“Lights. Camera. Abduction.”

  • Directed – The Coen Brothers
  • Cinematography – Roger Deakins
  • Eddie Mannix – Josh Brolin
  • Baird Whitlock – George Clooney
  • Hobie Doyle – Alden Ehrenreich
  • Laurence Laurentz – Ralph Fiennes
  • DeeAnna Moran – Scarlett Johansson
  • Thora Thacker/ Thessaly Thacker – Tilda Swinton
  • Burt Gurney – Channing Tatum
  • Joseph Silverman – Jonah Hill
  • C. C. Calhoun – Frances McDormand

Spoilers below

When I first left the theater after watching this, I was in awe. Now I feel a little differently about it. It’s been about 24 hours since I’ve seen the latest Coen Brothers flick and I just can’t understand a few things.

Who was the target audience? What did it mean? Am I missing something?

The last question is the truly puzzling one to me. I liked this movie and I’m a major film buff (as I have a blog and have seen 29 movies in just 2016). I firmly believe that the target audience was me. People who love Hollywood and filmmaking throughout the generations. It was funny at times with wonderful performances but I can’t wrap my head around the general public getting behind this. It’s gotten around 75% in Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic which means that the general public and the reviewers thought it was pretty good. I haven’t seen a Coen Brothers movie in a while. I last saw The Big Lebowski last summer. I know they’re abstract filmmakers but I’m a little confused what it meant.

I want to be a producer in film. That’s my dream. I want to be the entrepreneur on set. I want to keep all the pieces together. That’s what Brolin did. He kept the show going. I enjoyed the idea of following the producer around in old Hollywood as a way to pay homage to it and show how the same problems are happening today. I just don’t know what I’m missing. I thought it had good pacing and the performances were fantastic but am I missing something? I didn’t understand what they were trying to say about the Communists, is that trying to parallel with the Democratic Socialism of today? Or are they hinting at something about the Russians? I don’t know. I want this movie to be like Birdman and each time that I view it, I will find something new. Something that I didn’t pick up before. I don’t know if that’s what this movie tried to be when being as vague as possible in some areas.

Moving on from the philosophical debate of the film. I liked this film a lot. I thought Roger Deakins did a wonderful job once again. It was a great looking film. The Coen Brothers made a movie that was funny and entertaining. The cast was great. The chemistry between actors was palpable. It has all of the elements to be a nominee for film of the year.

Josh Brolin was the glue of the movie. His performance was captivating. I’m a little upset that this movie didn’t come out either later in 2016 or 2 months ago. I understand not wanting to try to compete with Star Wars, but I think it hurt Brolin’s chances for actor of the year. Brolin did a great job of making the rest of the movie feel real. He was the least goofy of the bunch and needed to be the foundation and he was. I never got tired of him being on screen. I think his internal struggle paired with his external struggle made the film great. The job prospect to move to somewhere that was safe or continue on his dreams was also a very cool and nuanced way to describe his inner struggle. Brolin showing up in church was a good comedic way to explain this, in my opinion. His character highlighted how Hollywood struggles haven’t changed.

In the trailers, I thought George Clooney as Baird Whitlock was going to be the main focus and he wasn’t. The film loses me when his character is on screen because I feel like he’s being pulled 10 different directions. This might be an allegory to how actors feel; I’m not sure. I think Clooney was the right choice because he has the charisma. I just don’t understand his character. With the ties to communist party. The leader of the party is actually Channing Tatum who’s tap dancing was actually my favorite part of the movie. I don’t understand his character at all. I think he was supposed to show the connection between Hollywood and the Red Scare. I need to catch up on my history.

Alden Ehrenreich might be a star after this movie. He plays the cowboy gone serious drama star. I don’t know if he was supposed to be the character that the war had forced Hollywood to cast. He doesn’t fit in with the scene as his fake teeth and inability to act show. Ralph Fiennes plays the role of director perfectly. He controls the screen when he’s on it. I love him as an actor so I am a little bias. Fiennes comments to Brolin about how terrible Ehrenreich is and the most Brolin can say is that he should deal with it. The bewilderment on Fiennes face perfectly captures what directors must have felt in those days. Enrenreich was perfectly cast as he wasn’t as big of a star as his other cast mates so he felt like he should be lower. The perspective of his character is one of the more interesting. I just like his contrast between Tatum, leader of the communists, and this guy playing with a lasso.

Tilda Swinton played two different reporters and was truly great. Her character was funny and inquisitive trying to obtain the best story she could. She was also competing with herself. I don’t know if the twin idea was to mirror something that happened in real life or if it was a metaphor for something. Her character(s) might have just been the way they are. Swinton is where this movie gets me a little confused because her short screen time makes her feel like she’s supposed to be doing something more than she actually is.

Frances McDormand was pretty funny as the editor but I didn’t understand why she was needed. I feel like the movie got a little sidetracked and slowed down majorly when she appeared. I felt similarly about Jonah Hill but I understand that he was necessary to leave the film with some sort of tie up.

That leads me to finally, Scarlett Johansson. She probably played the best female part and best supporting character in the film. But I have absolutely no idea what her role was. I suppose it was to tie up Brolin even more in his quest to keep everything together. I thought her accent was great. I haven’t heard that from her before. She did a great job keeping the movie going actually as her character always introduced new plot points in her half-wit dialogue. I thought her back and forth with Brolin was hilarious. Her swimming scenes were also impressive to me.

Overall, this movie was well shot and directed. The performances were also amazing. Its story is a little too contrite for me to get fully behind. I feel like there’s something behind the curtain that I need to grasp. It is definitely one I will have to watch again and analyze. I just feel incomplete after watching.

Score: 7/10