Ep. 88 – Sully, Transpecos, and the various delights of cable TV programming

September 11, 2016 by  
Filed under Podcast

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This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod review Sully, Transpecos, talk about watching movies they own on TV, what cable networks can get away with saying, and brainstorm an idea for a podcast covering some as-yet-undetermined terrible new Netflix sitcom.

[00:00-30:11] Intro/cable TV talk

[30:11-50:51] Review – Sully

[50:51-1:00:03] Transpecos

[1:00:03-1:08:11] Wrap up/tease

Click here to download the episode!

Sully

September 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney
Directed by: Clint Eastwood (“Mystic River”)
Written by: Todd Komarnicki (“Perfect Stranger”)

With the proliferation of 24-hour news cycles, few amazing stories in the modern era go “untold.” Most people know, at minimum, the basic details of what has come to be known as “The Miracle on the Hudson.” After hitting birds and encountering dual engine failure, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) pulled off an astonishing forced water landing in the Hudson River in New York in early 2009. It dominated headlines for weeks, and Sully became somewhat of a national hero. Since many details are known, a movie this soon after an event could easily seem superfluous and unnecessary. Given that, director Clint Eastwood (“Mystic River”) tries to provide more insight into the man, the event, and the investigation, with varying results.

National treasure Hanks is, as always, solid, if not very, very understated in the lead role. Sully seems like a mechanical guy without a whole lot of personality. There’s still an art to playing a very quiet, monotone presence and Hanks, unsuprirsingly nails it. There’s not a whole lot for him to do, but when it calls for chops, he delivers. Aaron Eckhart also gives a solid performance as the first officer of the flight, Jeffrey Skiles.

One of the biggest faults of the film is its decision to vilify the National Transportation Safety Board, and specifically it’s leader Charles Porter (Mike O’Malley). There’s a lot of evil stares and mean mugging, as Eastwood heavy handedly tries to insinuate that the NTSB are out to get Sully. It’s a shame because the investigative part of the film is what keeps it interesting. There’s a legitimate chance that Sully may have made an unnessecarily dangerous and risky move which makes all of the scenes involving the investigation seem like something the general public may not know a lot about. Instead, Eastwood threatens to derail all of this good by making the NTSB be almost comically evil.

Eastwood makes the decision to show bits and pieces of the crash several times throughout the film. It’s a move that really takes away from what could have been a really hard hitting piece of filmmaking when he shows the entire recreation of Flight 1549 in real time. Instead, it ends up being a retread of a scene we’ve seen played over a half dozen times by that point. There’s no question that it’s harrowing and gripping, but it really starts to lose its luster.

There’s a very blatant overuse of post 9/11 imagery by Eastwood. It’s hard to know exactly what he was trying to evoke here, but there’s no question it was meant to be stirred in people’s minds. There’s a little too much hero-worship going on, and any look into Sully’s personal life, specifically scenes involving his wife played by Laura Linney are far too maudlin, complete with sappy piano music. Still, Sully just barely squeaks by as a well-performed, acceptable tale of American heroism, despite Eastwood’s complete lack of subtlety and questionable directorial choices.

Ep. 52 – Inside Out, Dope, Brad Pitt movie headed to Netflix for $60m, and Tom Hanks to play Captain Sully for Clint Eastwood

June 22, 2015 by  
Filed under Podcast

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Click here to download the episode!

In this week’s episode of The CineSnob Podcast, the guys from CineSnob.net review “Inside Out” and “Dope.” They also discuss Brad Pitt’s new film that Netflix paid $60 million for and Tom Hanks being cast as Captain Sully for Clint Eastwood’s biopic.

[0:00-9:28] Intro, hipster, and Daisy Dukes talk
[9:28-26:10] Brad Pitt movie financed by Netflix for $60m
[26:10-40:33] Tom Hanks to play Captain “Sully” Sullenburger for Clint Eastwood
[40:33-1:05:41] Inside Out
[1:05:41-1:18:49] Dope
[1:18:49-1:27:50] Teases for next week and close

Subscribe to The CineSnob Podcast via RSSiTunes or Stitcher.

To give your feedback, e-mail us at podcast [at] cinesnob [dot] net, or leave a voicemail at 920-FILM-210.

American Sniper

January 16, 2015 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner
Directed by: Clint Eastwood (“Gran Torino”)
Written by: Jason Hall (“Paranoia”)

After passing through the hands of David O. Russell and Steven Spielberg, the film based on the life of the deadliest sniper in American military history, Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), landed in the lap of director Clint Eastwood. Though it may not turn out to be a classic war film, “American Sniper” is, at the very least, a return to form for a director in the twilight of his career.

