Wednesday, November 1, 2017


        Make America Hate Again—Oh, Wait, We Never Stopped

                                                       Review by Ken Burke
                              Suburbicon (George Clooney)
“Executive Summary” (no spoilers): Set in the 1950s this a dual-plot-story with the initial element of the African-American Mayers family moving into an all-White-suburb—thereby causing great consternation within their community—constantly in the background as hostilities toward them continue to escalate, but the main focus is on the Lodge family where robbers enter their house one night, kill the mother (Julianne Moore) with an overdose of chloroform, leaving the father (Matt Damon) in a situation of increasing tension (especially about his young son) even as he attempts to bring stability to his upturned life by having his sister-in-law (also Moore) move in.  You’ll easily find this film getting some of the lowest critical responses of the year with consistent complaints the 2 aspects of the plot don’t coalesce, but—while it’s not as biting in its satire as it seems like it will be from watching the trailer—I find Suburbicon (adapted from a script by the Coen brothers, with plenty of their dark humor still intact) to be an intriguing, enjoyable experience, easily available in mainstream theaters although you’d be well off looking over a range of reviews about it before spending ticket money because I can’t offer a refund if you disagree with my peculiar tastes.

Here’s the trailer:  (Use the full screen button in the image’s lower right to enlarge it; activate that same button on the full screen’s lower right or your “esc” keyboard key to return to normal size.)

If you can abide plot spoilers read on, but as this blog’s intended for those who’ve seen the film—or want to save some bucks—to help any of you who’d like to learn more details yet avoid important plot-reveals I’ll identify such give-away sentences/sentence-clusters like this: ⇒The first and last words will be noted with arrows and red.  OK, continue on if yolike.

What Happens: We begin in 1959 with old-school storybook/real estate PR imagery coupled to voiceover narration extolling the wonders of the new huge (60,000 residents) planned community of Suburbicon (seemingly somewhere close to the juncture of PA and NJ, just like the real Levittown this story’s somewhat based on) with abundant housing, schools, shopping, and a great diversity of neighbors—as long as you interpret that as meaning White people from all over the U.S.  Real diversity arrives when the African-American Mayers* family moves in, much to the surprise of the local, formerly-cheery mailman (Steve Monroe); soon there’s a hostile town meeting demanding action be taken to oust these folks, although the slightly-less-racists among them try to justify it, saying integration won’t work until “they” improve upon their education and social readiness (reminding me of my parents’ rejection of Martin Luther King Jr. receiving the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize because of the marches he organized demanding justice for the “Negroes” of his time, with my parents dismayed the ensuing riots [caused by White attackers of the marchers, including Southern lawmen] were any sign of progress, especially when “they” should be content to rock along slowly as change would gradually come [at the rate Whites like my parents preferred, maybe by the 25th century**]).  With no legal cause to force these new neighbors out, a large group in this community begins a program of harassment, first with day-through-night-vigils outside the Mayerses’ home, escalating into constant singing in an effort to never allow them any peace.  Mr. Mayers (Leith M. Burke) refuses to be intimidated; Mrs. Mayers (Karimah Westbrook) does her best to ignore the taunts but faces increasing hostility such as the local grocery store manager suddenly telling her everything at the checkout counter costs $20 so she’d best take her business elsewhere; young son Andy (Tony Espinosa) seems to not have a friend in the world until later developments.

*One thing I rarely have time to do as end credits roll by quickly is check for accurate spelling of character names so this is the version I'm using of "Mayers" based on a slight plurality of sources I've seen (even as some other critics use “Meyers”), but that’s hardly this film's most crucial point.

**If they were still here today to defend themselves as following White-majority-opinion, though, they could cite this story from The Washington Post noting surveys in 1961 found 61% of Americans disapproved of the “Freedom Riders” attempts to integrate public transportation, 57% felt that “sit-ins” and other demonstrations hurt the cause of integration, 60% in 1963 had an unfavorable reaction toward King’s proposed March on Washington, while by 1966 85% of White respondents to a poll said demonstrations by “Negroes” hurt the advancement of civil rights (while a 1969 poll of Blacks found 70% agreement that such actions had helped in gaining legal equality).

