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Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Writer's Life 8/27 - The Rub

I've admired the works of the Coen brothers since Blood Simple (1984). Several were puzzling, but there were always outrageous scenes that made each viewing worthwhile. Hail Caesar (2016) is in that category. I caught up to it last night courtesy of Netflix. It is the story of a beleaguered studio head fixing problems on sets, and scandals behind the scenes. Set in an unidentified time that seems like the late 1940's or early 1950's, it features a terrific cast: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes. Scarlet Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum Frances McDormand, Robert Picardo, Christopher Lambert, Alan Clancy, Jonah Hill and Heather Goldenhersh. Michael Gambon does the voice-over. Swinton plays twin gossip columnists who hate each other, one of the flick's best features. There are two scenes I really enjoyed. One has the studio head, a devout Catholic, leading a round table discussion addressing his fears about a film about Christ to leaders of various religions, who bicker. The other has a group of communists, who have kidnapped the epic's star, trying to convert him to their cause. They too bicker among themselves. I'm never confident about analysis, even concerning books, so I simply state observations about what I see and read. I consult IMDb for specifics and scan the commentary section. There are two interesting interpretations there. One man sees the film as Biblical allegory, the studio head as a Christ-like figure. Another believes the theme is authority. Both argue convincingly. As I watched, the narrative seemed disjointed. Something seemed to be missing. Perhaps this is one of those films that has to be watched several times to be appreciated. Despite negative reviews, it made money, bringing in $29 million on a budget of $20 million in the USA alone. The Coen fan base is worldwide, so it probably ended up significantly in the black, especially given DVD sales, rentals and downloads. 63,000+ users at IMDb have rated it, forging to a consensus of 6.4 of ten, with which I can't argue. I'd be surprised if anyone outside of the Coen's legion of admirers would like it. Several bash the film at IMDb. It runs only 106 minutes. Curiously, I was disappointed that it seemed cut short. I wanted more. "Aye, there's the rub..." Hamlet might have said.

I've been carrying An Introduction to Psycholinguistics by Danny D. Steinberg and Natalia V. Sciarini for about a month, holding it for Danny, a layman whose passion is linguistics. Today he gave me several copies of a booklet he has published on the subject. Psycholinguistics is defined as the study of the relationships between linguistic behavior and psychological processes, including the process of language acquisition. Danny also bought Descartes' Discourse on Methods and Meditations and, in wonderful contrast, a novelization of Spiderman 3 by Peter David. My thanks, sir, and to the lovely young woman who bought a Princess Diana bio and Laura Day's Practical Intuition, and to Monsey, who purchased Organizing for Dummies, of which she said a friend was in dire need.
Vic's Short Works:
Vic's 5th Novel:'s 4th novel:
Vic's 3rd Novel:
Vic's Short Story on Kindle:
Vic's Short Story Collection:
Vic's 2nd Novel: Kindle:
Vic's 1st Novel:

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