“American Sniper” tells the story of Kyle’s four tours in Iraq. After leaving his newlywed wife Kaya (Sienna Miller) at home in the U.S., Kyle reaches Iraq with a deadly accurate shot and a strong desire to serve his country. Dubbed “Legend,” Kyle must fight to stay alive in an increasingly dangerous landscape with a target on his back, all while struggling with emotional issues stemming from his role as a SEAL.

After achieving three acting nominations in consecutive years, Cooper has become somewhat of a new Academy darling. Sporting a near perfect Texas accent, Cooper is good as Kyle, though his Oscar nomination feels ever so slightly miscalculated, especially considering who beat him out. Still, the film falls almost exclusively on the shoulders of Cooper, who handles the burden with a steady, albeit unflashy performance.

Though it isn’t exactly a conventional war film, “American Sniper” certainly dials up the tension and its more intense action sequences are taut and well executed. In a landscape that isn’t exactly full of modern war stories, this look into the warfare of Iraq is refreshing and well done. Unfortunately, the scope of the screenplay gets in the way of it being any more than a surface look at these conflicts. Most notably, screenwriter Jason Hall spends a large chunk of the film focused on an enemy and former Olympic sniper named Mustafa. By turning Mustafa into an invincible generic villain, Hall devotes far too much valuable screen time to what feels like an entirely arbitrary antagonist when there are far more interesting things at play.

The best moments of “American Sniper” come when symptoms of PTSD and the DNA of a military man who can’t help but return for multiple tours are explored and analyzed. Even further, Miller is quite strong as Kyle’s wife who becomes increasingly troubled having to raise a family on her own, watching her husband risk his life time after time. In the end, the screenplay, performances and direction excel when the family dynamics are strained, yet Eastwood treats these moments as a B storyline and whiffs on a chance to do something truly unique.

It may not rise to the levels of “Zero Dark Thirty” when it comes to modern warfare tension, but “American Sniper” is a worthwhile, if not unspectacular entry to the war movie genre. Cooper is the clear star, but Eastwood is able to coax enough tense moments out of a relatively mediocre script to make the film worth the time of anyone looking for a solid rush in the slow month of January.

Trouble with the Curve

September 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake
Directed by: Robert Lorenz (debut)
Written by: Randy Brown (debut)

What’s going to happen to the sport of baseball when all of the grumpy old men in charge, stuck clinging to antiquated traditions and practices, finally die off? Will there be a renaissance, allowing for such modern technological marvels like instant replay? Will those devil boxes (you may know them as “computers”) finally be embraced as a valuable tool in scouting players instead of as some doohickey the grandkids horse around on? Or are there new sticks-in-the-mud in training as we speak? Is baseball destined to be eternally ruled by old timers?

Like the elders of baseball itself, “Trouble With The Curve” hasn’t got time for any nonsense from you whippersnappers. The film stars the legendary Clint Eastwood (fresh off his real-life takedown of an invisible, chair-bound Barack Obama) as Gus Lobel, a veteran scout for the Atlanta Braves. With his eyesight failing and younger, computer-savvy members of the organization looking to put the old man out to pasture, Gus is given one last chance and sent to North Carolina to scout the latest high school hotshot. Concerned about his old friend, Gus’s coworker Pete (a magnificently-mustached John Goodman) convinces Gus’s daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) to put her skyrocketing law career on hold for a couple of days and accompany her aging father on his trip.

While both the baseball and relationship elements are as well-worn as an old little league glove, the latter benefits from some fine performances. Say what you will about the real-life Eastwood, but the 82-year-old still commands the screen even as a grizzled old codger. And while the screenplay muddies up the father-daughter relationship with Adams by plopping some half-cooked backstory near the end of the film, both she and Eastwood deliver solid base hits. Also, despite a groaner of an introduction, Justin Timberlake’s friendly rival scout and romantic interest lays another sturdy brick in the wall separating his acting career from his boy-band career.

Directed by long-time Eastwood producer Robert Lorenz, “Trouble With The Curve” plays like the anti-”Moneyball” when it comes to how the game is managed and played. The sentimentality and tradition of baseball are held in the highest regard, while anyone who knows their way around a laptop or smartphone or online stat sheet is treated like a clueless so-and-so who oughta stop futzing around with those damn gizmos and get out there in the real world, God damn it.

