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Plot: This movie follows a day in the life of Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), 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 (George Clooney) disappears, Mannix has to deal with more than just… Runtime: 106 min Release Date: 05 Feb 2016
Hollywood: The opium of the masses... (by amountford)
The heart in a heartless world? I am surprised at the number of reviewers describing this film as a shallow and meaningless picture as, for me, Hail Caesar is both a very coherent and exceptionally valid critique of the influence of money on the art of film-making. Perhaps this is because I have significant problems with being bombarded by endless remakes and superhero films which offer nothing constructive beyond nostalgia, dreams and escape. Hail Caesar's clear message is that Hollywood both seeks to control its actors, the world around it, and the views of its consumers. But then, is <more>
not my enjoyment of such a clever and well-thought out critique of Hollywood not both a negation the dialectic! of the film's central message and proof that meaningful and clever films are still being made though perhaps the relatively poor box office takings and negative reviews are still proof ? These ambiguities are reflected in the film itself and any critical film-goer. The Coen's clearly profit from and are products of a Hollywood they lay bare in this film. Whats more, the tenderness and love they have for Hollywood is evident throughout the picture. This love/hate relationship is something which resonates with me strongly as I spend hours condemning blockbuster hits to those around me whilst spending my weekends going to watch blockbuster films. Perhaps the negativity felt toward this film is on it being miss-sold that's capitalism for you as an uproariously funny slapstick film. It is far from laugh out loud funny and has a more consistently playful and sardonic tone. The film follows a day in the life of the 'fixer' Eddie Mannix who enforces the will of his never seen higher power the executives. As you follow his travels you are transported around the products of Hollywood I am not overly familiar with the films they are critiquing and experience the playful but ultimately meaningless creation of the major Hollywood staples of the time. The story follows the kidnapping of the star of the companies big blockbuster - Hail Caesar. The depiction of Jesus Christs' life within the film is itself a reflection of Hollywood's attempts to subsume religion to its own power. In one excellent scene the representatives of the major religions sit slavishly before their master Eddie Mannix whilst engaging in some irrelevant theology but all ultimately agreeing that the motion picture is fine.The communists who capture Hail Caesar's star are then introduced into the story. The pastiche of a bunch of old men in woolly jumpers sitting round and analysing the role of films within society and their own position as film-makers reflects perfectly the failure of Frankfurt School Marxist intellectuals like Marcuse who failed to connect with the masses. This is despite their cunning attempts to smuggle the communist message into Hollywood a playful reference to the absurd McCarthyite hunt of the 1950s and indeed their own success at converting the sincere star of Hail Caesar. The communist message is eloquently upheld by the star perhaps it is powerful who literally explains it to Mannix the enforcer who responds by slapping him down. Mannix himself is well aware of Hollywood's message and power as is shown by his decision to stick with Hollywood despite the offer of work from an aviation company involved in producing the H-bomb showing that film and the ability to communicate dreams can be more powerful than fear. The film end's with the star building up a powerful narrative as he addresses Christ on the cross before stumbling into incoherence. This is the perfect metaphor for a film industry which produces plenty of verbose hype but communicates little of substance to its consumer a la the Revenant! Style over substance.The negation of religion by film is then completed with Eddie Mannix walking off into the light and the film lingering on the Christian imagery of a Hollywood who now rules the minds of the masses. Maybe I read too much into it but I thought this film was stunning, its many sardonic and eclectic scenes keep popping into my mind and I have been mulling over the film ever since. Maybe I shall follow this fare with a superhero film to escape into!
