This film is only rated 5.6 on IMDb which I find a bit low. I may not be Clooney’s best, but “Suburbicon” is an enjoyable film.
The title refers to a newly found and perfect American community where people from all over the States come to live to flee their previous surroundings. In this quiet town two things happen. One man (played by Matt Damon) gets a “Fargo”-like plan to raise money, which of course goes very wrong. The second event is a colored family coming to live in Suburbicon.
Clooney wrote the story together with the Coen brothers. This shows in the story and Clooney again uses the Coen-style filming and 1950’ies setting that he used in previous films.
The result is, like I said, an entertaining film. Not as good as Clooney’s debut, but certainly not his least interesting film either.
This very actual film is about a senator hoping to win the nomination for the office of president for the Democratic Party. The senator is played by director Clooney who managed to gather a heavy line-up for his film. We have Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti in leading parts.
Stephen Meyers (Gosling) is high up on the staff of the senator’s promotion team, working under Paul Zara (Hoffman), a seasoned campaign leader. Meyers is a highly promising promotor with some experience. The film does not really explain the American selection system with delegates, superdelegates, etc., but it does give a peek into the extraordinary rough way of campaigning. A minor misstep costs Meyer’s head who tries to fight his way back into the game.
“The Ides Of March” is a drama with some tension, especially psychological, giving an idea of what an American campaign is like and it is not pretty.
Since Clooney exposes a Coen kind of humour in his own films too, I keep following the man even when he makes some sort of “romcom”. However the film is not as brilliant as the title, “Leatherheads” is an amusing film with nice humour and a weird story playing in times past. Clooney might complain that the Coens always have him play an idiot, but he must like it, since he does the same in his own films. “Leatherheads” is for people in a silly mood, also for lovers of “romcoms”, but this might even be a “romcom” for men, since it is all about sport (football).
So what does Clooney have with 50’ies films about early television and the communist-craze? In “Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind” he made these elements into a thriller, this time we get a very slow drama. Showing the power of media and the crazyness of the exposure of communists, “Good Night, and Good Luck” follows TV showhost Edward Murrow who makes critical shows about some powerfull men and their ways. Of course things are not made easy for him. Being a nice peek into a strange time in the USA, “Good Night…” as a film is too slow and not very exciting. The filming is good, the acting is good, but inspite of that, the result is not all that good.
The second Charlie Kaufman script (also see “Adaptation”) is also a book put to film. This time it is Chuck Barris’ biography. “Confessions…” is the directors-debut of George Clooney and he is obviously quite influenced by the brothers Coen is whose “O Brother Where Art Thou?” (2000) he played. “Confessions…” first has a similar atmosphere to this Coen film and also their “The Man Who Wasn’t There”.
As said “Confessions…” is about Chuck Barris, the man who came up with the first tv-shows like “The Dating Game” and “The Gong Show”. First you see him in his early days desperately looking for sex. When the tv is introduced, he immediately sees the future in this media and starts at ABC. He comes up with some of the most popular gameshows ever. In the meantime he is recruited as special murder-agent for the CIA by Jim Byrd (played by Clooney himself) and while the film continues, Barris starts to combine his two occupations, but eventually goes insane when his tv-carreer jams and the pressure by the CIA rises.
In the beginning “Confessions…” has a very nice 50/60’ies atmosphere with a subtle kind of humour like we know from the brothers Coen. As the film continues there are very strange and even dark scenes and here and there thrillerish elements. The atmosphere is never forced and goes naturally from one to the other. The colour-setting is very nice, black/white but then green. The ‘setup’ is a bit weird like we may expect from Kaufman. It is both a biography (Barris looking back at his life) and a documentary (with interviews with ex-colleagues etc.). Overall I found this film pretty impressive. It is not brilliant the whole time, but especially for a directors-debut this is close to a masterpiece. <4>