Friday, July 15, 2016

Hail, Caesar!

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! I'm in a Shakespeare troupe, you would think I could come up with a Julius Caesar pun to put here.  I'm a failure.

Hail, Caesar! – 4 out of 5

Some of my favorite movies I’ve ever seen were made by the Coen brothers; Ethan and Joel.  Films like Raising Arizona, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men, and True Grit are just a few of the films they’ve done and just so happen to be some of my favorites and ones I’m not ashamed to say I’ve watched more than a person really needs to.  These two brothers have made a career of making some incredible and very entertaining films—to the point that I can honestly say that I haven’t been disappointed with any of their products.  So, how does Hail, Caesar! compare to the rest of their work?

I have no caption for this pic.  Clooney's face just amuses me in it.

In 1950s Hollywood, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) works at Capitol Pictures and is in charge of making sure that any unsavory actions by the studio’s stars don’t make it into the hands of hungry gossips columns—like the ones written by the likes of twin writers Thora and Thessaly Thackler (Tilda Swinton).  Mannix’s job requires him to work very long hours and forces him to stay away from his family for most of the day and it has him rethinking his career; however, matters are only made even worse when the head of the studio’s big picture Hail, Caesar!; actor Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), is kidnapped and the party responsible is demanding a lot of money for his return.

I keep saying it:  Hollywood needs to make a David Bowie bio-pic and let Tilda Swinton
play Bowie.  She has already proven there isn't a role she can't dominate and Bowie's
legacy of androgyny is perfect for her!

Like every other feature written and director by Joel and Ethan, this film is viciously entertaining, very amusing and looks incredibly.  The visuals this film offers are extremely satisfying to the old eyeballs.  The production also did an amazing job of recreating the golden age of Hollywood but, at the same time, tilting the reality just enough that it feels like a caricature of the time period without ever resorting to openly mocking it.  Even the way some scenes play out look exactly how they would have appeared in a film of this decade and it made for a film that was able to tell a very engaging story that had just the right blend of seriousness and absurdity to it.

Hey, check it out!  The Highlander himself; Christopher Lambert, is in this film!
And speaking of Highlander, The Kurgan is also in the film.

"What's this about my refrigerator running?"
Finally, the film has an incredibly large and very talented cast that are all doing an amazing job.  Aside from the fantastic performances of Brolin, Clooney and Swinton, you are also treated to great performances from the likes of Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes, Frances McDormand and some minor roles occupied by Jonah Hill, Christopher Lambert, Clancy Brown and awesome narration by Michael Gambon.  All these performers are really bringing their A-game and creating some incredibly fun and hysterical scenes out of insanely simplistic moments.  Finally, I was really blown away with the performance of Alden Ehrenreich; who plays the young actor Hobie Doyle.  His performance in this film was not only just fantastic to watch as he mastered the young na├»ve actor in over his head in the world of studio filmmaking but he also showed off a roguish charm that really made the character engaging and proved that Disney clearly knew what they are doing and he is going to be an amazing young Han Solo.

The look of a man who won't let his shooting first get retconned.

The only downsides to Hail, Caesar! (other than the fact the word Caesar seems to trigger dyslexia in me when trying to type it) is the fact the story does have some issues and some characters aren’t developed nearly as much as they have to be for the role they have in the kidnapping of Baird Whitlock.  For example, Scarlett Johansson’s character is utilized entirely in a B-story that involves Mannix dealing with something in her life that could cause a media frenzy for the studio.  This story is neat because it really captures the time and feel for the era but it feels kinda pointless as it only comes into play a few times and each time it felt forced and didn’t belong.   

Well, this is embarrassing.  I have that same outfit.

I've never wanted to be a backup dancer in a musical number
more in my life.
Then there’s the character of Burt Gurney; who is played by Channing Tatum.  This character is introduced exceptionally and, as it turns out, is kinda important in the goings-on in the plot but other than the fact he’s an actor and another attribute that I won’t include because it results in a massive spoiler we don’t really learn much about him and, for a character that actually has a big part to play in the plot, he’s only in a couple of scenes.  Finally, some smaller roles were so good that I really wished they were bigger.  For example, Ralph Fiennes is phenomenal as the director Laurence Laurentz (not that Fiennes is never NOT amazing) and has a scene-stealing sequence with Ehrenreich and his performance was so amusing with his subtle reactions that I really wanted to see more of him—sure, this one could be a minor complaint except for the fact that the character of Laurentz also has a big role to play in the events surrounding Whitlock.

Man, Ralph Fiennes minute facial expressions caused me to explode with laughter.

Sure, Hail, Caesar! contains some issues with its story and character development but I still found the whole product to be witty and a joy to experience.  I loved the fact so many of the characters were inspired by real-life people from the time, I really enjoyed how the film had themes of the Communist scare of the 50s (I find the Red Scare and the Blacklisting of Hollywood celebs from this period of our history to be endlessly fascinating) and overall was just blown away with the performances and the comedy (and an awesome dance number from Channing Tatum).  The film has some problems but none that really hurt the overall entertainment value.  The Coens do it again!

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