Friday, 18 November 2016
96 Mins. Starring: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Holt McCallany, Michael Rapaport & Laura Linney. Director: Clint Eastwood.
BRACE! BRACE! BRACE! HEADS DOWN! STAY DOWN! We'll get right into it like this film does so attention awakening. Only this writer would watch 'Sully' on a damn IMAX screen two days before taking a flight to New York. But when your Captain Sully speaking is 'Captain Phillips' Tom Hanks, taking flight like his 'Philadelphia' co-star Denzel Washington you know you are in good hands. Even when nobody prepared for this. Even when "this is dual engine failure at 28 hundred feet, followed by an immediate water landing with 155 souls on board". Thank God acting great Hanks has finally alinged with acting legend and directing one Clint Eastwood in the co-pilots seat like Leonardo DiCaprio ('J.Edgar'), Matt Damon ('Invictus' and 'Hereafter') and Bradley Cooper (in Eastwood's previous picture 'American Sniper') to give us one of Clint's greatest movies alongside 'Million Dollar Baby', 'Changeling' and 'Gran Torino' (notice the electric Times Square Easter Egg? This isn't a shameful plug this is as accurate a 2009 commercial billboard as the proof of time magazines on the airports classic Hudson News racks). And as Hanks responds to the 'Highest Duty' (and book you'll probably, somewhat strangely find in those same newsagents) of real life Captain Chesley 'Super Sully' Sullenberger, with Eastwood he recreates the miracle that happened on the Hudson only some seven years ago. As birds scarier than Hitchcock took out both engines shortly after Sully's flight left the terminal, forcing him to turn back and land ON the Hudson as there was no chance of returning to any of New York's major airports from JFK to LaGuardia. A crash landing in the city only devestated by its biggest aerial attack and cruel tragedy by the hand of terrorists only some eight years prior. All this in mere minutes after tray table stowed take off. All this yet the brave and brilliant Sully and his co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles saved all 155 people on board without a scratch on them. Still Sully faced technical and legal drama questioning whether he could have made it back however as he was asked a myriad of personal questions like 'when was his last drink', 'does he have any problems at home', as his 40 years in the air was judged on 208 seconds. Now in playing Sully if you're going to judge Tom Hanks 40 years on screen between 'Saving Private Ryan', 'Apollo 13' and 'Cast Away' and 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' and 'Bridge Of Spies' on 96 minutes than this just may very well be his best. Brace for impact!
Captain Hanks who right now on Amy Adams double feature form is also igniting the 'Inferno' of Dan Brown's latest 'Da Vinci Code' book adaptation has courage under fire here. The fall favourite of November reign, playing a real life legend like 'Saving Mr. Banks' is a measure of outward, cool calm with aggravated anxiety below, under 'Captain Phillips' pressure under threat. With 'Saving Private Ryan' dedication to duty and a 'Cast Away' soul that will let no in-flight worst nightmare hell or high water break him. His mild-mannered 'Bridge Of Spies' heart under make or break circumstances on an out of this world, 'Apollo 13', life or death stake is raised to a miraculous high. All on an 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' IMAX immersed scale (that sounds like your right under the plane like a pair of ear mufflers and ping pong paddles) that doesn't just take you in to the cockpit, but X-ray inside the central nervous system and every strained strand of Hanks' Sully personification. And as Tom from air to sea makes it back to dry land that's when the real acting takes wing. As the Academy Award winning actor takes off towards his next Oscar, no 'Captain Phillips' or even 'Bridge Of Spies' snub (we can only hope). Ingraining the isolated loneliness of a man in the public and procedural not so private eye, locked in his hotel room with his dreams and wrongly perceived demons, a million miles and a phone call away from the woman he loves that he needs to hang on and not hang up. A celebrated man almost haunted by this and not the hundreds of lives he saved and families he brought back together, but the ones he felt he could have endangered if his miracle nose-dived into a tragedy. Hanks captures the conflict of this heroes heart perfectly with diligence and due respect and restraint all on Clint Eastwood's deubuted IMAX directing cameras (taking off early against an 'Arrival' of 'Loving', 'Fences', 'Birth Of A Nation' Oscar favourites like 'Manchester By The Sea') that tell a more poignant story than the thousand of news reports that brought remote control click-bait, harrowed drama without a shred of consideration to the families watching of this averted disaster.
