Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: The Coen Brothers Have Done It Again

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “Hail, Caesar!” (2016).

Once upon a time, I was a real fan of Coen Brothers movies. After I saw their masterly first film, “Blood Simple” and took a gander at “Raising Arizona”, I was hooked. As soon as a new Coen Brothers movie appeared on the marquee of my local cinema, I was in line. And they never seemed to disappoint.

Each reached into a part of the American consciousness and gave us a particular region. “Blood Simple” was in Texas. Guess you know where “Raising Arizona” took place. Each not only settled on a region of the country but a certain type of film. “Blood Simple” was a film noir murder mystery. “The Hudsucker Proxy” satirized American business. “Barton Fink” settled on Hollywood writers.

With “O Brother Where Art Thou”, they had themselves a big star. Somebody bigger than God in Hollywood. They had George Clooney. After that, Hollywood threw so much money at them that they seemed to have lost their way like Moses and the Children of Israel in the Wilderness. it seemed that they had lost the creative cojones that it took to make a decent movie. With “Fargo”, they had made a perfect movie. When you do that, where do you go from there? Only “No Country for Old Men” and “Burn After Reading” were decent films but nowhere near the creative spark they once had. Even Tom Hanks and Jeff Bridges couldn’t save them from re-make hell.

Now they give us “Hail, Caesar!” and it just might be the best thing they’ve done since “Burn After Reading”. Here’s the thing about this one. This is the Coen Brothers send-up of the Hollywood studio system in the fifties. It gives us the star system, the black list, the Cecil B. DeMille epic without Cecil B. DeMille, the Esther Williams swimming movie, the English drawing room drama, the Gene Autry/Roy Rogers singing cowboy Western, and a good impression of Gene Kelly in a dancing film.

This is a behind-the-scenes tour of the movie business back in the days when Hollywood knew how to make movies. They even show us the editing room. So if you love movies, this is one you’ll want to see. And by the way, it’s a comedy, folks.

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: An Epic to be all the other Epics

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “The Ten Commandments” (1956):

To all my Jewish friends, you are in my thoughts as I wish you well during this Passover season. 

It’s almost become a cliché, this movie. That’s why I hesitate to recommend it. But during this season of Passover, it’s very hard to ignore. Hollywood has tried to remake this movie any number of times and has failed. There is something about this one that gets to the heart of the story.

The story is an epic one. It is the foundation of our civilization. It is the story Jesus celebrated with His parents as a child and with His disciples at the Last Supper. This is why I have never understood how those who call themselves Christian can be anti-Semitic.

It is the founding of the Jewish nation built on the desire for a people who wished to be free. But it wasn’t an easy road. This people did not become a nation because it was easy. They became a nation only after years of suffering in slavery, then more years of wandering in a wilderness. Before they became the Promised Land of nationhood.

It is the beginning of Western Civilization’s belief in freedom as a core value. By looking back to the story of Exodus, the African-American community developed a belief in their ultimate delivery from slavery. The call, “Let my people,” can be heard in the song, “We shall overcome,” and in the words of Dr. King’ “I have a dream.” Just like the children of Israel, this community knew that liberation was not only possible, but inevitable. It was this same call for justice and freedom that those at Tiananmen Square and Tahrir Square were crying out for. Wherever injustice and tyranny exists, the call, “Let my people go,” will be heard.

It is story of the gift of Law. Without the law, there can only be chaos. But it must be a law that respects the rights of all. That is a law that everybody is under. Even the king. It was this story and those Commandments that were a forerunner to Roman Law, to the Magna Carta, English Common Law, the Constitution of United States and the Napoleonic Code. When the Declaration of Independence declared that all men were created equal and when Abraham Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address, they were building upon the belief established by the Exodus story.

So, when I watched this movie one more time, I remembered these things. I was also reminded of what a great movie this one is.

Of course the movie can’t completely remove the “from my cold dead hands” remark Charlton Heston made before the NRA. I’m sure when all is said and done, he would prefer to be remembered for his performance as Moses, calling for Pharaoh to “Let my people go.” I know I would. One thing is for sure. Yul Brynner was never better.