norwich36: (Default)
norwich36 ([personal profile] norwich36) wrote2016-02-06 03:32 pm

Hail Caesar

I enjoyed Hail Caesar much more than I was expecting. I generally like but do not love Coen brothers films; their style of humor is not generally mine, but I laughed quite a lot at this film.

Channing Tatum should tap dance homoerotically in every film he makes in the future, I just have to say. That was probably the most enjoyable number in the film, though I was also blown away by the water ballet scene. I am generally bored by water ballet in films, the scene in this film was amazingly choreographed--really visually stunning.

Really, as someone who does have a fondness of films from the fifties, the fact that this film was basically a tour through every popular genre of the time--swords and sandals bible epics, westerns, lavish musicals, and the framing story was sort of noirish--made this extremely watchable, especially because I loved seeing all the backstage Hollywood shenanigans. And my inner religion nerd loved that the main film-within-a-film was basically Ben Hur--omg, the scene with the minister, priest, Orthodox clergyman and Jewish rabbi was so damn hilarious, especially the Orthodox clergyman giving Josh Brolin notes on the realism of leaping from chariot to chariot.

And despite the fact that Josh Brolin's whole job was to coerce people behind the scenes, I found him surprisingly likeable, and just surprising in general: he goes to confession every night and says the rosary? I couldn't decide if that was more parody--like his perfect blonde wife telling him "you know best, honey" was a parody of the type of family that Hollywood was trying to portray to conceal multiply-divorced actresses pregnant out of wedlock and gay directors and the superstars who slept with them, or if he was modelled on some actual devout Catholic bruiser studio enforcer-type. I mean, so many of the characters were clearly homages; Tilda Swinton's twin reporter characters were clearly Hedda Hopper, and Carlotta Valdez is Carmen Miranda, and the "adopt your own baby" subplot with Scarlett Johanssen is Loretta Young, so I assume most of the other characters were based on real people too. I guess George Clooney is loosely Charleton Heston, which makes his accidental conversion to communism funnier to me. I was trying to figure out if Frances McDormand's character was also a homage, though I don't know anything about famous female film editors in the 50s (and the scarf strangulation thing was Isadora Duncan, right? So clearly not a direct parallel).

I don't know enough about 50s cowboy films to know who Alden Ehrenreich's character was supposed to be (not John Wayne, obviously), but I was really impressed with his acting (specifically, his hilariously bad attempt to do what Ralph Fiennes was trying to direct him to do) and also his rope spinning ability! And it was kind of fun that he was the one who cowboyed up and "rescued" George Clooney.

The communist subplot was definitely my favorite bit, though--how mild mannered and devoted all the communists were to their cause, and how they actually convinced George Clooney!--and how their critique of Hollywood capitalism was both completely on point AND completely self-serving. And OMG, I was dying laughing at Channing Tatum simultaenously doing a George Washington crossing the Delaware AND brave communist hero joining the good Soviet fight impression, and that little bit with the dog and the money was fabulous.

Overall, if you have any love for 50s movies or Hollywood shenanigans from the "golden age of filmmaking," I'd highly recommend it.

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