And a disaster movie this is not, as Eastwood moves beyond the blockbuster lights to give us the human touch of this story of great humanity in the face of unfathomable responsibility. As the accounted for passengers and crew and the emergency services of New York came together like they did on their darkest day more than a decade ago to throw themselves in the line of duty in saving and preserving lives. It's an inspiring not overly dramatised look at Americans coming together as one in a time they sorely need it. And aside from some midtown madness plane crash nightmare scenarios made IMAX scale deep real, that still all seem too soon after 9/11 Clint, ever the master of personal and dramatic subtely doesn't over do it. Instead going for just the facts, one being that this century in the making film icon may well be a better director than he is an actor...and that's really saying something. And the rest of the cast and crew from three stewardesses that look and are in sync like sisters (character or actor...amazingly they're not) to a recognisable list of passengers all play their part in this miracle. From the always responding to the official call of duty Holt McCallany (who recently starred with another 90's golden era Tom in Cruise's 'Jack Reacher' sequel 'Never Go Back') and everyones favourite New Yorker and now barman Michael Rapaport. Leading lady Laura Linney also responds to the call with a stand by her husband, show of great acting support on the cordless that is anything but phoned in. But it's the great Harvey Dent, Aaron Eckhart on the 'Dark Knight' form of his life that is the closest to an award like the two faces of legends Hanks and Eastwood. The man who is also balding in Miles Teller's corner for the knockout 'Bleed For This' is only going up against himself in the supporting actor stakes as here he is the perfect wingman with a maverick, magnum moustache, no Goose tragedy. But for what it's worth with all these top guns, for what they have directed and acted here, Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks deserve the Oscar. But for what they actually did then, Captain Chesley Sullenberger, Jeffrey Skiles and the rest of New York's finest involved in the 'Miracle On The Hudson' deserve a medal. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Tuesday, 15 November 2016
Not So Fantastic Beasts (And How To Dress Them).
116 Minutes. Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Jena Malone, Laura Linney & Michael Sheen. Director: Tom Ford.
Stay awake and alert for this animalistic intention fashioned by Tom Ford if you can. Because the style icons grand cinematic design doesn't know if its treading shallow water or diving deeper. And we're not quite sure if these stylish 'Nocturnal Animals' are saying something of substance or are really just quite pretentious. But boy do they button up and look good. The suited and booted all-star A-list cast affair on the red carpet here didn't even look this good surrounded by the 'let them have cake' Hollywood crowd at the films premiere. That's what you get when the man behind the camera is the focus of so many celebrites in front of it that even Jay-Z named a song off his last album after him, because that's just how he rocks. Tom Ford, brought the lonely best out of a Caine bespectacled 'Kingsman' Colin Firth's 'A Single Man'. Now Tom affords more with these night owls based on Austin Wright's 'Tom and Susan' bestseller in this Tom and Jerry, cat and mouse narrative with glitz and glamour mammals and big-names like Adams, Gyllenhaal, Shannon, Taylor-Johnson, Hammer, Fisher, Malone, Linney and Sheen buying into this book. With a screenplay on a story based on a novel idea (that's a story inside a story people...confused yet?) wrote by a womans jilted ex-husband brimmed with cruel and abhorent violence to women and drowning depression and despair to one man in particular. A read called 'Nocturnal Animals' dedicated to her and named after what she was once called for better or worse. Showing seemingly in this trending time that revenge is a dish best served passive aggressively in writing. But should we read more into this?
Depending on which film you see this week will determine how much you like Amy Adams. The 'Big Eyes' Oscar nominated actress is looking for her Academy Award next February with two films this week. Coming off her second big 'Man Of Steel' report, scooping the 'Batman V Superman' fight of the century in 'Dawn Of Justice', Adams is really here, right now. Just wait until her 'Arrival' to see how front and centre she is with a perfect performance in an amazing alien movie that has a close encounter with the greatest science-fiction odyssey's ever made and maybe even the best pictures of this year, from director Denis Villeneuve who gave us last years best film, the sinisterly stellar 'Sicario'. But with this 'Nocturnal Animal' Adams makes herself up even more as an artist trying to canvas a life of frivolous fakes in a seemingly neon perfect Los Angeles, City Of Angels were everyone has decided that their halo doesn't quite go with there outfit. More than dressing to impress this amazing Amy is a Blunt train track away from being a gone girl in a vapid world of social media bottomless pit timeline emptiness and its lack of graces. Were the only one trying to reach out, albeit the wrong way is her ex, played by a Leo Oscar chasing Jake Gyllenhaal. A man about to bring new 'Life' to his career with his own big budget, 'Alien' like sci-fi alongside 'Deadpool' Ryan Reynolds. An actor whose also had the best brought out of him by Villeneuve in his locked in 'Prisoners' performance and 'Enemy' dual-opposite double act. A leading man coming out swinging after some misfires recently. No matter how good they were, 'Demolition' didn't quite hit like he expected and 'Southpaw' was out-duked by Rocky's 'Creed' protegee. And although we still need so see Jake no less than on Nightcrawling form, he's something else here. Even if we rarely see his real authors character and instead the semi-autobiographical broken hearted character from his books story, wrote and chapter dedicated with an anxiously agitated, mourning maraudering performed characterization. As Adams and Gyllenhaal can look and play young star struck lovers full of early twenties hope and invincibility and real world-30 year olds stunted and strung out, medicated on disappointment and never be the same again doubt, drowned on disenchanted social sorrows. What a difference a beard and make-up makes.
