Showing posts from January, 2017

Based on a Better True Story: Clint Eastwood's "Sully" (2016)

Sully is currently available on Blu ray and streaming services

208 seconds - that is the flight time in which Captain Sullenberger's plane was struck by geese and he made a miraculous emergency landing on the Hudson River. Director Clint Eastwood stretches out the affair into a 96 minute feature in Sully by mostly covering the aftermath, as Captain Sully (a white-haired, mustached Tom Hanks) and his co-pilot (Aaron Eckhart - also mustached) are grilled before the National Transportation Safety Board, who don't understand why they just didn't turn the plane around and land at an airport. How dramatic!

Is Sully just American Sniper with airplanes? Not exactly. Even though Eastwood does continue his recent trend of revisionist history by portraying the NTSB as evil bureaucrats when in reality they weren't, the film does play as an allegory to September 11th, with a riveting scene where Sully daydreams that he crashes into a Manhattan skyscraper instead of the Hudson. Sul…

Rewind Rarity: Steve Martin in "Pennies From Heaven" (1981)

Found this throwback of a forgotten gem from the late director Herbert Ross ("Footloose", "Play It again, Sam") on TCM, airing around 3 am (DVR is amazing, right?). Steve Martin stars in this Prohibition-era musical as a horny husband who gets wrapped up in a murder in Chicago. Also features dancing in drawers from Christopher Walken, who provides great comic relief in his role. The Fred Astaire beholden musical numbers are lip-synced and are sorta cringe-inducing yet fascinating; the choreography and set pieces are at time marvelous. As a film from over thirty years ago about a far-gone era even then, there is a great retro quality that emanates from the grain on the screen.

Worth a look and deserving of a restoration. Stream it at the Warner Archive.

Recent viewings: Denis Villenueve's "Prisoners" (2013), Jeff Nichols' "Midnight Special" (2016 - currently playing on HBO) and HBO's "The Young Pope" (2017)

I missed Denis Villeneuve's Prisoners when it was released theatrically in 2013, which I sorely regret. Since watching Villeneuve's Arrival in November it has been on my check-list to get familiar with his oeuvre after being previously perked by Enemy and Sicario and with his hotly anticipated Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford tag-team reboot of Blade Runner due out this October.

I've also become an increasingly bigger fan of Jake Gyllenhaal as time wears on and was suspecting that Prisoners, his other film with Villeneuve along with Enemy, would be another harrowing collaboration. Jake was mind-blowing in Nightcrawler (even in Southpaw) and his performance in Enemy is one that will never leave me. I'm still eagerly awaiting the chance to watch him in Tom Ford's scarcely screened Nocturnal Animals from last year. Randomly snagging a rental disc from my local library, Prisoners turned out to be one of the darkest movie-watching experiences I've had recently but al…

Rewind the Revenge: The underrated William Devane in "Rolling Thunder" (1977) and vigilantes in film

Shout! Factory release of Rolling Thunder on Blu-ray from 2013. 

Released 40 years ago, Rolling Thunder is a gritty and grisly story of vengeance set along the Texas/Mexico border. Starring the "presidentially" handsome William Devane in one of his few (only?) headlining roles, the film begins with the celebratory homecoming of two Vietnam POWs (Devane and Tommy Lee Jones) as their plane touches down in San Antonio to a cheering home crowd. Haunted by his suffering at the hands of the Viet Cong for seven years, Major Charles Rane (Devane) quickly discovers that his return to civilian life is just as torturous; his wife has fallen for another man and he's a stranger to his adolescent son.

This disillusionment with the pageantry of honoring veterans and the struggles to readjust to civilian life was recently examined in Ang Lee's ambitious, crisply shot feature Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (2016) where Marines are dubiously made into toy soldiers during a Dallas…