HAIL, CAE­SAR!

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES -

Di­rec­tor: Joel and Ethan Coen ( Fargo) Star­ring: Josh Brolin, Ge­orge Clooney, Scar­lett Jo­hans­son, Chan­ning Ta­tum, Ralph Fi­ennes, Tilda Swin­ton Ver­dict: Lights! Cam­era! Ab­duc­tion! A NEW re­lease from those ir­re­sistibly idio­syn­cratic film­mak­ing brothers Joel and Ethan Coen ( No Coun­try for Old Men, Fargo) is al­ways cause for cel­e­bra­tion among a vast ar­ray of cinema en­thu­si­asts.

The Coens have never been the kind of cre­ative types who will die won­der­ing, and that is why their fol­low­ing re­mains so de­voted and so di­verse.

Ev­ery idea that crosses their shared movie mind – whether it be good, bad, or just plain weird – is al­ways on full dis­play.

There is def­i­nitely a party at­mos­phere of sorts to the Coen’s lat­est work, a goofy cel­e­bra­tion of the last days of Hol­ly­wood’s fa­bled ‘ golden age’ in the 1950s.

This was the era where ma­jor stu­dios like MGM and Warner Bros. mi­cro- man­aged their con­stel­la­tions of con­tracted stars around the clock.

Cigar- chomp­ing, or­der- bark­ing movie ty­coons such as Louis B. Mayer and Jack Warner con­trolled the pub­lic im­ages and pri­vate lives of ev­ery­one on the act­ing pay­roll.

And the man they al­ways called when a big star was in big trou­ble? That would be the leg­endary ‘ fixer’ Ed­die Man­nix ( played by Josh Brolin).

If you needed to get mar­ried in a hurry, have a baby in se­cret, or wanted pho­tos to dis­ap­pear, ‘ Fast Ed­die’ would soon have an un­seemly sit­u­a­tion seem as it never hap­pened.

Man­nix’s main as­sign­ment in the free­wheel­ing yarn spun in Hail, Cae­sar! is as­cer­tain­ing the im­me­di­ate where­abouts of one of Hol­ly­wood’s big­gest ( and boozi­est) names.

Hell- rais­ing heart- throb Baird Whit­lock ( Ge­orge Clooney) has been kid­napped from the set of a big­bud­get bib­li­cal epic.

All Man­nix has to go on is very ba­sic ran­som note, de­mand­ing $ 100,000 for the star’s re­turn, and signed by a mys­te­ri­ous en­tity that calls it­self ‘ The Fu­ture’.

There is cer­tainly noth­ing fu­tur­is­tic about the scrappy, screw­ball plot­ting of Hail, Cae­sar!. This is very much a loopy lark con­cerned with a lost past Hol­ly­wood will never re­claim. A past where so- so per­form­ers such as the sailor- suited song- and- dance man Burt Gur­ney ( Chan­ning Ta­tum), or the maneat­ing movie mer­maid DeeAnna Mo­ran ( Scar­lett Jo­hans­son), could sell mil­lions of tick­ets with just their name on a mar­quee.

The ir­re­press­ibly up­beat vibe of Hail, Cae­sar! marks a de­cided change of mode from the darker ma­te­rial usu­ally favoured by the Coens in re­cent times. How­ever, it does go on to de­liver more than its throw­away premise ini­tially prom­ises.

A star- stud­ded cast sup­port cast ( in­clud­ing force­fully funny turns from Grand Bu­dapest Ho­tel’s Ralph Fi­ennes and Tilda Swin­ton) seal a win­ning deal here.

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