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Posts Tagged ‘clint eastwood’

Aaron Eckhart, Tom Hanks

Aaron Eckhart, Tom Hanks

“SULLY”  My rating: B  

96 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Clint Eastwood is not a film stylist. No fancy camera angles. No innovative editing. No signature flourishes.
What he is is a terrific and seemingly effortless storyteller, one of the best now making movies.
Exhibit A is “Sully,” Eastwood’s recreation of 2009’s “Miracle on the Hudson,”  in which a crippled jetliner landed on the Hudson River without the loss of one of the 155 souls aboard.
Tom Hanks stars as Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, the 40-year aviation veteran who within seconds of losing both engines to a flock of Canada geese realized a return to La Guardia Airport was impossible…that the only chance of salvation was a water landing.
Todd Komarnicki’s screenplay (based on the memoir by the real Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger) devotes half of the film’s 96-minute running time to the brief flight and the crash itself.  
The near-disaster is experienced from several vantage points (pilots and crew, passengers, first responders, witnesses), with each iteration providing new insights and not a few thrills.
This is absorbing, shocking, logic-defying stuff.
Now we all know that nobody died on US Airways Flight 1549. Still, the film generates tension by revealing that  NTSB investigators were all but prepared to pin the blame on Sully and first mate Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart). (The film takes dramatic license by launching the hearings immediately after the incident; in reality, they came 18 months later.)
Computer simulations suggested that the damaged aircraft could have returned to the airport. Did Sully make a bad call that put everyone on board at risk?

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american-sniper-trailer-bradley-cooper
“AMERICAN SNIPER” My rating: B+

132 minutes | MPAA rating: R

In more than 40 years of directing, Clint Eastwood has become a master storyteller.

That is overwhelming evident in the first half-hour of “American Sniper,” Eastwood and screenwriter Jason Hall’s adaptation of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s memoir about his experiences as the most deadly sniper (160 confirmed kills) in U.S. military history.

They waste no time in plunging us into the action: A street in Iraq. American soldiers searching door-to-door.  Watching from above is Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), new to the war and positioned on a rooftop.

Suddenly Chris spots movement — an Iraqi mother and her young son are approaching. The mother produces a rocket-propelled grenade from her clothing and gives it to her son, who rushes toward the Americans.

In seconds Chris must decide if his first kill will be a child.

From that hair-raising intro, the film sends jerks us back to Chris’ childhood: reared as a hunter (and possible proto-survivalist) by his father, a misspent youth as a rodeo rider, the decision to enlist in the best military unit in the world, the SEALs.

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jersey“JERSEY BOYS” My rating: C+ (Opening wide on June 20)

Minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

On stage, “Jersey Boys” was less a conventional musical than a jukebox, a time machine for baby boomers. The joy came not from the plot or the characters (which were riddled with show-biz clichés) but rather from the nostalgic rush of hearing the falsetto-heavy hits of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons being performed live.

So how do you transfer that singular thrill to film?

You don’t. At least director Clint Eastwood hasn’t been able to.

We all know that movies are a liar’s game, that a musical number in a film has been pre-recorded, sonically sweetened and constructed from several individual performances cannily edited together.  Even with the knowledge that we’re hearing the actual voice of John Lloyd Young, the stage actor who reprises his performance as lead singer Frankie Valli, I found it all…well, underwhelming.

Eastwood is a musician and composer and he has in his resume the ambitous “Bird,” a biopic about jazz legend Charlie Parker. But here he seems to have been hamstrung by a creative team drawn largely from the stage production and committed to not allowing too much divergence from what was seen on Broadway and in countless touring companies.

Scripted by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, who also wrote the book for the stage musical, “Jersey Boys” is the story of four Italian American kids who rise from the mean streets around Newark to making hit record after hit record throughout the 1960s.

The elements are familiar. There are early brushes with the law (the opening hour feels like ersatz Scorsese), struggles to get gigs and a recording contract, the eventual triumph on the pop music charts followed by revelations of financial shenanigans, marital discord and personal tragedy, not to mention the debilitating effects of constant touring and personalities rubbed raw by too much proximity.

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“J. EDGAR” My rating: B (Opening wide on Nov. 11)

150 nminutes | MPAA rating: R

Clint Eastwood is the reason we have the new film “J. Edgar.”

It’s not like the moviegoing masses were begging for a biopic about longtime FBI director/pathologic paranoic J. Edgar Hoover. How many of today’s mall rats can even identify him?

The subject matter isn’t “sexy.” His story isn’t familiar to anyone under the age of 60. There are no obvious marketing hooks.

Not even the presence of one-time teen heartthrob Leonardo “Titanic” DiCaprio in the title role (an amazing performance that I, for one, didn’t see coming) can make this production anything but a money pit.

And yet here “J. Edgar” is, all because Clint Eastwood found Hoover’s story fascinating and has the track record, personal loyalties and financial clout to make movies nobody wants to see…or rather movies they think they don’t want to see.

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Richard Harris gives his all for love in "A Man Called Horse"

The Duke, Josey Wales, Sean Connery, a dude called Horse and Henry Fonda at his most bad-assedness…screw neckties, now you can get Dad something he’ll really like for Father’s Day.

That’s because the home entertainment industry has unleashed a slew of classic manly movies for the first time on Blu-ray…and some of them are killer.

Let’s start with the least impressive and work our way up.

CBS Home Video has just come out with Blu-rays of the John Wayne’s “Rio Lobo” and the Richard Harris hit “A Man Called Horse,” both from 1970. (more…)

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