 Except for periodically checking in with the Mayerses’ situation as it grows more hostile, their presence in this narrative becomes a background event relative to the story of the people across the back fence, the Lodges, with Dad Gardner (Matt Damon) as some firm’s Financial VP, Mom Rose (Julianne Moore) in a wheelchair as the result of a car accident, sister-in-law Margaret (also Moore) who’s Rose’s twin seemingly spending a lot of time with them, son Nicky (Noah Jupe) about Andy's age.  Their tranquility’s broken one night when a couple of robbers, Sloan (Glenn Fleshler) and Louis (Alex Hassell), come to the house, promising to hurt no one as long as they all cooperate, but when they tie the family to kitchen chairs before knocking them out with chloroform (why they do this when the victims are already tied up isn’t clear yet) the dose used on Rose is too heavy so she dies, followed by Margaret moving in (as well as altering her appearance and clothing, now fully looking like her sister) to help in raising Nicky.  ⇒Things begin to get strange, though, as Gardner and Margaret quickly get closer than we’d expect (from clingy slow dancing to him slipping into her room at night), then when they’re called to a police lineup they don’t identify the 2 obvious perps, which confuses both us and Nicky who slipped into the room behind the 1-way-glass with the police, Dad, and Aunt Maggie.  What becomes clear though a good bit of dialogue-based-explication is Gardner and Maggie have been lusting after each other for quite awhile with the intention of killing Rose so they can run off to Aruba (a Dutch island just off the coast of Venezuela, having no extradition treaty with the U.S.) where they’ll live off Rose’s life-insurance-payout (after packing Nicky off to a military school); to further complicate their plot, they’ve recruited loan shark Sloan for the murder under the promise the insurance money will go to paying off Gardner’s debts to the mob but with his real intention of zipping away with the cash rather than making the payout.  

 It gets even more complicated when insurance-agency-investigator Bud Cooper (Oscar Isaac) has a crafty talk with Maggie, tells her their claim smells like shit, returns that night to demand Gardner turn over the entire settlement to him.  (Can you truly imagine how long ago 1959 was, when $7,000 would be enough to retire with someone else, both of you no older than middle-age, to a Caribbean island?  Talk about the good old days … except, of course, for anyone just like the Mayerses.)⇐

 ⇒At this point, murder goes rampant in this twisted narrative as Maggie attempts to poison Cooper by putting lye in his coffee with Gardner finishing him off using a fireplace poker like a sword (splattering Gardner’s face and white shirt with a good bit of blood) then driving the body in Cooper’s car to another location after which Gardner starts peddling home on his son’s small bike he’d quickly put into the agent’s trunk, only to find himself being followed and threatened by Sloan who’s suddenly put out of commission by a racing fire truck that totals both him and his car on the way to the Mayerses’ home where their car’s been set afire by the Suburbicon mob (citizens, not gangsters—although at this point it’s hard to tell the difference).  Meanwhile, Louis goes to the Lodges’ home to kill Maggie and Nicky to pressure Gardner into finally handing over the cash (which he doesn’t even have yet) while she’s tried to poison the kid with pills ground up into his peanut-butter-sandwich and milk (because he’s called Uncle Mitch [Gary Basarba], desperate for help as Nicky’s begun to realize what’s going on with his so-called-guardians).  Louis kills Maggie (sort of off-camera, only their shadows shown on the wall), but before he can take care of Nicky Mitch arrives to kill Louis, then dies himself from a knife wound in his back.  When Gardner gets home he presents Nicky with an ultimatum: either the son goes along with his father’s explanation to the cops about how Gardner’s innocent of all the corpses in the house, then they’ll be the ones off to Aruba as soon as the check arrives, or Nicky can join the ranks of the departed.  However, by dawn Gardner’s dead as well, having eaten the poisoned food while delivering his terms to Nicky.  

 Our gruesome story ends with a few decent neighbors helping Mr. Mayer clear debris off his lawn (we get the sense cops finally intervened to disperse the harassing crowd) while Nicky and Andy toss a baseball back and forth over their mutual fence even though there’s no indication what’s to now become of Nicky with his entire family expired (maybe if the irony continues to run thick here, he’ll end up a son adopted by the Mayerses, but that’s a resolution left purely to our conjecture).⇐

