One of the most exciting things about Hail, Caesar! is the reunion of the Coen brothers with Josh Brolin, the rare actor who innately understands the filmmaker’s unique sense of humor. Brolin’s performance in the Best Picture-winning No Country for Old Men was perfectly in tune with the droll and despairing thriller the siblings built around him, and it seemed like only a matter of time before they decided to use him again. The Coens were so excited to re-team with Brolin, they cast him in a wonderful short film almost immediately after wrapping their first feature together.
The perfect appetizer for Hail, Caesar!, “World Cinema” (2007) is a three-minute treasure commissioned as part of an anthology project in honor of the Cannes Film Festival’s 60th anniversary. Brolin stars as a cowboy named Dan who wanders into an art house theater in search of a good matinee. Hoping to get a better sense of his options, Dan strikes up a conversation with the ticket-taker (actor and Argo producer Grant Heslov) about whether he should see Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Climates, or Jean Renoir’s 1939 masterpiece, The Rules of the Game. Dan doesn’t seem to be much of a cinephile — he refers to subtitles as “them words up there to help you follow along” — but there’s something beautiful to his sincere curiosity and how it transforms the box office into an intimately personal experience.
The whole thing probably took all of an hour or two to get right, but it’s a wonderful way to kill a few minutes. “There’s a hell of a lot of truth in it,” as Dan might say.
Hail, Caesar! opens in theaters on February 5th.