Hail, Caesar! : I'm 20 minutes in. Does it get ANY better?

I'm 20 minutes in. Does it get ANY better?

These jokes are WAY below the talent/ability level of the Coen Brothers.

Newman from Seinfeld got hit in the head when someone holding a spear turned around!!! OMG, so funny!

And yes, I understand film history better than 99% of the public. I have studied it in detail. So please don't come with that excuse (I saw another thread with this topic which is why I mention it).

EDIT: Just finished it. It never got any better. Total laugh count for entire movie: 3-4 times.

Re: I'm 20 minutes in. Does it get ANY better?

I think so. I really liked it. It's a subtle film but if you are into period pieces and like classic movies I think you will like it. The musical dance scene with Changing Tatum is really good. A lot of really good scenes with actors playing parts that were out of character of what they normally play. I really liked it.

Re: I'm 20 minutes in. Does it get ANY better?

I thought that it was just a slow starter, but nope. It was pretty craptacular.

Re: I'm 20 minutes in. Does it get ANY better?

Nope. It just plain SUCKED.

Re: I'm 20 minutes in. Does it get ANY better?

Have to agree -awful in almost every way.

Re: I'm 20 minutes in. Does it get ANY better?

This is a great movie if you ran out of Ambien!

"Don't touch my stuff"

Re: I'm 20 minutes in. Does it get ANY better?

The thing is it promises to be a good film with each new scene or character addition but nothing ever comes of it. It connects its threads poorly and ultimately fails to transcend its message. I am fond of much of the Coens' writing and directing, but this is a failed effort.

Parts of the movie make it out to be a love-letter to Hollywood, especially Old Hollywood, but other parts appear very cynical (i.e. more realistic). I think the message is supposed to be Hollywood has no agenda or philosophy other than to keep people on track, make money, and (in the rare cases there is enough talent involved) some entertainment, too. In other words, render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, a very fatalistic, if accurate, take on the industry.

The problem with this is I don't see how the film can be trying to get anything else across other than the above, yet it doesn't try to break out of that mold. It certainly has the talent to make an entertaining film - or even an entertaining set of scenes, since it's so disjointed - but it never does. The only time I chuckled was Ralph Fiennes' first scene, but again, there is no payoff and his entire character is in service of nothing. The jokes are all flat, especially the kidnap plot, which for some reason was billed as the point of the film when it clearly isn't. The impression I get from Hail, Caesar! and Burn After Reading is the Coens' are working with a script with multiple VPs/threads to their own detriment. They don't have the knack for putting them all together in a satisfying third act and/or seem to be fine with some of them fizzling out.

It's so clearly a "film with a message" that when the message ends up being "there is no message and shouldn't be", it only leaves the audience confused about what they just watched. The Coens should stop trying to make films that say something, because with Hail, Caesar! it comes at the price of any enjoyment or rewatchability.

4/10 It's just not interesting enough for a watch.

Re: I'm 20 minutes in. Does it get ANY better?

This is so clearly NOT a film with a message. It was an affectionate tribute to the golden days of Hollywood, and if Yuano of York up there had seen as many movies as he claims to be an expert on, he would be able to appreciate this one a little more, I think. The Coen brothers created a plotline that covered 24 hours in the life of Eddie Mannix and in doing that they were able to salute the genres of the day, with some sly references to Hollywood history, like Loretta Young's love child. I found it immensely enjoyable and entertaining with wonderful performances.

Re: I'm 20 minutes in. Does it get ANY better?


It was an affectionate tribute to the golden days of Hollywood, and if Yuano of York up there had seen as many movies as he claims to be an expert on, he would be able to appreciate this one a little more, I think.

Where did I claim this? I'm no expert, but I have seen my share of films, now that you mention it.

I found it immensely enjoyable and entertaining with wonderful performances.

I didn't. I wish I did, as I paid for a ticket and it had two of my favorite actors in it (Fiennes and Brolin). I don't particularly like trashing movies on IMDb. The communists were unrepresentative and their plot silly. Jonah Hill's performance took me out of the movie. The rest was perfectly watchable, but a little pointless.

