Bridge of Spies – A Movie Review

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Oct 172016
 

Bridge of Spies Movie PosterDuring the cold war, a lawyer, James B. Donovan is recruited by the CIA and involved in an intense negotiation mission to release and exchange a CIA U-2 spy-plane pilot, Francis G. Powers. The pilot was arrested alive after his plane was shot down by the Soviet Union during a mission and stays in the company of a KGB intelligence officer, Rudolf Abel, who was arrested for espionage in the US.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Stars: Tom Hanks, Alan Alda, Mark Rylance, Domenick Lombardozzi, Victor Verhaeghe, Mark Fichera
Runtime: 142 min; Rated: PG-13; Genre: Drama, History, Thriller; Released: 16 Oct 2015

Lay wasn’t feeling great, so after going out to grab a bite, we came home and watched this from Amazon, and we both enjoyed the movie a great deal. Continue reading »

Captain Phillips – A Movie Review

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Oct 182013
 

Captain Phillips Movie PosterCaptain Phillips is a multi-layered examination of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. It is – through director Paul Greengrass’s distinctive lens – simultaneously a pulse-pounding thriller, and a complex portrait of the myriad effects of globalization. The film focuses on the relationship between the Alabama’s commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips (two time Academy Award®-winner Tom Hanks), and the Somali pirate captain, Muse (Barkhad Abdi), who takes him hostage. Phillips and Muse are set on an unstoppable collision course when Muse and his crew target Phillips’ unarmed ship; in the ensuing standoff, 145 miles off the Somali coast, both men will find themselves at the mercy of forces beyond their control.

In Theaters: October 11, 2013; MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for sustained intense sequences of menace, some violence with bloody images, and for substance abuse); Genres: Drama, Adaptation; Run time: 2 hours, 13 minutes

Director: Paul Greengrass

Writers: Billy Ray (screenplay), Richard Phillips (based upon the book “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea” by), Stephan Talty

Stars: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Mahat M. Ali, Michael Chernus, Catherine Keener, David Warshofsky, Corey Johnson

Wow, just Wow!  This is definitely the best movie I’ve seen so far this year. Me and Lay went to see this last Saturday, and I’ve gotta tell you, it rang as true story-telling. Continue reading »

Band of Brothers – A Mini-Series Review

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Aug 162009
 

bandofbrothersThis is the story of “E” Easy Company, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division from their initial training starting in 1942 to the end of World War II. They parachuted behind enemy lines in the early hours of D-Day in support of the landings at Utah beach, participated in the liberation of Carentan and again parachuted into action during Operation Market Garden. They also liberated a concentration camp and were the first to enter Hitler’s mountain retreat in Berchtesgarten. A fascinating tale of comradeship that is, in the end, a tale of ordinary men who did extraordinary things.

Genres: Adventure, Drama, History, War; Running Time: 10 one hour episodes with an additional special features disc – 705 minutes; Release Date: September 9, 2001; MPAA Rating: As a TV series, there was no rating, however there is strong language and graphic scenes.

Starring: Damian Lewis, Donnie Wahlberg, Ron Livingston, Scott Grimes, Shane Taylor, Peter Youngblood Hills, Rick Gomez, Michael Cudlitz, Robin Laing, Nicholas Aaron, Philip Barantini, James Madio, Dexter Fletcher, Ross McCall, George Calil, Nolan Hemmings, Neal McDonough, Rick Warden, Frank John Hughes, Dale Dye, Doug Allen, Michael Fassbender, Matthew Leitch, Tim Matthews, Rene L. Moreno,     Douglas Spain, Richard Speight Jr., Kirk Acevedo, Craig Heaney, Eion Bailey, Peter McCabe, Matthew Settle, Ben Caplan, Mark Huberman, Phil McKee…

I had watched a couple of installments of this mini-series over the past couple of years when they were on regular TV. I thought each of the single installments was excellent, but I’d never watched the complete series. Lay and I watched the entire series on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday night a couple of weeks ago.

