A Double Dose Of Film Reviews

Photo: Chris White
I'm changing things up a bit and dishing out not one but two film reviews. Enjoy!

Joel and Ethan Coen are known for some heavy hitting, gritty films - True Grit, Fargo, No Country for Old Men, just to name a few - so when I saw a more light hearted film in Hail Caesar! was from the Coen Bros., I was intrigued.

Caesar! is a day-in-the-life flick about Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), a Hollywood fixer at Capitol Pictures in 1951. What's a Hollywood fixer you ask? It's a person paid by a film production company to disguise a movie star's private life in order to maintain a good public image. This day-in-the-life is quite a wild one, with the biggest task by far being rescuing the company's star, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), from a group of Communist-sympathizers called "The Future." To get his star back, Mannix must find a way to pay a $100,000 ransom while fighting off twin gossip columnists Thora and Thessaly Thacker (Tilda Swinton) who get more and more suspicious of Whitlock's strange disappearance from set. As if that wasn't enough, Mannix also has to address an issue with Capitol's singing cowboy, Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) being cast in a more sophisticated role that's clearly out of his comfort zone. The only production that seems to be going well is a sailors on leave musical - or is it? The craziness at Capitol drives Mannix to reconsider his current affairs. He has a smoking habit that his wife continues to hound him to shake and he's offered a more stable job at the Lockhead Corporation, which could provide a better future. Will Mannix choose to get out of the taxing life as a Hollywood fixer or will he stick with it amid the circumstances?

In this ode to 1950s Hollywood, the Coen Bros. give their viewers a film that not only seeks to entertain, but makes them think. Caesar! also features stellar performances, particularly from Brolin, Swinton and Ehrenreich. The Coen Bros. often wrap complex storylines and ideas in their films and do just the same with this one. It was hard to follow, at times, but Hail Caesar! had a unique way of dealing with some heavier topics. It was a breath of fresh air from the typical Hollywood film as of late.

I Give It A: B

Check Out the Trailer Here
Next up is a film that I wanted to see when it was first released but didn't get the opportunity to. Man, did I miss a pretty good one!

Goosebumps follows teen, Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette), who's not too thrilled about moving to a small town. That is, until he finds a silver lining in Rachel (Odeya Rush), who lives next door. But every silver lining has its catch and Zach finds it in Rachel's overly protective, standoffish and strange dad (Jack Black), who's later revealed as the famed Goosebumps author R.L. Stine. It turns out that Stine's strange personality is due to him being a victim of his own imagination. The creatures in his books are real and he keeps the manuscripts under lock and key to protect his readers and himself. One night, Zach and his newfound friend, Champ (Super 8's Ryan Lee) accidentally open the manuscripts, unleashing the creatures to wreak havoc on the town. It's up to Zach, Champ, Rachel and Stine to save the town - and each other.

I was pleasantly surprised by this film. I had prepared myself for a plethora of corny jokes and cheesy, predicted storylines but Goosebumps did not lend itself to that, thankfully. It had just the right amount of funny and just the right amount of action. Plus, the quartet of Minnette, Rush, Lee and Black made this film shine. Goosebumps is definitely one worth seeing and a film you can watch with the whole family.

I Give It A: B+


Check Out the Trailer Here