Tag Archives: tom hanks

Road to Perdition – Review

22 Dec

When I say that I’ve been wanting to watch this movie for about ten years, I really have been wanting to watch this movie for ten years. It’s not like anything really stood in my way, more so that I just never got around to actually watching  it. But no more! After Sam Mendes took home the Academy Award for his debut film, American Beauty, he was approached with a script based off a graphic novel by Michael Allan Collins. The result is Road to Perdition, a wonderfully acted, designed, and all around fantastic movie that may never be a classic, but still should be recognized as something great.

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Michael (Tyler Hoechlin) is a 12 year old boy who looks up to has father, but isn’t really sure of what he does. In reality his father is a notorious mob enforcer, Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks), who works for Irish mobster John Rooney (Paul Newman). When Michael sees his father unwillingly help in a murder committed by John’s son Connor (Daniel Craig), the older Michael has to take him on the run after his wife and other son are killed to keep the secret from getting out. As the two Sullivans begin robbing banks to support themselves, John Rooney hires hitman and photographer Harlen Maguire (Jude Law)to hunt them down and silence them once and for all.

Having wanted to see this movie for years, there was a lot of pressure because if I didn’t like it than, shit, that would’ve been a waste of lots of excitement and anticipation. After finally seeing Road to Perdition, there is nothing I need to complain about. It was a really great movie, but there’s something about it that really stops it from achieving a status as a classic. My theory is that it isn’t quite as large or sweeping as The GodfatherScarface, or even Boardwalk Empire. People, including me, love huge movies and Road to Perdition is the quiet, smart kid who sits in the back of the room and only gets attention from people who know what he’s capable of.

 

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What Sam Mendes succeeds at doing is creating a uniquely small, yet hard hitting story about the relationship between a father and son. There’s plenty of gunplay and mobster violence to be had in this movie, but a lot of it occurs offscreen because that isn’t the focus of the movie. Instead, much of what we see is through the eyes of a 12 year old. The older Sullivan is seen as a mysterious figure, always shot from afar, but he soon becomes much clearer and human and is shot with more close ups. Small things like this make the story much more potent and is also just a sign of the talents that Mendes and the late, great cinematographer Conrad L. Hall have and had. Hall especially makes great use of light, lighting every scene as if it were an Edward Hopper painting.

Finally, the cast of actors are all top notch. Hanks carries his role and is pretty much the actor to play these types of roles. Newman gives one of his last great performances as the tragic “villain” while Jude Law hams it up perfectly as the rat like photographer/hitman. Credit also has to be given to Tyler Hoechlin who gives a fine performance, despite his age. This is not an easy role for a kid to take on, but he handles it with the maturity and sincerity of a professional.

Road to Perdition is one of the most underrated movies that has come out within the last 10 to 20 years. It has a superbly quiet, yet startlingly violent story to tell about a strained relationship between a father and son. Paul Newman and Conrad Hall both do fine jobs in this film being so late in their careers, while Hanks, Law, and Hoechlin carry their own weight on the screen as well. This may not be as epic as other mobster films or shows, but it has a story that packs one hell of a dramatic punch and also works as a brilliant form of artistic expression. This is a great film, and highly underappreciated.

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Cloud Atlas – Review

14 Dec

It’s a rare thing to see a movie have three directors, but that’s the case with 2012’s hugely epic film, Cloud Atlas. Based off a book by David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas is a collaboration between Andy and Lana Wachowski, the famed directors of The Matrix and its sequels, but also German film maker Tom Tykwer, most known for his hyperkinetic action film Run Lola Run. Together, these three film makers have achieved a bold cinematic landmark that is really like no other movie I’ve ever seen, and while it is something close to a masterpiece, there are still many areas that could have been cleaned up.

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The Pacific Islands, 1849: Adam Ewing (Jim Sturgess) is an American lawyer sent to the Chatham Islands to conclude a business deal for his step-father. On the voyage home, Adam begins writing a journal as his health starts deteriorating. He soon befriends an escaped slave, Autua (David Gyasi) who shows him the error of his ways of thinking.

England, 1936: Robert Frobisher (Ben Whitshaw) begins working with aging composer Vyvyan Ayrs (Jim Broadbent) in order to earn his own acclaim with his “Cloud Atlas Sextet.” While writing letters to his lover Rufus Sixsmith (James D’Arcy), it becomes apparent that Ayrs is just out to steal his work and profit from it in his old age.

San Francisco, 1973: Luisa Rey (Halle Berry) is a journalist hell bent on exposing the crimes of corrupt businessman Lloyd Hooks (Hugh Grant). She soon becomes the target of a hitman (Hugo Weaving) hired by Hooks to silence her and preventing his secrets from ever being exposed. Luckily, Hooks’ head of security (Keith David) is working against him, and begins working with Rey to uncover the truth.