So What? Apparently the original Coen brothers’ script for Suburbicon was written in 1986, a relatively short time after the successful release of Blood Simple (1984)—a most auspicious cinematic debut—with a later intention it would finally be produced in 2005, starring and directed by Clooney.  Obviously, that never happened but Clooney and screenwriting collaborator Grant Heslov (Good Night, and Good Luck, 2005; The Ides of March, 2011; The Monuments Men, 2014 [review in our February 14, 2014 posting]—all directed by George) more recently decided to create a story built on the actual hostile response to the Myers family attempting to move into Levittown, PA in 1957 (here's an extensive documentary [31:44] from that time about this controversial event, which notes there were Whites who defended the inclusion of these Blacks into the community as well as racist objectors [despite denials of such motives]); critics who complain Clooney’s current film doesn’t treat this topic adequately might want to just watch this doc for the depth it provides on the topic, including how the petition put forth by Suburbicon’s residents to not allow their town to be integrated until Blacks “deserved” such treatment reflects actual attitudes and events of 1957 Levittown), then used/rewrote the Coens’ script (which had only the elements of the subversive members of the Lodge family, their resultant demise) as a foundation for adding the racist material as a background chorus (a damn loud chorus, giving the community’s constant harassment of the Mayerses’ home).  However, the critical consensus has been viciously-negative with those surveyed by Rotten Tomatoes yielding only 26% positive reviews (of 149), although the Metacritic writers offer a 42% score (of 42)—a rare time when these folks present a higher result, with the constant complaint from all the naysayers being the 2 main plot elements—some say an attempted hybrid of ideas, others a Frankenstein-like collage disaster—don’t mesh into a coherent, purposeful narrative.

 I could cite such a negative response from my famed local critic, Mick LaSalle (a big fish in a big pond; well, a bay actually), of the San Francisco Chronicle but I’ve already disagreed with him recently regarding Loving Vincent (Dorata Kobiela, Hugh Welchman; review in our October 26, 2017 posting) so in an attempt at oppositional diversity I’ll offer the rejections of critics from The New Yorker and London’s The Guardian (provided by my friend/Mills College-colleague of many years, Jim Graham, whom I thank because I probably wouldn’t have seen these critiques—even though I have my disagreements with them—without his input).  The first comes from Anthony Lane: “So repelled is Clooney by the response of white suburbia to African-Americans, and so keen is he to insure that we share his outrage at what they endured, that he quite forgets to be interested in them. We learn next to nothing about Mr. and Mrs. Mayers (their first names are a mystery), nor do we listen to their conversations. The wife is charged twenty dollars for a carton of milk by the manager of a supermarket, and she hangs up her washing outside with a bevy of protesters banging drums and crowing, only feet away, but, while her dignity in the face of such taunts is noble, that’s all we know of her. It’s purely in relation to white contempt, in other words, that she is granted dramatic presence. To say that she and her husband are a backdrop would be going too far, but the black plot and the white plot scarcely touch. Is that what Clooney intended?”  Then we have Guy Lodge (no relation—I hope—to the Suburbicon family) with his own line of complaint: “Things were bad back then, of course, but they’re also pretty terrible now: when shooting a 1950s neo-Nazi riot on a Hollywood set, Clooney presumably couldn’t imagine how discomfortingly the resulting footage would evoke real-life events happening in Charlottesville, Virginia, in the year 2017. Life comes at you fast, as the kids say, and by bracketing such events in a mode of larkish Leave It To Beaver parody, by framing them only in terms of how they affect (or, more pointedly, don’t affect) the film’s white principals, Suburbicon comes undone. It’s jaunty, frequently funny and made with liberal intentions, but in the wake of films like Get Out, Jordan Peele’s [review in our May 11, 2017 posting] incendiary satire of white supremacy in suburbia, it looks as dated as the world it depicts.”

 As with other reviews in recent months in which my response has been either higher (The Dinner [Oren Moverman; review in our May 11, 2017 posting], Rebel in the Rye [Danny Strong; review in our September 21, 2017 posting], mother! [Darren Aronofsky; review in our September 21, 2017 posting]) or lower (War for the Planet of the Apes [Matt Reeves; review in our July 20, 2017 posting], Logan Lucky [Steven Soderberg; review in our August 23, 2017 posting], Beach Rats [Eliza Hittman; review in our September 13, 2017 posting]) than the aggregates found in RT and/or MC I’m out of step (but with no regrets, as usual) on Suburbicon, which has some power for me in the determined, stoic non-response by the Mayerses to the absurd, then violent acts of their horrible “neighbors” as well as my enjoyment of the gleeful perversity of characters and situations clearly emanating from the delightfully-twisted-minds of the Coens (the first appearance of Sloan and Louie taking over the Lodge home, each demanding to be served a drink on a tray; the forcefulness of these goons storming into Gardner’s office, punching him hard enough to break his glasses, bloody his nose just to get their “pay up or else” point across; the ridiculous image of Gardner escaping on a child’s bike after leaving Cooper dead at a site far away from the Lodge home).  I admit there are problems of reminiscences from older films that too easily come to mind here (explored in the next section just below), but overall I find Suburbicon is unified enough to be effective in its depiction of the rotten underbelly of supposedly stable, decent, traditional communities/lifestyles/upstanding characters.

