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.

Mr. Holmes

July 16, 2015 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Milo Parker
Directed by: Bill Condon (“Kinsey”)
Written by: Jeffrey Hatcher (“The Duchess”)

Nineteenth century writer Author Conan Doyles’ beloved sleuthing character Sherlock Holmes is revisited during his twilight years in “Mr. Holmes,” a sophisticated, sensitive and well-written drama featuring the brilliant detective at his most vulnerable, but still sharp enough to give audiences reason enough to care about what has become of the famous detective long after he’s stopped solving mysteries. Credit to two-time Oscar-nominated actor Ian McKellen (“Gods and Monsters”) for giving Holmes new life in a subtle and endearing manner. It’s a performance that takes an iconic character and humanizes him in a way literary fans will be pleased to see.

Directed by Bill Condon (“Kinsey,” “Dreamgirls”), who disappointed with “The Fifth Estate” after getting the “Twilight Saga” out of his system, “Mr. Holmes” rejoins the aging detective after he returns home from Japan in search of a plant with healing powers. Holmes is frail and his mind isn’t what it used to be. He is living out his quiet retirement secluded in his seaside home with his glum housekeeper Mrs. Munroe (Laura Linney) and her spirited young son Roger (Milo Parker), who takes a liking to Holmes as a grandfather figure. While Holmes is still pretty sharp at deducing, he’s happy enough just tending to his honey bees and spending his final years at rest. When Roger, however, rekindles thoughts of his final unsolved case, Holmes is thrust back into the past to reassess what really occurred during his final investigation, which ultimately led to his retirement.

Emotions come flooding back for Holmes during this time and there no one better to take those years of grief and refine them quite like McKellen. If anything, “Mr. Holmes” is an exploration of self, accepting what has been lost over the years and finding comfort in knowing the world is a better place because of your contribution to it. Robert Downey Jr. might’ve had more flair in his two recent action film adaptations in 2009 and 2011, as does Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC series, but one could argue McKellen’s Holmes is just as stylish. The character lends itself to him in such an intimate way and McKellen pays tribute by being impressive.