London, 2012: Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent) is an aging publicist who becomes wealthy overnight after his client (Tom Hanks) kills a critic. He soon has people breathing down his neck demanding money, and through a series of odd events becomes trapped in a nursing home. Along with other residents, Cavendish plans an escape back to the real world.

Neo Seoul, 2144: Sonmi~451 (Doona Bae) is a genetically engineered human working as a server in a chain restaurant that hides its fair amount of secrets. When she’s rescued by revolutionary Hae-Joo Chang (Jim Sturgess), she realizes her true destiny and becomes a voice for change and revolution.

Big Isle, 106 winters after The Fall: Zachry (Tom Hanks) is a tribesman living in Hawaii whose life is disrupted when Meronym (Halle Berry) visits the island to find a remote communications device on a mountaintop that is the supposed home of the devilish Old Georgie (Hugo Weaving). Zachry braves his own beliefs in the gods and devils of his time to escort Meronym to the device in order to help save her people.

All of these sound like completely different stories, but there is a link that connects them throughout the centuries and shows how one person’s actions can affect the future of the entire world.

What a summary to write. I have to completely break the format of my posts just to fit a fraction of everything in. This is one of the biggest movies I have ever seen that earns its place as an epic to stand the test of time. Cloud Atlas truly is a marvel and something that has to be seen to entirely be believed. It’s science fiction, fantasy, mystery, espionage, action, romance, and adventure all rolled up into one big film. Something this big has to take chances, however, and these chances do hurt this movie during some parts, but it can’t be denied that there’s way more positives than there are negatives.

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Since the story of Cloud Atlas is so huge, there is so much that the cast and crew had to do in order to make it actually work. First off, the make up in this movie is really impressive, especially considering that every actor plays multiple parts in each of the six time periods. Seeing Hugh Grant go from being a business tycoon to the leader of a cannibalistic tribe is surprising and seamless. Part of the fun is trying to spot the different actors under all of the make up. The effects are also quite good, especially in the Neo-Seoul sequence, but the effects aren’t what is really memorable. What the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer did by combining all of their efforts is almost its own special effect.

Back to how huge this movie is. It’s rare that you’ll find something as bold and large as Cloud Atlas and not have some gripes. Unfortunately, not all of the six time periods are that interesting. I was surprised to see that the New-Seoul sequence is actually the most bland part of the entire movie, even if it is the most action packed. To me, the most interesting parts of the movie was the 1936 period and the post-apocalyptic time. It sometimes got a little difficult sitting through this 3 hour long movie when some of it really started to drag. Fortunately, the editor of this movie cut the sequences together so perfectly that there was something to grab my attention as it was starting to get dull.

While many would probably disagree with me and call me insane, I believe that Cloud Atlas is a minor but strong modern day masterpiece. It’s a movie that I can see being remembered many years from now when people look back to study this time in film history. The Wachowskis and Tykwer are all talented film makers, and this collaboration showed what they are truly capable of. It may not be a perfect film and can often feel like a chore, but in the end it really is a one of a kind cinematic experience.

Captain Phillips – Review

27 Feb

In the film Gravity, the suspense and feelings of terror come from the thought of not only being isolated in space, but also dealing with disaster while trapped in that world of quiet isolation. Captain Phillips is much like Gravity in that sense. The film deals with isolation on the open seas, and the disaster is a bunch of Somali pirates taking over the ship with hostages. The isolation and human drama is where this movie shines the most, unfortunately in the middle of Act II, Captain Phillips turns into a formulaic thriller film that is only saved with an intense and titillating final half hour.

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Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) is a family man who now has the job of being captain of MV Maersk Alabama. After being informed of Somali pirate attacks that have been occurring in that area, Phillips takes the necessary precautions to make sure his ship is safe. Unfortunately, his precautions are not enough and a band of pirates, led by Muse (Barkhad Abdi), get on the boat and hold the crew hostage. As the events progress, the pirates get on a life boat with Phillips as a hostage, with the Navy making close chase. As the rest of the night progresses, and Phillips keeps trying to negotiate for his life, the Navy make their own preparations to get Phillips out of there alive.

Captain Phillips is a Hot Pocket. What does that mean? Let me elaborate. Did you ever cook a Hot Pocket, but you just didn’t heat it up enough? It makes for a pretty nasty treat. Both ends are hot and delicious, but that large, meaty middle part is cold and disgusting. That, in essence, is Captain Phillips. I was so into the beginning of this movie. The way Phillips is shown with his wife and his crew is a perfect contrast to the Somalians, especially with the focus on Muse. It sets up something that I wasn’t expecting. Screenwriter Billy Ray and director Paul Greengrass choose to show both sides of the equation, which is very interesting and makes the whole story even more interesting.

