Movie Review: The Coens swipe at religion, counterculture, and Hollywood in Hail, Caesar!

“We’re not talking about money—we’re talking about economics!” Hail, Caesar!, Joel and Ethan Coen’s broadest comedy since The Ladykillers, lampoons Christian and leftist dogma by pitting straw men and stuffed shirts against whatever passes for common sense in the Coensverse, embodied by yet another of the sibling duo’s beloved plainspoken cowboys. The Coens, who skew crypto-conservative, can’t take anything resembling an ideology or counterculture seriously, but here they defer to the logic of “good feels right,” which is just as much of a non-answer as the jargon that gets recited by the movie’s assorted religious authorities (three priests, a minister, and a rabbi) and Communists. Like the often overlooked A Serious Man, this is all about the absurdity of crises of faith. However, the Coens’ fondness for intentional anti-climax—put to pointed and poignant use in movies like Inside Llewyn Davis, No Country …

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