February 20, 2016 by bck1402
Stars Josh Brolin with George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Frances McDormand, Heather Goldenhersh and lots of cameos. Narrated by Michael Gambon.
Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
Despite how the marketing and trailers go for this movie, it’s not quite the screwball comedy it appears to be. Sure it’s funny as you would expect a Coen brothers comedy to be (The Hudsucker Proxy not withstanding) but it also comes across as a loving tribute to a bygone era of filmmaking when the studios were kings.
Hail, Caesar! follows approximately a day in the life of Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), head of production at Capitol Pictures, as he deals with the numerous problems or potential problems that creep up around the studios. These would include a possible religious controversy surrounding their biggest production, the titular Hail, Caesar!, to the kidnapping of the biggest star in that production, Braid Whitlock (George Clooney), while dealing with a nosy reporter and a gossip columnist (a dual role from Tilda Swinton), an unmarried yet pregnant star (Scarlett Johansson), and changing the image of a rising star (Alden Ehrenreich).
Brolin carries the entire movie with his commanding presence, as Mannix runs around the numerous issues and problems around the studio. In one brief scene, we also get a glimpse into his personal life and the issues he faces there. In the scheme of things, it’s almost negligible but Mannix is also juggling his personal life amidst the crises.
Aside from Clooney, who gets the second biggest plot point in the movie, the rest of the cast pop in and out like putting in glorious cameos as truly colourful characters peppered throughout the movie. They fill out the world with aplomb and professionalism, with nary a misstep layered with the occasional bit of ham.
The Coen brothers deliver in their usual manner, with their inimitable style that either you’re a fan of, or you may not care (I know some don’t). Roger Deakins provides a misty-eyed look at Hollywood’s golden era, flipping through the numerous forms of films (Westerns, Biblical Epics, Stage Musicals, Dance Numbers, Costume Dramas, Film Noir) of those bygone times.
Aside from the misstep in marketing (the trailer below is about the best idea you can get about the film, and one of the funniest jokes too – sorry, if it’s a spoiler), it is still a fun movie, just not one you might expect from the poster or the other trailers. It’s almost composed of vignettes with one main character flitting through it all, but don’t let that dissuade you from taking a trip to a different time in the history of movie-making when studios ran things and had control every part of the productions and their stars.
Rating: ***1/2 / 5
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