7:00 PM, 7th May, 2016
THE COEN BROTHERS + GEORGE CLOONEY NIGHT: The relationship between writing/directing duo Joel and Ethan Coen and George Clooney has borne particularly hilarious fruit in the form of films such as Burn After Reading, Intolerable Cruelty and the two films featured here tonight.
When Hollywood studios need something done, they call on one man: Eddie Mannix (Brolin), a private detective turned ‘fixer’ whose job is to keep the stars in line and out of trouble. Scandalous affairs, blackmail, secrets and everything in between – it’s all in a day’s work for Eddie. But his day is about to get a lot busier when Baird Whitlock (Clooney), the world’s biggest movie star, mysteriously disappears from the set of his latest film, “Hail, Caesar!”. With only a puzzling ransom note to go on – and an ever-growing list of suspects – Eddie’s definitely got his work cut out for him this time.
An outrageous ode to Hollywood’s Golden Age, the Coen Brothers’ latest film plays almost like a greatest hits compilation of their best films. From the kidnapping mystery (The Big Lebowski) to the dogged detective protagonist (Fargo), zany supporting characters (Burn After Reading), musical numbers (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) and even the period Hollywood setting (Barton Fink), fans of their work will find themselves in cinematic nirvana here. And that’s not even taking into account the A-list cast of Coen regulars (Clooney, Brolin, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Scarlett Johansson) and exciting new players (Channing Tatum, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill and even Dolph Lundgren) packing in so much star power you might be forgiven for thinking you were watching the Oscars.
Part comedy, part mystery, all fun, Hail, Caesar! is a riotously entertaining film that is bound to delight fans of the Coens – while creating all new ones in the process too.
8:56 PM, 7th May, 2016
It’s the early 1930s and we’re in America’s deep, deep, deep south – so deep that news of civilisation elsewhere in the world seems yet to have penetrated; so deep we’re almost in mythological golden age standing outside time as we know it, like Narnia, but with yokels. It’s entirely apt for the Coen brothers to choose this as the setting for a retelling of Homer’s “Odyssey”. It’s like there’s an enchanted haze over the landscape, heightened with glorious music, songs you will fall in love with, even if this kind of music isn’t at all your kind of thing (it wasn’t mine).
And as if this weren’t enough, the film is also the Coens’ most hilarious comedy – the best kind of comedy, based on the clash of stupidity and intelligence. Fast-talking convict Everett (Clooney) escapes from a chain gang with his two thick-witted buddies (Nelson and Turturro), telling them of a fabulous treasure on the other side of the state which they must claim quickly, before the land it’s buried on is flooded by a new dam. But Everett has a hidden agenda – or in the words of the film’s tagline, he has a plan, but not a clue. He’s twice as smart as the other two, which makes him half as smart as he thinks he is, which makes him—almost by magic—exactly as smart as he needs to be.
No film by the Coens is more purely pleasurable to watch. You cannot miss it.