Fashion fit into the rest of the films themes, the stylistic supporting cast is corset tight. Quicksilver Beatle Aaron Taylor-Johnson is so savagely good at being bad you just can't watch. A skin-crawling tense and every nerve drawn out roadside fender bender, driven off the highway set-up, set-piece is as throat lump scary and eternity like long as it safety shreddingly should be. You want to do more than kick his ass as he disgustingly wipes his own bare one on an outside toilet with not a care in the world or one for what he's done or the people he's done it too. You just hate him...and that's the sign of an actor to love. Just as bad, albeit in a more betraying way is the douche armed Armie Hammer, not hamming it up as the all round nice guys plays a man who is as much a prick as the needle and thread left in his suit...probably a Tom Ford. There's even more runway acting talent with Isla Fisher's muse playing. An almost unrecognisable, Dolce dolled up Laura Linney of 'Sully' going against type and showing just how great an actress she is. An even smaller and stylish polished cameo from maverick Michael Sheen than his Ziggy Bowie like one in the stardust of 'Tron: Legacy'. And 'Batman v Superman's' cutting room floor fodder Jena Malone, whose satirical fashionist shows just how little meaning we place on life and what or who we love over the latest app and new phone models in one of the best moments in this movie, until it turns into some 'Drag Me To Hell' inspired horror shock and awful. Yet in this 'Midnight Special' it's Michael Shannon's stereotypical Southern sheriff that is the most refreshing thing about this picture...even if he does jack the owl line from Michael Mann's crime syndicate 'Heat'. Who? Al Pacino! What do you mean who? Shannon steals the show even as his skinny character (who looks nothing like his body double cameo General Zod in this years oft-mentioned here 'Man Of Steel' sequel) is dying of the cigarettes he may as well still smoke like a cop. On his way to 'Loving' more Oscar work the one of a kind character Shannon is having quite the career couple of years. Keeping this design up like a silver buckled belt and holster he and our two leads head a headshot worthy cast that give a greater look to this picture that's in need of a better portrait. Without them this style piece would have no substance in this iPhone swiping social age sense of ego-inviting entitlement and Ford's latest which tries to bar all of that may be in need for a factory reset itself. Between a feast of the flesh opening that is all human form type celebratory, but overkilled unecessary in the artist character and directors intentions (whatever they may be) and a lot of criminally inappropriate suggested and screamingly blurred sexual violence in a world so wrong today there is such a term as "rape culture", a lot of this is critically misguided. Epsecially in a world were you don't always have to prove your words by action, but merely the directorial power of suggestion. Sure this writer could be a prude or even a bit too preachy ('Blue Velvet' and 'A Clockwork Orange' are missing off my 'to watch' list), but in artistic integrity there's more beauty and genuine intention in what you don't see. And like someone dressing themselves as something they're not just to please the masses, there's a real, personal message here to heed. It's just hidden behind all that make-up. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Thursday, 10 November 2016
116 Minutes. Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tzi Ma & Forest Whitaker. Director: Denis Villeneuve.
Between Brexit and Trump and the deaths of Prince and Ali...not to mention the great Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie, you'd be forgiven for wanting to leave this world on a rocket ship for a life on Mars like Matt Damon farming his own poop potatoes. But here's another big blockbuster movie about aliens inhabiting planet earth in between all your Summer and fall 'Star Trek's' and 'Star Wars' coming right back at you. But it's going to take a mild-mannered French Canadian from a place everyone in the now not so United States wants to leap the wall for to show this is not just another Hollywood 'Independence Day-Resurgence' sequel regurgitation popping like corn for salty mouths in need of something a little sweeter. Something that could possibly vividly outsmart the out of the war of this world, latter year, modern day future greats of 'Gravity' and 'The Martian' on an 'Interstellar' level. Not to mention the other sci-fi's in this endless game of future fables, like Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal's 'Life' (not to be confused with Robert Pattinson and Dane DeHaan's (look for his elemental vivid 'Valerian' trailer with 'Suicide Squad's model actress Cara Delevigne today) James Dean picture. Or Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence's classic, buddy cell block comedy). And it's going to take something from last years best picture 'Sicario' director Denis Villeneuve who also gave us the Gyllenhaal arresting 'Prisoners' and doppleganger friend or foe 'Enemy' double act. Something that would make the 'Elysium' of modern day science fiction and real world reflective fact director Neil Blomkamp about to reboot 'Aliens' proud, before Villeneuve races forward with Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling and Jared Leto's android for the 'Blade Runner 2045' sequel himself. Not to mention the authoring forefather of all science-fiction storytelling and prophercies from the aformentioned 'Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep' and all the 'Total Recall's' after Phillip K. Dick. Remember this one, before it goes wholesale.
