which may be a relief for Ethan, as he told online magazine Deadline when he described working without his brother.

"There are all these problems when you go, 'Oh [expletive],'" said Ethan. "You're stuck. This doesn't work. And I'd think, 'Joel would have an idea what to do here. So, where the [expletive] is he?'"