The Coen Brothers’ latest comedy “Hail, Caesar!” is a loving tribute to the era of classical Hollywood, meticulously crafted with layers of reference, inside jokes, and tidbits of history that will excite any film buff. Not to fret if you haven’t caught up with every episode of the Hollywood history podcast “You Must Remember This” (although you should), “Hail, Caesar!” is every bit as fun and entertaining regardless of whether you’re picking up on every true life tale. The Coens have created a film that is at once a meta commentary on Hollywood’s studio system, while also indulging in the pure pleasure of visual spectacle that marked many films of this period. With a star-studded cast, “Hail, Caesar!” belongs primarily to Josh Brolin, who plays Eddie Mannix, a studio fixer at Capitol Pictures. The real Eddie Mannix was a studio fixer at MGM Studios from the 1920s to 1940s, but that’s where the obvious biographical element ends. The stars with whom Brolin’s Mannix tangles are lightly fictionalized mashups of real celebrities, with scrambled personal histories. Scarlett Johansson’s DeAnna Moran is an Esther Williams-esque swimming superstar, with a Brooklyn accent to beat the best, and a pregnancy pickle to rival Loretta Young’s.
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