 Some of these characters are the anonymous criminals posing as ordinary workers while tearing apart the social fabric of the constructed town (our official hoods apparently keep a low profile as bus drivers, with Sloan reminding me of Jackie Gleason’s Ralph Kramden from The Honeymooners [DuMont and CBS sketches in 1951-‘55, CBS series in 1955-‘56, endless reruns after that]), others are supposedly-solid-community-leaders (Gardner’s a respected executive) who harbor disgusting secrets, or they may just be the folks next door (as well as many doors in surrounding blocks) who suddenly become intolerable, with blatant prejudices based on nothing but wholesale rejection of a given group of people.  Like a lot of satires (including the ongoing TV series Fargo [FX network, beginning 2014], done as a conceptual extension of the Coen’s masterpiece film), what’s presented as past atrocities serve to spotlight the continuance of such bedevilment, with Suburbicon doing a reasonable job of reminding us (in the era of Trump-Bannon “nationalism,” including economic success by any means available) how limited our social progress has really been over recent decades (including in areas of atrocious sexual misconduct, with accusations followed by generally-limp-apologies pouring forth in our daily headlines which even relates in a sideways-manner to Gardner’s willingness to have Rose killed so he could hook up with presumably-hotter Margaret).

Bottom Line Final Comments: As noted above, I’ll agree individual aspects of Suburbicon have been handled more successfully in earlier films, with the primary resemblance coming from the Coens themselves in Fargo (1996) where Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) also pulls a financial-gain-con-gone-horribly-wrong, his “kidnapped” wife dying in the process (although not part of his plan, unlike with Rose), but that’s to be expected when you take a script written long before Fargo, then revive it decades later as if the similarities would go unnoticed (however, there’s familial treachery and murder for hire as far back as Blood Simple* with the Coens, so maybe the plot repetition’s just something we “endearingly” expect from them).  However, you can also find the theme of one woman replacing another (Madeline Elster/Judy Barton) in dubious circumstances in Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock [1958]), although in that earlier masterpiece (picked by Sight and Sound’s 2012 worldwide survey of critics as the best film of all time, ending Citizen Kane’s [Orson Welles {1941}] 50-year-reign [#2 last time but I’m still hoping for a resurgence in 2022]) the “2” women—both played by Kim Novak—have Jimmy Steward’s Scottie Ferguson thinking he’s masterminding a romantic recreation when he’s really in the process of unraveling a carefully-constructed-mystery (something the lamebrains in Suburbicon could never have concocted), although the “wife” in that earlier plot ends up dead (sort of) twice (if you don’t know Vertigo I encourage you to research it especially by seeing the film).  Then, if you want to get into the theme of sordid goings-on in a supposedly-placid-setting you couldn’t do better than David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986), another masterpiece but one of psychosexual-revulsion in many aspects (I had the privilege of attending a lecture years ago by famed film theorist Laura Mulvey who did a marvelous Freudian analysis of it).

*Containing some of my favorite script lines (given my time in the Lone Star State): “And go ahead, complain, tell your problems to your neighbor, ask for help—watch him fly.  Now in Russia, they got it mapped out so that everyone pulls for everyone else—that's the theory, anyway.  But what I know about is Texas ... And down here ... you're on your own.”  It still works that cruel way in Suburbicon.

 Racial hostilities in a 1950s community are also addressed in a more abstracted manner in Pleasantville (Gary Ross, 1998) where contemporary siblings David (Tobey Maguire) and Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon) are magically trapped in the black & white world of a 1950s TV series where everything’s harmonious yet unchallenging (as we delight in the marvelous cast also including Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, J.T. Walsh, and Don Knotts), so as they begin to unleash emotions in this uptight-Eden color starts to manifest, leading to a ban on “colored” people with riots occurring as the old order breaks down.  (Unlike Suburbicon, this one—and all above—enjoy a critical embrace, although a few brought mixed reactions upon initial release, mellowed over time; I don’t expect such evaluation-revision for Clooney’s latest directorial effort, though, even as much as I admire his intentions here).  All in all, Suburbicon* offers a lot of pleasures ⇒(sick as they may be, such as the scene where Nicky hears mysterious noises in the basement which, after the “robbery” episode, legitimately has him on edge so he grabs a kitchen knife before venturing downstairs, only to find Dad and Aunt Maggie going at it with her bent face-forward over the ping pong table, him enjoying rear entry while paddling her for mutual delight⇐ or “Coen-ish” as they may be, such as Police Lt. Hightower [Jack Conley] assuming Episcopalian Gardner’s a Jew because “Lodge” sounds Jewish to him [?]) along with a legitimate attempt to find ways of speaking out against hypocrisy, corruption, unleashed bigotry in our supposedly-more-enlightened-society.

