Currently browsing the "Clint Eastwood" tag.

Reflections, Ruminations and Review: Richard Jewell

This movie hits close to home on so many levels. I was living in Atlanta in 1996, freelancing in news, and was even supposed to be volunteering as a pseudo security guard at Centennial Park on the night of the bombing. I still have the uniform, though I never “served” – opting instead for a paid gig with NBC NewsChannel, helping local affiliates cover the Olympics from a rooftop about a half-mile away from the park. I remember getting home from work after midnight, turning on the TV and a short time later, hearing about the bombing. I remember transitioning from NBC to CNN when the Games ended. I remember the media frenzy surrounding Richard Jewell, who lived with his mother in an apartment complex off Buford Highway, close to my favorite bowling alley. I don’t remember to what extent I believed or shared the details about Richard Jewell’s alleged role in the bombing. But I do recall having great faith in our sources at the FBI and ATF, and in the reporting of our hometown paper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. They all said he did it. He didn’t.

Oops doesn’t quite cut it.

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.

American Sniper

War is hell. So is this intensely polarizing movie. You either love American Sniper or hate it. I was one of the latter. Adapted from a biography of the same name, it is the story of U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) who became a hero to many for being our most lethal sniper and killing the most Iraqis. My problem with the film is how the whole situation is portrayed as entirely black and white. Kyle and the Americans are the good guys, and every single Iraqi is evil. I am sure to the men and women who fought there, that was the perfect rationalization for what they did, but as storytelling goes, it leaves a lot to be desired.

Jersey Boys

If you like the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, then treat yourself to Jersey Boys, the award-winning broadway musical-turned-movie directed by Clint Eastwood. The movie isn’t as good as the stage version, but it’s certainly cheaper and the music is the same, as are a few of the lead actors. Unfortunately, stage acting doesn’t always translate onto the big screen, and while these guys are all solid singers, the acting comes off a bit forced and inconsistent. Fortunately, the familiar musical numbers help keep the audience engaged, even when the story starts to falter. From ‘Sherry,’ ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You’ and ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ to ‘Rag Doll,’ ‘Oh What a Night,’ ‘My Eyes Adore You,’ etc. That’s a lotta hits.

(My) Tales from the Warner Bros. Lot

Sometimes a film finds its value – or added value – in the memories it stirs. Such is the case with a new documentary commemorating Warner Bros.’ 90th Anniversary. It’s called Tales from the Lot and it’s basically an extended marketing video that traces the evolution of the legendary studio from its humble beginnings to the entertainment behemoth that it is today. It’s not a great film. But it did bring back memories of a time, circa 1995, when I, um, sort of snuck onto the WB lot to snag a pic of myself in front of The Daily Planet. Yes Chief, The Daily Planet. After all, I was a young journalist harboring a crush on SupermanI couldn’t just walk across the façade of Lois & Clark‘s Metropolis without paying homage! Thus my own tale from the Warner Bros. lot:

J. Edgar

What a strange man, that J. Edgar Hoover! And yet – for nearly 50 years – he managed to wield tremendous power and influence as the controversial head of the Federal Bureau of Investigations. This biopic seeks to show us how, and why.

Hereafter

The trailers and marketing for Hereafter are very misleading. It’s no more a “Matt Damon movie” than Babel was a “Brad Pitt flick”. In fact, until Damon’s character makes an appearance, you could easily mistake Hereafter for some sort of independent foreign film. It’s very much an ensemble effort, spearheaded by director Clint Eastwood, and it features three diverse plot lines that ultimately converge in a somewhat contrived but generally satisfying way.

Invictus

Two questions come to mind when you watch Clint Eastwood’s new feel good movie Invictus. Did rugby really make that big a difference in race relations in South Africa? And just what in the hell are the rules of rugby?