Suburbicon (2017)

Suburbicon
Director: George Clooney
Writer: Joel CoenEthan Coen, George Clooney, Grant Heslov
Cast: Matt Damon, Julianne MooreOscar IsaacNoah JupeTony EspinosaKarimah Westbrook, Leith M. Burke, Richard Kind, Steve Monroe
Seen on: 20.11.2017
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Plot:
Suburbicon is a picture-perfect 1950s community, filled with happy, white, affluent, nuclear families. But then the Mayers (Kamirah Westbrook, Tony Espinosa, Leith M. Burke) move to Suburbicon. They are black and their arrival brings Suburbicon’s facade to crumble, exposing the community’s racism. Their next-door neighbor Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) has other issues, though: he, his wife Rose (Julianne Moore), her twin sister Margaret (Julianne Moore), and their son Nicky (Noah Jupe) are being robbed in their own home, with dire consequences. But that’s only the beginning of the troubles in Suburbicon.

I found Suburbicon pretty disappointing. I thought that it would be about racism, but it revolves much more around the Lodges and their story. And that story does have a Coen-esque feel, but one that doesn’t quite come together.

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Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Hail, Caesar!
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Writer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Veronica Osorio, Heather Goldenhersh, Alison Pill, Max Baker, Clancy Brown, David Krumholtz, Robert Picardo, Christopher Lambert, Fred Melamed, Jack Huston, Michael Gambon
Seen on: 21.2.2016

Plot:
Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) fixes problems for a big movie studio. And boy, are there ever problems: Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), the biggest star they currently have, is missing, possibly abducted. Star DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) is pregnant und unmarried. Director Laurnce Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes) needs a new star for his film and the only guy available is Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich), talented stunt cowboy but acting is a whole other story. And the twin journalists Thora and Thessaly Thacker (Tilda Swinton and Tilda Swinton) are snooping around for a story, each in her own way and for her own column. And if all of that wasn’t enough, Eddie has an attractive job offer on the table he needs to decide on soon.

After the recent rather serious outings of the Coen brothers, Hail, Caesar! is a return to comedy, and a very successful one at that. The film is a romp through the studio cinema of the 50s, with the only drawback that they’re reproducing the white-maleness of those films as well. Other than that, though, it is simply fun.

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Bridge of Spies (2015)

Bridge of Spies
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Cast: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda, John Rue, Billy Magnussen, Amy Ryan, Austin Stowell, Jesse Plemons
Seen on: 28.12.2015

Plot:
When Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) gets arrested for being a Russian spy in the USA, the FBI want to make really sure that his conviction sticks. So they ask lawyer James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) to defend Abel. Donovan is well known for being scrupulous and correct. Even though Donovan knows how much hatred will come his way if he defends a known spy, he accepts Abel as a client. A decision that has far-reaching consequences as it leads to Donovan being asked to handle the negotiations about the release of an USAmerican soldier who was captured by the Russians.

It fells like Bridge of Spies went almost completely unnoticed, despite the fact that it’s the newest Spielberg film with Tom Hanks. There was barely any marketing and nobody seemed to show much interest in the film at all. I myself almost didn’t watch it. This obscurity (well, obscurity for a Spielberg movie) is a fate the film certainly doesn’t deserve.

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Re-Watch: Fargo (1996)

Fargo
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Writer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Peter StormareFrances McDormandJohn Carroll Lynch, Kristin Rudrüd, Harve Presnell, Tony Denman, Steve Reevis, Larry Brandenburg
Seen on: 15.3.2015

Plot:
Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) has a business plan and a foolproof way of getting the money for it: he hires Carl (Steve Buscemi) and Gaear (Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife (Kristin Rudrüd) and extort money from his father-in-law Wade (Harve Presnell). But even before they can act out the plan, things start going wrong and pregnant police woman Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) takes up the investigation.

I haven’t seen Fargo in so long that I still watched it in German the last time I saw it (I’ve avoided dubbed films for about 15 years now). I still remembered the film quite well and I still love it. It’s just a wonderful black comedy.

