I'll say this much...you'll know Hail, Caesar! is undoubtedly a Coen Brothers film within the first few minutes, which is a good thing. Their movies are a genre unto themselves, and those who appreciate the Coens' creative sensibilities know it's essentially pointless to compare one of their films to anything else but other Coen films. Even then, they've cut such a wide swatch through so many genres that you can't simply examine The Big Lebowski in the same light as No Country for Old Men.
For the sake of simplicity, there are the 'serious' Coen films (which get all the Oscar nominations) and the 'playful' Coen films (where everyone involved seems to be having a great time), and it never ceases to amaze me how adept they are at both. Hail, Caesar! is definitely one of the playful ones.
If comparisons must be made, I suppose Barton Fink, O Brother Where Art Thou? and the woefully underappreciated Hudsucker Proxy would immediately come-to-mind. Set in 1950's Hollywood, studio bigwig Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) oversees the actors in his stable, mostly making sure their questionable exploits don't hit the tabloids. Then the studio's biggest star, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), is kidnapped from the set of their latest biblical epic (Hail, Caesar) by a group of disgruntled communist screenwriters and held for ransom. While trying to keep the production on schedule and the incident from leaking to the press, he also has to deal with an unwed pregnant starlet (Scarlett Johansson) and a disgruntled art-film director (Ralph Fiennes), angry from being forced to work with an imbecilic singing cowboy (Alden Ehrenreich). Meanwhile, Mannix is mulling over an enticing job offer from airplane manufacturer Lockheed, an escape from the constant madness of his profession.
|After all these years, George Clooney finally sits down to watch Batman and Robin.|
|Channing doesn't appreciate this extra's brand of method acting.|
PURR...A GOOD, FAMILIAR SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS FROM THE COEN BROTHERS.
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