This movie is a not what it seems and b brilliant (by ChefHoobajoob)
The Coens sometimes release movies that are immediately accessible, where everything you see is more or less all that there is to take away from it. True Grit, Fargo, Raising Arizona, Blood Simple, Miller's Crossing, etc.Hail, Caesar! isn't one of these immediately rewarding movies. It's one of the other kinds of movies they release where repeated viewings and some contemplation is involved because not all of what's going on is immediately accessible on your first exposure. There are multiple layers of interpretation at work simultaneously, making for a lot of meta- content. <more>
More like a puzzle that rings around in your brain long after you've seen it. Barton Fink, The Man Who Wasn't There, A Serious Man, etc.Immediately after my first viewing, I was in the same boat with a lot of the reviews here, where I was convinced this is a Coen dud. Everything seemed to ramble around with no real connecting story to carry it through. My first reaction was: 'this sucks'. My complaint was that none of the on-screen action seemed very well connected at all to anything else. The trailer kind of created an impression of a comedic kidnapping thriller with some Hollywood tributes thrown in for candy, but that isn't the experience you get at all.Instead I was left asking: why is so much time spent on the different movie-in-movie sequences? What does any of it have to do with the main character's story, except tangentially through his work for the studio? It just seemed like kind of a pointless pastiche of pseudo-tribute scenes with maybe some funny lines and Hollywood observations here and there.But, these guys have been making movies forever. They don't just throw sh*t in for the hell of it and cross their fingers. Every scene and character has a function, and it's always related back to a central idea or theme.Think of the Mike Yanagita character in Fargo - the weird scene where Marge goes to visit him in the restaurant and he goes all stalker-creepy on her and makes up a story about his dead wife. I puzzled over that scene long after seeing it the first time. But, of course, that scene and that character has a meaningful, significant function in the movie. Google 'what significance does mike yanagita have in fargo' if you're fuzzy on the details.So, what's the unifying idea in "Hail, Caesar!"? What is this thing about? My view is that this movie is exploring one central question: "do our actions in life matter?". Every story element is coming at that question, either seeking an answer, or trying to provide one: Mannix, the communists, religion, and movie makers.To see this in action, and without including any spoilers, wipe your mind clear of previous judgments and opinions, and watch it again with fresh eyes and these questions in mind:1. What problems is Mannix asked to fix?2. Does he take 'direct action' to fix those problems?3. What contribution does his action make to the solution if there is one ?4. Would the problem have 'solved itself' without his action?5. Bonus question: why are Thora and Thessaly twins?...if you watch this film and look for evidence of this central question, you will find it in every single scene. Every single character and line is contributing to the exploration of this question and the different answers. Watching the movie through this lens, I had a completely different experience, and found myself loving every minute of it. These riddles and rhymes are everywhere in the movie.Do the Coen's try to answer the central question in the movie? Yes, they do.Their answer is: 'were that it were so simple'Or, said another way: 'it's complicated'
A brilliant post-war self-reflexive commentary on the Hollywood studio system. (by RLTerry1)
Go inside classic showbiz! Before the decentralization of "Hollywood" filmmaking, the big studio was king. And Hail, Caesar captures the socio-economic mountains and pitfalls of the decline of the Golden Age of Hollywood perfectly, complete with a pure message about love, dedication, and highbrow humor along the way. You couldn't have asked for a better cast. From the excellent writing to the impeccable acting, this film is sure to provide you with old-school style entertainment paired with plenty of topics of discussion–especially for cinema scholars and historians like <more>
myself. Return to the Hollywood that still inspires dreamers today and experience life in the studio system. This is one of the best self-reflexive films about Hollywood itself since Singin' in the Rain. Although, the social-commentary is more or less a plot device that plays in the background while the main plot is the true focus of this exceptional narrative. Truly a remarkable film that will likely find its way into sociology and film studies classes alike.Where to begin?!? As a peer-reviewed published cinema and themed entertainment scholar and historian, there are are so many different ways of applying a critical analysis to this film. Leaving the cinema last night, I was perplexed as to how to write about it. Ordinarily, I have a general idea of the direction I will head in my review by the time the credits roll–not this time. There is definitely a subplot in the movie that would be great material to dissect and analyze but I don't want to spoil that for you; although, I can say that is is very apropos for that period in 1940s/50s Hollywood.In order to analyze the material that I found most interesting, I want to first spend a moment on the film itself. Even before watching it, you already know that it boasts a brilliant cast and thankfully everyone lives up to the expectation that comes with their respective talent. From the leading players down to the A list cameo