A Tale of the Past: HAIL CAESAR!


Hail: Caesar (1994)

Director – Joel and Ethan Coen

Writers – Joel and Ethan Coen

Starring – Josh Brolin, Alden Ehrenreich, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Frances McDormand

Rating – PG-13 (Minor Language and Violence)

Genre – Drama, Comedy

Metascore – 94/100

Rotten Tomatoes – 93%

One of my favorite poster designs of the year so far!

Hail Caesar is the seventeenth movie from Joel and Ethan Coen who have especially established themselves as some of the best writers and directors of our time.  While this film may not be the best they have ever made, it’s far from an awful film.  There is one thing in particular that bothered me going into this movie, and that was its advertising.  For those who don’t know, movie trailers are not developed by the directors or for that matter anyone involved with the film.  They are constructed by the production companies (Sony, Fox, Disney, etc.) in a way that sells the movie.  The trailers for this film directly false-advertised it, which harmed my experience because I was expecting a different film.  It didn’t necessarily harm the film’s contents, but it can frustrate the viewer. Anyway, I got my rant out–moving on.

The film is an unashamed love letter to the film industry.  It is set in Hollywood, following our main character, Eddie Mannix, around the different sets and stages of movies that are in production during hollywoods “golden age”.  Mannix (Josh Brolin) is a fantastic character who is honest, dedicated, and darn good at his job.  He is the manager of production for all of the films currently being produced; meaning that he makes sure everything is running smoothly and that the gears are well-oiled.  George Clooney as Baird Whitlock plays his classic bumbling man, which is still funny, but he is hardly the star of the film, and neither are any on the long list of esteemed actors starring in the film.  Now, if you have seen the trailer, you should know that it misrepresents this array of actors as a rescue squad compiled of Hollywood stars gathered together by Mannix to rescue Baird Whitlock.  That is hardly what happens—rather, all of these esteemed actors are minor cogs in the film being rotated by Brolin as Mannix.  Each one has hardly 3-4 minutes of screen time, but that does not harm the film; it is actually empowering for minor characters to be portrayed by such brilliant actors. One especially shining light in the cast is Alden Ehrenreich as Hobie Doyle, who provides the most soul and character of all the performances.

The story and script are a bit unsound.  It starts by trying to set a serious detective/film noir tone, and at other times tries to be comedic.  It is totally possible for this film to have both of those elements, but at some points I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to be laughing or it was a serious moment.  While being quaint and nostalgic, the story’s delivery was underwhelming and did not amount to much entertainment (ironically reflecting the entertainment industry.)

The craftsmanship of this movie however shows true talent as the Coen brothers, along with Roger Deakins (13-time Oscar Nominee for Cinematography), know how to make movies and make them well. Unfortunately, even with all the flash and grandeur, this movie end ups falling flat.

the499 rating – 6.7 / 10

Author :  Jesse Ingram

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