An intelligent ode to a time when Hollywood made wildly inventive movies without pressure from focus groups, there's a serious edge to what superficially looks like a madcap comical romp. But this isn't one of Joel and Ethan Coen's nutty comedies. It's a pointed exploration of the collision between art and commerce, assembled as a sprawlingly entertaining ensemble movie packed with lively, often hilarious characters.
It's set over 24 hours at Capitol Pictures in 1951 as studio minder Eddie (Josh Brolin) tries to keep several movies in production despite a series of hitches, while twin gossip columnists (two Tilda Swintons) try to get a scoop. Top movie star Baird (George Clooney) has been kidnapped by communist writers from the set of his Roman epic. Water-ballet diva DeeAnna (Scarlett Johansson) is pregnant and unapologetically unmarried. And rising-star Hobie (Alden Ehrenreich) is struggling to make the transition from Western action hero to chamber room drama, clashing with his demanding new director Laurence (Ralph Fiennes). Meanwhile, song-and-dance man Burt (Channing Tatum) is up to something on the set of his sailor musical. With all of this, Eddie begins to think that maybe he should take the offer of a job outside the film industry.
As the movie darts between these various productions, the Coens gleefully reinvent this series of genres that have essentially died out. Yes, the film is a pointed depiction of how Hollywood used to make a wide array of movies for much broader audiences. Each sequence is written and directed with witty details that perfectly catch the way the chaos of a film set can be transformed into a glamorous motion picture in time for the starry red-carpet premiere. And the entire cast rises to the challenge. Clooney is terrific as the dim-witted star who hasn't a clue what's happening around him. Ehrenreich shows real charm as a smart kid struggling in an insane situation. Brolin holds things together in a surprisingly sympathetic role, while Swinton, Johansson and Fiennes add plenty of spark, and the film is stolen by Frances McDormand as a spiky film editor.
Continue reading: Hail, Caesar! Review
Joel Coen - The 66th annual International Berlin Film Festival (Berlinale) - Opening Gala & Hail, Caesar! - Premiere at Berlinale Palace in Potsdamer Platz - Red Carpet Arrivals at Berlinale Palace - Berlin, Germany - Thursday 11th February 2016
Ever since his wonderful appearance in Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel, we've been waiting for Ralph Fiennes to take up a similar role that shows a completely different side to the actor, now it looks like the Coen Brothers have given the actor such a role. Laurence Lorenz is an eccentric film director who finds himself caught up in a fiasco when Hollywood superstar Baird Whitlock is kidnapped.
Continue: Hail, Caesar! Trailer
Steven Spielberg takes on the Cold War with a stately, sentimental thriller that gurgles along with quiet intensity, only occasionally finding a real spark of energy. Most intriguing, and important, is the way the film refuses to indulge in the usual moralising, allowing its characters to be complex and confused as they try to do the right thing. Even the Russians are depicted as real people rather than shady villains. And this makes what happens utterly riveting.
Set in 1957 New York, the story centres on lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks), who is hired to represent Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) as he is tried for being a Soviet spy. But James is fighting a losing battle against a culture that's determined to convict Rudolf, regardless of the evidence against him. Three years later, an American U-2 spy plane is shot down over Russia, and its pilot Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) captured. So now James is drafted in by the CIA to negotiate a swap: Rudolf for Gary. He heads to Berlin to orchestrate the hand-off, and there decides that he also wants the East Germans to free an American student (Will Rogers) who was wrongfully detained as the Berlin Wall was being built.
Donovan was a remarkable man who tirelessly went far beyond the call in everything he did. He's also a terrific movie character, and Hanks plays him with deadpan honesty, adding shadings to every scenes that make him easy to identify with. This is a likeable person who represents today's political ideal: a tenacious man who ignores partisan politics to do the right thing. The characters around him are less developed, although Rylance offers some strong support as an honest, perceptive man who accepts his fate with dignity. And Ryan has some pointed moments as Donovan's observant wife. All of the actors benefit from the strong screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen and Matt Charman, which stirs plenty of edgy humour into the Cold War tensions.