appearances, all the actors bring a unique flavor to the overall recipe of the movie. One of the elements that stands out the most is the attention to detail in the classic Hollywood production design. Essentially, we are watching a movie containing the making of another movie. The matte backdrops and traditional rear projection doesn't stop in the story of the film being made in Hail, Caesar, but the classic production styles and designs cross over into the production of the Hail, Caesar itself. From the color schemes to the wardrobe and makeup, the attention to detail is flawless. Although much more humorous and satirical than the epitome of self-reflexive post-war Hollywood films, Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard, Hail, Caesar does a superb job of going inside the word of showbiz and highlighting positive and negative consequences of the former studio system.The film opens up with Mannix pulling DeeAnna Scarlett Johansson from an unauthorized photoshoot because the image the studio has of her could be tainted. That is really the first glimpse into what it was like for stars who worked in the Hollywood Studio System. Not limited to the talent, Mannix even told directors who would star in the pictures that they were hired to direct. Capital Pictures even pulled a cowboy off his motion picture to then star in a drawing room comedy. When you worked for the studio, you worked FOR the studio. From your image to the projects you worked on whether talent or technical crew , your every move was managed by the studio heads. Sounds like the perfect setup for exploitation, doesn't it? In many ways, yes. However, the studio system also provided a central hub for working in motion pictures. One of the scenes show Mannix walking down a corridor of editing offices, and that is something that isn't quite the same today. Studios has exponentially more staff until the final collapse of the studio system in the late 1950s/early 1960s. You had a regular job Monday-Friday and were typically on a salary. Yes, many aspects of your career were managed–even down to you accompanied you to the premiere of the film you either worked or starred in. But, many more people were employed by the studio directly than today. Just something to think about.The studio is aptly named Capital Pictures. And rightly so, because at the heart of the movie, the two-fold plot of the film contains socio-economic commentary. The counterpart to the socio- economic side is about being dedicated to one's true passions. Mannix can easily represent anyone who has a job that they work hard at and are dedicated to but often drawn to opportunities that would be easier and make more money. Do you choose to follow your passion? Or, do you choose the easy way out that would be more profitable? You will have to see the movie in order to discover how Mannix dealt with that real-world conundrum. Although the story of the passion of Christ is a backdrop in the film, it actually plays quite an important role near the end of the third act. The message of love transcends the screenplay being shot in the movie and impacts the actors and studio leadership. There is so many wonderful elements to discuss in Hail, Caesar and I have just touched on a few of them. I encourage you to make your way to the cinema this weekend in order to experience it for yourself.
Lots of disappointing comments about how this movie does not live up to the Coen Brothers "standard" I guess that means laugh-out-loud , is full of stars who get fleeting screen time, has no plot to speak of, no great villain or other dramatic concoction to keep up glued to our seats, etc., etc.What it is is a funny "day in the life" story of the guy Eddie Mannix--superbly played by Josh Brolin who has to keep some kind of lid on the craziness that is the studio system of the late 40's/early 50's. Looked at from that character perspective, this is an examination <more>
of one man's struggle not only with the insanity of his star stable Clooney/Johansson/Ehrenreich , but with the question the movie actually revolves around--will Eddie decide to stay, or will he go to Lockheed, who have offered him a job that will make him more money and get him home on time for dinner. The confessional scenes that bookend this movie allow us a fuller glimpse into why Eddie does what he does. Brolin allows us to feel the conflict Eddie is experiencing, amidst the ever rising chaos around him from a kidnapping, to a possible paternity suit, to having a cowboy actor take over the part in a drawing room comedy , to discover he actually likes what he does, and actually finds a sense of personal worth in handling the ever-escalating mess that is constantly pressing on him from all sides. Brolin's performance is so tight, so controlled and so real, that he is able to carry that storyline with great vigor and compassion. The rest of the lunacy, from the underwater Ester Williams scenes, to the Gene Kelly dance spoof, to the cowboy Ehrenreich absolutely adorable and on point and Carmen Miranda get together, simply provides the backdrop. You don't need to know any of the Hollywood history to appreciate this film, other than to know that a good portion of movies, at that time, were not pot-boiling epics, or racy, foul-mouthed satires, but rather quiet movies about individual struggle. Brolin keeps that focus throughout this film, making the ending, just like the movies of the past, a very happy one.A very pleasant, clever, and funny effort from the Brothers. Yes, a send-off, Valentine, if you will. I can see where people who have enshrined Lebowski as the litmus test for all Coen comedy movies moving forward would be disappointed. Fact is, the Brothers can play more than one note.
