Starring: George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Feinnes, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Fisher Stevens, Alison Pill and Australian Natasha Bassett (no relation). Rated PG – 106 min.
Easily the best film of the year so far (I know it’s only February). Not only if you’re an admirer of the golden years of Hollywood, but for any kind of movie buff whatsoever. One will adore this excellent brassy outrageous comedic drama from the unique directing siblings The Coen Bros responsible for one of the few 10/10 films Fargo.
Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is a designated tinsel town fixer in the 1950s who keeps the studio contracted stars in the system in check including their number one box office draw card, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney). Currently filming a toga roman sandal epic Hail Caesar, he disappears. However the crew in the know realise he likes a bender or two and not turning up for filming is nothing unusual.
With only a few days left of production, a random kidnapping group say they have Whitlock hidden demanding a ransom of 100,000 for his return. The studio gives Mannix the money to get him back but things go wrong. In between the search for their missing lead star, there are romantic situations, political issues referring to the communism scare within films of the era and magnificent musical interludes.
Channing Tatum sings, dances and smiles his way through one of the best choreographed sequences I have seen in years. In fact, it reminded me of the expertise you know from the classic, Singing in the Rain. The amazing Tilda Swinton plays kitsch critical twins Thorn and Thessaly Thacker, while the immortal of Highlander (one of my favourite movies) Christopher Lambert makes a rare appearance in one of the many A-List cameos. The most amusing is from Ralph Fiennes as he tries to teach speech etiquette to a dumb as a stump cowboy actor.
Screwball comedies were a big thing in old school movie land when the stars were on top of the billboard Traffic would stop to look while drawing masses of crowds to worship the characters of the silver screen. Things have changed obviously over time but The Coen Bros have created a love letter to Hollywood, it helps their regular collaborator Clooney (Intolerable Cruelty, Burn after Reading) is one of the few charismatic modern stars.
Shane A. Bassett