Monday, 7 March 2016

Hail, Caesar! (5 Stars)

I love this film. How can a film with such a serious background be so funny?

The film takes place in 1951 in Hollywood. Capitol Film Studios is making a big budget film about Jesus Christ, as seen through the eyes of a Roman soldier called Autolycus. During the filming the film's leading actor, Baird Whitlock, is kidnapped and held to ransom for $100,000. According to an inflation calculator that would be approximately $920,000 today. The kidnappers are a group of Hollywood screenwriters who are protesting against the big studio bosses pocketing all the profits. Baird becomes a willing prisoner when he's seduced by the Communist ideals of his captors.

The film revolves around the efforts of the Hollywood fixer Eddie Mannix, who is determined to get Baird back while keeping the story of the kidnapping out of the press. He was a real person in the post-war Hollywood era. All the other characters are fictional, but it's easy to guess who they refer to. Even the films shown are obvious references to real films. For instance, the Hollywood epic being made is called "Hail, Caesar", but it's a clone of "Ben Hur".

The comedy comes from the ridiculous nature of the smaller Hollywood films of the time and the second-rate actors who played in them. In fact, even the big name actors are portrayed as second-rate.

This is an obvious candidate for Oscar nominations in 2017. It's not just that the film is very good. The Film Academy voters are nostalgic and like films about films. I can't guarantee that it will win awards, because I have no idea what will be released the rest of this year, but it will certainly be nominated as best film. Does anyone think I'm wrong? I'll bet a pint of beer with any of my local friends.

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