HAIL, CAESAR! (2016)
Writers/Directors: ETHAN COEN, JOEL COEN
Eddie Mannix: JOSH BROLIN
Baird Whitlock: GEORGE CLOONEY
Hobie Doyle: ALDEN EHRENREICH
Laurence Laurentz: RALPH FIENNES
DeeAnna Moran: SCARLETT JOHANSSON
Thora & Thessaly Thacker: TILDA SWINTON
I went for a lark.
I thought I’d go to the movies just this once for fun. No analysis, no timings in the back of the theater with my iPhone taking notes and risking getting kicked out. Pam was gone for the night, so I ate a Wendy’s Apple Pecan Salad in the Emagine Theater parking lot as it started to snow. Went in, bought my Senior Discount ticket, got some chocolate covered almonds (Hey, Lent starts tomorrow), and sitting in my seat put in my new hearing aid so I could understand the dialogue.
I was expecting a brainless, escapism, night at the movies.
Here’s a hint.
Hail, Caesar! is (at the same time) all about the fragility and splendor of being human. It is about the inability of humans to do what is right and their perseverance in trying to be better. It’s about the darkness of life and the candles we can ignite to bring light into that darkness. And, it’s about how incompetent Hollywood can be and how, at the same time, utterly brilliant and talented the people there are. It’s about the difficult of doing what is right and not what is easy. And all of that under the mercy of our creator. It is a pure movie about the human condition and how we help each other in this dark valley of tears.
HAIL, CAESAR! was entertaining (after a while). I cringed at first…it took a while to figure out what was going on. Hey, it’s the Coen brothers and they are two smart directors, but you have to stick with them—they will make you work. There were moments of profound seriousness and scenes that seemed obscure at best. And yet, there were scenes I could not stop laughing (although many of the jokes for me were filmmaking inside jokes. I’ve directed actors enough and been in editing rooms enough (even with uprightMoviolas), that the moments were gut busters…with many homages to the greats of the industry. There were repeated sends-up of Hollywood and it’s ridiculous attempts to get things right but didn’t. (When you see the rear view of Jesus on the Cross is not satire of Christianity, it’s satire at Hollywood trying to tell the
story of Christ….big difference….don’t be confused). There is a dance number that puts Gene Kelly to shame, and Esther Williams’s grand water choreography makes an appearance. Enjoy the respites of talent, they’re there to remind you of humanity’s goodness and how the struggle is worth it.
Thus, I identified easily with the protagonist and his arc….Eddie Mannix, the CAPITAL studio head played by Josh Brolin. Watch him carefully. The movie is NOT about George Clooney’s character Baird Whitlock, although Baird’s predicament is what drives Eddie’s primary, physical goal.
I’ll watch it again and do a little amendment on the Moral Premise later. Let me know what you think.