Saturday, 5 March 2016
REVIEW: HAIL CAESAR
Et Tu Cohen?
106 Minutes. Starring: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Frances McDormand & Tilda Swinton. Directors: Joel & Ethan Cohen.
No country for old Hollywoodland and their leading men? Nah all hail the Cohens who go inside the golden era old times of Los Angeles, California's talking pictures industry like they did Lleywn Davis. These folks are the most diverse and decadent when it comes to the maestros of this modern ages, maverick moviemaking...but they still know how to homage the hallmark best like we know alliteration...alright! From their classic readaptation of the Western 'True Grit' which they went by the book for like their Cormac classic. All the way back to their breakthrough 'Fargo' that itself has been adaptated into a terrificly successful T.V. series. This script however is a love letter to Hollywood (albeit a sweetly-secrety to some- satirical one) in a time where that sign had four more white picket letters. From the locations of its sunset studio set to the stripped back, classic look the texture of this reel could have been stutter stopped rolled from times that are now gone with the wind. But these Cohen conspirers of all that is classic cinema don't miss a beat or step like their previous pictures. From stars going back and forth, messing up lines that will cut your ribs to pieces that is classic Joel and Ethan dialogue to a delightful dance number, were seaman step in the name of lost love and one more night of wet whistles before they head out to sea. It's a chereographed class crafting of the good ole days that will have the legendary likes of Fred Astaire dancing...not rolling in his grave. Hello Sailor! Like Ben and Jerry this is classic theatre treats that wont leave your brain numb. It has all the traits of a timeless classic. From witching hour church confessionals and bar backroom talks to elaborate, epic screen set-pieces from the cowboy Wild West to the mermaid lengths of the deep blue sea.
And of course the most famous face in all of Hollywood...Baird Whitlock...oh we mean George Clooney. Say it with pride like our lead. How fitting in a film like this do we finally have the closest actor we have these days to a classic Cary Grant of times gone by. He even jokes about private moments with Clark Gable. Still you can save steam pressing and ironing his suit, because here he's all tied up in Ceasar costume, Roman regalia by a group of hostage holding Commies and disgruntled writers (ah hem) that would rather offer him a sinisterly cut cucumber sandwich than a take a finger threat. Here hamming it up perfectly like there was meat in that sandwich, Clooney brings classic, outstanding oddball acing like he did with the Cohens in his straight from the 'E.R.' emergency room to the gurney of a silver screen breakout, 'O Brother Where Art Thou?' Oh brother where have you been (you saw some of this this Christmas gone with fellow monumental man Bill Murray for a scrooged Netflix special) as this Oceans ensemble legend rolls through this one with the hot hand and those legendary looks and smooth facial expressions contorted crazily for a Dapper Dan actor in a tight spot who doesnt know what he's doing...let alone where he is, played by one who clearly knows otherwise. But by George as good as Clooney is like his name he isn't even the top billing star here in this Hollywood whos who. That honor would go to frequent Cohen flyer Josh Brolin. The ever underrated and brilliant actor in delivery and range is he mailman of this industry, here doing more than just playing a Hollywood "fixer". I mean this guy can post playing both Thanos and George Bush on his resume. But he's no vile villain for hire. Instead the man that played a desperate, madness confused one in 'True Grit' and a reluctant, stotic hero of sorts in 'No Country For Old Men' gives the directing brothers his mild-mannered measured best. With shades of his classic cop, stetson suited palette in old L.A. times noir that channeled Dick Tracy in the colourful 'Gangster Squad', beneath the layered and tailored look is a good man desperate to do the right thing and his job in the work of an industry that doesnt know the meaning of those words or sentiments. This one may have just missed the Oscar season by a weekend...but that doesn't mean anyone here...especially Brolin isn't still in an Academy of their own.
But we're not yelling cut yet. It's not a wrap. Especially when your supporting cast resembles that of the best leading men and ladies in the business. Everybody is here (whose that narrator? Wait a minute is that Dennis Nedry?)! Even if some of these standouts are in for no more scenes than we see in the trailer. Even the most unrecognisable name makes his. As 'Blue Jasmine' star Alden Ehrenreich carries this picture on the back of his horse, lassoing it as he spur clicks like the cowboy he is. He's old time charismatic, with a shy, confused charm. And just wait until his Southern staar tries some deep acting. Funny but also forthright tha kid that looks like he could be Dane DeHaan's younger brother is no ones hand me down. I guarantee you're going to be seeing a lot more of Alden. The kids not done in his town. Soon you'll be seeing his name as much as you do Scarlett. And the classic starlet Johannson, who always looked, sounded and played like she was born in the wrong era like Clooney finally gets to be the femme fatale she's always seemed to be...although sent up and down comically to the underneath of the sea like Aerial in an age aquatic. But remember this girls got range-she released an amazing album of Tom Waits covers-she plays it perfectly. Then there's the legends like Ralph Fiennes. Continuing his leading stellar streak on 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' with more weird and wonderful. Speaking of which from twin hats fit for the races of ladies day to silly scarfs you'll never see the great Tilda Swinton and Frances McDormand this briefer or better. Just like the classic comedy turned Academy, 'Moneyball' big hitter and 'Wolf Of Wall Street' big spender Jonah Hill stamping down a cameo as impressive as his brief burst in 'Django'. But just wait until his 21 and over co-star steps off 'Jump Street'. Stealing this showstopper like he did with just five minutes of classic cameo time in Quentin Tarantino's Western times classic 'The Hateful Eight', the ever better and charm machine Channing Tatum taps his way to his own classic song and dance film and game changing award. Yep that was him we were talking about before. Salute! You've seen him lip sync with Beyonce but did you ever think you could see him sing and dance like this. 'Magic Mike' has gone triple XL, taking to the salt brushed floor like Gene Kelly. Now fangirls will want to see this Hollywood hunk sing in the rain. Channing said this scene was the most stressful he's done but you can't tell with his effortless delivery with glorious feeling. Tatum is a knockout...you've never seen a young star shine as uniquely like this. All in all and with everyone made way for and monkeying around in this 'Caesar', 'Hail' deserves a rain of applause and all its praise. It's bigger than Lebowski and really ties the history of this industry together. In an otherwise corrupt industry is this picture and its portraits the perfect star power? Absolutely! TIM DAVID HARVEY.