Author Topic: Hail, Caesar!  (Read 6162 times)

verbALs

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Re: Hail, Caesar!
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2016, 08:34:59 AM »
Hail Caesar!

....or "A Matter of Little Consequence". And yet, so was The Big Lebowski; which I think was self-aware enough to discuss its own triviality in Sam Elliott's drawled introduction. Just the story of a man, and not much of a man at that. Jeff Bridges that gap. The Coens completely subvert the story of a guy forced into playing detective, to resolve a kidnapping. When Brolin gets the letter demanding ransom, he phones up payroll and stuffs $100,000 into a too small briefcase. How can that be spoiler if its isn't important to Brolin/Mannix or the story. The eventual fate of the money, pretty much nails it as macguffin. Bye bye macguffin!

The Coens adore cinema but they don't worship it. The Coens are the guardians of the soul of the screenwriter; that tortured being. They really don't like what Hollywood does to writers. As writers, it is nice to see the return of the brothers, electrically present in this script. Bridge of Spies feels even more as if they leased their name out to that movie. There's a moment of juxtaposition of people on a train staring malevolently at Tom Hanks' "protector of the constitution" with kids pledging allegiance to the flag. Now that felt like Coen-speak, but not much else. A question though? Would a writer with communist leanings be able to write honestly in Hollywood in 2016? I dunno, the things a film will make me think about. I don't think the Coens are attempting that here, or have any clue that they have that ideology on board, but their evocation of the Communist/ Hollywood anti-dialectic (the film uses the word dialectic, so I wanted to stuff it in my review, in honour of big-worded cinema) shows how absolutely NOT a matter of little consequence the film is, in how it stirs ideas together.

Actually, I find "Much Ado About Nothing" to be exactly that, in a similar manner to Hail Caesar!. Men are off to war, and yet what does the play deal with instead? I am making the connection between the importance of language, which, in these stories of nothing much, is of tantamount importance. A bigger plot might divert from the wordplay. The Coens' screenwriting presence in the film is gigantic, in the way that obsesses people about Aaron Sorkin films. The chameleon Coens fit their words to the situation a wee bit more than Sorkin does. I truly adore their use of Hammett in Miller's Crossing a lot more than the westernism of True Grit, which I appreciate only. This is closer to Barton Fink and don't care so much for that. The pull of language is powerful. The quality of the cast, right down to tiny rolls for Christoph Lambert and Wayne Knight, speaks to actors tripping over themselves to get at the script. There are many outstanding moments of language combining with acting skill here. Michael Gambon masticating his words before swallowing. When Scarlett Johansson opens her mouth for the first time. The delightful skipping across the lillypads of verbosity of the Swinton twins or Fiennes; letting Wes Anderson know what he is looking for. Clooney fumbling his last line and erupting into profanity.

Which leads to another heavyweight comparison for a film which I started by calling inconsequential. One of the many beautiful elements within Mulholland Drive is the acting within the acting scenes. Like a set of nested Russian Babushkas. Naomi Watts fumbles her way through her audition scene in her kitchen, and then launches into an incendiary piece. That this is a performance inside another performance, short circuits my head. It's a gorgeous feedback loop. It makes me fall in love with the process. Here Clooney gets his audience behind the camera swallowing hard....and then the Coens make him drop the ball. Go and see the film just to hear that speech and the word he forgets. It is utterly choice.

So if Mannix isn't exactly Lebowski, it may affect the weight of the piece. His arc; this extremely difficult job that he has....which he handles quite lightly, isn't so involving is it? The Coens may be infecting with a virus of self-deprecation. That's entertainment. It isn't aeronautical engineering. It's no big deal what they do. Except we know it is magic.



So much for answering the question "how did the film make you feel?"

This film went by so quickly. As a measure of enjoyment I was surprised how fast it went by. The two musical scenes; Johansson and Tatum, I thought were brilliant. All of the Hollywood sound stage scenes were exceptional. Lovingly crafted and shot to Deakins standards of brilliance. McDormand and her scarf was my favourite joke.

« Last Edit: March 07, 2016, 08:47:06 AM by verbALs »
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy

verbALs

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Re: Hail, Caesar!
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2016, 01:57:40 PM »
I had a response to my review on Letterboxd which said that this film was the Coens bloody Valentine to the film business that they love and yet, to some measure, hate at the same time.

In particular, the idea the communist writers propound that movies are an expression of capitalist control. That's also a very Network idea.  ;D. Which brings me back round to this point about the dangers of any film which isn't simple marketing fodder. The audience is there for films of this scope but not mega-cinema sized audiences around which the business is geared.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2016, 02:02:24 PM by verbALs »
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy

IReilly2U

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Re: Hail, Caesar!
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2016, 08:07:53 PM »
I'm pretty sure they knew that people in general weren't going to be able to easily latch onto this one, especially after only one viewing. You can see this kind of awareness in the trailers, especially Trailer #2, and in the motif with really long times between joke setup and payoff. Seems almost to have been designed this way.

Still, it's faring better, in terms of gross, at the box office than many of their other pictures. Might be breaking even or a little better.

