Hail, Caesar! ; A flailing affair

Hail, Caesar!, a movie by the dynamic director duo Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country For Old Men, True Grit, Miller’s Crossing), misses the mark on both grandeur and comedy. Roger Deakins beautiful cinematography is a facade, a rose tinted frame that when removed, reveals a film severely deficient in plot. The funny thing I’ve noticed about some reviews including Rotten Tomatoes general review is that it’s been called a ‘love-letter’ to the old age Hollywood, which reminds me of The Artist which had a similar description. In the former, the term is really quite a joke. Hail Caesar might have had the right ideas of paying homage to what Hollywood might have been like, entertaining as it was comically self-aware and decadent, but it’s approach was scattered all over the place. Josh Brolin’s story might have been of some interest, but Hail Caesar’s reliance on it’s prestige cast and swagger isn’t enough to justify a movie that looks like it’s been stitched up from parts that don’t fit. Yeah I was like Baird Whitlock (below) for half the time, giving a sort of half agonizing-half annoyed expression that showed my obvious contempt πŸ˜›

hail caesar clooney.jpg

Hail Caesar!’s most definitive story comes from Eddie Mannix played by the ever talented Josh Brolin. Josh Brolin’s one of my favourite working actors because of his subtle acting nuances…or maybe it’s just his badass style. He was, by far, the best part about the film. His struggle to manage all the turmoil that’s been happening ecently leads to a test of faith and will which is nicely concluded at the end. There was something missing though, and you can’t help but feel like it’s a lacklustre effort from the Coens. They could have built it more around Mannix, cut away the uneccessary random moments and keep the story tight. The Coens instead opted for a parody of sorts, poking fun at the pompous nature of Hollywood in the 50’s, having Burt (Channing Tatum) frolick around having a gay ol time etc…while attempting to provide justification for the industry in the form of Mannix contemplating in the confession room of a church. Or a fancy chinese restaurant. It all feels too simple. The resolution feels forced, moments don’t inspire meaning and Baird Whitlock(George Clooney)’s side plot is more of an easy distraction than anything significant.

More important than anything else though is a film’s ability to entertain. Other than the sparse moments where it was actually funny, the rest of it felt like a combination between a snooze-fest and a transient portrayal of life in Hollywood. The second point is worrying. The Coens have a knack for producing great imagess, scenes that stand out like a red blizzard in the snow, or more accurately, small talk about coin flips that turn into a humourously insipid game of fate (see below a clip from 2007 Best Picture Winner, No Country For Old Men, SPOILER ALERT).

None of that is found here. If you ask me to describe a scene perfectly, I simply can’t. Scarlett Johansson and the mermaids synchronized performance was beautiful but left me feeling like it’s a scene from a water show.

hail caesar scarjo.jpg

The Coen Brother’s might have been better off directing a straight up full-blown comedy or sticking to the their strength in pure nilhilistic drama. They could even have paid homage to Hollywood’s past with something that’s actually a proper story. But in being none of these, instead choosing to be too wry to the point where satire flials and flutters around with no direction, Hail Caesar!’s stellar cast and crew feels underused and all the more underwhelming. Three words; Lights. Camera. Abysmal.

Rating: 4/10

 

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34 Comments Add yours

  1. It’s not a comedy, it’s a satire. And to call it directionless, shows that you missed the entire point. You didn’t understand this film or what is was trying to accomplish. You are not the only one, but resist being in that company!

    ML

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      In my view, it was really quite poorly made. To me, a good satire is one that’s genuine, it has to have a story of its own and then flesh out that satire naturally. This one tried to hard to be satirical, stitching disconnected moments which felt really forced. Didn’t seem authentic to me, nor was it entertaining 😦 Sorry Mark, haha I guess it’s one of those we just don’t agree on πŸ™‚

      Like

      1. Disagreeing is not a problem, but you are ignoring what I said. This is not meant to be an insult. But I find that too many people who are learning to appreciate film make the mistake of thinking they know more than they do. Again, by calling it poorly made, you are quite obviously missing the point. In fact, it is very meticulously made. As a younger person, I believe you are missing some of the satire, and not grasping the intended targets. That’s okay…with an open mind you’ll learn. But don’t close your mind to the possibility that you didn’t ‘get’ something. I’ve been there. But I’m 50 now, so I know my strengths and limitations a bit more than when I was college age.