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Unbroken (2014)

Unbroken
Director: Angelina Jolie
Writer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese, William Nicholson
Based on: Laura Hillenbrand‘s book
Cast: Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund, Miyavi, Finn Wittrock, Jai Courtney, Luke Treadaway, Ross Anderson, Alex Russell
Seen on: 19.01.2015

Plot:
Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) was a troublemaker as a kid until his brother Pete (Alex Russell) had the idea to channel his energy into running. And it pays of – Louie is sent to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. A few years later, thought, he finds himself fighting against Germany and Japan in World War II. When his plane is shot down over the sea, somewhere close to Japan, and only Louie, Phil (Domhnall Gleeson) and Mac (Finn Wittrock) survive the crash, things don’t look too well. And it only becomes worse, when they are captured by Japanese soldiers and end up prisoners of war. But Louie doesn’t give up easily.

Unbroken is okay as a film. It’s a little formulaic and a little too on the nose, but it’s solid filmmaking that just doesn’t quite reach the emotional heights it’s aiming for.

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Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Inside Llewyn Davis
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Writer: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Ethan Phillips, Robin Bartlett, Adam Driver, Stark Sands, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, F. Murray Abraham

Plot:
Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is a struggling folk singer whose life is less than glamorous. He has no money – instead he has a floundering solo album. He doesn’t have an apartment – instead he crashes on friends’ couches until they kick him out. He doesn’t have a girlfriend – instead he sleeps with Jean (Carey Mulligan) who is actually with Jim (Justin Timberlake). And Jean is pregnant and needs an abortion because she really doesn’t want Llewyn’s child. So Llewyn has to figure out a way to make it happen.

Inside Llewyn Davis breaks my Coen Brothers rule: I usually only ever like every other film they make and it wouldn’t have been their turn to be liked, but it worked out that way anyway. I was enchanted by Llewyn and the hypnotically slow pace of the film.

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Gambit (2012)

Gambit
Director: Michael Hoffman
Writer: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Remake of: Gambit
Cast: Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz, Tom Courtenay, Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci, Cloris Leachman

Plot:
Harry Deane (Colin Firth) is the art adviser for rich business man Lionel Shahbandar (Alan Rickman). He hates Shahbandar with a passion, so he hatched a plan to let him buy a fake Monet, painted by Major Wingate (Tom Courtenay). For that he needs the help of cowgirl P.J. Puznowski (Cameron Diaz). But as soon as they set the plan in motion, things are already going wrong and the entire plan is soon in jeopardy.

Apparently Gambit got really bad reviews. I don’t get it. It’s a perfectly entertaining film that makes its roots in the 60s felt and has a very nice sense of humor. I enjoyed the hell out of it.

gambit

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True Grit (2010)

True Grit is the newest film by Joel and Ethan Coen, based on the novel by Charles Portis and starring Hailee Steinfeld, Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper.

Plot:
After the murder of her father by Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) decides to hire a marshall to track Chaney down and bring him to justice. She finds Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), a grumpy drunk who has the reputation to be effective. She hires him and, together with Texas ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) who has been tracking Chaney for a while, they set out to get justice.

True Grit is yet another proof of the Coen Brothers Rule: I love every second movie I see by them*. And True Grit is a second film. It was brilliant, with great performances, wonderful cinematography and a nice sense of humor.

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A Serious Man (2009)

A Serious Man is the newest film by Joel and Ethan Coen, starring Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Fred Melamed and Sari Lennick.

Plot:
Larry Gopnick (Michael Stuhlbarg) is a professor waiting for his tenure. But his life starts to come apart at the seams when his wife (Sari Lennick) tells him she wants to leave him, his brother (Richard Kind) won’t move out of Larry’s house and Larry’s boss tells him that there seem to be some hickups with his tenure application.

The Coen Brothers are a little hit and miss with me… every other film I really like, the others don’t do much for me. Since I really loved Burn After Reading, A Serious Man was supposed to be a miss again. And it stuck to that rule.

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I don’t know what the fuck it is we *did*, but…

Burn After Reading is the new movie by Ethan and Joel Coen and, after No Country For Old Men, they’re back on my good side with this. They really should stick to making comedies.

Burn After Reading is funny. Funnier than I expected. Especially J. K. Simmons had me under my seat, laughing.

But altogether, the cast is really good. Brad Pitt should take on more roles like that, they suit him. George Clooney should always play in Coen brothers comedies.  And do I even have to mention the greatness of Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and John Malkovich?

The story is mind-bending, especially because you can kind of imagine that it could happen that way.

What can I say? I loved it.

— Personal tidbit —

I was in the cinema with my mum and the preview of Burn After Reading came on. My mother saw it for the first time and when J. K. Simmons came up, she said, “Wow… you can hardly recognise John Malkovich!” *rofl*