In the Dark

The Hail With It

Hail, Caesar
Produced by Mike Zoss Productions 
and Working Title Films 
Written and directed by Ethan and Joel Coen 
Distributed by Universal Pictures 

In Ethan and Joel Coen’s latest film, Hail, Caesar!, we’re taken back to the Hollywood of the early 1950’s, lovingly recreated but set darkly askew.

That was when the dream factories were scrambling laboriously to tempt the public away from their newly purchased televisions.  To do so, filmmakers were mounting productions that, among other things, deployed dubious piety and synchronized aquatics.  Accordingly, biblical epics and extravagant water musicals were the primary fare at the Bijou.  The Coens show us how it was, but, as you would expect, they undercut the sumptuous cinema of our memories with their patented satiric outlook.  They do so by cutting from one soundstage to the next at Capitol Pictures, the boys’ version of MGM.  There’s Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) in a Roman tribune’s breastplate and leather skirt snapping his chariot’s reins as he rides across the North African desert toward Rome, in Hail, Caesar! A Tale of the Christ, which looks suspiciously like Quo Vadis (1951).  On the next lot we have DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) as a not quite reasonable facsimile of a smiling Esther...

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