Friday, February 5, 2016
If you're a movie buff then chances are you're a fan of the Coen brothers. I certainly am, though I'm particularly fond of their 90's works: Fargo, The Big Lebowski, The Hudsucker Proxy, Miller's Crossing, and my personal favorite, Barton Fink. Back then, they unquestionably and consistently brought a unique vision and style to film that I had never seen before. Though, since the 90's their work has been less consistent in quality, and Coen copycats have been aplenty. Of course some are still gems, like the ultra dark No Country for Old Men and the ultra fun Burn After Reading. But some just make me antsy and leave me cold (e.g. A Serious Man and Inside Llewyn Davis.) I still look forward to each and every one, but I now go in with tempered expectations.
Those tempered expectations served me well with their latest film, Hail, Caesar!,an homage to classic Hollywood cinema. Josh Brolin plays a studio fixer, handling the films in production and the various challenges of those involved, including George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, and Scarlett Johansson. Similiar to Wes Anderson films like The Grand Budapest Hotel, it's silly, heavy on style, and light on substance. Personally I prefer their films that have a bit more gravitas, but this one has enough enjoyable scenes to make it worth your while, even if it is lesser Coen.
Who is this movie for? Coen brothers fans will be satisfied but not blown away. Some of the cast, particularly Clooney and Johansson, weren't given enough to do to really shine, but if you're a fan of old Hollywood, you'll get a kick out of it. One spectacular dance scene with Channing Tatum alone was enough to make it well worth my time.