With Hail Caesar, we finally reached peak Coen brothers. Assembling a ‘best of previous Coen features’ cast, and taking on both the ridiculous and the sublime aspects of Golden Age Hollywood, it’s an incredibly funny movie that’s just as concerned with questions of politics and faith as it is with lovingly pastiching ’50s cinema. Packed to the gills with wonderful set-pieces and featuring a star-making turn for Alden Ehrenreich, Hail Caesar was a fantastically fun way to kick off the post-awards season at the cinema.
Honestly exploring the myriad impacts on a family of an untimely death is something most films always struggle with. They search for huge, bombastic emotional displays that leave little room for the confusing subtleties that actually accompany genuine loss. Such problems are not faced by Manchester by the Sea, an outstanding achievement by Kenneth Lonergan, creating a stunning study of how deaths are dealt with by the living, anchored by a towering performance from Casey Affleck. From the very first scene, Lonergan presents us with an intricately detailed and utterly believable look at family ties, and his deep and compassionate understanding of people remains at the fore for the entire film. Continue reading