Second tier Coens still equals a great movie (by zetes)
Maybe not one of the Coens' masterpieces, but easily in their second tier, which means it's great. It depicts a day in the life of a Hollywood studios in the 1950s, with Josh Brolin as the studio head whose job it is to keep things running smoothly. The main plot revolves around the kidnapping of the star of the studio's gigantic Biblical epic, Hail, Caesar!, Baird Whitlock George Clooney . Several other movie stars play parts on the sidelines, including Scarlett Johansson as an Esther Williams-type swimming musical star, Channing Tatum as another musical star, and Alden <more>
Ehrenreich as a Western star who has been transferred to a more sophisticated drama. Ehrenreich, despite being the least familiar actor among the cast, steals the show. There are tons of familiar faces in the film Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Wayne Knight, Fisher Stevens, David Krumholtz, Frances MacDormand, Tilda Swinton - playing twins! and many of them don't get more than a minute of screen time Hill, for example - you've seen his entire performance in the trailer, and he made it onto the poster , but everyone's highly amusing. The plot might not amount to much, but it's all a lot of fun, and, as you would expect, wonderfully shot and directed.
Light comedy that touches all the bases (by plkldf)
Interesting combo of send-up and genuine entertainment. For example, there are two production numbers that are exaggerated, but not in a way that diminishes the original genres that they were derived from. Instead they are updated, and watchable. It's not a weighty movie -- just a lightweight look at a bygone era, and the things that happen when movies are being made, with familiar faces although I challenge you to spot Frances McDormand and funny jokes. I don't know what anyone else is saying about Channing Tatum, but I really liked his performance. And this guy Alden Ehrenreich -- <more>
whoa! He is just great. He has a gift for comedy and movie star good looks, and his character is *earnest* -- and likable. He is fun to watch. The secretary to Eddie Mannix, the studio head presumably named after notorious MGM fixer Eddie Mannix is a prominent character and she is compelling - she steals every scene, I think: Heather Goldenhersh! Today she'd be a producer, and I think the movie makers are making a poignant statement with her character.Lots of cameos: "Newman" from "Seinfeld,: David Krumholtz, Alison Pill from "Newsroom," the stand-up comic from "Mad Men" -- really fun seeing so many familiar faces in unfamiliar roles.I saw it in preview at Cinemark Egyptian in Hanover Maryland. I can't wait till it opens so I can see it again.
Not for everyone, and maybe that's a good thing... (by info-12388)
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" <more>
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...
Very Entertaining and Enjoyable (by framptonhollis)
Sure, a lot of people hate this movie, and I get it, it isn't for everyone. Your enjoyment of the film solely depends on your sense of humor, expectations, and background knowledge of Hollywood films of this era.I had read into this film a bit before I saw it, and therefore my expectations were pretty much surpassed. I already knew that there wasn't going to be much plot and that a lot of the big name actors and actresses in the film were in it very little. But, no matter how negative some of the criticism I heard, I still eagerly wanted to see it. And I did see it, and I loved it!One <more>
of the main reasons why I enjoyed it so much was because of my previous information of classic filmmaking. I knew plenty about classic epic, musical, and western cinema, and there's plenty of nods to various filmmaking techniques of that era that I noticed. A lot of this film kind of feels like it was made back in the 50s, so I have to give credit to the Coen brothers for that.My biggest complaint was how little screen time various actors got. Many of the people who were top billed are barely in the film at all. I mean, Jonah Hill is literally on the POSTER and yet he was in the film for hardly even a minute! Couldn't his part have been a bit longer? Or maybe he simply shouldn't have been on the movie's poster! Other actors/actresses were in it disappointingly little to, such as Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes, Channing Tatum, etc. However short their appearances may be, all of the performances are extraordinarily well done, which is why I wanted to see more of these actors in the first place!Other flaws I found were rather minor. Certain gags went on a little too long, although pretty much all of the gags worked very well for a remainder of their existence. There also isn't much of a plot for a lot of the film. While there is SOMETHING resembling a plot, there was very little of it. Of course, normally in a film unless it is experimental or a documentary , I like a bit of plot and conflict, and in "Hail, Caesar!" there wasn't as much of it as the trailer may want you to believe. But, the film didn't really need much of a plot to keep me hooked and entertained.There certainly were more positives than negatives from my point of view. When a gag in the film worked, it worked extremely well. And the entire film is shot beautifully as well! There's plenty of entertainment value to be had. There's a bit of comedy, mystery, music, and even some elements of drama. I enjoyed "Hail, Caesar!" quite a bit, and look forward to seeing it once again in the near future! While there are a few problems, all the positives make up for them really well! This is a great satire that I'd recommend to people who really appreciate older films, have a somewhat dark sense of humor, and don't mind a film with very little plot