        ML

        Liked by 1 person

      2. jwforeva says:

        It can’t compare to what the Coens have done in previous films. Again, I just found it very forced. I have seen satires, and I think I know how some satires work and how others don’t. Some may have liked this one like yourself, but it didn’t connect with me. It’s also not because I’m not able to relate to the past because I really liked The Artist, which was also a similar satire on Hollywood’s past albeit with a different approach. While The Artist felt genuine, Hail Caesar didn’t. I respect differing opinions, it’s just that for this movie at least, it isn’t about not ‘getting it’ but rather about simply not liking it. I also think it’s not genuine satire.

        Like

      3. Oh, I believe it compares quite favorably. It’s simply not as “easy” as something like “Fargo” or “The Big Lebowski”. Again…you are taking a very defensive position. Opinion is fine, it’s your attack on it that I find misguided. “Didn’t connect with me” is the most accurate thing you’ve said. My point is: keep learning, wait ten years…and then I believe it will connect with you more. Don’t close your mind to the possibility that some of the film may have been beyond your grasp. It’s a question of experience, not intelligence. You are obviously intelligent.

        ML

        Liked by 1 person

      4. jwforeva says:

        I’m sorry if I came about as defensive Mark. Perhaps you might be right, time can indeed change perception. Still, the one aspect of it that I find lacking is it’s plot, which is already quite a turn-off for me. The other big aspect for me is whether a film feels genuine, and this one feels stitched up and forced. I totally respect that you liked the film (along with quite a number of people), but then again opinion is split…so it’s not as if I’m missing something the majority got. My taste in movies can be characterized by both plot and how genuine it is which IMO, Hail Caesar didn’t achieve. I will bear your words in mind and I’m sure there are things in my film criticism that can be improved. It’s just that for this one, in my books, it already hasn’t hit any of the criteria for a ‘good movie’. Maybe other’s have different barometers and impressions. After all, it’s the diversity in what we write that makes this so interesting πŸ™‚

        Like

    2. It’s obviously a satire, but a satire that is very hallow and half-baked. I agree completely that the direction was a little absurd, loose and all over the place. That doesn’t make it a bad movie, but it also doesn’t make it a good one either. Quite simply a dud if you’re looking at it on any scale, especially on the Coen Brothers scale.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Chloe Lauren says:

    I haven’t seen this yet, but I have heard from a few people, that the plot was lost, and they felt like they were sitting for a long time for absolutely no reason! Good cast though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Yup, it’s really artificial too. And very disorganized and random. I was like ‘What are you trying to saY!!!’ Save yourself from this and watch zootopia or something HAHA πŸ™‚ Btw how did you find that clip? Morbidly funny right πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Chloe Lauren says:

        I was watching Matt and Amanda on YouTube and they said something pretty similar to what you just said. Oh and what clip? Haha!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. jwforeva says:

        Haha the video in my review πŸ™‚ Ooh maybe it’s because I added it in post. Matt and Amanda?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Chloe Lauren says:

        Oh ok! I must have missed that haha! Oh and they are a married couple who are YouTubers!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. jwforeva says:

        I’ll check them out!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Chloe Lauren says:

        they have separate channels as well as the one together. Matt has one called Matthias, which is awesome!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think this is produced wonderfully (could see some love in the costume/production department at the next Oscars), but I generally agree with you. There are some fun parts, but it never does feel all that cohesive in storytelling. And the Channing Commie? Ugh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      It’s touts itself as being all grand and everything, but fundamentally it isn’t very good. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚ Yes, the coulours and costumes were nice to look at but that’s about it for me

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Mark Hobin says:

    You understood the point. It just wasn’t a very good one. This is just a series of blackout gags stitched together and marketed as a feature film. Edited up and watched individually it might inspire some titters, but as a full-length movie it’s a mess…and a boring one at that.

    It’s not the worst Coen brothers picture, but it’s close.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Glad you agree Mark! Yup, it was very disjointed. Plot-wise, it was nonexistent. And I didn’t feel it compensated that with anything authentic or deep.

      Like

  5. This is such an annoying film that is a hate letter to the 1950s Hollywood with some charming moments, but mostly unfunny humor and offensive approach.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Yeah a true love letter would be The Artist. Now that one was beautiful.

