Ok So I’ve now seen “Hail Clooney”, the new Coen Brothers film starring Julius Caesar.
What can I say! Well if you think this review is a bit disjointed and not as good as you’re expecting that’s because I’m writing it in the style of the film.
Oh god oh god oh god. I so wanted to love this film – would that it were so simple! But sadly it’s a three-star film you really REALLY want to be a four-star film. I was desperate to laugh throughout. I even left off buying my usual family bag of Maltesers so I wouldn’t have my mouth full when I needed to guffaw hysterically. But it’s just not funny enough to sustain 100 minutes.
There are some really funny bits – but they’re all in the trailer. So maybe watch that 30 times if you want the full cinema-length experience. The trailer also includes the scene with Ralph Fiennes (continuing his comedy renaissance) trying to get Hobie Doyle, the western star, to say “would that it were so simple?” to darling Deirdre who wants him to join her on the divan. Actually I’d happily join Diedre on her divan and watch that scene 30 times and consider this a five-star movie.
The film is a cameo-filled funfest with Fiennes as Laurence Laurentz, a film director; Channing Tatum as Burt Gurney doing a fabulous song and dance routine in his sailor movie; and Scarlett Johanssen as DeeAnna Moran, a stroppy, unmarried, pregnant actress playing a beautiful mermaid who won’t be able to fit into her fishtail much longer and who eventually has to adopt her own baby to avoid a scandal. But they leave you wanting more just as the film is jumping off to the next cameo. The characters do appear later in the film but it’s not really enough.
So, the story. The film is set in the early 1950s and follows Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) a fixer for a film company. He has to keep his stars’ indiscretions and bad behaviour out of the news despite being pursued by Tilda Swinton’s rival – and twin sister – gossip columnists (god she’s so brilliant and always looks beautiful whoever she’s playing. I hope she gets paid double for portraying twins. I suppose that would be a good way for actresses to beat the gender pay divide. We need more lady twins, screenwriters!)
What follows is really a series of slightly interconnected cameos and vignettes about the films being made, with the main storyline (from which the others hang) about Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) star of “Hail Caesar!”, who – thanks to an extra who dopes a goblet of wine on set – is drugged then kidnapped by a group of communist writers calling themselves “The Future” who are pissed off that that never get the movie credit they deserve (every time I hear “The Future” I imagine some black American rapper, which would have probably made the film more interesting).
The Future hold him captive while waiting for his £100,000 ransom to be paid. Personally if I’d kidnapped George Clooney (hold on a minute while I run this scenario through my mind) and was holding him captive in a gorgeous 1950s clifftop house, discussing communism would be the last thing on my mind. However Baird seems to genuinely enjoy his captivity.
Meanwhile Hobie Doyle, a successful star of westerns, is cast against type in director Laurence Laurentz’s latest drama. The aim is for Hobie to broaden his range but he’s hopelessly out of his depth. It does though provide the “would that it were so simple” scene, the highlight of the trailer and indeed the film.
Sadly the film just doesn’t really hang together. It genuinely does feel like a series of slightly connected sketches (perhaps “The Slow Show”) linked together by a bit of a story. You get a really good bit and get all excited (I know, I know, but I don’t get out much), then it’s on to the next star cameo.
So what’s good about it? Aside from dearest Ralph/Laurence, there’s darling Deirdre’s fabulous green ballgown, rippling seductively across the divan like a, like a, I don’t know, like a wave of sumptuous green algae spreading across a pond. And Tilda Swinton is, as always, amazing. Clooney is funny and engaging but seems to be playing himself (if I ever meet him I really hope he is funny and engaging otherwise I’ll have to come back and edit this).
And to be fair I have found a new motto to live by (no, not “would that it were so simple”) – thanks to the flirtily fabulous starlet (and Hobie’s date for his premiere), Carlotta Valdez. From now on I’m taking Carlotta’s advice that “It’s all in the hips, the lips, and the eyes and the teeth.” I may even add a wiggle.