I can't wait for the DVD release - still thinking about it almost a month later.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2016, 10:01:50 AM by IReilly2U »

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Re: Hail, Caesar!
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2016, 08:35:29 PM »
Still, it's faring better, in terms of gross, at the box office than many of their other pictures. Might be breaking even or a little better.

A former friend of mine was associated with someone who has worked with the Coens since Fargo. They budget their projects, which is unheard of. Most directors don't give a damn about cost, they just want their vision on screen. They meet with studios with budgets attached to their scripts, and they've only gone over budget once. That was True Grit, budgeted at 35 million and costing 38 million. It took in $252 million worldwide.

I don't know all their budgets, but they're very cost conscious, and their budgets tend to closely reflect their grosses, mostly costing in the 30-35 million range, except for speciality projects like A Serious Man and The Man Who Wasn't There, which cost less.

verbALs

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Re: Hail, Caesar!
« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2016, 12:12:56 AM »
I had just listened to Adams review of the film so it was anecdotal that people weren't going to see the film.
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy

verbALs

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Re: Hail, Caesar!
« Reply #15 on: March 08, 2016, 03:39:14 PM »
More Hail Caesar! rabbit. The idea that the narrative is disjointed and doesn't tie together. This is Mannix's story. A day in a life but the Coens have never slaved themselves to plot and they are comfortable with non sequiturs and tangents. So if they want dance numbers then they'll give em space. I was flabbergasted to read how those versed those original Hollywood numbers would be especially horrified (I'd already unfollowed that snooty fellow a while back). This is reminiscent of The Artist as if they both dishonour what they come to praise. Stuffy attitude.

I'm sure people will take badly to the film. That's natural. Sometimes the reasons seem less than thought through. I'm surprised my own feelings are turning so positive and hence protective. I felt my goodwill to the bros. was being strained watching it and it felt somewhat like ILD. Now I'm not so hot on ILD though I like what it takes the trouble to explore. It's that moments from HC; the horse handstand, the scarf eating editing machine, McDormand, the smiles of Johansson and Clooney, the writers coven and those detective moments are playing in my head. I can imagine rewatching and anticipating these moments coming up. Tatum's dance number is so good. The mechanical whale. Tatum's repeat of his leap to the ladder of the sub. I was willing them to repeat it

This all feels like the stuff of a better than good movie.
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy

Teproc

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Re: Hail, Caesar!
« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2016, 03:49:52 PM »
I agree this is Mannix's story and that is what's supposed to hold the film together... and I just don't think it does. Wether that's because the Coens got sidetracked with all the fun numbers and sideplots or because of Josh Brolin or whatever else I don't know. But it did feel disjointed to me, and while it was still a fun experience because it had some great individual scenes, it is already fading in my memory.

I get that not everyone loves ILD, but It certainly doesn't suffer from lack of focus, so I'm not sure I get what you're saying there.

verbALs

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Re: Hail, Caesar!
« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2016, 12:06:38 AM »
I think Brolin isn't particularly strong in that role. If you compare Jeff Bridges holding a similarly scatalogical film together as Lebowski then he suffers badly by comparison. His performance reminded me of what Inherent Vice asked of him, but that was a much better role so it isn't Brolin not being up to it. In Lebowski parlance Brolin don't tie the room together.

You use the phrase "sidetracked"'for the vignettes the Coens go into. I do t think the word suits the grasp any director has on a film they don't accidentally film a scene and accidentally edit into the movie. It's a choice not a mistake. I say that because the Coens in particular project meaning into even the smallest non sequitur scene to reflect back on the general tone of a film. We are talking specifically about the movie scenes being filmed mainly and that's directly what Mannix's job is involved with. So then the bros have fun with how they portray those scenes. Now if you don't like the scenes then they might seem superfluous but there's so much joy in every one of them. Only Johansson's plot doesn't tie back into the detective story which is slightly the main plot. What Johansson does with her scenes only adds to my admiration of her recent work. She actually embodies that idea of a star in the old sense. She injects personality and charisma even when the part isn't big enough to develop through the writing.

No I don't think this and ILD are comparable as movies. It was my initial feeling about them that was similar. ILD went down whilst HC has already risen appreciably. I have to say again I can see why HC won't hold people's interest. The scatalogical approach will grate.

Oh yeah I just realised Tatum sings about going off to sea with no dames (the dance number suggests that won't be an insurmountable (oops) problem) then gets on a Russian sub! Ha.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2016, 12:27:24 AM by verbALs »
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy

Teproc

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Re: Hail, Caesar!
« Reply #18 on: March 09, 2016, 02:44:34 AM »
The thing is : I like those scenes individually, for the most part. But it felt like watcing 15 shorts in a row rather than a feature. Entertaining shorts, but still. Obviously I understand they didn't put any scene by mistake, what I mean by "sidetracked" it seems as if they ended up being more interested in long musical numbers and the connecting tissue is lacking as a result.

Now, the Russian sub scene, since you mention it, is the only one where I felt things were adding up to... something. I wasn't sure what, but there was somehing. I wish I had more of that during the whole film.

verbALs

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Re: Hail, Caesar!
« Reply #19 on: March 09, 2016, 11:57:32 PM »
Yes, I think you view is very fair. I'm holding the film together by sheer force of goodwill at this point. ;D Beautiful mess?
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy

 

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