Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Hail, Caesar! - Movie Review

Hail, Caesar! is a movie written, directed, and produced by Joel and Ethan Coen. Ther movie features acting performances by Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Veronica Osorio, Heather Goldenhersh, and Alison Pill.

The Story:
Eddie Mannix (Brolin) is a 1950's Hollywood executive tasked with making sure the studio's films are moving along and the actors are behaving properly within the system. His world gets turned upside down when blockbuster mega star Baird Whitlock (Clooney) comes up missing and America's sweetheart DeeAnna Moran (Johansson) becomes unexpectedly pregnant. Throw in a miscast cowboy, a desperate director, and a crew of communist kidnappers and Mannix may take up an offer to get out of the business once and for all.

The Review:
Whenever I go to see a Cohen brothers movie, I'm never quite sure what I'm going to get. Some I've really liked and others not as much. This particular film definitely falls on the better half of that ledger and for many different reasons. The writing for example is whip smart, hilarious, and embodies the 1950's style it is set in. As a matter of fact, the whole picture is spot on perfect when it comes to portraying Hollywood of the time as if it was filmed by Hollywood of the time. There are so many layers and so much subtext within the story and it's pretty obvious that the Coen brothers really set out to pull back the curtain, so to speak, although setting it in a time that could be glorified and glamorized exponentially for entertainment's sake.

The real commentary, if you choose to dig deep enough, is in showing off how blustery and unabashedly boisterous the business of film making really is but, if you choose to stay on the surface, you will find a light hearted yet sharp minded tale that borders on fantasy yet uses its lead character to stay grounded in realism and relevance. Josh Brolin as Mr. Mannix does a great job of being that counterbalanced centerpiece to the mix matched place settings that make up the rest of the cast. While each plays their part with precision and panache, there are a few noteworthy standouts including the always ravishing Scarlett Johannson who manages to turn it up even a few more notches than usual and one Mr. Alden Ehrenreich who seemingly came out of nowhere and nearly stole the whole show with his pin point spin on western charm and patriotic ignorance. Oh, and in case you forgot that Channing Tatum's original claim to fame was dancing in the streets, he highlights a heartwarming musical routine that will have you swaying and singing along to this finely crafted throwback to the days of Fred Astaire and gene Kelly.

The Verdict:
Hail, Caesar! is a really fun and funny film that pokes and prods at Hollywood's heyday with as much of an intent to honor it as there is to pick it apart. While it may be a little too indulgent for some to digest, I found this movie to be a very pleasing period piece filled with juicy dialog, a more than capable cast, and an off the wall story with a signature style that only the Coen brothers could have ever come up with.


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