Sunday, February 19, 2017

Hidden Figures


Director: Theodore Melfi

Starring: Taraji P Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons

Based on the true story of three African-American female mathletes who overcame racial prejudice and gender bias to play a crucial role in the US space race. Katherine Goble Johnson (Taraji P Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) are part of the "colored computers": a group of mathematically literate African American women used by NASA to beat Russia in the Space Race. Toiling within a segregated organisation, their initial, race-based confinement gradually gives way as their talents draw them deeper into the mathematical action needed to get the rockets off the launch pad and thus keep pace in the space race with the Russians. NASA director, Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) is a gruff authoritarian who has no truck with racism when there is a job to be done. Marginally racist co-workers begrudgingly gradually accept, change has come. Good performances all round with Octavia Spencer in particular good form. The movie was shot by Australian cinematographer Mandy Walker.



Thursday, February 2, 2017

Patriots Day

Patriots Day Director: Peter Berg

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, Themo Melikidze, Alex Wolff, JK Simmons, Michelle Monaghan, James Colby, Jimmy O. Yang

The dramatized version of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the efforts to catch the perpetrators, pulls no punches. Eminently watchable the story unfolds through the eyes of outspoken, homicide detective Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg). Gradually the plot develops to incorporate actual events in a manner both respectful and highly informative. What starts as a local cop matter quickly escalates into a massive investigative operation led by F.B.I. Special Agent Rick DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon) as in acts of terrorism, federal authority outranks local authority. Frustration between agencies is evidenced but in the end it is good police work and an intense car chase that eventually brings the two radicalized Chechen-American bombers to book. The film avoids dwelling of the deeper issues of modern anarchy and instead promotes the power of the human spirit to overcome. This is a gripping movie but long at two hours and 15 minutes running time.



Saturday, January 28, 2017

Live By Night


Director: Ben Affleck

Starring: Ben Affleck, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, Robert Glenister, Remo Girone, Brendan Gleeson , Chris Cooper , Elle Fanning

Set during the Prohibition, this is based on Dennis Lehane's novel, Gone Girl, and tells the story of a group of Boston hoodlums, led by Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck). After Irish Moll and love interest (Sienna Miller) helps Coughlin with his minor crime spree in Boston, she reluctantly betrays him to her ruthless gangster boyfriend Albert White (Robert Glenister). After he is jailed for a botched bank robbery and released he joins White’s nemesis and gang rival Maso Pescatore (Remo Girone), out for vengeance. Coughlin is sent to Florida to develop the rum run with the Cubans and has to face off against the local competition, Albert White, and the Klu Klux Klan. There he meets and falls in love with and Zoe Saldana. What follows is rootin'-tootin' gangers stuff, which should have made this as good as Goodfellas or the Sopranos, but sadly it is not. Overlong at 129 miniutes, tedious dialogue, unconvincing acting, and a lack of star perfomance, all add to make this one, a big yawn.



Friday, October 14, 2016

Inferno

Director: Ron Howard

Starring: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Ben Foster, Sidse Babett Knudsen

Inferno is the third in the movie franchise of Dan Brown’s thrillers (The Da Vinci Code and its sequel, Angels & Demons) with Tom Hanks (Robert Langdon) again the hero with all to do to save the world. Unlike the previous movies this is very watchable and with a number of interesting heroes and villans. Starting in Florence a compromised Langdon and his nurse, Sienna (Felicity Jones), are forced to flee in a hail of gunfire. Maniac Zobrist (Ben Foster) is planning to unleash a deadly plague designed to solve humanity’s over-population problem by wiping most of it out and our favourite Enigmatologist has to decipher an encrypted Botticelli’s “Map Of Hell to save the world. Interesting travelogue with a few red herrings along the way, the narrative keeps your interest without breaking much sweat.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Sully

Director: Clint Eastwood

Starring: Tom Hanks, Laura Linney, Aaron Eckhart

In 2009, Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) was the captain of US Airways 1549 that ditched into the River Hudson after his plane was hit a flock of birds soon after takeoff. The engines were rendered useless and with only minutes to decide what to do, he and his First Officer, Jeffrey Skiles (Aaron Eckhart), safely completed an emergency water landing saving the lives of all on board. The movie deals with the aftermath and the subsequent inquiry by the National Transportation Safety Board investigation. Sully has to justify his actions and explain why he put the plane down on the water instead of on a nearby runway. The riveting drama which follows is crafted from a real-life event with a happy ending, yet it is amazing how much suspense Eastwood and Hanks are able to achieve. This is a feel good movie and the story of a real, humble, All American hero. Worth a watch.