Saturday, January 28, 2017

Hail, Caesar! (2016)


So when you see Joel and Ethan Coen with writing and directing credits for a movie, you can assume the film is going to be quirky. I can almost say it would be guaranteed. But you know what, I like their kind of quirky. Films like O' Brother Where Art Thou and HudsuckerProxy get regular views around here. So is this flick going to join those quirky favorites?


Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is the man who can fix anything at the studio. Need someone to get the right actor for the drama directed by sophisticated director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes)? Need someone to find the big star Baird Witlock (George Clooney) after he disappears from a set? Need someone to find out why the sexy starlet DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) is less than happy with her current role? Eddie can do it all.

But things start to get complicated when it looks like Witlock may have been kidnapped. Is it a rival studio trying to crash the latest big budget biblical epic? Is it a scheme hatched by the notorious gossip columnist Thora Thacker (Tilda Swinton)? Or is it a communist plot? Eddie’s got a lot on his plate, but he isn’t going to let that slow him down. By the end of the night he’s going to make sure the film, Hail, Caesar!, gets its lead actor back.

Good Points:
  • Josh Brolin gives an excellent performance
  • Lots of fun moments for fans of classic Golden age films
  • Makes for a fun game of spot the actress/actor

Bad Points:
  • The tone of the film is all over the place
  • Feels like it was a longer movie that got edited down
  • If you don’t like golden age Hollywood films or don’t know much about how they were made, this movie may not click for you


I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. If you know about the Hollywood studio system of the 50s then you’ll find lots of satirical fun at hand. But the tone of the film careens from silly, to serious and back again. Combined with scenes that feel like they were trimmed down, and you get a movie that is a bit of an uneven ride. Recommended to folks who enjoy TCM.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 4
Sound: 3
Acting: 4
Script: 3
Music: 4
Direction: 3
Entertainment: 4
Total:  4

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.

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  1. For some reason I've taken Hail, Caesar on and off my Netflix queue so many times, but finally put it back on. So now it's just a matter of getting around to watching it. I have a few other movies stacked up on my queue I want to see first like: Green Room, The Accountant, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Jack Reacher 2, Hacksaw Ridge, Manchester By the Sea, and all of those might be jostled around and re-queue depending upon my mood. Gotta love Netflix right? Plus there might be an anime I'll watch here and there too.

    But I don't know why my indifference because the Coen brothers are a bit like Woody Allen--even his bad movies are worth a watch for the film making. Certainly I've have my favorites, but I enjoyed A Serious Man and Inside Llewyn Davis quite a bit really. Plus I like that era of Hollywood and time period and generally all the actors involved.

    Found another good blog today, you might like to check it out too:

    Oh, and I started following another film reviewer on Netflix. I still enjoy Chris Stuckman, but sometimes his er, childishness or immaturity does grate on me a bit with his adolescent profanity. Anyway this guy, Mark Kermode, is older and British, and pretty good:

    1. Thanks for the recommendations. I'll check them out. Stuckmann and I really seem to line up for the most part with our opinions on movies. But yeah sometimes he gets a little silly.

      I'm the other way around when it comes to Woody Allen vs Coen Brothers. I usually like the brothers stuff for the most part. But Allen I've got to be in just the right mood to enjoy.

  2. It's funny how nostalgic filmmakers get about a Hollywood that they don't remember -- in the case of the Coen brothers it was over before they entered elementary school. The era produced great movies though. Gore Vidal argued (most effectively in his novel Myra Breckenridge of all places) that they are the core of American mythology. I haven't yet seen this -- I'm not sure why -- but it seems up my alley.

    1. Yeah check this one out. There is some fun to be had for sure. Hollywood loves making movies about Hollywood. I think we get one every three years or so. But the Coen brothers really seem to love classic Hollywood. This film and "Hudsucker Proxy" really point to that.