“Band Of Brothers” tells the true and incredible odyssey of Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st “Screaming Eagles” Airborne Division, U.S. Army – from their formation in Georgia (1942), to Berlin and the end of the war in Europe (1945). The demand for, and on, elite paratroopers was unending and they were deployed as “the tip of the spear” of every major allied offensive (and many minor ones too) on the Western Front. Jumping behind enemy lines, often without critical equipment and supplies or lacking enough rest and under terrible conditions, they saw more than their share of hard combat and E Company itself took nearly 150% casualties. (Statistically at least, that’s 100% of the company – 140 men and 7 officers – and half again of their replacements, lost).

The entire production represents quality writ large: Beautifully filmed on various European locations (including the UK and Austria), the movie is noble without being the least bit pompous or austere, and it manages to humanize a large cast of essential characters with small touches of humanity and humor, all of which serves to heighten the sense of terror as they descend into the maelstrom of conflict. The first – and longest – episode is deceptively staid, featuring David Schwimmer (a long way from TV’s “Friends”) as a cowardly, bullying commanding officer whose tyrannical methods nevertheless shaped Easy Company into a fighting force which eventually cut a swathe through the heart of occupied Europe. Brit actor Damian Lewis takes the spotlight thereafter as Easy Company’s most respected platoon leader, with Ron Livingston as his right hand man. Other standout performances in a flawless cast include Matthew Settle as battle-hardened platoon leader Ronald Speirs whose wartime career was distinguished by numerous acts of bravery (fuelled by a unique – if morbid – personal philosophy), Shane Taylor as company medic Eugene Roe, Neal McDonough as 2nd lieutenant ‘Buck’ Compton (laid low by his horrific combat experiences), and Donnie Wahlberg as 1st sergeant C. Carwood Lipton, who maintained the morale of his fellow soldiers, even when the odds seemed stacked against them. Every episode has its merits, but stand-outs include David Leland’s ‘Bastogne’ (ep. 6), which recounts the horrendous circumstances surrounding Easy Company’s involvement in the Battle of the Bulge, and David Frankel’s ‘Why We Fight’ (ep. 9), in which the full horror of the Nazi regime is uncovered in a German forest. Additionally, the closing moments of chapter 10 (‘Points’, directed by Mikael Salomon) are truly heartbreaking.

It’s doubtful that a more fitting tribute to the men of Easy Company could have been devised than BAND OF BROTHERS, a truly remarkable film in every conceivable way. By turns engrossing, provocative and deeply moving, it stands as a testament to those who fought and died for our freedoms, almost a lifetime ago.

I’d have to say it’s worth every one of those 705 minutes to watch.

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Angels and Demons – A Movie Review

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May 172009
 

angelsanddemons_smallposterWhen Robert Langdon discovers evidence of the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati — the most powerful underground organization in history — he also faces a deadly threat to the existence of the secret organization’s most despised enemy: the Catholic Church. When Langdon learns that the clock is ticking on an unstoppable Illuminati time bomb, he jets to Rome, where he joins forces with Vittoria Vetra, a beautiful and enigmatic Italian scientist. Embarking on a nonstop hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals and even to the heart of the most secretive vault on earth, Langdon and Vetra will follow a 400-year-old trail of ancient symbols that mark the Vatican’s only hope for survival.

Genres: Thriller, Adaptation, Politics/Religion and Sequel; Running Time: 2 hrs. 18 min.; Release Date: May 15th, 2009 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence, disturbing images and thematic material.

Starring: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgard, Pierfrancesco Favino, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, and Armin Mueller-Stahl

Directed By: Ron Howard

This film delivers well as the book was written in a fashion that reads like a international action thriller touching on the intellectual and spiritual.

