By Cole Weinstein
“Hail, Caesar!” is the newest film from the Coen Brothers, Joel and Ethan, and it is filled with an all star cast that includes Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton, Jonah Hill, Ralph Fiennes, Frances McDormand, Alden Ehrenreich, and George Clooney.
It shows a day in the life of the people at Capitol Pictures, the biggest studio in 1950s Hollywood. While there are many story lines of this--at times meandering--film the main story centers on Eddie Mannix (Brolin) a “fixer” for the studio and his search to find missing star Baird Whitlock (Clooney). Mannix is a fictional version of the real Eddie Mannix, who worked for MGM.
This is a Coen Brothers film through and through, from the unique characters like Thora and Thessaly Thacker (Swinton), competing gossip journalists, or Hobie Doyle (Ehrenreich), a western star making his way into the drama pictures. It is also extremely well-directed and lit as shot by cinematographer Roger Deakins. It's close to technical perfection as Coen Brothers films usually are.
As far as substance goes however, there is definitely something missing. The story is extremely offbeat, and not in a good way. Many scenes seem to happen for no reason and while they can be entertaining, they don’t really drive the plot along. To go with the rest of the movie, the conclusion is odd and while I personally enjoyed it, I can see many people disliking it. Sure it offers a cute and semi-farcical comedy about 1950’s Hollywood, with interesting insights into Hollywood and our world today, but it doesn’t have anywhere near the heft that most great films do.
Overall, “Hail, Caesar!” is a fun low-stress movie that isn’t for everyone. I had a lot of fun with it, but you certainly may not feel that way. If you aren’t already a fan of the Coen Brothers films then you should probably wait until it comes out on DVD as this isn’t a great place to start watching their unique brand of filmmaking. That being said, this is certainly not a bad film and it's definitely worth a look if you’re feeling adventurous.
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