Hail, Caesar!

Hail, Caesar! ★★★★


the coen's oeuvre is a varied one chalk full of different genres, ideas, characters etc, sometimes light & wacky, other times heavy & serious but there is a constant -- the coen's love to tell stories about individuals pointlessly (but endearingly) fighting the stupid, chaotic, contradictory systems that, for whatever reason, control human life. whether it be the existential grasping of A Serious Man or Barton Fink, or the straight-up moronic confusion of Burn After Reading ("all bureaucracy, no mission"), the coen's never fail to argue for the little guy's individualism in systems that see no value in them. they're just as humanistic as they are nihilistic. and in this regard Hail, Caesar is the coen brothers - alone in their keen ability to hide big themes & philosophies in seemingly insignificant stories - at their very best.

playing a bit like a companion to all three films mentioned above, Hail, Caesar follows a hectic day in the life of eddie mannix (josh brolin), the head of physical production & "fixer" at capitol pictures as he wanders the studio putting out fires set by the morons (filmmakers, actors etc) he babysits & pondering the value of the industry he endures the sins of to keep propped up. traversing genres as casually as mannix can walk to the next set, the coens present 1950s studio filmmaking as a wonderful hell of joy & deceit using broadly illusive movie stars & homoerotic dance numbers to distract people from politics & capitalism ("it's... complicated"), and the movies themselves as a form of religion. god's light, now shining from a projector.

the central idea of the film is practically "movies are bad, but they're better than the military-industrial complex?????" something i'm sure someone on Film Twitter has said before -- one of my favorite jokes is when it's generally agreed upon by everyone that lockheed martin's recent endeavours into hydrogen bombs would be much less stressful to manage than a movie studio. but would that i'tweeeere so simple, when the coens aren't making you laugh your ass off with expertly executed gags (the editing room mishap, the music cue whenever someone says "On Wings As Eagles," or every line delivery ralph fiennes gives - just to name a few) they're also ruminating on the contradictions of faith, dialectics ("we're not talking about money, we're talking about economics") & of movies, showing us the absurdity of what we buy into right before, or after, making us buy into it -- the coen's take on a busby berkeley number (johansson's synchronized swimming spectacle) & deakins' colors, just in general, really, blew me away. but though there's idiocy & contradictions abound in hollywood there is value to be found, especially in the details. (i'm still giggling about the one million reader difference between the two virtually indistinguishable gossip columnists.)

movies matter insomuch that we believe in them, and a crisis of that faith is likely nothing more than a communist conspiracy??? idk

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