When you see a lot of trailers like I do, you know the name of the director(s) can make or break the perception you will have of the film. Seeing a name like Spielberg, Scorsese, Tarantino, Eastwood, Nolan, or Inarritu will give a sigh of relief, while names like Bay or Shamalyn make you lose all faith in the movie. Joel and Ethan Coen obviously belong in the first catagory. Whenever a trailer for a Coen brothers film is released, a voice in my head seems to say “Oh boy, what have they got for me this time?” with a smile.
Their newest film, Hail, Caesar!, is another Coen classic. It tells the story of a film studio in the 1950s called Capitol Pictures. The film centers around Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin). He is in charge of making sure all the stars stay in lie and behave. To say Mannix is a workaholic is an understatement. One day, his biggest star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) goes missing, and life seems to go downhill from there.
We also get a Western star Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) who is the new star of a period piece by director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes), whose name pronunciation is never fully clear. Their rehearsal scene is sure to garner big laughs. Other stars in the film include Scarlett Johansson as another troubled star, Tilda Swinton as (twin) sister reporters, Frances McDormand (real life wife of Joel Coen) as an editor, Jonah Hill as a reliable go to man (I won’t say how), and Channing Tatum as a musical star (no kidding).
What I loved most about the film is it seemed to be the Coens’ personal love letter to the movies. We get scenes that seem to cover almost every genre. There is a little bit of Western, Film Noir, and even some musical (a dancer scene is in the film that I may consider buying on Itunes).
Parents, the movie is PG-13, which I feel is because it is a Coen brothers film. There is no sex or nudity (some mild innuendo), some smoking (it is 1950s Hollywood after all!), and some swearing (probably the least amount of swearing in a Coen brothers film I can remember). Middle School and up would be ok.
The film has some mild flaws (I was a little confused why Tilda Swinton, a fine actress, had to be twins), and some scenes tended to run a little long. Still, this is another Coen brothers film to be remembered for a long time. It is one of the best movies about movies made in some time.
Overall: Four Stars ****