Monday, 18 March 2019

Coens’ ‘I, Cloodius’ is a labour of love

WITH more than 15 films between them that cover every genre imaginable, you may

WITH more than 15 films between them that cover every genre imaginable, you may be forgiven for thinking the Coen brothers simply can’t make up their minds.

Since the mid-Eighties we’ve seen crime capers, a Western, thrillers, dramas and romantic films that have always left audiences wondering what unexpected direction they’ll take next. And, more importantly, wanting more.

They are, without a doubt, auteurs. A Coen brothers film feels just that and is characterised by a quirkiness, dry humour and wit that many try to replicate and often fail to achieve.

This week they return to the comedy genre with Hail, Caesar! — a beautifully crafted and glamorous film that transports us back to the Hollywood of the Fifties.

With echoes of The Big Lebowski, the film is the final instalment — after O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Intolerable Cruelty — in the brothers’ “numbskull trilogy”. It follows a single day in the life of studio fixer Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin). A camera doesn’t roll at Capitol without the say-so of Mannix, the eyes and ears of a studio working round the clock to produce a diverse selection of quality motion pictures. 

With Capitol working on aquatic extravaganza Jonah’s Daughter and high-society drama Merrily We Dance, not to mention biblical epic Hail Caesar!, Mannix has his work cut out.

He is tasked with retrieving movie star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), who has been kidnapped from the set of a swords ’n’ sandals epic by a shadowy group calling themselves The Future.

Eddie’s other challenges include an uptight British film director (Ralph Fiennes) and an indiscreet starlet (Scarlett Johansson).

Make no mistake though, this is not simply a “star vehicle” out to make a quick buck. The four-time Oscar-winning filmmakers also wrote the film, as with their previous work. This is reassuring, as they are widely regarded as two of Hollywood’s best.

The Coens seem unconcerned with Oscar season this time around, but have plumped instead for a film that clearly pays tribute, as film fans and filmmakers, to an industry they love.  

Hail, Caesar! is showing at Henley’s Regal cinema from today (Friday).

David White 

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