Continue reading: Bridge Of Spies Review
Eddie Mannix is a fixer who works in Hollywood where he tames celebrities and keeps theirs, and movie studios', secrets out of the press - no matter how big the story. It's not the easiest job in the world, and it's certainly not always the most morally fulfilling, but it's about to get a whole lot harder when one studio, Capitol Pictures, presents him with a major problem the likes of which could be career destroying. They're working on a huge production epic entitled 'Hail, Caesar!' starring Hollywood sensation Baird Whitlock, but things go particularly awry when he is kidnapped and held for ransom by a mysterious group known only as The Future. They want $100,000, and after 24 hours, the studio aren't looking any more hopeful. Mannix enlists a feisty and beautiful female star to procure the money, while Whitlook finds himself in a most unusual situation.
Continue: Hail, Caesar! Trailer
Tom Hanks, speaking in a recent interview, discussed working with the Coen brothers and Steven Spielberg on ‘Bridge of Spies’.
For Bridge of Spies, Tom Hanks was given the opportunity to work with the Coen brothers and Steve Spielberg. Hanks may be a global superstar, as much admired for his warmth and personality as he is for his diverse acting, but in a recent interview he revealed he was still delighted at being given the opportunity to work with the well-respected screenwriters and the legendary director.
Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg during filming for Bridge of Spies.
The Coen brothers mocked Netflix at the Cannes Film Festival jury press conference.
US film directors Joel and Ethan Coen mocked the influence of streaming services in the movie industry at a press conference for this year's Cannes Film Festival. The Coen brothers head the jury for the annual event, with Jake Gyllenhaal, Sienna Miller and Sophie Merceau also on the panel.
The Coen brothers head the jury at the Cannes Film Festival
Asked at the presser about the recent surge of film companies like Netflix, Joel gave a rather deadpan response.
Continue reading: Coen Brothers Mock Streaming Services At Cannes Press Conference
With a true story that's almost hard to believe, this inspiring biographical drama is made with attention to detail and a remarkable resistance to sentiment. And strong acting helps bring the characters to life, even if everything feels a little too carefully staged. But it's the real-life aspect that grabs the attention, and a central figure who's a remarkable example of the indomitable human spirit. The film also marks an auspicious step forward for Angelina Jolie as a director, telling a big story without giving in to the usual sappy moviemaking pitfalls.
Son of Italian immigrants, Louie Zamperini (Jack O'Connell) grew up in 1920s Southern California and by the time he hit his teens is on the way to becoming a criminal. But his brother Pete (Alex Russell) helps him channel his energy to running instead, and his natural skill make him a local champion as well as an American record-holder at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. When the war breaks out, he enlists and serves as a bombardier in the Pacific, surviving a plane crash before later going down at sea and drifting with two colleagues (Domhnall Gleeson and Finn Wittrock) for 47 days before being captured by the Japanese. From here he endures a horrific stint in a prisoner of war camp, taunted by the cruel commandant everyone calls The Bird (Miyavi), who takes particular notice of Louie simply because he refuses to break.
Jolie assembles the film as a big-budget epic, with massive set pieces as the plot cycles through several outrageous episodes before settling in on the prison years. Cinematographer Roger Deakins carefully contrasts Louie's sunny California youth with the much starker visit to Nazi Germany and the astoundingly bleak Japanese prison camp, with those endless days baking at sea in the middle. So the film looks terrific, drawing us into each chapter in Louie's story while building a sense of momentum. It's not quite as complex as it looks; Louie's darker moments feel a bit superficial. But O'Connell adds some weight to each scene, offering a kick of emotion as well as the charisma that convinces the men around him to draw inspiration from his tenacity.
Continue reading: Unbroken Review
The latest outing from the Coen Brothers took home the top awards on Saturday (4 Jan.) night, but how good are it's Oscar chances?
