Hail, Caesar!(Joel & Ethan Coen) 2016 ** 3/13/2016

A red baiting pseudo-comedy, not in that it’s very dramatic but in that it’s not very funny, this mystery is short on mystery and full of charm when it isn’t being smug.  Baird Whitlock(George Clooney)’s kidnap by a group of insipid communist screenwriters is the fulcrum of the picture, and is either deliberately stupid to tar Marxists, or just plain dumb.  Best during Channing Tatum’s musical number, Johansson’s aquatic choreography, or Hobie Doyle’s(Alden Ehrenreich) sweet country antics(a scene at a premiere of one of his films where he sees they’ve played a scene of his earnest crooning for comedy is touching), in the end the movie has a perversely anti-communist message, painting politically-conscious screenwriters as selfish, dopey, and weaselly.  I’d commend the photography, which I enjoyed, but Deakins says if you notice it it’s not great, so I’ll settle for calling it good.

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