And we’ve hit a milestone: day 10 of the 30 Day Film Challenge!
The tenth film is none other than the Coen Brothers’ newest film Hail, Caesar! (Note: The exclamation mark is part of the title.) I again had the joy of watching this movie with my best friend and guest in the last blog post, Song Park, who actually watched this film for a second time. (She saw the movie for the first time at an advanced screening.) So we again will be teaming up for today’s blog post. =)
Featuring an all-star cast, Hail, Caesar! is about a 1950’s Hollywood fixer Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), who experiences a very tumultuous day at work, filled with problems ranging from rescuing a kidnapped superstar (George Clooney) to covering up a scandal for an A-list actress (Scarlett Johansson). In the midst of all this chaos, Eddie begins to wonder if there is any meaning to the frivolous industry he works in.
Discussion (DL = Deborah Liao (me), SP = Song Park)
Question: You two had very different opinions on yesterday’s film A Melody to Remember. Did things stay the same or change for today?
SP: I rarely re-watch movies I already watched once, but I loved Hail, Caesar! both the first and the 2nd time. I was just as captivated by the film this time around, and it is definitely one of my favorite of the Coen Brothers’ films.
DL: I agree. I loved the film, so I guess you could say that we are on the same page for today.
Question: So what did you like about the film?
SP: Where do I even begin? I guess the first thing that comes to mind is the screenplay. I’ve always had so much respect for the Coen Brothers and their ability to create smart, witty, and meaningful scripts, and this film is no different. The Coen Brothers’ fantastic writing, directing and editing, combined with cinematography by Roger Deakins, soundtrack by Carter Burwell, and spot-on acting by all of the actors create a one-of-a-kind film. While there is certainly a lot of satire and parody, Hail, Caesar! is ultimately the Coen Brothers’ homage to 1950s Hollywood, and this combination of so many genres just works together perfectly because it is the Coen Brothers! (And the cherry on top to all this greatness: you get to see Channing Tatum, in a sailor suit, singing & dancing!)
DL: I loved how the film was both entertaining and meaningful. Like what Song said, the script was very smart, and it was also very funny. Usually, I don’t like comedies because oftentimes the humor is either really lame or shallow for me, but the humor in this film was clever and on point. I mean, it is the Coen Brothers after all, so of course everything would be awesome. The cast also added a lot of life and depth to the story and their characters, so it was a very entertaining movie. But story, humor, and characters aside, Hail, Caesar! was also very thought-provoking. While the story was specifically about a Hollywood fixer and his struggle with finding meaning in the world of entertainment, his struggle is one we can all identify with because there are times when we also question whether what we do is meaningful, regardless of our industry or backgrounds. So watching this film was very thought-provoking for me because it compelled me to examine my own life for meaning. So this was a wonderful movie, both entertaining and deep.
Question: Hail, Caesar! had an all-star cast. Whose performance stood out to you the most?
SP: It’s hard to choose one person in particular because they were all spectacular. Even after many eliminations, my choice for best performance comes down to Josh Brolin, George Clooney, and Alden Ehrenreich. Josh Brolin’s performance, on the surface, may not seem particularly interesting or exciting. He is the Jesus figure of the film, taking on the burdens of the problems the actors create, and it is his very deadpan nature with which Brolin plays Eddie Mannix, despite all the chaos going on around him, that makes him who he is and leads him to discover meaning with his job and the film industry. Honorable mentions: Ralph Fiennes & Tilda Swinton.
DL: I loved Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton. I thought Scarlet Johansson perfectly depicted the two sides of her character – the innocent side that is meant for the public to see and her true, scandalous side, which is only known to industry insiders. Her voice was also great – the way she spoke really captured the essence of her true character. Tilda Swinton was also amazing. She played two characters in the film, and I loved how her entire demeanor, from the way she walked and talked to her facial expressions, all reflected her two characters perfectly. And how could I forget George Clooney? He delivered a wonderful performance, too, and he was really funny.
Question: Any final thoughts?
SP: While you can read summaries and reviews, Hail, Caesar! is a film you really need to just experience. So if you haven’t watched it – don’t go looking up trailers and other promo material…just watch it!!
DL: Yes, watch the film! It’s truly amazing!!!!!
Song’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Deborah’s Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Title: Hail, Caesar!
Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen
Writers: Joel and Ethan Coen
Cast: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Alden Ehrenreich, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand
Run time: 1 hr 45 min