Hereafter

October 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Matt Damon, Ceclie de France, Bryce Dallas Howard
Directed by: Clint Eastwood (“Invictus”)
Written by: Peter Morgan (“Frost/Nixon”)

Filmmaker Clint Eastwood (“Unforgiven”) has such a gentle way of telling a story, even when the narrative experiments with darker themes Eastwood rarely strays from his comfort zone. But in his new film “Hereafter,” the two-time Academy Award-winning director shows he can’t always create affecting scenes through subtle storytelling. Beneath its restrained tone, the supernatural drama actually becomes lethargic.

In “Hereafter,” Oscar-winning screenwriter Peter Morgan (“The Queen”) collaborates with Eastwood to tell the story of George, a former psychic who can communicate with the dead but no longer practices because of the emotional toll it has taken on his life.

“It’s not a gift, it’s a curse,” George repeats as if he were some kind of comic book superhero questioning his newfound abilities to spin webs or become hulky and green when he gets angry.

George is drawn back into his work as a psychic when he meets a French TV reporter (Ceclie de France) whose near-death experience in a tsunami has changed her overall outlook on things. George is also moved by a young British schoolboy who is persistent about contacting his twin brother in the afterlife. The question on everyone’s mind: what happens after we die?

It’s a familiar theme we’ve all seen before on the big screen, but the way Eastwood confronts it is unoriginal and hokey. The same grim style Eastwood used in past films like “Gran Torino” and “Million Dollar Baby” has become his calling card, but without providing a true connection to the characters involved, we’re left with profound questions lingering in a screenplay that merely skims the surface.

What we know midway through “Hereafter” is that these separate stories will intersect and somehow make a type of philosophical statement about life and death. Nothing, however, comes as close to being as powerful as the impressive computer-generated tsunami that hits a village in the film’s opening scene. You know you’re in trouble when the best parts of an Eastwood movie are the special effects.

Invictus

December 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Tony Kgoroge
Directed by: Clint Eastwood (“Gran Torino”)
Written by: Anthony Peckham (“Don’t Say a Word”)

Rather than give us a straightforward biopic about Nelson Mandela, two-time Oscar winning director Clint Eastwood (“Million Dollar Baby”) takes the spirit of the former President of South Africa and captures the essence of his political achievement and activism in the affecting film “Invictus.” More than an inspiring story, it enhances the definition of “inspirational sports drama.”

Starring Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”) as Mandela, “Invictus,” which is based on the John Carlin book “Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation,” tells the story of how the former President used the sport of rugby to help unite a nation split by anger and resentment.

The film begins with the release of Mandela from prison in 1990. Mandela, who had been incarcerated for 28 years for crimes committed as an anti-apartheid activist, returned to the political spotlight soon after his release and was elected the country’s first black President four years later. After 46 years of apartheid, South Africa was at a turning point and Mandela was at the forefront of managing civil unrest.

To impede the racial power struggle in his homeland, Mandela, who recognized the passion his fellow countrymen had for rugby, recruits rugby captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), to lead the national team to victory. Mandela’s theory was that their success on the field would bring a sense of pride to South Africa everyone could share together as a unified country.

Mandela, however, didn’t want the team, which was known at the Springbok, to simply improve. He wanted them to win the 1995 World Cup. Doing this would not only pose a challenge for the fairly average rugby team. Mandela would have to sell his idea to black South Africans, who preferred soccer and viewed the almos all-white Springbok as a sad reminder of their segregated past.

In a classic and low-key performance, Freeman encapsulates Mandela with conviction although screenwriter Anthony Peckham doesn’t explore multiple layers that make up the iconic leader. Instead, “Invictus” plays more symbolically especially when Freeman’s Mandela uses respect and kindheartedness in attempt to realize to his political aspirations.

There might be a bit of an emotional disconnection since Eastwood and Peckham don’t explain much of anything when it comes to apartheid (study up before you come to the theater to understand the historical significance), but overall “Invictus” is all about precision and heart both on and off the rugby field.

Gran Torino

December 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Ahney Her
Directed by: Clint Easwood (“Million Dollar Baby”)
Written by: Nick Schenk (debut)

Sneaking his film “Gran Torino” in right before the end of the year (there was a limited released for Oscar contention in December) just like he did with “Million Dollar Baby” in 2004 and “Letters from Iwo Jima” in 2006, director/actor Clint Eastwood always knows how to make an entrance and keep everyone else in Hollywood on their toes.