*Given the Coen’s taste for satire, I can’t help but think this title’s somehow related to the ancient Roman Satyricon (attributed to either Gaius Petronius or Titus Petronius, 1st century A.D.), not only because this Latin classic deals with timely-topical-humor but also because its sexually-based “Satyrlike Adventures” imply/elaborate acts we’d consider inappropriate for decent (as opposed to decadent) society, something I think shines through from the Coens’ original script of Suburbicon as well as in a more literal depiction of such ancient debauchery in (Federico) Fellini Satyricon (1969).

 According to reports, Clooney was inspired to make Suburbicon as a result of the Trump election—filming began in October 2016 when it was clear such a once-assumed-absurdity had built real traction over the previous year of campaigning (with, as we now know, substantial Russian help)—but given that casting began in late 2015 it’s an overstatement, although a scene with Josh Brolin intended to give more of a humorous respite to the film's harsher elements was cut from the final version after the 2016 election as Clooney wanted his presentation to be taken more seriously as it should be—to some ironic degree, in its time of release—given the racial undercurrents (the Civil War and its lingering aftermath) of the “Unite the Right” protests-into-riots in Charlottesville, VA last August just as the film was in preview mode.  No matter the director/co-screenwriter’s intentions and current context, though, the trailer’s still a bit duplicitous in implying Gardner’s an innocent guy put upon by evil people who somehow summons the strength to avenge himself as opposed to the reality we find viewing his own growing maliciousness, even though this blood-stained-man seems to have lost all awareness of Cooper’s warning the insurance agent’s death would simply bring on others who’d make Lodge pay for his crimes (just like 007’s tactic with his deadly nemesis in Goldfinger [Guy Hamilton, 1964] to prevent being cut in half by a laser beam).  Despite the pedigrees of the director, screenwriters, and stars, though—along with easy availability, as it’s playing in 2,046 domestic (U.S.-Canada) theaters—Suburbicon’s quickly becoming a box-office-bomb (a mere $2.8 million gross in its opening weekend) so if you have any big-screen-interest (despite the negative critical vibe) you’d better seek it out soon because a long run is most unlikely.

 Such conflicts about successful execution lead me to the end of this meandering journey through Suburbicon with 2 choices for my usual review-wrap-up-Musical Metaphor (partly because I won’t be with you next week; see just below).  I’ll start with the gentle social commentary of The Monkees’ “Pleasant Valley Sunday” (from their 1967 Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones album; song written by the gold-standard-due of Gerry Goffin and Carole King) at https://www. (their original music video, where Michael Nesmith couldn’t look any less interested in what’s going on unlike his bubbly-bandmates) that just notes “Rows of houses that are all the same And no one seems to care […] Here in status symbol land [… where] Creature comfort goals They only numb my soul and make it hard for me to see,” much like the scenes that begin and end Suburbicon, but then we can get more into what Clooney intended throughout his film with this more complex music video as Fiona Apple sings John Lennon’s “Across the Universe” (originally from The Beatles’ 1970 album Let It Be) at https://www.,* based on the uglier events of Pleasantville (echoing the same senseless violence of Suburbicon, shot in black & white implying the concepts within this earlier film where the presence of color brought on challenges to the previous, mindless stability) but with the vocalist immune to the chaos raging all around her to the point of maintaining her secure position even as the environment literally takes a 360o rotation (done by strapping her and the camera to a device that makes the circle—turning her upside down for a bit—giving the impression she’s stable as the camera moves with her while the background has lost all sense of gravity), just as the end of Suburbicon implies an ambiguous peace with Andy and Nicky casually tossing a baseball across their mutual back fence (despite the mayhem that’s invaded both their houses) as the camera pulls back to a wide shot of their seemingly-serene-community implying “Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my opened mind Possessing and caressing me [… with hopes someday we’ll find] Limitless undying love which shines around me like a million suns It calls me on and on, across the universe Jai Gura Deva, Om [loosely translated as “glory to the shining remover of darkness” or “All glory to guru Dev {about the Beatles’ guru Maharisi Mahesh Yogi’s own spiritual teacher, Dev}].”

