Movie review: “Hail, Caesar!” (2016)

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“Bless me Father, for I have sinned.”

“How long since your last confession?”

“Um, twenty-seven…hours.”

“It’s really too soon, my son. You’re just not that bad a person.”

“I don’t know, Father. I snuck a cigarette, I didn’t get home in time for dinner…and I struck a movie star in anger!”

As a writer/director/production team, brothers Joel and Ethan Coen are responsible for some of the unquestionably best and most esoteric movies of the last thirty years, a roll call – including Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, and Inside Llewyn Davis, among others – consisting of equal parts unvarnished Oscar bait and uncompromised wish fulfillment as high art, even if the wish itself sometimes seems culled from common stock. Part of the joy of following the Coens’ career has come from the fact that their pictures are so patently unlike anyone else’s, although they do display a tendency toward circular self-reference – perhaps unintentional, perhaps not, depending on the title – the further into their filmography one ventures. Continue reading “Movie review: “Hail, Caesar!” (2016)”

Movie Review: “Gravity” (2013)

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“You just point the damned thing at Earth. It’s not rocket science.”

Director Alfonso Cuaron’s outer space pressure cooker Gravity is a worthy and thrilling follow-up to his 2007 masterpiece Children of Men, a gritty dystopian sci-fi epic which contained, among other set pieces, an unbroken 8-minute shot tracking the protagonist’s desperate navigation of a raging urban war zone that remains the most staggering and visceral battle sequence I’ve ever seen on film. With Gravity, Cuaron attempts to one-up his own classic work by maintaining the former’s ridiculous intensity level but turning the entire film into one woman’s existential struggle against the implacable void of outer space, with outstanding results. Continue reading “Movie Review: “Gravity” (2013)”