Hail, Caesar!

It’s 1951 and the world of entertainment is on fire: the studio system is falling apart, television is on the rise, and the second Red Scare is running full-tilt. But during these times of great duress, Americans still turn to the silver screen for an escape – dramas, musicals, and of course, epics.

 

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Clooney-meets-Clancy epic.

It’s no secret that Hollywood itself is a hot mess of internal drama, and during a time when actors a literally owned by studios, it is of utmost importance that everything’s up to status-quo. Enter Capital Pictures’ key producer and “fixer,” Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin). When Hollywood’s biggest star (George Clooney) goes missing, it’s up to Mannix to step in before the tabloids catch on.

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Tilda Swinton as a pair of twins with rival columns, Thora and Thessaly Thacker (Thessaly pictured).

 

Hail, Caesar! is a delightful mix of Lebowski/Burn After Reading hijinks met with the some bizarre meta qualities reminiscent of Barton Fink (not to mention the Fink references in themselves). There is also an underlying solemness to this film, especially considering our hero deals with personal dilemmas of both future and faith. After all, he’s a man who takes his sometimes dubious orders from a faceless voice, but also charmed by a future of nuclear proportions.

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Lady top, fish bottom, sailor’s mouth.

Of course, when things begin to get dour, we lighten up with a water ballet or a musical number – as I mentioned, this was a time of spectacle, so naturally as an audience we get to take part as well.

In all, Hail, Caesar! is a cynical love letter to old Hollywood. It’s a weird sort of folly with socio-eco-idiological ties. It’s masterfully shot, wonderfully designed, and the performances are fantastic (just the exchange between Ralph Fiennes and Alden Ehrenreich is worth it alone).

Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that the nature of god is portrayed with a sort of heavy-handed whimsy: we never see their face, but will still blindly follow their orders, no matter how questionable they are. Sometimes things work out – alas, would that it ’twere so simple.

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I’m not even the biggest Tatum fan, but I desperately want this to be a real thing.

 

 

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About reelgirl

Film lover, kitsch enthusiast, and all around neat gal. You can read what I'm up to at Reel Girl Reviews!

Posted on February 22, 2016, in Review and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I may have been too tired when I watched this, but all the fast-moving facets of Hail Caesar made my head spin. So much so, when the movie ended I was actually caught off guard. Like a lot of the Coen’s work I think this will reward multiple viewings.

    Your review does a great job of paring down some of the details I lost in the mix.

  2. Saw it just today and loved it. I thought Clooney said he wouldn’t be another idiot for the Coens when he finished Burn After Reading. If he did, he was smart to change his mind.
    Felt very pleased with myself that I picked Christopher Lambert as the dancing sailors director. Was it makeup or has he aged really hard?
    Eddie’s meeting with the four men of assorted cloths was an early highlight of the film. Especially listening to the Catholic priest. Brought back memories. The Catholic paper in Melbourne, The Advocate, used its own ratings system when I was a boy. No doubt this made it easier for the grown ups to choose the really good and dirty movies!

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