New from the desk of The Movie Snob.
Hail, Caesar! (B-). With the glaring and painful exception of Barton Fink, I have yet to see a Coen brothers movie I didn’t like. (Granted, I haven’t seen them all.) True Grit, The Big Lebowski, and O Brother Where Art Thou? are all classics in my book. Their current release has its pleasures, but I think it is definitely a lesser entry in the Coen canon. It’s a pure comedy and a tribute to the movies of the 1940s and 1950s. (Apparently there are a gazillion references to movies and Hollywood scandals of that era. They went over my head, but I think I did catch an homage to Fargo.) Josh Brolin (Sicario) stars as Eddie Mannix, a honcho for Capital Studios who is pulled in a million directions at once as he tries to keep his movies and his movie stars out of trouble. George Clooney (Intolerable Cruelty) costars as Baird Whitlock, a matinee idol who is supposed to be starring in a big Ben Hur-like production but who has been kidnaped by a mysterious group called The Future. And there are scads of other stars on hand, including Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel) as a fey director of costume dramas, Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation) as a pregnant movie star in a mermaid suit, and Channing Tatum (She’s the Man) as the star of a South Pacific-like musical. I enjoyed the energy of the picture, but it didn’t really seem to add up to much—except maybe to say gee, isn’t show biz crazy?