Currently browsing the "Tom Hanks" tag.

Review: News of the World

Why does Tom Hanks make everything just a bit more comforting? In his latest, he plays Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a Civil War veteran who travels from town to town in 1870 Texas reading the news to crowds as a form of entertainment. But one day between towns he comes upon a stagecoach that has crashed and he finds the only survivor, 10-year-old Johanna (Helena Zengel), with a note about how she was taken from her parents six years ago by the Kiowa, but that the government has taken her back. Kidd escorts her to the nearest town to hand her over to the authorities, but they won’t take her. And it becomes his job to deliver her to a family 600 miles away who she doesn’t know. She speaks no English, she’s somewhat feral and she’s not sure she trusts him, but as they make their way across desolate Texas, they grow closer while fending off bad guys, dealing with life-threatening weather, and learning bits of each other’s languages. It’s a familiar feeling story, but with Tom Hanks at the rudder, it makes for a solid family-friendly ride.

Review: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood sticks with me today as much as it did a month ago when I pegged it as one of my favorites at the Middleburg Film Festival. Cheesy and sentimental as it may sound, there’s no denying the power of – and need for – the film’s inspirational and aspirational message that it only takes one person to inspire a world of kindness. It doesn’t hurt to have that message conveyed by Hollywood’s Mr. Nice Guy, Tom Hanks, channeling children’s television icon Mr. Fred Rogers.

Review: Toy Story 4

A part of me did not want a Toy Story 4. I was afraid it would diminish the legacy of a storied franchise that left me in a heap of weep in 2010. Toy Story 3 won the Oscar that year for Best Animated Feature, having brought the story of Andy and his precious – and precocious – toys to a perfectly poignant conclusion. As Andy set off for college, he donated Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang to a toddler named Bonnie. It was the end of an era; but as we now know, not quite the end of the story.

Review: The Post

It’s the most timely film of the year without a doubt, with the most respected lead actors on earth, directed by one of America’s favorite directors. It’s a political thriller and a #GirlPower drama all rolled into one. And it’s a true story. Meryl Streep stars as Kay (Katherine) Graham, publisher of The Washington Post. And Tom Hanks plays editor Ben Bradlee. The Post is the story of their decision in 1971 to print the Pentagon Papers, a secret 47 volume Defense Department study that revealed decades of government lies about the Viet Nam War. The New York Times had broken the story, but the Nixon White House shut them down with threats of prosecution for espionage. So The Post decided to use the Times’s demise to run with it and print even more of the inflammatory facts. The central question which drives the story is will they get it to print before the Justice Department shuts them down, too.

Sully

This movie is like Tom Hanks himself – a celebration of the everyman, in this case, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Hanks), the US Airways pilot who was thrust into the limelight by a confluence of gut instinct and really good luck that culminated in the so-called “Miracle on the Hudson” on January 15, 2009. Sully and first officer Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) were justifiably hailed as heroes in the aftermath of that incident for their ability to remain incredibly calm and composed as they “landed” their Airbus A320 in the middle of the Hudson River after a bird strike took out both engines shortly after take-off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport. Miraculously, all 155 souls on board the plane that day survived. We all saw it, either live or on constant televised replay… dramatic images of commuter boats and first-responders in helicopters plucking scores of passengers from the wings of the aircraft. And therein lies the problem with Sully. It’s hard to get overly-invested in the drama when you know everything works out in the end. So while director Clint Eastwood makes an admirable attempt to tell an interesting, lesser-known story about the subsequent investigation by FAA and NTSB desk jockeys and computer-simulated recreations devoid of the “human factor”, all that really matters is the 208 seconds that had passengers and crew heeding the Captain’s call to “brace for impact!” and flight controllers on the ground fearing the worst when the plane drops off their radar. It’s dramatic stuff for sure. But you can only replay 208 seconds so many times in a movie that stretches to hit a 95-minute running time.

Bridge of Spies

Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Tom Hanks. (Re)written by the Coen Brothers. Start polishing the Oscars. Based on a true Cold War international incident, Bridge of Spies feels like an old-fashioned espionage flick, only the twist is that the central character is anything but a spy. He’s an insurance industry lawyer who’s roped into defending a Russian spy and then into negotiating a swap of said spy for an American pilot shot down while spying on the Soviets. It is a fascinating story, extremely well told, and the perfect film to take your parents to.

Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr. Banks is a thoroughly enjoyable film that doesn’t fit into any particular genre. It’s a ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ blend of drama, wit and biopic, inspired by true events. The film sheds light on a years-long effort by Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) to convince a difficult and cynical British author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to let him bring her iconic “Mary Poppins” children’s book to the big screen. It was not an easy sell.

Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips is all the more fascinating when you realize it’s based on a true story… and a bit less fascinating if you the let the real-world facts get in the way of a good cinematic story. There’s been a lot of talk since the film came out about the ‘real’ Captain Phillips, the money that went missing from his boat, and the amount of bullets the Navy Seals fired in rescuing the captain from a band of Somali pirates. All that stuff aside, Captain Phillips is a good movie that will keep you interested, engaged and often on the edge of your seat… even if you know how the story ends.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a so-so drama that fails to rise above its extremely long and forgetful title. It may appeal to those who read the book, liked the book, and are curious to see how it all plays out on the big screen. But I, for one, discovered that I’m just not ready to accept a fictional story that uses 9/11 for context. The movie is not exploitative or gratuitous in its treatment of that fateful day. It just feels “too soon” to go there. The marketing tag line says: “This is not a story about September 11th. It’s about every day after”, and to some extent, that’s true. I actually think this movie would have been better served as an indie with a different trigger for the plot-line. It could have been “inspired by” the best-selling book as opposed to “adapted from” it. Anyway…

Larry Crowne

Even if you really like Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, you’re still going to have a hard time liking this movie. It just falls flat – as does the chemistry between these two powerhouse actors. What a disappointment.