I love the Coen brothers movies. So, I was waiting to grab their latest one when it came out on DVD this week. Hail, Caesar is many things and as with all Coen brothers films you can get more out of it with each viewing. First of all, it is a throwback to the old Hollywood epics and the fantasy of how and why movies were made back then, i.e., entertainment for the common man. There is a religious sub text running throughout like other Coen brothers movies. The most hilarious scene in the movie is when Mr Mannix, head of production, invites several local clergy to read the script of their new Bible epic, Hail, Caesar and tell him if there is anything offensive to their church members in it. It's like a joke: what happens when a Rabbi, a Priest, a Pastor get together.... and it is funny. The movie within the movie is a Ben Hur type Biblical epic. George Clooney (all the Coen's favorite actors make appearances) plays the Roman Centurian who has an encounter with Christ and comes to faith except he forgets a word when he gives his testimony before the cross. Pretty important word, too (faith). Faith is played with throughout the film. Mr Mannix is a decent man of faith who goes to confession (too much his priest tells him) and mainly confesses trivial sins while his job is to cover up major scandals caused by the stars of his Hollywood productions. Well played, sharp, smart script and plenty to think about and discuss in this Coen brothers offering.
History of Violence is a much different and more disturbing movie. It is violent with many brutal killings but the violence is not gratuitous, as they say. It has a purpose; it shows the reality and consequences of violence. In these days where violent crimes, terrorism and war crimes are on screens before our eyes daily, we can get numb to the reality of it. Violence becomes a game we play on our screens. We buy guns because we believe the gun lobbies who tell us all we need is a gun to be safe. The more people who are armed the safer we are. This film makes you think about that - a lot. It depicts the blunt trauma of violence and it's effects on us and our society.