Arriving on screens just in time before the 'Star Wars' story hype goes rogue, this awkening force from Villeneuve is more than his 'Blade Runner' audition turned warm up. Hotter than anything else out there right now, from all Affleck accounts to Dr. Cumberbatch's strange tales. Odder things can be found here. Call it, 2016: A Space Oddity. This spaceship not in all realms so tall tale based on Ted Chiang's sensational short 'Story Of Your Life' circles around ideas of life, love and the eternal flat-circle of time going interstellar with what's really out there in a galaxy far, far away. With cerebal matters, heart beats and searches of the soul looking at the circumference of our own lives and the mistakes we make over and again on a 'Looper' real. This also has real world implications for our divided nations. Especially now, how if we don't come together for our own peace we are pulling the trigger, or pushing the big red button on our own destruction. Nuclear or insular. And if we don't see the signs and hidden meanings here. We're all f#####...excuse me..."Trumped"! But this is more than political, it's personal too. Because everything starts from what we have within. And if we want to be the heroes of our own or other stories than we have to stop being our own worst enemies. And Villeneuve reaching back to his enigmatic, envoking 'Enemy' mirror image with Gyllenhaal and some of its creeping and crawling spider themes gives us another vivid picture and character portrayal that will leave us with as as many questions as it answers and leaves open come credits curtain. More than just open to your own and others interpretations (such is the nature and order of our tree of life), you'll be talking, thinking and tweaking this essential rewatchable one in your own mind for months, finding new meaning upon hidden one. One thing that won't be up for debate is just how good this is. This belongs in the same solar system as the greats from the first time you saw 'Contact' to Sam Rockwell on the 'Moon'. Today, the day the science-fiction world stood still.
No stranger to Jake, starring alongside Gyllenhaal in fashions Tom Ford's grand directorial design 'Nocturnal Animals' the next screen across, Amy Adams is having quite the week. Not to mention the year for Lois Lane, scooping all the big pictures and headlines if you forget what critics said about 'Batman v Superman' and just see how great the 'Dawn Of Justice' really is. The 'Big Eyes' Academy nominated actress may just be looking at her next Oscar award. The enchanting star on her 'American Hustle' really is a fighter...just ask Batman (no not Affleck, but Christian Bale), about Supermans lover. Alongside a Chastain or Blanchett, her mastered craft really is art. As she communicates non-verbally with some Octopus looking creatures squirting silent inkwells up for interpretation like pychologists asking you to tell them what you see, her mind brutually blotted by mourning no mother should wake up with, Adams translates so much more without words. There's more to life than what you say and they told you this amazing Amy had big eyes. In her lingustic corner with the science concentration bit is Hawkeye himself Jeremy Renner, shooting straight on a film that isn't his lead, but his stellar support. Just like the Avenging franchise background face of 'Mission Impossible' and 'Bourne' does best, he plays the corners, but very much outside the box. That's why he and his army of 'Hurt Locker' talents made it from a warzone to the Oscars. Just like Academy accredited, always brilliant Forest Whitaker playing a colonel with military precision of conviction, before we see him rebel in the next months 'Star Wars-Rogue One' alliance. His scraggily hair and beard there dome shaved here as he heads a cohesive cast featuring Michael Stuhlbarg who has been on Joaquin Phoenix's periphery for awhile and Chinese legend Tzi Ma who seems to have been around forever...and we really hope he always will be. All in all the next (if not right now) directing great Villeneuve gives us a picture just as great as his fellow one word big-three of 'Prisoners', 'Sicario' and the oft-overlooked 'Enemy'. And it's a classic from the first vivid window frame look of the never ending ocean to the finger and lip trembling instrumental of Dinah Washington's 'This Bitter Earth', that still haunts your tears like a thousand violins from the time Leonardo DiCaprio wept to it on his brutually best 'Shutter Island'. All the atmospheric way to the first iconic look of the vertical half-sphere shells of these space craft bringing a spine-tingling new look to the gravity of this genre. For once not Hollywood hovering over all the worlds most famous landmarks, like they'd know...what's wrong with Deleware? Played in by the sinister 'Sicario' Oscar nominated score keeper, Johann Johannson, reuniting with Villeneuve here to give us a harrowingly scary, sonar introduction to these extra terrestrials that really are so much more. The behind the smoke screen prison glass first viewfinder tunnel vision of these other-worldly beings, as anxiety inducing as the twisting plastic of the hazmat suits will lift you off your feet like a whole new type of zero G's. From 'Metropolis' to '2001: A Space Odyssey' when it comes to the greatest science-fiction movies of all-time, this 'Arrival' is here to stay. Now that's what I call a close encounter! TIM DAVID HARVEY.