Author Topic: Hail, Caesar!  (Read 6394 times)

IReilly2U

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Re: Hail, Caesar!
« Reply #20 on: March 10, 2016, 12:58:19 PM »
My initial feeling after the first viewing was that Mannix's story was so disconnected from the movie-in-movie bits and other elements dominating the screen time that I just wasn't invested so much in Mannix and his job offer dilemma.

But, all these other characters and scenes getting time on the screen had to have been by design. You don't tie up all this acting and production crew talent with a random pastiche of disconnected vignettes and no story. They've never done that in the past, and there's no reason to think it's happening here.

So, I went back to it and tried to pay attention to the bigger picture, and that experience of the story, for me, was completely amazing. The theme as I read it is one of finding your way amidst confusing, contradictory, or difficult direction, and whether/how we can influence the paths that people take. Practically every character in the story is placed in this situation, and each takes a different path trying to find their way.

Mannix's particular dimension of the story is looking at the question of whether our efforts to control the direction people take is effective. Think about the different problems he's supposed to 'fix' and ask how effective his actions are in fixing them. The answers are wonderfully rich and ambiguous, especially in the resolution of Baird's kidnapping.

The communist dimension of the story is looking at writers fighting for the same kind of thing, but here they want to co-opt Baird and write in communist subtext to help them tell their story from within Capitol Pictures. By the way, since we know there are writers at Capitol Pictures trying to do this, watch the movie again and look for signs of communist subtext appearing in the different pictures.

Each of the movie-in-movie bits present to us Capitol Pictures' view of the world, and each picture depicts a different kind of social issue that masks an underlying contradiction or problem in the real world: religious faith (Hail, Caesar, A Tale of the Christ) female sexuality and purity (Neptune's Daughter), male sexuality and patriotism (The Swingin' Dinghy), and class and intellectualism (Merrily We Dance and Lazy Ol' Moon).

So, I'm seeing it as telling a very broad story, more of a depiction of life for many people, rather than just one day in the life of one guy, and supremely focused on examining the process people go through in finding their way.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2016, 01:16:59 PM by IReilly2U »

Junior

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Re: Hail, Caesar!
« Reply #21 on: May 31, 2016, 01:21:27 AM »
I think the thing that's the most interesting about the three major forces in the movie (religion, politics/economics, and art) is that none of them are doing their own job, rather they each take on elements from the other two. Let me try that again with specifics.

Religion squabbles about which version is the real version and whether Jesus is the son of God and if that makes God multiple beings or just one, and in so doing one character (the rabbi?) says "You're all screwballs," and he's right, because that's maybe the funniest scene in the movie. So religion has taken on the entertainment characteristic from art. But they're also there to validate the movie so that nobody can complain about it and in so doing decrease the movie's earning potential. And there it takes on the political/economic role.

Art (movies) is a religion for Eddie Mannix. I almost felt that there was little conflict about whether he would take the Lockheed job because he's entirely within his element at the movies. He professes in that meeting of the religious leaders scene that the pictures are where the majority of people will hear these religious stories, and he says so with pride. The Clooney speech at the end really wraps everybody watching and listening up in its power, at least until he flubs his line. I think the political/economic role that art plays is pretty apparent, but if not, see The Future's complaints for one example.

Politics/economics are the least clear things in this formula, but it still works, I think. That Clooney is sucked in so easily to The Future's way of seeing is because they tell a good story. They are the writers, after all, and so the story of the scrappy underdog taking it to the big man becomes an immediately compelling one. The connection between politics and religion is similar to how it works in the real world, where people will convert from one ideology to another, or seek out a meeting of like-minds to talk about their way of seeing the world together. Tatum is willing to leave what must be a huge career in order to live as a communist in Moscow. Sounds like a pilgrimage to me.

Does that make sense? It's 2 AM and maybe not, but it's what was rattling around in my head as I watched the movie.
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DarkeningHumour

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Re: Hail, Caesar!
« Reply #22 on: May 31, 2016, 04:41:19 AM »
I think your overall point is right but you take the wrong examples. I would not say the clergymen become entertainers. They entertain the audience of the movie, but in the movie's universe they are not entertaining anyone. And the writer's telling compelling stories to convert people to communism is not politics inserting itself into art but artists taking a political-economic stand in my view. However, you do see religion giving its blessing to art ; economics also influences it as the CEO from New York makes casting decisions ; art obviously is part of an economic industry, and by making religiously themes movies, it takes on a religious role...

