Review of Hail, Caesar!

My review of Hail, Caesar!, “The Coen Brothers’ Confederacy of Dunces,” is up at Reformation 21. Here’s an excerpt.

Many critics have called Hail, Caesar! a love letter to Hollywood’s golden age, but this characterization misses the mark. Yes, the Coen Brothers faithfully reproduce the production techniques of the studios of the ’50s, and, yes, they recreate some of the old genres. The studio’s tent-pole film is a Ben-Hur like Bible epic, and we also see scenes from films that feature singing cowboys, aquatic ballets, and a dance routine reminiscent of Gene Kelly. However, the Coen brothers don’t give us a feel-good walk down memory lane. Hail, Caesar! is a dark comedy that shows the immorality and inanity of the people who made those movies, as well as the greed and deception of the studio system that produced them. We remember the classics of the golden age with fondness, but the Coen brothers remind us that most of the films produced during that era could be classified as “abortions produced by degenerates.” Cinematic standards weren’t particularly high before television challenged the studios’ monopoly on moving pictures.

You can read the rest here.