‘Hail, Caesar!’ Review

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Directors: Joel & Ethan Coen

Writers: Joel & Ethan Coen

Cast: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill

Synopsis: A Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio’s stars in line.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

The Coen Brothers are known for making films they want to do, and don’t try to make franchise films that the studios today try to make. They also have their own unique style and vision that makes their films standout in their own way. Hail, Caesar! is no different. Their new film acts as a love letter to the Golden Age of Hollywood at times, but swings back and forth between that said love letter and showing us the craziness that existed in the time (and probably now too), and the overall absurdity of it all.

Set during the 1950s, Capitol Pictures (a fictional studio) is set to release their biggest picture to date titled Hail, Caesar! with the biggest star in Hollywood in Baird Whitlock (Clooney). However, during the last days of filming, Whitlock gets kidnapped by a group calling themselves “The Future” and it’s up to the studio’s fixer in Eddie Mannix (Brolin) to find him and make all this go away. Of course, Mannix is dealing with everything else like covering up the pregnancy of DeeAnna Moran (Johansson), moving his cowboy star Hobie Doyle (Ehrenreich) to a full fledge prestige drama with big time director Laurence Laurentz (Fiennes), dealing with twin sister columnists Thora and Thessaly Thacker (Swinton) and his own personal problems. During all this, Whitlock gets to known his captors in a different light.

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Hail, Caesar! like a lot of other Coen Brothers films is going to be a film you either like, or don’t, and while the statement can be said about any film it is no more truer than with this film. The trailers for Hail, Caesar! tell a bit of a different story than we see in the actual film, and that isn’t really that bad of a thing. The film is pretty straight forward once things are put into perspective. That’s not to say things get a little weird and are ridiculous at times, but Hail, Caesar! is great at showing us how every relationship is very topsy-turvy.

At the same time, Hail, Caesar! doesn’t have a problem branching off and leaving the Whitlock story. We follow Hobie and his transition from doing cowboy films to doing his first drama, a water dance sequence by Johansson’s Moran, and even a standout dance sequence that involves Channing Tatum’s Burt Gurney. The scenes have nothing to do with Whitlock, but they show the absurdity that Mannix and Capitol Pictures deal with on a regular basis. The scenes are great, but again, have nothing to do with the main conflict of the story which is Whitlock’s kidnapping.

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I don’t want to give away too much, but the film also has some religious overtones, the film Hail, Caesar! is a religious picture as well as it tells the story of a Roman tribune that eventually meets Jesus, and Mannix is a religious man himself as the film beginning of the film sees him in a confessional. Of course, it doesn’t really help as his character is flawed and does something immediately after that well defeat the purpose for some, but it was a different time back then.

So even if Hail, Caesar! isn’t your cup of tea, you have to admit the performances are worthwhile. The film belongs to Josh Brolin, who we see running around the lot to control everything in the studio. George Clooney’s Baird Whitlock isn’t a typical big star that is hard to work with, he’s just an actor who happens to be good at what he does and gets kidnapped, and has a bit of a womanizer side. Alden Ehrenreich’s Hobie is definitely a highlight of the film as he’s just nice guy that is a bit naïve and goofy, who perfectly fits into a Coen Brothers film.

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The supporting cast has surprisingly small and few scenes, with the only real connection being Mannix. Scarlet Johansson puts on a thick accent and fits into the Golden Age with her looks and wardrobe. Tilda Swinton chews up the scenery with her duel role as twin rivals, and Frances McDormand – who only has one scene – is another one of the highlights and one of the funniest scenes of the film. Jonah Hill also only has one scene in the movie, which in entirety is an okay scene. Finally, Ralph Fiennes as Laurence Laurentz is great to watch and arguably has one of the best scenes in the film with Ehrenreich.

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All in all, Hail, Caesar! can be a bit all over the place, but that is exactly what the Coen Brothers were probably trying to do. Their film isn’t afraid to pull any punches against their peers or what Hollywood was back in the day. The film won’t be for everyone, but Hail, Caesar! definitely has something for everyone.

 

Hail, Caesar!

4 out of 5

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February Movie Releases

So how are those New Years Resolutions coming along? Kidding! (Mine aren’t doing too hot either).

 

Anyway, we’re here for movies! February may seem light, but it is filled with great potential and even some big films of the year that everyone has their eyes on, I’m looking at you Deadpool. Whatever the case, February has a lot of variety for everyone, so let’s get into it shall we?

 

 

5th

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The Choice (Romance – Lionsgate/The Safran Company/Nicholas Sparks Productions)

A Nicholas Sparks movie is coming out ladies! The film follows Travis (Benjamin Walker) and Gabby (Teresa Palmer), who met in a small coastal town and wind up in a relationship that is tested by life’s most defining events. The film also stars Alexandra Daddario, Maggie Grace, Tom Welling, and Tom Wilkinson.

 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Comedy/Horror/Action – Cross Creak Pictures/Screen Gems/Head Gear Films/Darko Entertainment)

Based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel of the same name, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies follows The Bennet Sisters lead by Elizabeth (Lily James) as they deal with the social class order and an army of the undead that plague England in the 19th century. The film has had its ups-and-downs over the years so I’m glad the film is finally coming out, and that it actually looks not that bad. The film also stars Sam Riley, Douglas Booth, Matt Smith, Jack Huston, Bella Heathcote, Suki Waterhouse, Ellie Bamber, Millie Brady, Emma Greenwall, Charles Dance and Lena Headey.

