Wednesday, February 24, 2016
And even when they didn’t hit the bullseye, there was usually something redeemable about their movies. I had no idea what was in the box in BARTON FINK (and neither did they according to one of the actors), but there were some great scenes and performances. THE HUDSUCKER PROXY was a noble attempt at doing a fast-talking screwball comedy. And NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MAN was fascinating when I wasn’t confused.
Every so often there would be a real dud, but I could forgive the bros because at least they took chances.
But lately, it’s been one dud after another. A SERIOUS MAN was a wisdom tooth extraction. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. And now comes HAIL, CASESAR!
In fairness, it’s not as bad as those other two, and it has some funny moments, but by and large it’s just a giant mess.
And I’m done.
I’ve wasted the last two hours sitting through indulgent crap and suffering through horrible storytelling by two filmmakers who know better but don’t give a shit. Their films are now just pointless exercises designed to amuse themselves and maybe their Hollywood friends.
I’m sure all the actors were having yucks-a-plenty making this movie. And the Coen Brothers probably had a blast recreating all these beloved cinema tropes from the ‘50s. I’m sure Spielberg howled at his private screening. The Hollywood old guard would have laughed at every reference if they weren’t dead for the last twenty years. But for us, the lowly audience (that pays $15 or $20 a ticket) it felt like watching a party you weren’t invited to; and in fact – were banned from.
And it makes me angry because the sense I get is that the Coen Brothers don’t care. Satisfying paying customers is no longer a priority. They don’t care that their stories all now have a beginning and then nothing followed by nothing followed by more nothing. They’re not making the movies for you, they’re making them for themselves. They’re not saying, “How can we make better films?” They’re saying, “What genre could we do next that might amuse us during filming?”
Critics of course still fawn all over them, mistaking indulgence for depth. But I think it’s very telling that HAIL, CAESAR! on Rotten Tomatoes received an 81% approval rating from critics and a 46% approval rating from audiences. The Emperor has no toga.
There’s always the chance that their next movie will be another FARGO. At their best there’s nobody better. You’ll let me know, won’t you? In the meantime, I’ll be using their next screener as a coaster.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM