|HAIL, CAESAR! (director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen; cinematographer: Roger Deakins; editor: Roderick Jaynes; music: Carter Burwell; cast: Josh Brolin (Eddie Mannix), George Clooney (Baird Whitlock), Alden Ehrenreich (Hobie Doyle), Ralph Fiennes (Laurence Laurentz), Jonah Hill (Joseph Silverman), Scarlett Johansson (DeeAnna Moran), Frances McDormand (C. C. Calhoun), Tilda Swinton (Thora Thacker / Thessaly Thacker), Channing Tatum (Burt Gurney), Ian Blackman (Cuddahy), Heather Goldenhersh (Natalie (secretary), Veronica Osorio (Carlotta Valdez), Alison Pill (Mrs. Mannix), Michael Gambon (Narrator); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen; Universal release; 2016)|
|"Has some sparkle as it reaches
for a happy ending."
by Dennis Schwartz
spirited nostalgic love
letter to Hollywood period comedy that's directed,
written and produced by the Coen brothers, Joel
and Ethan ("Trlife of ue
Grit"/"Burn After Reading"/"A Serious
Man"). The brothers have come up with
a jokey film about the Hollywood studio system in
the 1950s, during its Golden
Age. The idea is to both
praise the studio system while at the same time to
mock it. It's hilarious in spurts. The film has an
unseen serious-voiced narrator Michael
Gambon) throughout. It centers around two days
in the life of the middle-aged, family man,
workaholic, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), the
real-life studio executive, known as the "fixer" for
MGM-in the film called Capital Pictures.
Eddie's job is to stop bad publicity for the stars,
take care of their problems that might go public and
make sure things are working on the set. As a
regular church confessor, Eddie confesses about
secretly smoking against his wife's wishes.
are several different films being made on the lot,
but the main film is the big budget prestigious
crucifixion epic. Baird Whitlock
(George Clooney) is its dimwitted star, who plays a
Kirk Douglas-like role, who tops the pic off with a
climactic sincere speech on how he was so moved
about meeting Jesus and delivers it while the martyr
is on the cross. Whitlock is always in uniform as a
Roman aristocrat soldier. He also gets drugged and
kidnapped by a secret study group of communist
writers, who hold him for ransom from the studio. In
the other films, they range from musicals to dramas.
Scarlett Johansson plays like
Esther Williams (but with a mouth like a slut) in
her musical swimming-ballet films. Channing Tatum
makes like Gene Kelly, playing a sailor on leave
singing and dancing with his mates on barroom
tables. Ralph Fiennes plays a
sophisticated European director of drawing room
dramas, who has a few slimy secrets. Tilda Swinton
has a romp playing both sister reporters, both
emulating Hedda Hopper, who care only about getting
scoops and the dirt on the stars. The most
surprising star was the likable rope-twirling
cowboy Alden Ehrenreich, who
is at a loss when suddenly given a starring role in
a drawing room drama but makes the best of it by
being so agreeable.
The film has a good pace, the dialogue is pleasantly quirky and it is entertaining. Never reaching Coen brother heights, it nevertheless has some sparkle as it reaches for a happy ending.
REVIEWED ON 2/20/2016 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