Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Hail Caesar - Joel and Ethan Coen (2016)

Okay, a group of communists kidnap a movie star playing a Roman soldier...
It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but it's just one of the many messes Josh Brolin's Eddie Mannix, a professional Hollywood "fixer" has to clean up.
Poor Eddie.  His only task is to make sure all the actors at Capitol Pictures stay out of trouble.
He has to save them from themselves, from each other, from the press and, in this case, from communist kidnappers.
Capitol Pictures' prestige movie of the year is to be "Hail Caesar! A Tale of the Christ," a big budget Roman Film and obvious nod to Ben Hurt.
One day on the set, the film's lead actor, Baird Whitlock, (George Clooney) is drugged and simply carried out of his trailer.
Success to the communists, they can now demand a handsome ransom from the studio.  
Of course there are debates over whether or not demanding a ransom is too capitalistic.
As the film goes on, Mannix ushers the studio singing cowboy into his new career as a dramatic actor, side-swipes a pregnancy scandal, sucks up to religious groups and evades two twin gossip columnists, twins, both played by Tilda Swinton.  
On top of these antics, we're also treated to a handful of musical numbers as we follow Mannix around the studio.
Caesar! is one of those films you don't realize is a comedy until after you're started laughing, which when you're critiquing satire, is a compliment.  Most of the jokes in Caesar! won't be recognized as such.
I myself will have to revisit it several times if I want to appreciate all of its humor.
And that's the question: "Do I want to go to all that bother?" 
I sat here for a while trying to think of the answer to that question and finally, I've come up with my answer: "Yes, it's going to be worth it."  
This better than your typical Coen Brothers film.  Many of their films can be problematic when it comes to condescending to its own characters, and you see some of that here.  
But a little bit of that can be forgiven if the story is straight with the audiences and Hail Caesar! is.  So yes, I will watch this film a couple more times over the next year or so, when I'll be able to deconstruct it finer.
In the meantime, if I were you, I'd find a way to pick this up because in the long run, Coen Brothers' films are usually worth it.








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