You know what's surprising? A great cast, a pair of lunatic screenwriters and a badass premise can still make a terrible, unbelievably half-assed movie. I know! It's never happened before in the history of film! And yet, it somehow happened with Jonah Hex, a movie so bad I'm actually having difficulty coming up with a comparable example of its flagrant awfulness.
Longtime Hollywood outsiders Joel and Ethan Coen are becoming as mainstream as Michael Bay these days. (I kid, of course, in comparing the intelligent, quirky writer-director team to the director-producer of Bad Boys, Armageddon, and Transformers.)
But they are gaining popularity outside of their loyal cult following. In February, they won three Oscars (and gave the most subdued speeches in awards show history); and it was announced today that they'll open the Venice Film Festival with Burn After Reading, starring some relatively unknown actors: you know, actors like George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, and Brad Pitt -- all of the actors who non-mainstream filmmakers are working with these days.
The Festival de Cannes announced most of its 2008 lineup this week. In a Moviefile entry last week, I mentioned that Hollywood expected to have a meager showing in the competitive portion of the Festival. One article said that Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York might be the only entry, unless Steven Soderbergh could complete his mondo four-hour Che Guevara biopic under the wire. Soderbergh appears to have accomplished this feat, as Che is listed in the Festival's recently released press kit.