 

Hail, Caesar! (Comedy/Drama – Universal Pictures/Working Title Films/Mike Zoss Productions)

The Coen Brothers’ next film is set in the golden days of Hollywood – the 1950s – as the film follows a Hollywood fixer, played by James Brolin, who is bought in by the studio to find one of the top actors in Hollywood (played by George Clooney), who has been kidnapped by someone or people calling themselves “The Future.” The film looks pretty funny and seems to have the classic Coen Brothers style and humor. Hail, Caesar! also stars Ralph Fiennes, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Jonah Hill, Frances McDormand, and Tilda Swinton.

 

 

12th

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How to Be Single (Romantic Comedy – New Line Cinema/Flower Films/Richard Pictures)

The film follows Alice (Dakota Johnson) after breaking up with her boyfriend is taken out by her party heavy friend Robin (Rebel Wilson) to see the nightlife in New York City. Along the way they encounter more single people like Alison Brie, Leslie Mann, Jake Lacy, Nick Bateman, and Damon Wayans Jr. The film is already going up against Deadpool and Zoolander 2, but even if it wasn’t, the trailer doesn’t  do too much for me personally.

 

Zoolander 2 (Comedy – Paramount Pictures/Red Hour Films/Polygram Filmed Entertainment)

It took a while, but it finally happen: a Zoolander sequel is here. This time the film follows aging supermodels Derek (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) who are brought in by an organization when the world’s “most beautiful people” are killed and they all share Zoolander’s signature look. The film does have an uphill climb to top or even be on the same level as the original. The film also stars Penelope Cruz, Kristen Wiig, Christine Taylor, Will Ferrell, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

 

Deadpool (Action – 20th Century Fox/Marvel Enterprises/TSG Entertainment)

It’s finally here! After the failure of bringing the character to life in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, fans pretty much forced 20th Century Fox to give them a proper version of the merc with the mouth, and more importantly, make it a solo film. Well, now it happening and fans seem to be super excited to watch it.

 

 

19th

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Risen (Adventure Drama – Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/LD Entertainment/Affirm Films)

The film follows the Biblical story of the Resurrection as told through the eyes of a non-believer, Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a powerful Roman Military Tribune and his aide Lucius (Tom Felton) and are tasked with solving the mystery of what happened to Jesus in the weeks following the crucifixion, in order to disprove the rumors of the risen Messiah and prevent an uprising in Jerusalem. The film will follow in the footstep of many religious films coming out this year. The film also stars Peter Firth, Cliff Curtis and Maria Botto.

 

Race (Drama – Focus Features/Forecast Pictures/Trinity Race/Solofilms/JoBro Productions & Film Finance)

A biopic about one of the greatest track and field athletes in history in Jesse Owens, played by Stephan James, as he prepares for the world stage of the 1936 Olympics. The film also stars Jason Sudeikis, Carice van Houten, Amanda Crew, Shanice Banton, Jeremy Irons and William Hurt.

 

The Witch (Horror – A24/Code Red Productions/Maiden Voyage Pictures/Pulse Films/Scythia Films)

The Witch made some waves at film festivals, more specifically Fantastic Fest and the Toronto International Film Festival, so it has some hype to live up to. The film follows a family in 1630s New England that is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession. The film does look pretty creepy and it something I’m really looking forward to. The film stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Lucas Dawson, Ellie Grainger and Julian Richings.

 

 

26th

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Limited Release: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny

A sequel to one of the best martial arts films of all time, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny continues the story of Michelle Yeoh’s Yu Shu Lien and tells of a story of lost and young love, and a legendary sword and one last opportunity at redemption. The film also stars Donnie Yen, Harry Shum Jr., Jason Scott Lee, and Shuya Chang. The film will get a limited theater release and will come out on Netflix as well.

 

Eddie the Eagle (Biography Drama – 20th Century Fox/Marv Films/Studio Babelsberg/Saville Productions)

The film tells the story of Great Britain’s first ski jumper – Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards – to enter the Winter Olympics. The film definitely has some things working for it as it stars Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service)) as Edwards and Hugh Jackman as Bronson Peary, his coach and Christopher Walken also stars. The film looks pretty fun and has definitely jumped to my must-see list.

 

Gods of Egypt (Action Adventure – Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment/Thunder Road Pictures/Pyramania)

Alex Proyas directs this film that follows a Bek, a thief who is entrusted by the gods to help Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) take back Egypt from Set (Gerard Butler) who has taken Egypt for his own and has led it into darkness. The trailer was definitely something I was not expecting, but the film does look like a dumb fun action film. Gods of Egypt also stars Courtney Eaton, Abbey Lee, Rufus Swell, Elodie Yung, Chadwick Boseman, Goran D. Kleut, and Geoffrey Rush.

 

Triple 9 (Crime Thriller – Open Road Films/Anonymous Content/Worldview Entertainment/MadRiver Pictures)

Triple 9 follows a gang of criminals and corrupt cops as the plan the murder of a police officer in order to pull off a big heist. The film has been on my most anticipated for a while so it’s nice to finally see it come out especially since it has a massive cast of: Woody Harrelson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck, Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Teresa Palmer, Clifton Collins Jr., and Kate Winslet.

 

What are you looking forward to?