Caesar

Film Review: Hail, Caesar!

by Chad Liffmann on February 5, 2016

A silly, subversive, colorful day in the life of a 1950s Hollywood studio fixer — as only the Coens can envision.

Channing Tatum the singing, dancing sailor.

Channing Tatum the singing, dancing sailor.

Expectations were high for Hail, Caesar! the new film from the modern great American filmmakers, Joel and Ethan Coen. Three years after their award-winning triple play of 2009’s A Serious Man, 2010’s True Grit, and 2013’s Inside Llewyn Davis, the sparkling musical trailers for Hail, Caesar! began hitting the web, and suddenly Coen fever began spreading again. However, unlike the washed-out colors and quiet dramatic quality of the former titles, Hail, Caesar! seemed to promise bright colors, outlandish musical numbers, and an unbridled sense of fun. The question I found myself asking was — would Hail, Caesar! embrace the darkly comic bizarreness of early Coen films such as Raising Arizona and The Hudsucker Proxy, or the cynical chastisement of Hollywood in Barton Fink? Well, the answer is really ‘no’ to both. The most wonderful thing about Hail, Caesar! is that it has its own new brand of Coen humor, one of PG-13 lightweight, sarcastic and playful tones, but still filled to the brim with the filmmakers’ unparalleled attention to detail and love of subtle and not-so-subtle references.

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It’s always darkest before the ‘Dawn’.

Hail O'Mighty Caesar!

Hail O’Mighty Caesar!

In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the follow-up to the surprising and emotionally resonant 2011 reboot, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, we are treated to another slice of the 50-year-old Planet of the Apes universe that had, until now, only been hypothesized.  Part of the consuming mystery surrounding the original 1968 Planet of the Apes ending was wondering how the humans had destroyed the Earth and fallen prisoner to ape overlords.  Dawn offers just a small, yet undoubtedly significant, step on this inevitable path.  And yet, under the confident direction of Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has an epic feel that looms large with great performances, memorable and haunting action, and deep social commentary.

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