Four months ago an HE tipster caught a research screening of George Clooney‘s Suburbicon at the Sherman Oaks Arclight, and passed along some comments. Now that there’s talk of this Fargo-esque ’50s noir comedy debuting in Venice six weeks hence, it can’t hurt to reconsider what was posted last March.

The tipster called Suburbicon Clooney’s “best-directed film ever…more bell-ringy than The Ides of March, Monuments Men, Good Night and Good Luck, Leatherheads and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. The stars are Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Oscar Isaac and young Noah Jupe. Paramount will open it on 10.27.

Suburbicon star Julianne Moore, director George Clooney during shooting last fall.

Joel and Ethan Coen‘s mid ’80s script was reworked by Clooney and Grant Heslov — the current Wikipedia page gives the Coens sole writing credit.

The other film Suburbicon resembles besides Fargo, the guy says, is Martin McDonagh‘s unreleased Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight, 11.10).

I’ll skip over the plot particulars, but it involves deceit, murder and hired hitmen a la Fargo with a pinch or two of Double Indemnity. Speaking of that 1944 Billy Wilder film, Oscar Isaac, portraying an insurance investigator, has a great interrogation scene towards the end in the tradition of Edward G. Robinson‘s Barton Keyes character.

Before the Suburbicon showing, the guy had seen three unreleased films (the other three were Trey Edward ShultsIt Comes At Night, Jason Reitman‘s Tully and Destin Daniel Cretton‘s The Glass Castle). He insisted that Suburbicon was the best of the lot.

Suburbicon was shot in the Los Angeles area last October and November.

Suburbicon‘s hired bad guys are vaguely similar to Fargo‘s Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare — i.e., a skinny guy and a bruiser type.

The only thing I don’t like is the name Suburbicon, which no self-respecting, Eisenhower-era town would ever call itself. It sounds Orwellian, like some kind of corporate nightmare community dreamt up by Fritz Lang or Orson Welles.

In 2018 Suburbicon will be co-billed with Herbert L. Strock‘s Gog at the New Beverly.

Plot summary on various sites: “Welcome to sunny Suburbicon! A suburban community of smiling young families nestled in the heart of Middle America. With its affordable homes and manicured lawns, this is 1957’s postcard answer to the American dream.

“Despite being pillars of the Suburbicon Community, the Lodge family’s lives are turned upside down when a home invasion gone wrong is responsible for the shocking death of little Nicky Lodge’s mother. An unlikely and highly suspicious series of events consumes the Lodge household as the family descends deeper into a web of betrayal, adultery and blackmail.

“Following his mother’s death, young Nicky attempts to make sense of the strange and selfish machinations of the adults that surround him. This curiosity threatens his father’s attempts at a new family order. All the while, the chaos unraveling inside the Lodge family home goes unnoticed as the town works itself into a riotous mob in response to the first black family moving into the home right next door…”