Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Hail, Caeser!

Took the fam to see Hail, Caesar!  Probably not the best idea to take two 11 year olds and a 14 year old to see a Coen Brothers movie.  Even the missus and a very bright student walked out scratching their heads.  OK, I walked out scratching my head, too.  Which is really the best part of a Coen film: deciphering what the hell you just saw.

Hail, Caesar! is a comedy, but only sort of.  Or rather it's a comedy with a few tremendous gags, but it's really just a prolonged joke without a real punchline.  The basic idea of the movie revolves around faith.  If faith is believing in something you can't see, then this move is about believing in what you can see.  Various faiths are tossed about in the course of the movie.  One of the great set-piece gags in a rabbi, a priest and patriarch and a minister debating the nature of Jesus with a studio exec.  There is a gaggle of communists - who are actually doing the nefarious things Joe McCarthy accused them of.  But for the protagonist, it is really about his belief in himself and his job and the movies they produce.

While he is tempted to hitch his wagon to technology and the future with a job at Lockheed that pays better and entails less work, Mannix ultimately has to decide what he believes in.  He's a devout Catholic, but his anguish in the confessional over small sins is belied by his immoral behavior in his job, which has no impact on him, apparently.  For all the "fixing" he does, he is working in the service of his faith.  And his faith is in the movies themselves - something you can see.

I worry that the film was sold as more Raising Arizona than A Serious Man, but while there are a few killer sequences, it's really not a side-splitting comedy, so much as an existential one.

No comments: