THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI – REVIEW – Fargo goes to Missouri as Olive Kitteridge is angry with Woody the barman from Cheers.

Ebbing Missouri is the kind of small town in which everyone knows everyone else’s business. And a terrible crime has been committed. With the failure of the local police chief to apprehend the guilty, a distraught mother (Frances McDormand) decides to take things into her own hands by advertising the police department’s apparent ineptitude to the world.

Martin McDonagh has written and directed a smart and complex dramedy with a crowd-pleasing performance by the actress who could challenge Meryl Streep for the American acting crown. Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson also have solid parts, with McDonagh giving everyone lines that are as chewy as tobacco. The only problem if the film has a weird internal inconsistency. It’s supposed to be about how terrible violence can have consequences on the lives of those left behind, but all the violence of the film seems to be strangely weightless and bouncy. It wants to say something serious but also wants to wear a silly hat. There are plot holes and absurdities that clang against the realism of other parts. Also I’m not entirely sure that Martin McDonagh really knows much about small town America. I’m guessing that a lot of Ebbing was inspired by movies rather than a real place.

That said it is funny and the acting is great.

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LAS VEGAS – ‘I’ve got the set,’ shouted an inebriated Frances McDormand from the steps of the small Las Vegas wedding chapel where yesterday she married her second Coen Brother, probably Ethan or Joel.

The Oscar winning actress has already been married to one of the Coens, Joel or Ethan since 1984, but decided she would like to have both sometime in 2006.

Hollywood observer Yank Mayhew said:

Bigamy is becoming the new skateboarding in Hollywood circles. Already you have Goldie Hawn married to Kurt Russell, Russell Crowe and Russell Brand. But McDormand has gone for the jackpot, adding a tinge of incest to the brew. 

Sources close to the Coen Brothers camp reported that the siblings were in fact ‘relieved’ because for some time now they had been unable to remember who was married to the Fargo star:

Genuinely confused

 It would be quite funny as a matter of fact, as they squabbled about it once Frances had left the room. When she came back, they waited for her to say something or make a gesture and then would use that as a clue. I’m afraid to say Frances exploited their confusion to basically go home with the one she wanted. 

All of us at Studio Exec would like to wish the happy trio all the best for the future.

Hail Caesar is on general release.


More 47 Films to see before you’re murdered in your dreams. This episode we take a trip to the South at the height of the Civil Rights struggle to witness Mississippi Burning.

Alan Parker’s Mississippi Burning got a hard time on its release for suggesting – it was felt – that the Civil Rights struggle was won by some well-meaning and white FBI agents doing honest police work in the face of vile opposition. The film is in fact far less ambitious than that. It’s really a murder procedural played out against the background of the Civil Rights struggle. More Dirty Harry in the South than Selma.

When three activists go missing in 1964,  Rupert Anderson (Gene Hackman) and Alan Ward (Willem Dafoe) are sent to the small town on the Mississippi to investigate. Here they meet resistance from the local law enforcement, the major and the Klan friendly citizenry. The black populace are even more unwilling to be seen to be helping as they are in constant danger from violent reprisals, church burnings and lynchings. Despite his relative youth, Ward is the superior who insists that everything will be done according to procedure. Anderson, himself a good ole boy and once a Sheriff of a similar town, however believes in breaking the rules to get results and is more than comfortable with fighting fire with fire. They are – to coin a phrase – chalk and cheese, but the cliché of the mismatched pair doesn’t really matter when you have two actors of this calibre firing on all engines. Hackman in particular is fantastic, whether he’s wooing the locals or grabbing Michael Rooker by the crotch until Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer weeps like a child.

With great support from a young Frances McDormand as the wife to Brad Dourif’s brutal deputy sheriff, as well as Dourif himself and Stephen Tobolowsky and R. Lee Ermey as the mayor, Mississippi Burning also looks fantastic thanks to an on form Alan Parker  who had just made Angel Heart a year earlier. Having taken something of a dip post-Commitments, Parker disappeared, leaving erst while rival Ridley Scott as the senior Brit made good, but with a body of work that includes these two films as well as Pink Floyd the Wall, Fame, Birdy and the amazing Bugsy Malone, a reappraisal is long overdue.

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CANNES – The Coen Brothers might be the Presidents of the Cannes Jury but we reveal that their past is a hot bucket of slimy Hollywood scandal.

The Coen Brothers‘ consistent misbehaviour has been kept from the headlines by an unholy cabal of powerful agents, celebrity friends and studio heads, but a recent acceleration in debauchery could see the Serious Men – as they like to be known – facing criminal charges.
You might know them as the writer/directors whose quirky, witty and intelligent films have brought a delightful sense of entertainment that works as an antidote to the usual brainless multiplex crud, whether we’re smiling gently at ‘comedies’ such as O Brother Where Art Thou? or being thrilled by the genre exercises like No Country for Old Men.  But now Studio Exec  finally has the courage to reveal that the soft spoken due are actual a pair of wanton rascals whose horrific assault on every social taboo led Charlie Sheen to ask for a restraining order against them.

‘It’s like the Hell Fire club has been re-invented,’ a shocked looking Tim Robbins squealed. ‘When I was making the Hudsucker Proxy I asked what the title meant. So they showed me. I’ve never been so disgusted in my life. I spent the next three hours retching until there was nothing left but stomach lining and an old licence plate.’
A wife cleans up at the end of a cocaine party

So what have the brothers been guilty of:

  • When David Fincher was making Panic Room they turned up on set and sniggered at him until he made the film craply.
  • They insisted that the fake snow for Fargo be 70% pure cocaine and then they wouldn’t share, not even with their wives.
  • They told George Clooney that he could do comedy and encouraged him to make Leatherheads and then laughed in his face (the only laughter the film provoked incidentally. 
  • They once ate a traffic policeman. 
Comedy? Are you sure?
  • Lady Killers was made for the sole purpose of making Tom Hanks feel ridiculous. 
  • They often walk around Hollywood naked with Steve Buscemi and John Goodman on leashes.
  • William H. Macy was told that to prepare for the role of Jerry Lundergaard he would have to be chemically castrated. He was horrified at the end of filming to find out the scene had been removed from the script and he had burned his own penis for no good reason.
We can only hope that these revelations will serve to make the brothers think about their callous behaviour and perhaps even bring about some activity from the otherwise sluggish LAPD.


CANNES – So the Cannes jury have spoken. After seven minutes of deliberation, followed by sixteen hours of Twister to kill the time before the announcement, Steven Spielberg revealed that the winner was La Vie di Adéle, or to give it its English title Blue is the Warmest Color.
This is a deserving victory. This is the kind of film that makes you believe in the possibility of cinema, changing your life and the world you live in. And there’s a ten minute lesbian sex scene.

The lass from The Artist has learnt to speak and the effect was a best actress nod for The Past. Bruce Dern won the longevity prize and Amat Escalante won a prize for best penis being set on fire scene in the devastating Heli. The Coens had to make do with the runner’s up prize, but they’re still very happy that Frances McDormand has now married both of them.


Harvey Milk is Robert Smith from The Cure whose married to the sheriff of Fargo but goes all Boys from Brazil when his dad dies, helped by the least famous guy from Taxi.

Paolo Sorrentino directs his first English language film with the dial turned to full quirk. A road movie, revenge, comedy mishmash that looks good, but doesn’t really have anywhere to go. It isn’t quite as good/funny as you’ll pretend it is, but it’s still likeable and nuts.