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Another fascinating piece from the Coen Brothers, 'The Hudsucker Proxy'
is an homage to the films of the 1930s. From the grey faux-Gothic
cityscape to the over-the-top acting and rapid fire dialogue to the
subdued colors to the stark sets, this film hearkens back to an earlier
era of films.
The plot is simple enough. When company president Waring Hudsucker commits suicide, the board of directors, led by the deliciously evil Sidney J. Mussburger (Paul Newman) determines to devalue the stock by putting a 'shmoe' in charge of the company so that when the late Hudsucker's controlling interest in stock hits the market in 30 days, Mussburger's cabal can snap it up on the cheap. Enter shmoe Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins). Jennifer Jason Leigh is the newspaper reporter who infiltrates Hudsucker Industries under the guise of secretary, and is Barnes' love interest in the film.
Robbins performs more than adequately but is outshone by terrific performances by Newman and, in particular, by Leigh, who absolutely nails this role. Her saucy, lilt of the tongue is wonderful; she simply oozes sensual sass, and all in the very decent parameters of decades gone by in Hollywood.
Other highlights of the film include - the wonderful sets, where less is more; the usual Coen cinematography, which makes the film a visual delight above and beyond acting and plot; the clock (an unbilled role, in a sense). Curious characters pop up and return Buzz the Elevator Operator, the Clock Maintainer, and many others. And, of course that clock!
As will all Coen brothers films, this one calls me to see it again, as I always seem to discover new elements when watching their works for the second, third, fourth times, and beyond. A very worthwhile film enjoy!
7 out of 10
The first time I saw this film, I enjoyed it. No doubt about
I wondered why some people didn't like it. What's not to like?
I saw it again, and paid more attention to some of the finer details, realizing what a rich, full textured film it was.
And yet again I saw it. Still more revelations.
In fact, every time I see it, and I'm sure to see it again, I enjoy it more and more with each subsequent viewing.
This film's narrative is nearly as perfect as the Hula Hoop itself, despite the albeit fictional account of the invention of said "dingus".
But it strikes me as odd and unfortunate when I encounter someone who's seen this and not enjoyed it.
All I can say is, have you tried it more than once? It isn't exactly what I'd call an acquired taste, but when you see how rich in detail and humour it is, you may begin to appreciate it for what it truly is; a great film that deserves a second chance. K.
I have to admit, there aren't many movies that warrant a 10 rating from
me, but this is absolutely one of them.
Something about the film just works. The Coens are geniuses when it comes to making movies that I really can enjoy. I admit, I first saw "O, Brother, Where Art Thou?" and loved it so much. I had no idea this was by them too, and had I not seen a "Making of" on a show on Discovery years ago that showed how the scene where they fall off the building was done, I probably wouldn't have ever decided to TiVo this fine film.
The direction technique, acting, jokes, everything just works. This is the kind of movie that stands out in the crowd, makes me want to buy it on DVD and show it to everyone I know just to make them see what people miss when they read reviews by people like Siskel and Ebert, who gave it two thumbs down, but don't give a reason on their site.
Other movies I would recommend are O, Brother (Also directed by the Coen's) and Army of Darkness, which, maybe coincidentally, stars Bruce Campbell who plays a reporter in this movie. Bruce is his same old self. he has a presence, and is great in the few scenes he's in.
Tim Robbins is wonderfully cast as the lead in this role.
The elevator operator lent a wonderful character to the movie.
The two Cab drivers in the Café who perform the "I got gas" Bromo commercial type bit, were great narrating Norville's encounter with Amy.
The guy in the News room creating the Crossword puzzle with a Scrabble set asking people questions for clues. "The guy's a real moron, as in a five-letter word for Imbecile."
The music, oh, the music is wonderfully suited to the film.
There isn't one part of this movie I didn't like, honestly. I could watch it quite a few times before I got sick of it, then take a break, then come back and watch it again.
I cannot understand why this movie has not earned the respect it deserves. Norville Barnes represents high hopes and bright ideas, and when he starts out his intentions are pure. But when money makes him lose his focus, only love can put him back on the right track. Tim Robbins and Jennifer Jason Leigh are masterful in this movie, which is one of my personal favorites.
This movie is the exception to the rule when they say, "They don't make 'em like they used to." Because the Coen Brothers and Sam Raimi sure did top them all with this one. Tim Robbins, along with the rest of the cast, is pitch perfect. From the first second of the movie to the last, my eyes are glazed over with utter fascination. Composer Carter Burwell is the next John Williams in my book. His score accents brilliantly every emotion witnessed. This movie is funny, romantic, perverse, and whimsical. It says a lot that after years of not making movies, Paul Newman chose to make this one.
I don`t think that I`ve enjoyed a movie so much for years. The film is
beautifully shot ( the opening pan over a snow laden New York skyline is
breathtaking). The acting is uniformly excellent (Jennifer Jason Lee gives
one of the best female comedy performances of the last decade. She`s
outstanding!) and the film is directed in that warm but sharp-eyed manner of
previous US social comedy directors such as Frank Capra and Preston
Sturgess. I first saw the film in the cinema. I`ve since seen it again on
television, and the photography doesn`t impress so much on the small screen.