The film takes off with the development in sciences that would have significance in proving the big bang theory but a crime is committed and a sample of the proof is stolen from a large lab in Europe. As the story progresses, they realize there may be a tie to a group who claim to be the Illuminati and who are seeking to bring down the Catholic church with the truth of science. This somehow involves deeply delving into the history of the Catholic church, it’s security concerns, hidden treasures and the bits of truth that may be stored away that they don’t want the public to be aware of.

From there, the film just gets thicker and faster. Ewan McGregor does a great job and is a refreshing face in the film along with some other good names that round out the cast, unlike Da Vinci Code which had only one mode to the film. Angels&Demons is much more watchable and theatrical. The performances are much better because the book has many bigger than life characters and events. It followed the book better as in the way it didn’t water down the controversy and graphic details. The Angels&Demons film is definitely worth a watch and will wash out any of the bad taste left from Da Vinci Code.

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Charlie Wilson's War

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Jan 062008
 

Charlie Wilson's WarA drama based on a Texas congressman Charlie Wilson’s covert dealings in Afghanistan, where his efforts to assist rebels in their war with the Soviets have some unforeseen and long-reaching effects.

Director: Mike Nichols

Genre: Biography, Drama, War

Other: 1 hr. 37 min.; Release Date: December 21st 2007 (wide); MPAA Rating: R for strong language, nudity/sexual content and some drug use.

Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Shiri Appleby

We saw this movie last Sunday when Lay was feeling good enough to go out finally. I’ve always love Julia Roberts, and I don’t think Tom Hanks can make a bad movie, and Charlie Wilson’s War was not the exception.

It’s nice to see a film that shows flawed human beings rising above those limitations and doing important and laudable things. I was prepared for a simplistic “good guy, bad guy” treatment. I was entranced when that wasn’t the treatment. It also was refreshing that the stock “America is the bad guy” approach wasn’t taken. Mistakes get made. People are flawed. People have self interests and aren’t always completely altruistic.

Tom Hanks plays Charlie Wilson, a senator who in 1980 stumbled into a covert war to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan. How he stumbles into it and the various parties who coerce and assist him comprise the meat of the movie. Julia Roberts, the film’s weakest link, plays a Texas millionaire who serves as the catalyst for the operation. I wasn’t remotely convinced by Roberts’ performance, and she seems too young for the part, but the movie succeeds in spite of her. Philip Seymour Hoffman can’t help but steal every scene he’s in as a CIA operative in league with Wilson. And Hanks himself manages his good ‘ol boy role with aplomb.

This is one of the “must see” movies.

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The Da Vinci Code

 Movies, Religion  Comments Off on The Da Vinci Code
May 302006
 

The Da Vinci Code (2006)A murder inside the Louvre and clues in Da Vinci paintings lead to the discovery of a religious mystery protected by a secret society for two thousand years — which could shake the foundations of Christianity.

Directed by
Ron Howard

Genres
Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Cast
Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen, Jean Reno, Paul Bettany, Alfred Molina, J?rgen Prochnow, Jean-Yves Berteloot, Etienne Chicot, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Marie-Fran?oise Audollent, Rita Davies, Francesco Carnelutti, Seth Gabel, Shane Zaza

We saw this movie Monday night,

I can’t say I was blown away by The Da Vinci Code – as is often the case, the book was far superior. I generally like Tom Hanks in almost all his roles. it was a thoroughly enjoyable, occasionally slow moving thriller. Having read the book, I did have a knowledge of the various groups and factions involved – Lay had not read the book, yet he was able to follow the story pretty well. The casting of the movie is surely one of it’s stronger points – Paul Bettany is almost unrecognizable and plays the menacing single minded Silas to utter perfection. Sir Ian McKellan too, is totally fantastic, and really steals most scene’s he appears in. He delivers some great one liners too – a real character actor playing a real character. Audrey Tautou is as we have come to expect, just lovely, and who else could have played Bezu Fache – Jean Reno was made for the role. As you’d expect from a Ron Howard Production, there is a good amount of cheese, especially towards the end. Langdon’s “Godspeed” caused me to awake in the night sweating!

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