Hail, Caesar!


Have you ever heard of something called GlowBowl? No? Well it’s a gadget that makes your toilet bowl error… glow.

Seems pretty pointless to me unless you want people to think that your rectum is being haunted by Casper or if, after a heavy night out, you find it difficult to locate ‘Chinatown’ before bringing your drink back up.

At the same time though I weirdly like the idea of a ‘toilight’. This is how I felt about the Coen brothers latest film Hail Caesar! It’s really enjoyable but totally pointless.

The plot focuses on the kidnap of Hollywood star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) by a group called The Future and Eddie Mannix’s (Josh Brolin) hardship in keeping up appearances and handling the stress of managing a film studio in 50’s Hollywood.

I’m going to spoil what little there is to spoil in the next two paragraphs so be warned.

The Future is a group of ex writers who sympathise with communism. Whitlock becomes indoctrinated to the cause but eventually returns to the studio of his own accord.

So let’s recap on events. Kidnap. Guy returns on his own decision. Life goes on. As plots go, this is as thin as my ever receding hair and as hollow as cheap Easter eggs.

Hail Caesar! is a Coen brothers film though, which means is that you will be treated to some fantastic dialogue, most notably the criminally short and under-utilised scene where Mannix tries to gain approval for the titular Hail Caesar film from priests and rabbis. This scene is both beautifully worked and hilarious.

The humour is helped by some fantastic characters that carry the Coen brand of being whimsical, bordering on absurd, yet untrustworthy and bordering on menacing. There is something inexplicably fascinating about the characters that the Coen brothers create in all their films.

Some excellent performances by Brolin, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes… In fact everyone only serve to promote this aesthetic.

One thing I was impressed by was the way is very reminiscent of old Hollywood musicals without it ever feeling like a musical itself. The times we are let in back stage to see Scarlett Johansson synchronised swimming as a mermaid or Channing Tatum dancing as a sailor (complete with permanent cheesey smile) were the most enjoyable for me personally due to the behind-the-scenes glimpses of Hollywood in that era.

I am ready to concede this last point because I have a degree in film and I’m boring. Tip of the cap moments to the old studio system and Hollywood blacklisting that was prevalent in the fifties is fascinating to me, no matter how subtle. Others might not care at all.

Hail Caesar! is a film for the film buffs, the film students or the Hollywood insider and not necessarily for Joe public because simply saying: “here are some things that Hollywood used to do” is not enough to keep it from feeling ultimately pointless. Yet through it all it is still a Coen brothers film and it is still indescribably watchable even if it’s not their best.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Some great Coen-esque dialogue
+ Some great Coen-esque characters
+ Some great 50’s-esque film scenes

– Pointless
– Hollow
– Built for film students and insiders



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