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The Coens' Hail, Caesar! has met some opposition on the basis of its flimsy plot, but it really isn't that kind of film. Rather, it's a series of vignettes told in an old Hollywood style we don't see a lot of anymore - Sword&Sandal, song and dance musical, variety show, bubble gum western, drawing room drama, etc. - strung together through a "day in the life" (another rare cinematic experience) of a producer who is metaphorical God to the proceedings. I do agree it ends abruptly, leaving the audience with a potential "that's it?!" reaction, but would that it were so simple. The more I thought about it, the more clever I thought the film was. It grows on you. For example, check out what each film vignette mirrors the starring actor's personal behind-the-scenes story, whether it's about opening one's eyes, going to see, or ovum imagery. A lot of funny scenes and a successful attempt at recreating how pictures used to look, even if I'll concede this is the Brothers' dramatically weakest film in years. But even the Coens' weakest effort blows most of contemporary cinema out of the water.
For me, movies do not have to have an elaborate plot all the time. Sometimes they are just there to entertain.
Seeing this movie, I was entertained by a great cast, some nice humour and some hilarious moments.
Oh look another Coen Bros. movie featuring a kidnapping plot, ransom money, Roger Deakins' photography, fast talking characters, Frances McDormand, a protagonist that has fingers in many pies, spiritual quandaries, George Clooney, silliness, a Carter Burwell score, a dance number, some singing and an animal that propels the plot.
Any initial disappointment that comes with a Coen picture disappears upon subsequent views. Any initial enjoyment only increases with subsequent views. This isn't their best and it certainly isn't their worst (which still makes it better than many filmmaker's best), it sits firmly in the middle somewhere around the movies they made with Matt Damon and Paul Newman.
For me, the beauty of the Coen Bros. directorial work is that I can watch any of their films at anytime and know that I will be at the very least entertained. My only problem with their work is that it is too perfect. Everything is so calculated beforehand that it leaves little to no room for improvisation or happy accidents or on-set discovery that results in rock solid films that have memorable moments. But I guess that is what happens when two brilliant minds operate in harmony to create wonderful work.
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