I would not argue for Mannix as an agent of art either. There is something to his approach to his job, namely his respect of his boss for example, that could make you think of one's attitude towards the sacred. But things like the picture has worth and his treatment of directors' artistic ambitions make me think his artistic sensibilities are quite low. For me he is the compromise between the three forces you mention. A deeply catholic man who serves the forces of business but also tries to produce movies with artistic worth. There is something that is both corrupted and awesome about him. He will defend a picture to death while making artistic decisions for business reasons.

I hope that was enough of a return of service. 
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Junior

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Re: Hail, Caesar!
« Reply #23 on: May 31, 2016, 04:13:42 PM »
I do agree that Mannix is the guy at the center of these forces, pulled by each and struggling to figure out what matters the most. But I think that stuff like the religious leaders stand even though they aren't entertaining anybody in the film itself. The Coens are keenly aware of what they're doing to their audience at all times, so the fact that they are entertaining to the audience (and I would be shocked if anybody didn't find them entertaining) counts, basically.

I think another interesting thing that the movie does is make a case both for and against the power of movie star charisma. None of the movie stars in the film are the brightest bulbs (maybe Tatum's communist tap-dancer), but they're all shown to have fantastic powers of charismatic connection to the audience. That's part of the reason why the Coens show us the movies that they are making as well as the behind-the-scenes stuff. The movies work, and that's important, and their talents are real, even if they're a bunch of dolts in their day to day lives.
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Bondo

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Re: Hail, Caesar!
« Reply #24 on: May 31, 2016, 04:26:26 PM »
So...should I be linking this conversation as a Top 100 Club entry?

Junior

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Re: Hail, Caesar!
« Reply #25 on: May 31, 2016, 04:29:16 PM »
No, not unless you want to. It's all got spoilers in it, and I put a full (ish) review in the proper thread.
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DarkeningHumour

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Re: Hail, Caesar!
« Reply #26 on: June 01, 2016, 03:50:00 AM »
I think another interesting thing that the movie does is make a case both for and against the power of movie star charisma. None of the movie stars in the film are the brightest bulbs (maybe Tatum's communist tap-dancer), but they're all shown to have fantastic powers of charismatic connection to the audience. That's part of the reason why the Coens show us the movies that they are making as well as the behind-the-scenes stuff. The movies work, and that's important, and their talents are real, even if they're a bunch of dolts in their day to day lives.

I don't get how this is a point a director would feel the need to make. Is anyone saying movie stars are intellectually brilliant ?
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Re: Hail, Caesar!
« Reply #27 on: June 01, 2016, 10:31:06 AM »
It's part of the larger theme which is that Hail, Caesar! sees movies as both super important and entirely silly and meaningless at the same time. It treats movie stars the same way, as both fantastic at their jobs and idiots off screen.
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IDrinkYourMilkshake

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Re: Hail, Caesar!
« Reply #28 on: June 01, 2016, 12:48:30 PM »
I think another interesting thing that the movie does is make a case both for and against the power of movie star charisma. None of the movie stars in the film are the brightest bulbs (maybe Tatum's communist tap-dancer), but they're all shown to have fantastic powers of charismatic connection to the audience. That's part of the reason why the Coens show us the movies that they are making as well as the behind-the-scenes stuff. The movies work, and that's important, and their talents are real, even if they're a bunch of dolts in their day to day lives.

I don't get how this is a point a director would feel the need to make. Is anyone saying movie stars are intellectually brilliant ?

Not necessarily intellectually brilliant, but we live in a culture which deifies actors and actresses. I think the Coens are just trying to undercut that.

I loved this film!
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DarkeningHumour

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Re: Hail, Caesar!
« Reply #29 on: June 01, 2016, 10:02:47 PM »
But aren't people aware that stars can be complete idiots ? They love Tom Cruise while knowing about all his craziness. It is not a "but" but an "and".
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