Hail, Coens 

I was going to try and see two movies this long weekend, but as it happened ended up having to choose between them.

The most recently released was The Lady in the Van so I decided to let that go another week, even though I have been hanging out for the release date in Australia. One of the downfalls of listening to a BBC movie show is that all their discussions are centered around UK release dates. As if happened, though, the movie I went to was released just ahead of the U.K. in Oz.

Hail Caesar is a Coen Brothers’ comedy with an affectionate nod to the Hollywood studio system and the films it pumped out, mixed with a few of the usual darker elements that the Coens love to sprinkle in their movies. Largely, though, it is a comedy which follows 27 hours in the life of Eddie Mannix, a Studio fixer, the guy who trouble shoots all the problems happening across the vast number of films in production. There was an Eddie Mannix in real life, but this character is a little softer than his flesh and blood counterpart.

I am glad I went. The film is a hoot and there are a number of ‘big studio’ numbers that look great on the big screen, the only downside was the small child that a parent decided to bring to the screening, who was bored stiff within five minutes and kept asking questions, firstly about the characters setting and plot, and then about the running time of the film and where they were going to eat when it finished.

I have watched a lot of Coen films. At least, I watched nearly all of their early stuff – I loved Barton Fink, Fargo, Miler’s Crossing etc – and then dropped out a little, but recently saw Inside Llewelyn Davis, which I thought was great. I was a bit put off by the fact that all the music tracks were played in full, but they were all really good and I was surprised to recognize a couple. Plus, there weren’t that many. The other thing that put me off was the cat that he appears to carry around everywhere. I was worried that I would be worried about the cat all the time. This happens when I see a character shut a door behind themselves,  I get distracted thinking that they may have locked themselves out and it bumps me out of the movie. But the cat was not as much of a problem as I had worried it would be and I loved the film. Maybe it was a little like Barton Fink – a struggling and failing artist, plus John Goodman rearing up with a distinct air of malevolence.

Here’s hoping they keep them coming. In the meantime, if you are interested at all in how they create some of the magic on screen there is a great clip on YouTube which examines how they set up many of the shot/reverse shots in their movies that stamp them with their hallmark.


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