Tag: Hail Caesar!

August 15, 2016 / / Main Slate

HAIL, CAESAR! (2016), the latest film by writer/directors Joel and Ethan Coen, is a remarkably unique piece of work, even for the brothers who have been making their own brand of remarkably unique pieces of work for over thirty years. It has been a fascinating and rewarding career to follow. Their first efforts in the 1980s gained a strong underground following; a devoted audience of hyper-literate cineasts and moviegoers with an appreciation for the intelligent and the offbeat. Impossible to pin down or predict, the pair concocted cinematic landscapes as varied as one can imagine right out of the gate, from their suspenseful Neo-Noir debut BLOOD SIMPLE (1984) to its follow-up RAISING ARIZONA (1987), something like a trailer-park screwball comedy on acid. And things didn’t get any less bizarre from there. After the meticulous mobster masterpiece MILLER’S CROSSING (1990), the following year saw the release of BARTON FINK, an especially audacious and utterly unclassifiable hypnotic puzzle of obsession, madness, and the “life of the mind” dressed up as a story about a blocked writer trying to stay true to his principles. Incredibly, this perplexing picture swept the top three awards at the 1991 Cannes film festival (Best Director, Best Actor, and the Palme d’Or). The Coens were now officially a phenomenon, with legendary director Robert Altman taking notice and parodying them in his vicious skewering of the new Hollywood, THE PLAYER (1992). A mainstream breakthrough seemed inevitable.