Hail, Caesar!

by | Feb 20, 2016 | 0 comments

An Enjoyable Tribute to 50s Cinema

The Coen brothers are known as some of the best American filmmakers of today. But as they produce great movies, they also produce a few duds. Fortunately their latest film: Hail, Caesar! is somewhere in between, with just enough quirkiness to be enjoyable.

Hail, Caesar! Is a day in the life of Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), a movie studio executive who has to cope with various filming productions and star scandals. But the most pressing matter comes when the movie star Baird Whitlock, is kidnapped from the set of the Roman film: “Hail, Caesar!” The kidnappers identify themselves as The Future, and ask for a ransom of $100,000. But meanwhile, Mannix also has other problems; one includes the actress DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johannson) who is pregnant out of wedlock, another includes two gossip columnists trying to sniff out a scandal (both played as twins by Tilda Swinton), and another problem involves an up and coming Western star named Hobie Doyle (played by a great Alden Ehrenreich) who is having trouble moving into more dialogue-driven films (his movie’s director is played by a fantastic Ralph Fiennes). All in all, just a normal day at the studio.

The film is certainly a tribute to the old films of the 50s. I especially enjoyed a tap-dance scene that involved the great Channing Tatum, but there were also references to the Communist screenwriters, the controversies of playing religious stories on screen, and of course the controlling of the giant egos of celebrities (that’s still very much present in today’s cinematic world as well). But what I liked most of Hail, Caesar! was that the Coen’s were pushing into a much lighter tone; they had recently been producing incredibly depressing stories. However, that doesn’t excuse the movie from fault, in fact I found a certain imbalance.

The problem with having a lot of stars in your supporting cast, is that you often either oversaturate them to the audience or feed them too little. In order to cope with this, the Coens allow for a lot of breathing room so that the audience is able to digest each and every star and cameo that appear on screen. This certainly does work in the first half of the film, but after a while it simple makes the film too airy, and the intense pace that would be expected of the story, slows down too much. It is only at the end when all the stories start stringing up and connecting that the sought for speed returns.

Certainly one of the best things going for this movie is its supporting cast. It has an incredible amount of respected actors ranging from George Clooney and Josh Brolin, to Frances McDormand and even Jonah Hill. They all contribute in their own way and really make it hard for any scene to be dull. I want to especially highlight a great George Clooney, who plays an egotistic and airheaded star, and Alden Ehrenreich who gives a subtle yet powerful performance.

In the end, the film is very entertaining. It is a joy to watch your favorite actors and stars, and it is also nice to see a tribute to old cinema. Is it some of the Coen’s best work? No not really, but they don’t necessarily disappoint either. 

  • OVERALL MOVIE RATING 74% 74%

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What is your favorite Coen Bros’ film? Let me know in the comments section.

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