Currently browsing the "Cold War" tag.

Review: The Courier

This is another “based on true events” film. The story begins in 1960 as Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev is threatening to bury the West. The CIA and MI6 are scrambling for ways to get some inside info on the Soviet nuclear program, and to that end they make the unlikely decision to recruit a British salesman, Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch). He’s done business for some time in Eastern Europe so heading to Moscow wouldn’t be a red flag to Soviet intelligence. And he’s not expected to do anything except be a courier for leaked intel. Former Soviet military intelligence colonel, now trade minister Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze) has already made contact. He has unfettered access to all the crucial intelligence, and he’s got a conscience. He may be a believer in the Soviet Socialist system, but he’s willing to work against it to stop the march towards what he sees as inevitable nuclear war. And together Oleg and Grenville save the world. Really.

Review: Balloon (Ballon)

Seems like all I’m seeing lately are film based on true stories. In this one, two families living in Cold War East Germany in 1979 plan a daring escape to the West in a homemade hot air balloon with a Stasi officer hot on their tail. It’s one of those films where you’re holding your breath and hoping for the best, since the first scene is of a group of border guards being instructed to shoot to kill. What follows is an entertaining political thriller set in the horrifyingly claustrophobic surveillance state where everyone you meet might be the informer who gets you killed.

Mainstream Chick’s Middleburg Film Festival Download (2018)

Despite a few (hotel reservation and RSVP) potholes on the road to this year’s Middleburg Film Festival, all’s well that ends well! And what an ending it was. The closing film was my favorite film – by far – securing my only four-star ballot after four days of movie madness in the Virginia countryside.

So, without further ado, here’s what I saw, and how I ranked ‘em:

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.

X-Men: First Class

This movie is everything a prequel should be: entertaining in its own right and true to the characters we’ve come to know in the previous franchise films. For the uninitiated, the X-Men (and women) are a superhero team sprung from the pages of Marvel comic books. They are considered mutants because they have an extra “X” gene that gives them each a unique power or ability that normal humans lack.