Friday, May 10, 2013
This trifle is certainly the glitziest of their big-star productions, those Coen Brothers movies starring George Clooney or, once, Tom Hanks, in roles that seemed to be intentionally crafted to either mock them or at least test their capacity to mock themselves. Both Hanks and Clooney have been game, though Clooney's much better at it -- Hanks's go at embodying Southern-Fried tomfoolery in The Ladykillers was overshadowed by most of his co-stars, including a cat.
Veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins, who's worked with the Coens a lot, shoots Catherine Zeta-Jones like the most radiantly golden of Golden-Age movie stars. Clooney's character, meanwhile, repeatedly obsesses over how white his newly whitened teeth are. Various eccentrics and grotesques get most of the good lines and good physical comedy. An ex-con turned assassin seems to have wandered in from Raising Arizona, while the hideously geriatric head of Clooney's law firm seems to have arrived fresh from The Hudsucker Proxy via Terry Gilliam's Brazil.
Is it good? Not exactly, but it's neither boring nor stupid. For a movie the Coens say was in development for eight years (originally with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere attached), it seems weirdly underdone, especially in the dialogue department, though that may be a result of having been rewritten too many times. One of the oddities of the production is that Clooney's character seems like a prescient lampoon of his later characters in Michael Clayton and Up in the Air. Recommended.