Remember movies? The Coen brothers do. Westerns, romances, musicals, dance extravaganzas — the works. (All of which are on gorgeous, indulgent display here.) Millions of people used to look to them for — in the words of Capitol Pictures’ Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) — “information, uplift, and yes, entertainment.” Kind of like religion! It’s no accident that Mannix delivers that line to a quartet of religious leaders, brought in to comment on the presentation of Jesus in Capitol’s Hail, Caesar! A Tale of the Christ. It’s also no accident that this film shares part of that film’s title. You see, Mannix is a man of faith: faith in God, but also faith in humanity. Despite the waywardness and weakness forever being displayed by the feckless denizens of his industry, Mannix has trouble writing people off — as economic units, or as clumps of atoms destined for destruction. Instead, he sees them as suffering souls in need of, if not salvation, then at least information, uplift, and yes, entertainment. It’s just possible the Coens feel the same way, and that’s why they made this picture about a beleaguered studio fixer dealing with, among other things, a kidnapped movie star, a cushy job offer, a pregnant mermaid, and a habitual temptation. With George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, and Tilda Swinton, among others. (2016) — Matthew Lickona
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