If you haven`t already seen it, try to see it on a big screen. Sadly the movie got a very small release in the UK and is almost unknown over here.I am so very glad I caught it. It`s terrific.
Deftly mixing elements from Sturges, Capra, and yes, even De Palma, the Coens along with Sam Raimi have fashioned a modern masterpiece. As with all Coen films, they invite you into their jokes, and if you don't get them, they just don't seem to care-- and that's a good thing. A huge flop, film lovers with a sense of history and humor will be gushing about this one for a long..long..time. Bordering on a musical version of "Brazil" at points, it is as deliberately studied a critique of contemporary American capitalism as it is a searing stare at Hollywood. Paul Newman like all of the Coens' and Raimi's meticulously selected actors seem literally born for their parts. Using the most classical of Hollywood stylistic techniques in the most seamless manner, but with added auteur hyperbole they show us who we are through the comic lens of the camera, always reminding us that it is just a movie. Listen for the title of Amy Archer's Pulitzer prize winning article. Favorite line: "the people look..like..ants."
The Coens do Capra, with their inimitable style and wit. More specifically, this is the innocent hick in the corrupt big city thing of Mr. Smith, Mr Deeds and Meet John Doe, complete with Tim Robbins as a suitably lanky substitute for Jimmy Stewart and Gary Cooper, and a wonderful fast-talking tomboy journo turn from Jennifer Jason Leigh. Paul Newman is similarly fantastic as the evil corporate bigwig, and the tale of a patsy turning the tables on his manipulators through his own naivety and innocence is perfectly packed with inspired moments, wonderfully fantastic set design, nutty dialogue, great music and that streak of brilliant lunacy running through all of the Coens' magical oeuvre. Makes my "top ten of the decade" for sure, this beauty can only mature and grow in stature over time.
As I have seen this film more times than I can count, I could just
describe it to you in the minutest of detail, but that's been done on
here many times already. What I will say is this: If you've never been
interested in those 'old' films (i.e. anything before 'Police Academy
5'), then please read what I've got to say, and then watch this film.
First though, a (very) brief history of film comedy:
In the beginning, there were silent films. Charlie Chaplin made some, and generally speaking, they were rubbish.
Then came 'The Talkies', and comedy films began to include - you guessed it - talking. However, they were mostly still just people getting hit on the head by pianos, and as such, they were funny, but not exactly thought-provoking...
Then there was 'screwball'; an awful description of some of the finest and funniest films ever made, which used fast-talking, wise-cracking characters to devastating effect. Preston Sturges did them better than anyone else, and suddenly, films were funny AND clever.
This film then, is the Coen Brother's tribute to their hero, and it is staggering. It has loads of the hallmarks of your typical, great Coen Brothers film - stunning to look at, great voice-over, funny looking fat-faced people, etc, but best bit of all is the dialogue, which easily stands up to to comparison with that of any of the 'classic' screwball comedies, and therefore, with the best of all time.
A word of warning, though - don't expect to be able to sit back and take in everything this movie has to give without concentrating. A lot of the talking in it is FAST, and the gags come so quick that if you're not careful, you WILL miss some perfectly-crafted little vignette on life, and you'll have to use the rewind button.
As you can probably tell, I really can't describe how good this film actually is. All I will say is that I highly recommend watching it on Christmas Eve, like I do every year, as seeing it will fill your heart with so much joy that the impending fights with close relatives will seem a million miles away...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Coens are not the basis of my life in film, but they sure make it a lot of fun. Its like a crossword puzzle that dances through your memory by teasing you with clues that you use to assemble a pre-engineered interlocking marvel.
I believe a Coen project has three elements and they build it that way. They begin with a major problem in narrative. These are well known; most have to do with the identity of the narrator, specifically names or roles. For this film, it is the fated role; for `Lebowski,' the name; for `Man who Wasn't,' it is recognition; in `Brother,' we had fate again but this time targeted on opportunity (rather than vehicle) for narration.
The second element is the selection of the cinematic cloak to wear. I believe this is wholly unrelated to the first, in fact the arbitrariness is part of the fun. In `Man' it was noir; `Brother' adopted the indigenous narrative song (which led to both Homer and Teebone Burnette); here it is screwball. And not just today's screwball. When these guys mine, they go to the source lode and in this case it is Capra. In fact, I believe they started with Capra's original screwball, `It Happened One Night.' There, the man is a fast-talking news reporter who attaches himself to a popular phenomenon as a personality. The woman is successful (in terms of being rich anyway) and she masquerades as a `regular' girl. Turn that inside out and you get the outline for this. Add some other Capraisms and the gods in the machines and this is what comes out.
Oh, and the third element: pure cinematic experience. Visual metaphors, extreme images, manifold quoting, almost distractingly detailed sets. Here, all the actors support these three elements, and that is the marvel of Coen projects. Many other films really do believe that the story and the `quality' of the actors in making it real somehow carries power. This is much better, being rooted in intelligent inquiry and love of visual imagination.
Robbins and Newman support this type of acting well. They have done so before. But there is always one actor at least that the Coens use as the white space: the actor that only knows about one dimension of the project. Here, that is Ms Leigh. Even though she is being goofed on, she does the best work of her career.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 4: Worth watching.
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