If it makes sense to you as a '24 hours in the life of' story, all I can say is it would have been better serviced without multiple viewpoints, since in a framework like that you won't be able to conclude each thread - unless they converge on Mannix in a climax, but they don't. We leave Mannix eating a cold dinner in his kitchen. That's a fine way to end it if the rest of the plotlines weren't out there dangling. A love letter to Hollywood had better be entertaining, and that won't work for me if I'm constantly asking the movie 'Why are we on this character now?', 'What happened to Johansson?', 'Why is somebody giving Jonah Hill money for this?'

It's a cliche, but this is a great example of a project that instead of being greater than the sum of its parts, isn't even the sum of the parts. It's just the parts, and the parts can have great performances and dance choreography, but if they don't fit together, you're frustrated at the end.

I had some of the same problems with Burn After Reading, which I see you enjoyed, so I suppose we will consistently disagree on this type of movie. I love a good nonlinear story, I just want it to come together properly. If it's centered on Mannix, let it resolve with Mannix; if it's about a message, let that show through each scene and resolve the plotline of each character it applies to. That's why I see the message I described - because if there is no point, that's dadaism, and that isn't art to me.

Re: I'm 20 minutes in. Does it get ANY better?

I guess it's just a matter of plotline not being that important to me when other aspects of the movie outweigh it, especially performances. And I think the plotlines in this movie were resolved quite clearly. I wasn't crazy about the plot in Burn After Reading, but the characters were so hilarious and there were so many scenes that made me laugh out loud and want to see them over and over that I had to rank it high - I can't help watching it whenever it's on TV. Clooney played someone SO REAL, so absolutely like a guy I've known for years, that I was actually wondering if the Coen brothers knew the same guy. Same with Frances McDormand's desperate vanity and Brad Pitt's gym rat. Hail Caesar to me was like That's Entertainment Part IV. The way they pulled off the dance scenes, so different from their usual style & content, the nod to "Singing in the Rain" with Scarlett's character and Danny Kaye's notorious demands, and so much more.I just looked forward to every scene, wondering what they were going to pay tribute to next.

Re: I'm 20 minutes in. Does it get ANY better?

It is a slice-of-life film. The plot is not important though it certainly exists and is resolved. But the main attraction is the individual scenes/characters some of which work while others do not. You liked the Fiennes' scene for example which to me is pretty much the low point - repetitive and not funny. On the other hand the scene with the religious leaders and the submarine scene - pure genius. The good in this film far outweighs the bad and the reactions some people have to it completely mystify me.



Re: I'm 20 minutes in. Does it get ANY better?

Well, I like Fiennes, but I had the same reaction you did to that scene. I just had that reaction to many others also.

As for the communist group not being funny, you pretty much summed up the main reason by referring to them as "religious leaders". It would have worked better if they were a religious cult trying to indoctrinate Hollywood actors a la scientology. It seems to me the Coens' knowledge of communism in Hollywood is so limited, the only thing they could think to do was hang a scientology-esque filter around everything. When your communists are spouting stuff about the dialectic in the 1950s, and Americans are willing to defect to Russia, then you've pretty much invalidated your entire high school education.

Communists then, at least the philosophers the Coens were trying to depict, were no longer post-Hegelian teleologists, but materialists. And communists abroad were well-disillusioned with the Soviet government by that period. Communist think tanks outside of Russia centered around the Fourth International (or its remnants), or around Maoism, to which Westerners were especially sympathetic.

Still, I probably wouldn't have faulted these mistakes if the scenes were funny, but we all knew the money was gonna get dumped in the ocean and that Clooney would drink the Kool-Aid.

I'm willing to admit this was the aspect of the film most let down by the trailer. "We are the future" could have gone in so many interesting directions, and then you watch and it's this...

Re: I'm 20 minutes in. Does it get ANY better?

[quote] It would have worked better if they were a religious cult trying to indoctrinate Hollywood actors a la scientology./quote]

Well, communism is a kind of religion: with doctrine, prophets and a paradise waiting at the end of the road.