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Then Act II starts, and everything seems to be going well. Not with the characters, of course, but just how the movie feels. Greengrass’ style works great with the story and Hanks and Abdi are performing very well. I was on the edge of my seat only to be pushed back and made drowsy by the middle of this act. Compared to the tour de force sequences of the pirates getting on the barge and the whole feeling of being trapped on there with the characters was great. Then Phillips is put in the life boat with the pirates, and the Navy gets involved, and it all starts feeling like a typical thriller film. I rewatched the second act the next day, thinking I may have missed something, but I didn’t. It’s a really slow and boring sequence that really drags the film down from what it could have been.

Act III finally comes along, and all is forgiven. The last half hour of this movie is what really kills me and what makes me really want to like this movie more than I did. The suspense is back full force, to the point where I was almost thrown out of my seat. This is also where Tom Hanks goes from a good performance to one of the best of his career. It is arguably the best onscreen moment he has ever had in his entire career. If it wasn’t for this amazing ending, I would have completely disregarded the movie altogether, so it’s getting a lucky pass.

Captain Phillips is a perfect example of a movie that I wanted to like a lot more than I did. The second act drags the movie way, way down farther than I ever wanted it to go. Luckily the beginning and ending are both great, but that doesn’t excuse the movie as a whole. Tom Hanks gives one of the best performances of his career, and Barkhad Abdi gives an amazing debut performance. Greengrass was really the obvious choice as director, but I can’t help but be baffled by how uneven the pacing of the movie is. It’s hard to get by how awkward it is, and that’s what really is the most disappointing thing about Captain Phillips.

Since this is the last movie I had to see of all the Best Picture nominations, here’s my list of favorites, from the best picture to my least favorite.

  1. Gravity
  2. Dallas Buyers Club
  3. The Wolf of Wall Street
  4. Her
  5. Philomena
  6. 12 Years a Slave
  7. Captain Phillips
  8. American Hustle
  9. Nebraska

 

Agree? Disagree? Tell me what you think.

Cast Away – Review

3 Jul

Here’s one that I’ve wanted to review for a very long time. Cast Away has always struck a nerve with me because I am absolutely not an outdoorsman. But what if I was forced to be? Each time I watch this movie, I think about that and each time I get less and less confident. Oh well. Hopefully I don’t get stranded on a desert island. But now the review.

Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) is a FedEx employee who lives by time and always has his beeper in case business should call him to whatever corner of the globe. This puts some stress on his loving girlfriend, and soon to be fiancé, Kelly Frears (Helen Hunt). When his beeper goes off a few days before Christmas, Chuck thinks that this is just going to be a typical business trip. He couldn’t have been more wrong. Chuck soon finds himself on an island in the middle of nowhere after his plane crashes in the ocean after a freak accident. Now, Chuck must survive any way he can in hopes of returning home.

What’s most impressive about Cast Away is how well Tom Hanks carries the entire hour and a half mid-section by himself. That, I believe, is the true test of an actor. I was always taught in whatever theater program or class I was in that acting is reacting, but we always talked about that in respect to other actors. Hanks has no other person to react to, and must instead react to the situations and inanimate object for a big bulk of the film. He really gives a fantastic performance, which may be one of the best I’ve ever seen.

The whole concept behind this movie screams, “That would never happen to me!” Well, of course you say that, but no one plans to be trapped on an island. What I think the viewer must do for Cast Away to work at its fullest potential is put yourself into Noland’s position. His character never though that would happen to him, and it did. Once you start thinking about it, you’ll start to wonder what you would do in his place. How would you survive? Would you even survive? I’ve thought about this every time I have watched this movie and I have serious doubts about my ability to survive in that situation.

* SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT *

If you haven’t seen this movie, then don’t read this portion of the review, even though it is shown in the trailers, I don’t want to take any chances. Yes, he gets off the island. And, despite what most critics say, I find it a fascinating study of the difficulty adjusting to life after being away from it for so long. There are scenes that show Hanks’ character trying to interact with others, including Kelly, but having a difficult time. It is a portion of the movie that is criticized the most, but I think that it’s important to the overall story.

* THIS IS THE END OF THE SPOILER ALERT*

Unfortunately, there is a major flaw to this film. It is just way too long clocking in at two and a half hours. Let’s look at another one man film, Buried. This is a story about a man buried alive in a coffin and his attempt to escape. While different, it is still a movie that involves isolation and not a whole lot of dialogue, even though the character does use a cell phone. This movie is an hour and a half. I understand that Cast Away explores more themes than Buried , but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t have been trimmed down just a little bit. I lose interest more than once during this long story.

Despite its overly long running time, Cast Away is still a movie that will stick with you. Is it over rated? Sure, I’d say so, but it’s still a really good movie. If you aren’t interested in the story, see it for Tom Hanks’ performance. It’s certainly not one of the best movies ever made, but it’s a lot better than most of what Hollywood produces. You can’t go wrong with director Robert Zemeckis, though.