Mini-Review: Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies

PG-13, 141 Minutes, 2015

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About: Lawyer must negotiate for trade of spies with USSR because once upon a time we let civilians do that. There is also a bridge.

Starring: Tom Hanks as Our Generation’s Gary Cooper/Jimmy Stewart

Directed: Steven Spielberg. I am a Spielberg-completist having seen all of his films. It’s been over 10 years since Spielberg made a “fun” film (Terminal to some extent, Catch Me If You Can for sure, The Adventures of Tintin wasn’t fun enough). He’s gotten so serious and self-important.

Bridgeof-Spies-777x437Best Thing About It: Mark Rylance as the Soviet Spy Col. Abel. His dry wit and non-conformist role makes him the most memorable and worthwhile thing in the film. I anticipate an Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Worst Thing About It: The word I have heard most about this film is “Old-Fashioned.” That’s not a bad thing as the movie is very well made. But it lacks much in terms of surprise, energy, or freshness. It feels very lived in – An old sweater you like, but don’t love.

Notable Thing About It: If anyone other than Tom Hanks was in this part, I think the movie would have failed. He brings such charisma and gravitas to a role that before he’s said a word, you are rooting for his character and trust him.

Overall: Everything about the film is professional. There isn’t anything weak in it. It is certainly the right kind of film for people who prefer more predictable, historical movies. You certainly don’t have to go to the theaters to see it. It is a good film, but forgettable.

Rating: 2 1/2 RaMaKs (out of 4)

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Best Films of 2012

bestmovies 2012As an armchair film critic, it takes me a while to finish seeing most of the “best” films of a year. There are still a half dozen smaller films that got great reviews I haven’t seen from 2012, about 15 films I’d still really like to see, and others I’ll discover down the road. So my Top Films list is always a work in progress. I feel no obligation to establish it in stone right this second.

As a whole, I thought 2012 was an outstanding year – one of the best overall in a while in depth. And, unlike some recent years, the best films weren’t all completely depressing. Of the 9 films nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, 8 of them made my top 20. Only Amour (AKA 2 hours of incredible sadness) didn’t quite make it.

Just before the Oscars, I will reveal my picks and predictions, but here is (ever-evolving) Top films of 2013.

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13 Great Things About Last Crusade

indiana-jones-and-the-last-crusade-1989-movie-posterIndiana Jones and the Last Crusade is full of winking humor that makes for a great palate cleanser for the child torture of Temple of Doom. But it is the much more tongue-it-cheek style that keeps it from being as immortal a film as Raiders of the Lost Ark. I have also seen this film so many times over the years that I have a personal interaction with it.

As I did with Raiders #2, below are 13 things for 2013 that I particular like about Last Crusade.

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13 Great Things About The Temple of Doom

Temple-of-DoomWatching my Blu-Ray of the Indiana Jones trilogy over new years (There’s a 4th movie in the box, but it’ll never see the light of day).

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is such a misfire. Probably because on the heels of a ginormous blockbuster family adventure film, Spielberg and Lucas made a family about an ancient ritual cult, human sacrifice, and child torture. The story goes the two men were in a darker place after breaking up with their wives, Amy Irving and Marcia Lucas. It was still the 10th highest grossing picture of all-time on its release.

Temple of Doom has much to commend it. But the nasty subject matter places it in a lower tier than Raiders of the Lost Ark or Last Crusade. For this new year of 2013, I am listing 13 of my favorite things about Last Crusade.

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Lincoln vs. Lincoln

ALVH Lincoln-Poster2012 saw the release of 2 Abraham Lincoln movies: Lincoln, the Academy Awards darling directed by Steven Spielberg, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (ALVH), a goofy action film directed by Timur Bekmambetov. The films are not in the same league – comparing them is like reflecting on Schindler’s List to Hogan’s Heroes.

But I am going to anyway in a variety of totally made-up and subjective categories.

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