Joel and Ethan Coen make genre movies that don't look like genre movies.
No Country for Old Men modernized and moralized the Western. Inside Llewyn Davis was a musical biopic for a musician who never existed. Their under-appreciated laugh riot Intolerable Cruelty rewound the rom-com to its screwball roots. And while it's full of quirk, character, and bowling, The Big Lebowski is classic noir, twisting and turning as The Dude descends into mystery.
By latching on to classic storytelling blueprints, the Coen brothers can conjure up the oddest subversions without losing the audience. In our guts, we know how the movie will operate. Or we think we do.
Next February sees the release of the Coens' latest, the long-gestating period caper Hail, Caeser!. A new trailer should tickle Lebowski devotees. What starts with a crime – the kidnapping of famed actor Baird Whitlock – explodes like firework of personality. Channing Tatum dances in a sailor uniform. Scarlett Johansson razzles and dazzles. Josh Brolin does his best Bogart impression. Tilda Swinton annihilates with her laser eyes. And it all goes down on a studio backlot, where cowboys, Revolutionary War soldiers, and Greek soldiers roam the streets. There was long talk of a Big Lebowski sequel. We may not need it after Hail, Caeser!.