Re: I'm 20 minutes in. Does it get ANY better?

The kind of communism you're referring to is part of my point - it was seriously out of fashion by the 1950s (when the film takes place), especially outside of Russian domestic propaganda. The idea that history is moving toward something and it will happen no matter what, so damn the consequences, is explained as "the dialectic" by the philosopher in the film. The dialectic is important to Marxist thought, but had no part in the Russian Revolution, was glossed over in Leninism, and by the 1950s was acknowledged by communists as wishful, almost religious, thinking. Today no communists of any kind believe in the teleological dialectic of Marx. The one element of communism that was religious in nature was dead among intellectuals since before the 1950s, and is now dead for all communists. In any case it wouldn't be much good at "converting" people. The McCarthy hearings were a much bigger issue. And what "love letter to Hollywood" would be complete without mentioning them? Hail, Caesar! sticks it far into the background so it can make its cheap circlejerk of philosophy jokes.

The other way Soviet communism broke from earlier philosophical forms was by being heavily tied to Russian nationalism. Again, by the 1950s, communists abroad were largely disillusioned with the Stalinist nationialism that triumphed in Russia.

So this is the error broken down:

-Anyone who still subscribed to the Marxist dialectic of history in the 1950s would also have been no friend to Russia and would therefore not defect there or raise money for it. (But they would have, and did, in the '20s and '30s).
-The dialectic was going out of fashion with intellectuals abroad.
-If you were a friend to Russia in the 1950s looking for support within America, you would focus on the unconstitutional blacklists and witch hunts which plagued more than just the entertainment industry. You wouldn't sit them down with a lemonade and rehash 1880s philosophy.

Re: I'm 20 minutes in. Does it get ANY better?


Again, by the 1950s, communists abroad were largely disillusioned with the Stalinist nationialism that triumphed in Russia.


I simply don't believe this. Stalinism was still going strong at the time, both both in Russia and on abroad. The film might well take place before he was denounced by Khrushchev sending shockwaves through the communist world. In general you appear to try to paint communists in a more favourable light by making them appear less crazy than they are. Quoting Marx, Engels and Lenin like Holy Scripture certainly didn't go out of fashion in SU until the very end.


Re: I'm 20 minutes in. Does it get ANY better?

We're getting off-topic here, but it seems to me you're unwilling to believe there are multiple kinds of communism. It's a veritable rainbow, and always has been. Also to clarify the time period: I am saying Stalin would have been reviled long before Khrushchev and the anti-Stalinists of the latter SU.

Stalin expelled many communists from Russia in the late 1920s and 30s. Those that were expelled didn't cease to be communist, they were Trotskyists, Luxembourgists, the unaffiliated left-opposition to Stalin, among others. In 1936 they established the Fourth International in France to discuss and support communism outside of the Stalinist state.

They lost. Stalin hunted down the leaders of the Fourth International (Trotsky was assassinated in Mexico by a Soviet agent in 1940) and few groups ever gained a foothold in government elsewhere. The ideals remained, but infrastructure became problematic.

So you see, by the 1950s all this was widely known. Many American communists in the 1950s would've shot Stalin so much as look at him. Another portion of them would have supported a Soviet state while acknowledging the flaws in its policy, but they would still be loathe to live there.

As for quoting Marx/Engels in and out of the Soviet Union, it was not my intent to say Marx contributed only the dialectic to communism. He was an economist and his writings on the nature of capitalism have never stopped being useful, not just to communists but to capitalist economists today. You can still have communism without the fantasy of a hand moving history. However, it is still fair to say Soviet communism grew many steps removed from what is considered classic Marxism.

For more, I recommend looking into the history of the left-opposition to Stalin.

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Re: I'm 20 minutes in. Does it get ANY better?

It's not a bad movie by any means, but the story was so disjointed and I didn't like how characters would be introduced, then quickly brushed aside. And for a 'comedy', it wasn't particularly funny. Thankfully, Ehrenreich and Brolin saved the movie from being full on uninteresting.

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