In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.
Hail Caesar! Follows a day in the life of Eddie Mannix, a Hollywood fixer for Capitol Pictures in the 1950s, who cleans up and solves problems for big names and stars in the industry. But when studio star Baird Whitlock disappears, Mannix has to deal with more than just the fix. Written by
Not for everyone, and maybe that's a good thing...
HAIL CAESAR! ("A Story of the Christ", as we are told in the title card) is one of those offbeat gems that I have no doubt grows in affection with repeated viewings. Folks here complain that it's not a laugh-a-minute farce, that it's not this, that it's not that...
Here's what it *is*: the film version of RADIO DAYS.
Just like Allen made a loving pastiche of radio at its height in the 1940s, so have the Coens done for film at the tail end of its Silver Screen era, when studios manipulated its contract players and worked the media to prevent the "unfortunate" aspects from being revealed to an audience that just wanted escapism fantasy. Josh Brolin is the tightly-wound studio "head of physical production", an enforcer who's being seduced by a potential job with Lockheed to oversee work on the atom bomb. Before he can come to a decision about whether or not take it, he has to deal with the sudden disappearance of the slightly disconnected-from-reality George Clooney (who looks like he's having a blast in this, especially in the final scene of his big budget sword-and-sandel Jesus epic). Along the way, we see the Coens' take on Esther Williams, Carmen Miranda, Gene Kelly, and a host of other stars from the era...
... and this is what makes the film so damn much fun. It's not about the story, it's about how the Coens are celebrating the films we have perhaps idealized a bit too much: Esther Williams' underwater ballets and Gene Kelly in NYC for 24 hours and Gary Cooper trying to play it in a toney, high-class period drama. There are so many references to the great films of the day that if you blink, you'll miss a few they follow fast and furious and sometimes with little more than a sly wink. If you are an old time movie buff, you will love this film to tiny little bits. If not... well, you probably wont enjoy it all that much.
But then the Coens probably didn't make it for you, did they...
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