Esther McCarthy reviews Hail Caesar! and Time Out of Mind
Hail Caesar! (12A) ***
The Coens have proven in the past that they're as capable of lighthearted movies as heavier material, but while Hail, Caesar! has its pleasures, it also feels insubstantial even for a Coen comedy.
It’s a shame, because there's no shortage of potential personalities here, in fact, the sheer number of stories may be part of the film's problem. George Clooney plays Baird Whitlock, an old-school Hollywood with a knack for getting into trouble both on and off the set.
When he’s kidnapped by a group activists the future of the big-budget drama he's working on is threatened.
That's bad news for top Hollywood suit Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) to track down Whitlock and get the movie back on the rails.
Unfortunately, two competing sibling gossip columnists (both played by Tilda Swinton) have separately got wind that something's amiss in the studio, and are snooping around in the hope of getting a salacious story.
There are beautiful extended scenes including one involving a swimming pool and Scarlett Johansson, having fun as a Hollywood diva. Channing Tatum also gets to show off his range in a lengthy dance scene.
It’s all shot in glorious retro-looking technicolour by the great cinematographer Roger Deakins, but while it’s a treat for the eyes, there are problems here.
The giddy storyline will alienate some viewers, while the multiple-strand plot line falls short of making the most potential of the big-name cast.
Time Out of Mind (15A, limited release) ****
Those movie-star handsome looks can distract from the fact that Richard Gere is a darned fine actor. Here he reminds us of that fact in a small, slow burner of a film that's very much a personal, pet project for Gere-he co-produced as well as starring and has been developing it for 12 years.
An intimate portrait of what it's like to be homeless, this art house film won't be for everyone but has a quiet power to it. Gere plays George, a homeless man attempting to better his life as he negotiates the various difficult scenarios that have become his daily life.
Struggling with the demon drink and the effects of mental illness most likely caused by his predicament, he drifts around the streets of New York looking for food and shelter.
Desperate to renew contact with his weary daughter (a very good Jenna Malone) and find a safe place to sleep at night, he reluctantly engages with social services.
Directed by Oren Moverman, who previously worked with Woody Harrelson in military drama The Messenger, Time Out of Mind is the type of slow-paced, art house drama that will not appeal to everyone. But it offers numerous rewards for your patience.