By: Grant Vance ~Managing Editor~
A charming cowboy established as a western action star, jumping over branches and trees in order to take out some bad guys with his pistols, walks onto the set of what has been identified as a suit and tie dancing film, “Merrily We Dance.”
After clumsily opening the oversized doors and stumbling into the scene, he takes his seat awkwardly on the couch and mumbles his line in an inaudible western accent. “Would that it were so simple,” Ralph Fiennes’ pretentious director instructs, prompting an exchange with no syntactical resolution.
The idea of a western actor attempting such a line on the set of something titled “Merrily We Dance” is the brand of tongueand- cheek humor that the Coen Brothers have made a staple for their comedies – something we’ve come to expect as an audience from filmmakers who brought us Steve Buscemi’s Donny dryly reminding us which Beatles song was referenced after the fact or John Malkovich’s Osborne Cox describing how great his memoir will be to his paralyzed, silent father.
The Coen’s brotherly auteurship first appeared in 1984 with “Blood Simple,” creating classic comedies like “The Big Lebowski” and “O’ Brother, Where Art Thou?” as well as award season fair “No Country for Old Men” and “Inside Llewyn Davis.”
With a strong repertoire of films covering a variety of topics, these filmmakers have rightfully become a celebrated pair. Their films often involve small scale corruption, a bleak anti-climax of the reality of greed and a strong liking to Homer’s Odyssey, but even their smaller scale entries have something fun to offer.
Their newest release in particular, “Hail, Caesar!” is a screw ball comedy, jumping from scene to scene with little, if any, narrative coherency. There are characters that seem completely unimportant by the end of the film coupled with non-existent resolutions, but it still manages to be an incredibly enjoyable experience, offering commentary on Hollywood, Capitalism and Communism.
No matter what irreverent comedy they come up with or what prestigious drama they construct, the Coens have proved themselves as writers and directors worth supporting.
They don’t always follow narrative filmmaking rules, and that’s more than welcome. They know how to stir expectations and to do it in an engaging and interesting way, making their films a great watch every time.