Hail Caesar

It’s underwater, it’s Soviet, and it’s about to arise from the watery depths. I’ll give you three guesses.


A aimless and bland amalgam, hamstrung by its conceit to take place in a single day.
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Reported on 28th of February, 2016

There’s something to learn from this movie. The fact that I don’t know what that is does not dissuade me.

Is it conventionally good? No. Is it moderately entertaining? Not really, with some very lovely yet utterly out of place musical sequences excepting. An aimless and bland amalgam, it is best understood as 32 short films about 1950s Hollywood. The problem being that the short films in question seem made by 1950s Hollywood.

1950s Hollywood was not good at making short films.

Because each scene is independent from the whole, it makes sense to discuss them individually. And how they relate to the whole. Which makes no sense whatsoever.

Hail Caesar

23 February 2016 @ The Gaumont Rennes


$0.50 or, if one must be jejune, and one must... 
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

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Watching Vincent Minelli Watch Porn

Ew.

First, and this is an odd one, the musical numbers. They are swell, the only time I have used that word correctly, anachronistically speaking. They stand out, performance, staging, the numbers, everything. It’s the opposite of the Watching Porn rule. Normally, you’d put up with the musical sequences in films such like to get to all the, well, cool anachronistic dialog. Here, you’re genuinely wondering why they don’t do this anymore. Well…

Making fun of the losers comes off as the sour grapes that made the playful 1998 Côtes du Rhone you drank in the plate glass window in front of the homeless.

Peoria Babylon

See, post-Ellroy, post-Hays code, and, most importantly, post-Hollywood Babylon, it’s very difficult to see 1950s Hollywood in an even marginally innocent way. The film makes the unfortunate choice to split the difference, by being, well, marginally innocent. Mr. Josh Brolin’s fixer character breaks up a young starlet being photographed…fully clothed. He confesses to his priest about…lying to his wife. Mr. George Clooney has…a mild drinking problem.

The film can’t commit to anything but PG corruption, thus missing the fun of corruption entirely. This mild foray from them what gave us Lebowski and the criminally underrated Burn After Reading. The latter featured a fucking machine by actually featuring it: onscreen, with a memorable squeak, as Mr. George Clooney demonstrated its operation. Instead,

Kidnapping Clooney

Yeah, I don’t know what the hell that was about.

But I’m going to say anyway

But I’m going to say anyway. Clooney is kidnapped by Hollywood communists to get money, or teach him about the working class using some very dated pitches about controlling the means of production. I don’t know what’s worse, that ‘controlling the means of production’ is supposed to come off as a joke about film studios, or that it’s just something they accidentally left in. Given the level of energy, it could be either.

There’s additional a bit of a yellow flag down when you depict communists as the bad guys in 2015. On one hand, go ahead: Stalin killed five times as many people as Hitler and the first time you’re hearing about this is in a blog post by a deranged Stalinist historian.

On the other, this is not a film about the purges, it’s a film about Hollywood in the 1950s. The communists lost. They also lost globally, a long time ago. Making fun of the losers comes off as the sour grapes that made the playful 1998 Côtes du Rhone you drank in the plate glass window in front of the homeless. Yes it’s possible that they were making fun of people making fun of communism. And that would be a legitimate argument, if the writing rose to the level of competence that could convey that. Instead…

It’s underwater, it’s Soviet, and it’s about to arise from the depths. I’ll give you three guesses.

Christ, I’m doing headers again. As Mr. Channing Tatum is revealed, somewhat blandly, to be a secret communist agent, with a suitcase full of money that has no use or payoff for the story, in an escape that has no use or payoff for the story…shit where was I?

I was talking about the competence of writing, that’s where.

So Mr. Tatum’s in the water being rowboated off the California coast by his fellow rowboat travelers. A pause. We wait. We wait just a bit more. The music twinges, then omnisizes. They’re in the middle of the ocean waiting for something. Whatever might happen?

I knew 19411941 was a friend of mine and so on, but it is at this point that one realizes the film is a lukewarm half-dreamt ripoff of a film that can only be loved for its depiction of the excess, ironically, of the 1970s. But it is loved. One may say the same of Hail Caesar in future. But I don’t know. I’m a product of my time.

Hamstrung by its own petard

Which puts me in mind of an earlier scene. We’re allowed to jump around like that because the scenes don’t connect or have any causal effect on one another. See writing competence, p. 372.

As the various religious leaders get together with Mr. Josh Brolin, studio exec, to discuss their problems with depicting the story of the Christ onscreen, the criminally undercast Mr. Robert Picardo’s rabbi delights in making light of the three is one and one is three transubstantiation whatjamajig. Mr. Picardo invites the observation that the actors most willing to find something where there might not be something (like learning something that isn’t there) make some scenes come to life (Ms. Scarlett Johansson and Mr. Tatum, inclus).

One of the advantages of the new look is that I now can right little pages that can turn into big ones if they want. This is the first that did, written, like all blogs except mine have been doing since the beginning, entirely online. Also cakes!

One of the advantages of the new look is that I now can right little pages that can turn into big ones if they want. This is the first that did, written, like all blogs except mine have been doing since the beginning, entirely online. Also cakes!

Re: the scene, however. They discuss it…and agree that everything’s fine. End meeting, never to be referred to again. Ultimately, all these scenes have a painted in a corner next to a door quality. Ideally, when you’re writing, the characters think a scene will end one way, the audience another, and you give them a fourth. It should be a third, but you really need to think ahead these days.

In this case, all three expectations are the same. They need to resolve this problem…and they do!

It’s not especially compelling.

On one hand, we expect, nay, are owed, some kind of disaster, an instrumental demand that leads to a scheme and so on. Instead, the film feels hamstrung by its conceit that it should happen in one day. Like writing to the ending, it means that events and characters don’t have the opportunity to interact, despite there being quite a few of them, in case whatever situation created should go beyond the time limit.

And the lack of connective tissue

which I have now provided. You’re welcome, class of 2035. Sorry, that’s 2035, the movie. Which will be made in 2065. And studied now. You’re welcome, class of 2035.

The Take

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Profits!
In the opening moments, you hits you how much Mr. Deakins and Mr. Burwell are the dream team. It’s not enough.
$3.00
Musical numbers, @ $3.00/item. Honestly, who would ever think you’d see that here.
$6.00
Total Profits
$9.00
Losses!
This film would be much better summed up by Uli. We spend an hour long session gossiping about films, and there was one she had seen the day before, and she just couldn’t remember it or anything about it. It took her an hour to get the name. I should save you that kind of time.
$8.50
Total Losses
$8.50

$0.50

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