*Fiona’s done at 4:19 although it continues on in video black until almost 5:22, so don’t feel like you have to keep going unless you’re just in a meditative mood.  I chose this option because other versions of such Pleasantville-based-imagery are too dark to see properly (this one's a bit dim also).

 Another reason I’ve used 2 songs to close out this review is various other activities limited me to seeing only 1 new film last week and will further prevent me from seeing any new-relese-cinema next weekend (and then the following days into next week will host my annual 3-night-celebration of The Godfather trilogy [Francis Ford Coppola; 1972, 1974, 1990—a true 5-star extravaganza if in ... Part III you assume Sofia Coppola's wandered in from a documentary on the real Mafia] along with my wife, Nina, wherein we consume my homemade spaghetti, drink delicious red wine, reveling in this fantastic filmmaking—it’s “an offer we can’t refuse”) so I won’t have time to write anything anyway.  Happy moviegoing to you until I return in mid-November with more of my prefilmic diegesis (a joke for Frank Tomasulo, if he sees it, as both those words confounded my little spellchecker). In closing I congratulate the Houston Astros for winning their first World Series title in 56 years of the franchise, a team I once lived a mere 50 miles away from, representing a city needing a boost after the  horrible devastation of Hurricane Harvey.
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Here’s more information about Suburbicon: (17:19 press conference with director George Clooney and actors Matt Damon, Julianne Moore [don’t get dizzy from the constantly shaky camera])

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If you’d rather contact Ken directly rather than leaving a comment here please use my new email at  Thanks.

By the way, if you’re ever at The Hotel California knock on my door—but you know what the check out policy is so be prepared to stay for awhile. Ken*

*YouTube keeps deleting links to this Eagles performance so I keep putting a newer version back in but you’ll just find dead links in our previous postings prior to October 19, 2017, so don’t be confused.

P.S.  Just to show that I haven’t fully flushed Texas out of my system here’s an alternative destination for you, Home in a Texas Bar, with Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker.  But wherever the rest of my body may be my heart’s always with my longtime-companion, lover, and wife, Nina Kindblad, so here’s our favorite shared song—Neil Young’s "Harvest Moon"
—from the performance we saw at the Desert Trip concerts in Indio, CA on October 15, 2016 (as a full moon was rising over the stadium) because “I’m still in love with you,” my dearest, a never-changing-reality even as the moon waxes and wanes over the months/years to come.


Finally, for the data-oriented among you, Google stats say over the past month (which they seem to measure from right now back 30 days) the total unique hits at this site were 27,374; below is a snapshot of where and by what means those responses have come from within the previous week:


  1. I liked the film and particularly appreciated your review for its depth and references, both trademarks of your work, particularly the much-needed clarification that part of the story was a true reference to a white/black conflict in the fifties. Clooney could use you as a publicist. Overall the pacing, look, and Coen Brothers style shines through making it highly worthwhile for anyone who appreciates their work. I was impressed with the fifties ambiance including GI Bill homes everywhere, complete with new concrete and the lawns without trees. Just as I remember it. Not sure how they achieved this short of remodeling a whole neighborhood.

    I think the issue with Suburbicon isn't just dual stories with forced overlap, it's the perception that black harassment and worse did not happen in the golden fifties. The truth is the KKK was there, crosses were burned in Levittown, police allowed it happen for seven days and worse. The fifties was never the panacea many remember. Overall my objection is that the William Myers Levittown incident deserves it's own detailed film while the Coen brothers script could have stood on its own. In reality, the factual KKK inspired incident was marginalized in detail and scope, especially when you have one based on fact and the other stylized Coen Brothers fiction.

  2. Hi rj, Thanks for your thoughtful response. I agree that each plot could stand alone, but apparently Clooney wanted to combine the two to emphasize--in his story--the innocence of the Mayers family (and the actual Myers folks) from the consternation their mere presence was causing in this all-White community while nefarious things were going on from Suburbicon residents both in the public and private spheres of the town. Given the ongoing race-based problems and criminal activities by supposedly-role-model citizens in our current society, I think Suburbicon deserves a wider viewing that it's going to get but maybe someday it'll pick up some recognition in a video revival. Ken

  3. By the way, readers, I'd like to thank rj for noting to me in a private email that the link I provided for the Levittown documentary had some unintended, distracting repetitions so I've now replaced that (my apologies to the first 50 or so who read this posting before the fix) with a version that he and I agree is probably the best option you'll have for viewing this 60-year-old sociological exploration. Ken