Skip to main content

Movie Review: RED SPARROW Daring film that is not afraid to show anything

Movie Review: 'Hail, Caesar!'

The latest Coen Brothers' comedy misses the mark but still manages to entertain.


Review by Matt Cummings

In the Coen Brothers' Hail Caesar!, the Hollywood film system of 1951 takes us deep into the daily madness undertaken by Capitol Picture's studio head Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) as he struggles to keep his studio and mental state from cracking. Solving one crisis after another - including an unplanned pregnancy by Scarlett Johansson's twice-divorced chain smoker, a western lead (Alden Ehrenreich) horribly miscast in Director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes) drawing room drama, and twin gossip columnists (both played by Tilda Swinson) - Mannix also has a personal struggle. He's been courted by Lockheed to head a comfy job and the chance to have dinner every night with his wife.


But soon all of that is superseded by the news that Capitol's lead Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) has disappeared while shooting a Jesus film set in Roman times. We later learn that he's been shuffled off to a Santa Monica beach house filled with disgruntled Hollywood writers who've signed on with the Communist Party and spend their day philosophizing their way through tea sandwiches. Utilizing a top-flight secretary and nerves of steel, Mannix must employ his own actors in a manhunt for the square-jawed buffoon Whitlock before Communists can shuffle him away, all while deciding if this sort of chaotic life is really for him.

Ill-content from the beginning, Hail Caesar! never truly locks in. Like many Coen Brothers films, you wonder what it is that you're watching and seeking the answers long after you've experienced it. That's usually a satisfying journey, but here that effort yields few satisfying results. The real problem with Hail Caesar! is not its exceptional cast or expert camerawork, but the long moments of boredom that grow out of the Coen Brothers' script. They take their immense talents for dark comedy and their exceptional casting prowess and waste it on several arcs that don't affect the bottom line. Several are thrown in as vignettes designed to elicit either laughter or condemnation about the Hollywood film system; but little of it ever truly works. We essentially have a 30-minute film, propped up by several (albeit great) 50's style performances and all those unnecessary arcs. But some of those set pieces, including Channing Tatum's musical/tap-dancing sailor stint, are a sheer delight.


Hail Caesar!'s story is all about Mannix's journey: the daily crisis that's his work and the hilarious guilt over sneaking a few cigarettes to calm his nerves infuriates his priest who tells he confesses too often over too little. Brolin is the center of Capitol's wheel and this film, his steady nerves keeping us awake, and it's great to see him move from one disaster to another. Brolin's particularly good when paired with Clooney near the end, who's really acting with only one half of his immeasurable talent. In O Brother, Where Art Thou, Clooney ran wild, uttering now famous lines that still find their way into my weekly conversations; here, he's just another plot device on Brolin's To-Do list. The rest of the cast too is hilarious one minute and then horribly bored/boring the next. Johansson and Hill aren't needed at all here, and they're not around enough to be of any worth. I truly wanted more of Fiennes, who returns to his now-classic Budapest Hotel shtick. He and Ehrenreich would have been a hilarious duo in their own movie; instead they're sandwiched in for too few moments together.

Hail Caesar! still manages to entertain, even though I found myself imagining funnier versions of every joke. That's never a good sign when you're paying money to see professionals doing less than your imagination. But don't blame Cinematographer Roger Deakins for any failures: his camerawork is as always impeccable, capturing the old school movie lots along with a hilarious half-naked statue who's missing his torso. Deakins also bathes every scene in gorgeous colors, while the sumptuous costumes and set designs capture the splendor of the period. Like those old films, everything's great until you peel back the real motivations of the characters, few of which hold and water or our attention.

Entertaining in many parts but thoroughly boring in others, Hail Caesar! is a decided miss, although a semi-glorious one that reminds us of this team's recent string of failures. It's hampered by its own fetish for the Hollywood system, content to divert us on great occasion by storylines that aren't necessary and moments of mirth that I found myself re-writing. Don't expect these creative geniuses to go away, but don't plan on this one occupying your favorite lists at year's end.

Hail Caesar! is rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and smoking and has a runtime of 106 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Enter For A Chance To Win Tickets To See RED SPARROW In LAS VEGAS

Enter For A Chance To Win Screening Passes To See RED SPARROW on February 20th at 7:00 PM in LAS VEGAS.

When she suffers a career-ending injury, Dominika and her mother are facing a bleak and uncertain future. That is why she finds herself manipulated into becoming the newest recruit for Sparrow School, a secret intelligence service that trains exceptional young people like her to use their bodies and minds as weapons. After enduring the perverse and sadistic training process, she emerges as the most dangerous Sparrow the program has ever produced. Dominika must now reconcile the person she was with the power she now commands, with her own life and everyone she cares about at risk, including an American CIA agent who tries to convince her he is the only person she can trust.



CLICK HERE TO ENTER-

In Theaters March 2, 2018

RedSparrowMovie.com

FACEBOOK: http://fb.com/RedSparrowMovie
TWITTER: http://twitter.com/RedSparrowMovie
INSTAGRAM: http://instagram.com/RedSparrowMovie
#RedSparrow

N…

Enter For A Chance To Win Tickets To See DEATH WISH In Houston

Enter For A Chance To Win Screening Passes To See DEATH WISH on February 28th at 7:00 PM in Houston.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures presents director Eli Roth's reimagining of the 1974 revenge thriller Death Wish. Dr. Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) is a surgeon who only sees the aftermath of his city's violence when it is rushed into his ER - until his wife (Elisabeth Shue) and college-age daughter (Camila Morrone) are viciously attacked in their suburban home. With the police overloaded with crimes, Paul, burning for revenge, hunts his family's assailants to deliver justice. As the anonymous slayings of criminals grabs the media's attention, the city wonders if this deadly avenger is a guardian angel or a grim reaper. Fury and fate collide in the intense action-thriller Death Wish.



CLICK HERE TO ENTER-

http://deathwish.movie
FACKBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/DeathWishFilm
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/DeathWishMovie
INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/DeathWishMovie
#Dea…

Enter For A Chance To Win Tickets To See DEATH WISH In San Antonio

Enter For A Chance To Win Screening Passes To See DEATH WISH on February 28th at 7:00 PM in San Antonio.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures presents director Eli Roth's reimagining of the 1974 revenge thriller Death Wish. Dr. Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) is a surgeon who only sees the aftermath of his city's violence when it is rushed into his ER - until his wife (Elisabeth Shue) and college-age daughter (Camila Morrone) are viciously attacked in their suburban home. With the police overloaded with crimes, Paul, burning for revenge, hunts his family's assailants to deliver justice. As the anonymous slayings of criminals grabs the media's attention, the city wonders if this deadly avenger is a guardian angel or a grim reaper. Fury and fate collide in the intense action-thriller Death Wish.



CLICK HERE TO ENTER-

http://deathwish.movie
FACKBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/DeathWishFilm
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/DeathWishMovie
INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/DeathWishMovie
#…