Hooray for Hollywood?
Village Jam Factory Gold Class - Sunday 28 February 2016, 7:40pm
Running time: 106m
Country: United States
Classification: PG (Mild themes and coarse language)
Release date: 25/02/16
Rating: 5.5/10 (ME 2.5/5, DP 3/5)
Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is a Hollywood studio executive with a prestige picture nearing the end of production when leading actor Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is kidnapped. Meanwhile, Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) has been pulled from his latest western adventure to appear in a drama by eccentric director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes). If that wasn't enough, pregnant DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) is struggling to fit into her mermaid tail and Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum) tap dances his way through every sailor cliche imaginable. But it's a house full of communists in Malibu that hold the secret to the success of the studio's prestige picture. But will Eddie get over his guilt about lying to his wife about quitting smoking?
Hail, Ceasar, the latest film from the Cohen Brothers, is a tribute to a day in the life of Hollywood's studio system of the 1950s. The films within the film are executed with great flair and panache, from the Ben Hur homage to the Esther Williams inspired aquatic musical number, and there is great attention to detail. Josh Brolin as the stoic Eddie holds the disparate threads of the narrative together, but the film is much slower and laboured than it needs to be. Most of the performances are very good and the characters (and their characters in the films within the film) are painted with broad strokes that carefully meld the stories and stereotypes of the screen legends on which they're based. Unfortunately the quirky addition of Tilda Swinton as twin gossip columnists is an unnecessary distraction which adds very little.
This exploration of the futility of Hollywood and the rigidity of the studio system is a nostalgic and self indulgent film that's light on laughs but has a clear vision and clever points to make. The bizarre ending (no spoilers here) provides a satisfying conclusion to this unconventional romp, though some more thoughtful editing on the script may have made for a more enjoyable film experience. (ME)
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