REVIEW: ‘Hail, Caesar!’ (15)

Part of Glasgow Film Festival

Hail, Caesar (2)Hail, Caesar

(Universal Pictures)

At the intersection between high and low art lies Hail, Caesar! the Coen Brothers’ latest flick. If you veer towards previous Coen fare like The Hudsucker Proxy ,this is for you.

We’re talking knockabout humour and absurdist flights of fancy here, all shot through with some wry commentary about how the Hollywood system favoured its spoilt  stars over its underpaid writers, especially during the height of the McCarthy Communist witch trials.Plus ca change, some might say.

Studio executive Eddie Mannix (a menacing Josh Brolin) is wrestling with his religious conscience and troubled marriage, as well as trying to placate the egos of actors, and deal with the kidnapping of star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney, parodying his leading man status) who ends up in a secret elite stuffed full of nebbishy intellectuals.

Each MGM genre pic is skewered, from a ”tasteful” epic about Jesus, to an Esther Williams bathing belle movie, with Scarlett Johansson the picture of innocence, until she opens her mouth and talks like an Noo Yoik cabbie.

That all-too-rare creature, it’s a film with brains as well as sly homages (Channing Tatum’s high-camp sailor routine is jaw-dropping, like Pierre et Giles on amyl nitrate)and there is not a wasted line nor moment here- although a little editing wouldn’t go amiss .

In-jokes, particularly involving a pretty-boy cowboy star who can’t act, and his exasperated director, or Eddie’s brushes with twin columnists, are stretched almost to breaking point, but are funnier for it. Everyone is set against type here, from Tilda Swinton, to Jonah Hill, with Frances McDormand’s Isadora Duncan moment a particular highlight,and the Biblical epic clips which ”must be tasteful” have to be seen, to be believed.

No ”mirthless chuckles” here.It’s swell, see? All hail.

Hail, Caesar

(Lorna Irvine)

At Glasgow Film Theatre on Wednesday 17th February, 10pm and Thursday 18th February, 3.30pm.

Box Office 0141 332 6535

http://www.glasgowfilm.org/festival

Twitter: @glasgowfilmfest #GFF16

 

 

 

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