Hail, Caesar! (The Coen Brothers, 2016)


The latest from multi-hyphenate siblings Joel & Ethan Coen is a kaleidoscopic extravaganza of half-formed thoughts and half-forgotten genres, a mishmash of Late Movie references and late night insights, a career-summarizing work that pairs the yearning search for metaphysical certainty in a violently random universe that has marked their 21st Century output with a ramblingly digressive celebration of the cinematic creativity that stands so boldly in denial of the dissolution of meaning that is the modern world. With a rollicking energy they haven’t employed since O Brother Where Art Thou, Hail, Caesar! shifts madly across the spectrum of studio-era Hollywood genres: musical numbers, screwball exchanges, singing cowboys, fedoras and shadows, drawing room dramas and celebrity gossip swirl around 28 hours in the life of Eddie Mannix, studio executive, as he navigates crises both large (the kidnapping of the star of his sword and sandal biblical epic by a ring of Communist screenwriters) and small (the unmarried pregnancy of an established star, the acting challenges and fledgling romance of a budding one), while weighing a job offer from outside the industry and trying to reconcile his devout Catholicism with the truth-stretching demands of his profession.

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