Eastwood’s save-the-best-for-last-strategy worked well a few years ago (“Letters” scored Best Picture and Best Director nominations while “Baby” went on to take both prizes), but for “Gran Torino,” the 78-year-old, four-time Academy Award-winner probably won’t have as much success. It’s another solid piece of work from Eastwood, but one that would easily feel ordinary without him taking the lead. Let’s just be thankful it wasn’t as surprisingly deficient as his first film in 2008, “Changeling.”

In “Tornio,” Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski, a grumpy Korean War veteran and ex-Ford worker living in Detroit who recently lost his wife and can’t relate to his two sons and their horribly ungrateful and selfish families. Walt’s no angel himself. He’s stubborn, hard to please, and bitter about more and more minorities moving into his neighborhood.

His only real happiness comes from the Gran Torino fastback parked in his garage, which seems to symbolize to him the purity of what once was a great country he was proud to serve. Walt is a patriot, but he’s also a bigot who can’t easily shake off his objection for anything or anyone foreign.

But when Walt unintentionally saves Thao (Bee Vang), one of his young Asian neighbors from an aggressive gang, an unlikely friendship forms between him and the boy, who days earlier was caught by Walt trying to steal his classic car. Despite a rough introduction, Walt slowly begins to see that Thao is not like the other boys who are trying desperately to get him to join their gang. Through Thao, Walt searches for his own salvation while doing everything he possibly can to guarantee the boy and his sister Sue (Ahney Her) have a chance to live an unthreatened life.

While it’s still possible Eastwood will garner a nomination for acting, “Torino” won’t follow in the footsteps of his other Best Picture nominees of the past. The story simply lacks in foundation. There’s really no reason Thao and Sue should even give a second glimpse to the racist that lives next door to them, but for whatever reason they do. Without any redeeming qualities to his personality, Walt is destined to die resentful and alone. But instead, debut screenwriter Nick Schenk decides to move the story along even as Walt harshly insults them by calling them “fish heads,” “nips,” and “gooks.” It’s really implausible to understand how Schenk is able to make Walt morph into a role model for the second half of the film. Eastwood capture’s Walt’s frustration and accepting nature wonderfully, but it would’ve been nice to actually see how he got there in the first place.

Changeling

October 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich, Jeffrey Donovan
Directed by: Clint Eastwood (“Million Dollar Baby”)
Written by: J. Michael Straczynski (TV’s “Babylon 5”)

While truth may be stranger than fiction, it’s not always a wise decision for a screenwriter to choose to include events of a true story that, although accurate, seem all too tactless and build up to oddly written scenes. As a period piece set in 1928, “Changeling” is beautifully shot frame by frame and well directed by Clint Eastwood. As a dramatic suspense thriller, however, the problems lie in J. Michael Straczynski’s overambitious script.

“Changeling” begins when Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie), a single mother working at a phone company, comes home to find her young son Walter (Gattlin Griffith) is missing. Turning to a corrupt LAPD, who is trying to improve their tarnished image with its citizens, Christine is speechless when Capt. J.J. Jones (Jeffrey Donovan) tells her that her son has been found. The problem with that statement, however, is that the boy Capt. Jones presents to Christine is not her son, but another kid who insists his name is Walter Collins and that Christine is, in fact, his mother.

Feeling forced by Capt. Jones to take the boy “home on a trial basis,” which is a funny enough idea until Christine actually does it, Jones tells the worried mother that she doesn’t recognize her own son only because she is shocked to see him after a few months. While at home, however, Christine realizes the young stranger now living with her is three inches shorter than her son and is circumcised, unlike Walter. Her proof isn’t good enough for the LAPD, however, as Capt. Jones has accepted all the praise from the local media, and closed the case.

When Christine continues to ask questions and wonder why the police force would try to hide their mistake, she is tossed into a mental hospital for evaluation, a move made only to silence her from embarrassing the police department’s shoddy detective work.

By this time, Christine has already built her case against the LAPD with support from an number of people including Walter’s teacher and doctor, who said they would testify on her behalf that the boy brought to her is not her son. Help is also offered by Rev. Gustav Briegleb (John Malkovich), who mission in life is to uncover the criminal actions of the LAPD, and broadcast them on his local radio show.

While it all makes for an interesting episode of “The Twilight Zone,” screenwriter Straczynski drops the ball on behalf of Jolie’s time onscreen. By the halfway point, his choice to do this becomes exhausting especially when a lot of loose ends aren’t tied up. As this is happening, the story hits a fork in the road and causes more distractions before its 140-minute runtime is over.