ByPaul Donovan, writer at
A jerk with an opinion. An explorer of transgressive cinema. See more things about movies at
Paul Donovan

This is the sixteenth film written and directed by the Coen Brothers. They still have their magic, though this one will be appreciated by a smaller audience.

1. This movie is fiction, but it's based on a real guy, Eddie Mannix, who worked as a "fixer" in Hollywood, hiding and cleaning up various scandals that stars were involved in.

2. Written, produced, and directed by the Coen Brothers, it takes place over 28 hours, when Eddie (played by Josh Brolin) keeps an eye on the stars of four movies being produced. Would that it were so simple.

3. The cast is great; not only are Coen Brothers' staples in it (like Frances McDormand), it adds newer stars like Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, and Scarlett Johansson. The only problem is that the cast is so large and there are so many things going on, that most stars have a very brief time on screen.

4. Fans of 1950's Hollywood will recognize versions of real Hollywood players - George Clooney is basically Kirk Douglas, Alden Ehrenreich is a "singing cowboy" like Kirby Grant, Scarlett Johannson is Esther Williams, Channing Tatum is Gene Kelley, Veronica Osario is Carmen Miranda, and Tilda Swinton plays twin gossip columnists, who are obviously meant to be Hedda Hopper.

5. The Coen's really get the feel of bad 1950's Hollywood films right, as they both spoof the movie-making process and teach us about it.

Yes, that's Ralph Fiennes
Yes, that's Ralph Fiennes

6. I guess you can say the main plot is about Baird Whitlock (Clooney), who is kidnapped and set up in a scandal. But there a lot of stories here, and that one isn't really all that important in the big picture.

7. The scene in which Mannix tries to get the approval of various religious leaders for the biblical epic being made (which is the title of this movie) is one of the funniest parts of the film. And if you read the very end of the credits, a hidden joke is revealed to you about it.

8. As usual, the Coen Brothers' strengths in dialogue and atmosphere are in full effect.

9. This is really kind of an insider's spoof of Hollywood - people that don't know much about the Hollywood process or the history of movies may find this movie to be kind of boring. But for fans of the Coen Brothers, and those who have a knowledgeable love of movies, this is one to be savored.

What did you think? How does it stack up to the Coen Brothers' other classics? Let us know!


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