Hail Caesar! has a lot going on. Considered a comedy/satire, it takes place in 1950s when Hollywood was having a rough time because of television as a major competition and the McCathy Era (aka the Cold War era). Directed by the Coen Brothers (Joel and Ethan), known for their wacky, satire films, certainly live up to their reputations for this one. In Hail Caesar!, they try to follow the real life of Eddie Mannix (James Brolin) who is known as “the Fixer” of the film industry. There are several plots which makes the focus a just little difficult.
Eddie has a growing amount of problems that need his attention. Since Eddie works for the production studio, which is in the throws of producing Hail Caesar!, he must get these problems resolved as soon as possible. Actress, Deeanna Morgan (Scarlett Johansson) is pregnant and single. Eddie is resolving her potential scandal by having her adopt her own baby without revealing herself as the biological mother. Braid Whitlock (George Clooney) is starring in the studio’s epic film, Hail Caesar!. Someone drugs and kidnaps him, then sends a ransom note demanding $100,000 dollars for his release, signed by “the Future”. Eddie plans to use the studio’s petty cash to pay them off. Thora and Thessaly Thacker (Tilda Swinton) are twin sisters who have rival gossip columns. They are a constant threat, as they are always hanging around looking for the latest scoop and don’t mind playing dirty to out-do one another or to get the information they want. Currently, Thora is holding info about Whitlock that she plans to release but Eddie is able to hold her off with a promise to give her info on another actor/singer Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich), who is cast in a drama directed by Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes). Recently, Laurence has informed Eddie that Hobie’s acting abilities are sub par and he want him replaced but Eddie has convinced Laurence to take Hobie under his wing and make him a better actor.
There are more problems for Eddie and many more stars in Hail Caesar! You can see why it’s a little hard to stay focused. You can get all the plots and answers on DVD/Blu-Ray, if you like this kind of satire and/or the Coen Brothers. I think it’s an okay film to rent!
[Hail Caesar! is nominated for Production Design]
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged alden ehrennreich, braid whitlock, coen brothers, cold war, deeanna morgan, eddie mannix, george clooney, hail caesar!, hobie doyle, james brolin, laurence laurentz, ralph fiennes, scarlett johansson, the fixer, the future, thessaly thacker, thora thacker, tilda swinton
If you’re looking for a good story and with quality acting rolled into an excellent movie, Bridge of spies is it. Tom Hanks has done it again — he manages to get involved with some of the best movies in Hollywood. Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by the Coen brothers, Bridge of Spies will probably get an Oscar nod. Based on a true story, Bridge of Spies features life in the late 50s when the US was still engaged in a cold war with the Soviet Union and after Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for being spies in 1953. Unlike the Rosenberg’s, Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) was not a US citizen but from the Soviet Union. He was an artist who lived in Brooklyn. After a search of his room turned up evidence that supported the claim that he was in fact a spy for the KGB, he was arrested and tried as a Russian spy. In good faith, the CIA appointed a top attorney to represent Rudolf named James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks), a lawyer who specializes in insurance settlements. While no one took the trial or his defense seriously, James Donovan did. Battling to give Rudolf the best defense he could, James was up against anger, threats and violence from everywhere over his representation of the much hated Russian spy. Of course, he lost the trial and the sentence for a death penalty was before Chief Justice Earl Warren (Edward James Hyland). James ended up going to the judge’s home to convince him to sentence Rudolf to 30 years in prison instead of the electric chair. When asked why, James said, he might come in handy as an exchange one day. As it turned out, a pilot named Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) was shot down over Soviet territory while taking unauthorized pictures for the military. He was captured and tried. In the meanwhile an American economics graduate student, Frederic Pryor (Will Rogers) visits his German girlfriend in East Berlin just as the Berlin Wall is being built. He tries to bring her back into West Berlin, but is stopped by Stasi agents and arrested as a spy. This gave the US a lot to negotiate. Again, James was used in this spy scenario to set up meetings and negotiate between Russia, Germany and the US. This is a very touching story as well as enlightening. There’s a lot of history here. I think this movie is a hit and worthy of your time and a movie ticket to see it unfold on the big screen. The cast is brilliant. Alan Alda plays Thomas Watters, Jr., James Donovan’s boss at the insurance company and Amy Ryan plays Mary Donovans, James’ wife. Check it out if you can.
[BRIDGE OF SPIES is nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Original Score, Production Design, Sound Mixing and Original Screenplay]
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged 1953, alan alda, austin stowell, bridge of spies, cia kgb, coen brothers, francis gary powers, insurance, james b donovan, mark rylance, rudolf abel, russian spy, stasi agents, steven spielberg, thomas watters, tom hanks, west berlin, will rogers frederic pryor