Hail, Caesar! is one of those big, luscious, gorgeous odes to the Golden Age of Hollywood - a certain kind of Hollywood, at any rate - and it's a work that is both great and minor at the same time. It's probably so because of the central plot, the sort of spine of it, is just alright, while everything else around it - all of the moving parts and scenes of 'dreams' being created at Capital Pictures - is so wonderful and hysterically funny and perfectly timed time and how to have to always check it, the inserts of Eddie Mannix's watch, being a running theme here by the way <more>
. It's the Coens making a movie that only they can make, and if the parts are greater than the whole, still, such awe-inspiring parts! Of course a lot is taken tongue-in-cheek, but there are some things underlying the story that are serious enough to get invested in the characters. Or, I should say, the "Christ" hero of Eddie Mannix Josh Brolin who runs the Physical Production arm of the shooting of films at Capital, with multiple shoots going on a particular day. On the 24 hours that Hail, Caesar takes place in, there's of course the "prestige" picture of the movie's own title with the subtitle "A Tale of the Christ", an obvious wink and nod to Ben-Hur where George Clooney as Baird Whitlock is hamming it up as a Roman in the face of this "Christ" figure. While Whitlock gets drugged and taken away to an underground group that operates in a nice house in Malibu by the sea , other pictures go on like a mermaid/swimming-dance piece with Scarlett Johansson , a cowboy picture - at first - but then in almost the blink of an eye the star of that, Hobie Doyle Ehrenreich gets put on a fashionable costume drama directed by Laurence Larentz Fiennes . And of course there's a musical being shot with singing and dancing sailors led by Channing Tatum... because, how could you NOT have him doing that here? I'm sure I've left out other shoots that may be taking place on the lot over the course of the day and lets not forget, oh it's impossible to do so, Tilda Swinton as *twin* gossip columnists with only slightly varying agendas when talking separately to Mannix, and Frances McDormand in a brilliant one-scene bit as a chain-smoking editor , but those are the ones to really take in. Probably the one with Johannson comes close to being too long, but it's still a gorgeous, over-the-top spectacle that revels in how cheesy we look at works like that today if they pop up on Turner Classic Movies - same with the sailor musical or the costume drama we also, very thankfully, get to see some dailies from these shoots that are so authentic and yet with that little sly wink the Coens do . In fact the whole movie, when it's at its best, is like condensing a week's worth of programming - both the "B" movie level and the prestige "A" stuff - into an hour and 45 minutes, with Tatum's dance number a mini-masterpiece that blends together being a rich satire of such goofy and dopey numbers and being a legitimately fantastic and spectacular number.I enjoyed those parts so much that it pains me to not find the movie one of the directors' best on the whole. It may be seeing it a first time and having certain expectations the trailer, one of the best in recent memory, does a number on any viewer , such as what "The Future" kidnapping group entails. Perhaps I expected it to have much darker, weirder, more absurdist/surrealist dimensions based on how they appeared. As it turns out, they're only Communists who try and sort of succeed, in a way to indoctrinate Whitlock into their world. Indeed the movie sort of functions as two stories, one with Whitlock and the old blacklisted writers and the other being Mannix having to go around from one place to another as the Man In Charge spinning a dozen different plates and also his own conflicts at work, which is a nice bit of writing to make him have the most dimension, and Brolin plays it with total conviction and never slipping into caricature, which is easy enough to do here .I can see this probably being a work that I will like even more a second time, or, equally, as with a film tonally this reminded me of from them, Burn After Reading, I find more to pick apart, but it's all the same a movie that you have to see in the theater to get the full experience of it. Even when it gets very, very strange the climax involving "The Future" is that for me, among the strangest things the Coens have ever written and shot in their careers it's still highly entertaining, and the actors are having a blast in all of their roles, including those who just appear in a scene or two looking at you Jonah Hill, Clancy Brown or, yes, oh my God, that's Christopher Lambert! The filmmakers lovingly recreate the period to every small detail, from the art design to Deakins' cinematography a contrast to last year's Sicario by light years and it's one of those grand old times where they just fill up the frames with sunny, light comedy with the occasional dark-noirish undertone. It's the Coens saying 'yeah, this was all pretty goofy... but wasn't it SOMETHING to behold?'