Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
I chose not to see this WWII romantic thriller in theaters after it received lukewarm reviews, but I should’ve listened to my instincts; I finally watched it a few months ago, and loved every freaking minute of it! Brad Pitt is a Canadian Air Force pilot who marries a French Resistance fighter, played by Marion Cotillard; one year later, he’s told that she’s a German spy, and is ordered to execute her. I can’t find anyone, anywhere, who enjoyed this movie as much as I did; I was sure it would be a lock for the five top Academy Award wins—Best Picture, Best Director for Robert Zemeckis, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor for both Pitt and Cotillard—and about had a heart attack when I discovered it was nominated for none of them! Give this one a try…I think (hope) you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
This one hooked me right from the start: the true story of US Airways Flight 1549, whose pilots were forced to make an emergency landing on the Hudson River in New York shortly after takeoff, and did so with no loss of life. Tom Hanks serves up another outstanding performance as Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, who along with his co-pilot (played by Aaron Eckhart) are hailed as heroes…and then must deal with the National Transportation Safety Board, who think the plane could have landed safely at one of two nearby airports, and accuse Sully of pilot error. Kudos to director Clint Eastwood for a film that was dramatic, harrowing, and educational: I had no idea there had been a hearing following the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’, and seeing those events played out on-screen was both captivating and dumbfounding.
Another one on my list that received fair-to-middling reviews, and one I was ready to pass on as well, until my sister—who’d already seen it a week earlier—insisted I see it again with her. I’m normally not a fan of Ben Affleck’s work, but I really liked him in this; he plays a forensic accountant with high-functioning autism, who often works for gangsters and other unsavory enterprises. After being hired by a company, and finding $61 has been embezzled from them, the company attempts to have Affleck’s character killed; little do they know that he’s plenty more dangerous than they are. A very entertaining crime thriller with an appealing—and deadly—Affleck, and plenty of cool action and gunplay scenes.
I never, ever expected to like this one as much as I did, since my interest in musicals runs from slim to none, and when I watched the ridiculous (to me) dance number that opened the film, I almost packed it in. But I stuck with it, and soon the story and the characters began to reel me in, and with the now-palatable musical numbers smoothly woven into the narrative, I found myself having a grand time with it. Gorgeously shot, with Ryan Gosling a jazz pianist and Emma Stone an actress who meet in LA, fall in love, and watch as their burgeoning careers begin to pull them apart. Fun and funny and romantic, and the musical numbers were actually quite imaginative and captivating. I’ve been to Los Angeles many times, and I’ve never seen it as beautiful and inviting as it was here.
A late entry to the list, but still a worthy addition nonetheless. Amy Adams stars as a university linguistics teacher who is asked by the military to assist in translating the language of mysterious visitors from space, who’ve arrived in twelve ships in twelve areas of Earth. The question, of course, is what do the aliens want, and will Adams’ character be able to interpret their language before things go south. Adams and Jeremy Renner worked well together, and I liked the ominous tone of it all. There were no hostile takeover attempts, no destructive man-vs-creature battles, and no ray gun attacks; this was simply a well-made, intelligent, and tension-filled science fiction tale, with some deep ideas about time and humanity.
10 Cloverfield Lane