Inside Llewyn Davis took home the top honour at the National Society of Film Critics Awards last night, winning the majority of votes from the panel made up of some of America's top film critics from the nation's best-known publishers. Having already found success at the Gotham Awards last month, the latest win for ...Llewyn Davis might further outline the credentials of the latest Coen Brothers film as a potential Oscar contender, having largely been overlooked by most commentators.
The film's star Oscar Isaac was also honoured with the Best Actor award
The film was crowned Best Picture ahead of American Hustle, which came second in the overall voting, and 12 Years a Slave, which placed third. Despite winning yet another award, the Coen Brother's 'a week in the life' tale of a musician traveling through the Greenwich folk scene in 60's New York is still largely considered an outsider for major awards success, however if these gongs keep on piling up for the Coens then the Academy may be persuaded to change their mind somewhat when the votes are cast.
Continue reading: 'Inside Llewyn Davis' Wins Big At US Critics Society Awards
The multi-talented Oberst lost out in the Llewyn Davis casting.
Now this is an interesting tidbit of movie trivia: Conor Oberst has revealed that he auditioned for the lead role in folk music comedy-drama, Inside Llewyn Davis. Although the Coen Brothers eventually cast Oscar Isaac as the titular folk singer, Bright Eyes' singer Conor Oberst was reportedly considered for the role.
Conor Oberst Auditioned For The Lead Role In 'Inside Llewyn Davis.'
"I know I told you this when we met, but I tried out for your role in Inside Llewyn Davis," Oberst told Isaac for Interview magazine. "Thank god for everyone that I didn't get it." Perhaps one of the main reasons Oberst failed to convince the Coen Brothers that he was best suited for the role was because of his non-existent acting C.V. which could have proved risky to take on in such a challenging lead role.
Continue reading: Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst Missed Out On 'Inside Llewyn Davis' Lead Role
The Coen brothers have a wry twinkle in their eyes as they take us on a lyrical journey with a hugely likeable musician for whom success is only barely out of reach. It's also an engaging exploration of both the the early 1960s New York folk music scene that gave us Bob Dylan and the tenacity it takes to make your dreams come true.
It's 1961, and Llewyn Davis (Isaac) isn't sure he wants to fight anymore. His career has stalled, and he's moving from couch to couch trying to pick up gigs. But he doesn't have anything to lose, and when he inadvertently acquires a pet cat he has a bit of purpose for a change. On the other hand, his longtime friendship with husband-and-wife folk duo Jim and Jean (Timberlake and Mulligan) is strained when Jean tells him she's pregnant with a child that might be his. In need of cash, he takes a job in Chicago, taking a long road-trip with two nutcases (Hedlund and Goodman). And he even considers re-enlisting in the Merchant Marines.
Despite Llewyn's quiet desperation, the Coens keep the film's tone light and endearing, with constant comical touches that keep us smiling right to the cleverly elliptical ending. They also pack the movie with folk music that's gorgeously produced by T Bone Burnett, offering emotive counterpoints to Llewyn's sardonic sense of humour. His snappy wit often gets him into trouble, but we can immediately see his depth of character as well, and Isaac is terrific in the role, the kind of guy we would happily spend a lot more time with.
Continue reading: Inside Llewyn Davis Review
An intelligent ode to a time when Hollywood made wildly inventive movies without pressure from...
Ever since his wonderful appearance in Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel, we've been waiting...
Steven Spielberg takes on the Cold War with a stately, sentimental thriller that gurgles along...
Eddie Mannix is a fixer who works in Hollywood where he tames celebrities and keeps...
With a true story that's almost hard to believe, this inspiring biographical drama is made...
The Coen brothers have a wry twinkle in their eyes as they take us on...
Llewyn Davis is a struggling folk musician attempting to find his place in the world...
Remade from a 1966 romp starring Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine, this con artist action-comedy...
Harry Deane is a pretty hopeless British art curator who has suffered years of condescension...
The Coen brothers return to the Charles Portis novel (rather than remaking the 1969 John...
The Coen brothers take another sharp turn, catching us off-guard with this offbeat suburban drama...
In 24 years, they've directed only 13 films, so it's not hard to assume that...