      Like

  6. I’ve heard from a 50yo friend with ample education and experience in film and theater that the picture has grand aims but doesn’t carry them through. I must say Mr. Reviewedby up there came across as condescending and I’d be defensive, too. Some films are difficult and worth the effort; that’s not what I’m hearing or reading about Hail Caesar.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Nah he’s not condescending, just voicing out his thoughts. There will always be differing opinions on everything and I respect that, I just think how one judges a film and the reasons for why it appeals or doesn’t is very subjective. So it’s really all about taste here, no one can be faulted for their opinions. Yes, I must say, it’s tedious but also extraneous.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Reel Review Dude says:

    Great review man! I’ve just come back from seeing it and while i completely agree that structurally it an absolute mess (with the films within films aspect growing a bit tiresome) i think if you look at their best works (like The Big Lebowski) you can tell that narrative cohesion has never been their strongest asset. I look at the film as a mad jazz piece, some bits work (like the hilarious “would that it were so simple” sketch) and some bits dont, but ultimately i found the entire experience pretty enjoyable. The cast were great (seeing Ralph Fiennes again reminded me of his role in The Grand Budapest) and i found myself consistently laughing so in that respects it won me over πŸ™‚
    Not their best work but it was fun sitting and watching the madness ensue

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Hmm, hahaha it certainly wasn’t that fun for me. Thanks πŸ™‚ I mean, I don’t know if there was really something behind the chaos. I thought it wasn’t effective satire and some moments were too random and flat for me. I laughed at some scenes though, but I’m glad at least some like you found it enjoyable.

      Like

  8. katelon says:

    I just watched the trailer just now, haven’t seen the film but it looks like something I’d enjoy. It just looks like it will be more like their zany movies like “Burn after reading”, “Oh Brother where are thou”, etc…..zany, loose plot. I grew up watching the older films it honors, so perhaps will be more able to appreciate it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      I can’t wait to hear what you think about it. Oh and sorry I called you kate the other time 😦 You probably would like it more but it was something I couldn’t get into.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. John Charet says:

    I have to disagree here. I thought Hail, Caesar was very good πŸ™‚ Also, I think The Coen Brothers can do comedy and satire every bit as great as they can do more serious stuff πŸ™‚ I give it * * * 1/2 out of * * * * stars πŸ™‚ I will admit that compared to their very best comedies and standing alone by itself, it comes off as more intelligent than downright hilarious (though it does have occasional laugh out loud moments) and I usually expect both laugh out loud hilarity and intelligence in the comedies of The Coen Brothers as opposed to one of the two. Nevertheless, Hail, Caesar is equal in quality to Intolerable Cruelty which I gave * * * 1/2 out of * * * * stars too. Despite my disagreements here with you, keep up the great work as always πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Fair enough, I figure this one will polarize its audience, I’m just in the other camp here. I haven’t seen much of the Coen’s films but I plan to do so, hopefully I’ll like it more. Thanks John!! I appreciate that you check out my reviews :)) I’ll have to see what Intolerable Cruelty is all about then!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m in complete agreement with you (and I think you and I both understand what this movie is and what’s it’s trying to do despite what others say). It just isn’t top tier, and I can guarantee you it won’t be remembered well, because it’s not grade A Coen material. Period.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So, for all the times I compliment JW…that doesn’t count. It’s only when I take him to task a little on something, that others get up in arms. I love how JW has handled himself here…but I stand by what I’ve said. And I believe a lot of people have missed the point on this one…but I’ll take my self out the the equation. Read Walter Chaw at filmfreakcentral.net. He’s the best critic going, and his grasp of this satire is completely on the money. I’ve read him long enough to know that he’s forgotten more about film than most will ever know. And I can tell that a few of you need to talk less and listen more. JW, I think you are off-base on this film, but I like your style. Keep it up…but don’t forget to listen!

    ML

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Sorry Mark for the late reply, this is why I should just type a reply immediately 😦
      Thanks for that, and I wanna let you know that you don’t have to take any of the flak directed at you. Everyone has their own opinions,so its only fair that we get to express them in a friendly way.
      I’ll check out his reviews! :))

      How are you btw? Doing good?

      Like

  12. Great writing and review! It made me want to see the film, just so I can come back and read this again. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      That is a huge compliment! Sorry for the ultra late reply 😦 So what do you think? πŸ™‚ Did it work for you?

      Like

      1. Ha – I needed your late reply to remind me to write this down!

        Liked by 1 person

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