Josh Brolin, Tilda Swinton
© Universal Pictures
There are many little highlights in the Coen Brothers’ “Hail, Caesar!”, which opened the 66th Berlinale last night (out of competition). My favorite is a tiny little scene where Frances McDormand plays a film cutter and almost strangles herself. Josh Brolin plays a movie executive who has to come to grips with various problems, many of them dealing with diva-isms of his many characters that he is employing in several movies simultaneously.
And Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is his biggest star, playing the lead role in “Hail, Caesar!” when all of a sudden Baird is kidnapped from the set and finds himself amongst a bunch of communists, or should I say Marxists? Anyway, the story unfolds and is told in colorful and rousing Coen style, with so many brilliant and humorous side-stories, like a water ballet where Scarlett Johansson is fronting the troupe and playing the scandalized diva with a heavy accent. Hilarious! Or Tilda Swinton playing identical twins; gossip columnists who hate each other.
And Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is trying to fix everything and hold the whole crew and all of the surrounding sets together. Channing Tatum is featured in a marvelous dance scene, musical-like and full of innuendos and Ralph Fiennes is cast as a movie director trying to steer and teach a former Western actor into a more serious role. It later turns out that the communists whom Whitlock is now getting used to, are former script writers as well and now want the money they feel the studio owes them. As usual, the cinematography is outstanding. This is a great opening movie for the Berlinale – catering to the introverted film buff as well as to movie-goers who want their fair share of stars.