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All Hail The Coen Brothers -- And Their Terrific New Comedy, 'Hail, Caesar!'

George Clooney portrays Baird Whitlock in the film, "Hail, Caesar!." (Universal Pictures via AP)closemore
George Clooney portrays Baird Whitlock in the film, "Hail, Caesar!." (Universal Pictures via AP)

“A Tale of the Christ” is the clumsy subtitle tacked onto the rather wonderfully dreadful Biblical epic from which this latest, spirited bit of tomfoolery from brothers Joel and Ethan Coen takes its name. Another epistemological prank from cinema’s snarkiest philosophers, “Hail, Caesar!” is a Passion Play played for giggles, with the Golden Age of Hollywood serving as the garden of Gethsemane for yet another in the Coens’ long line of put-upon, serious men.
Josh Brolin stars as Eddie Mannix, the “head of physical production” at Capitol Pictures, the fictional movie studio that once brought us “that Barton Fink feeling.” Eddie’s what they used to call “a fixer,” racing around the lot calming oversized personalities, putting out fires and stopping scandals in their tracks. He’s also a sweetheart. (Any resemblance to the real-life Eddie Mannix, a brutish figure who worked for MGM in the '50s, is presumably entirely intentional and intended to confound.) This Eddie is a devout Catholic who goes to confession so often he annoys his parish priest, and he just can’t seem to kick them cigarettes.

Josh Brolin as studio fixer Eddie Mannix, in "Hail, Caesar!," a new comedy from filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen. (Alison Rosa/Universal Pictures via AP)
Josh Brolin as studio fixer Eddie Mannix, in "Hail, Caesar!," a new comedy from filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen. (Alison Rosa/Universal Pictures via AP)
Scarlett Johansson as actress DeeAnna Moran, in "Hail, Caesar!." (Universal Pictures via AP)
Scarlett Johansson as actress DeeAnna Moran, in "Hail, Caesar!." (Universal Pictures via AP)



Over the past 16 years, Sean Burns’ reviews, interviews and essays have appeared in Philadelphia Weekly, The Improper Bostonian, Metro, The Boston Herald, Nashville Scene, Time Out New York, Philadelphia City Paper and RogerEbert.com. He stashes them all at splicedpersonality.com.

Sean Burns Film Critic, The ARTery
Sean Burns is a film critic for The ARTery.

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