Thursday, September 15, 2016

Movie: Sully

Sully:  a film about Captain Chesley Sullenberger’s 208 second miracle landing on the Hudson River.  While the river landing is played out, the film focuses on the subsequent National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”)investigation.  With an excellent script by Todd Komarnicki, Tom Hanks, as Sully, is given strong material with which to work and the result is one of Hank’s best roles.  Combining Hanks’ performance with Clint Eastwood’s directorial abilities, we are presented with a highly entertaining, mature story.  Without the use of fancy special effects and despite knowing the ending, you are totally pulled into this re-telling of an actual event.  The fact that all 155 people on board survived remains a remarkable feat, and using  the NTSB process to recount what happened, you learn just how miraculous a save it was.  The entire cast is excellent.  The interplay between Sully and his co-pilot, Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart), feels accurate and real.  The script makes it clear that Skiles’ role was important in the safe landing of US Airways Flight 1549.  The NTSB interviews with Sully and Skiles begin with the presumption that the Hudson River landing was unnecessary.  We learn that the results of the NSTB’s mock test showed that the plane could have returned safely to LaGuardia or have landed at a New Jersey airport.  The NTSB also questioned whether only one engine was down following the run in with the flock of geese rather than two as reported by Sully.  The fact that Sully is able to show why the NTSB recreations and presumptions are flawed is artfully presented and sits at the heart of this 95 minute movie.  Also well-handled is the portrayal of Sully’s reaction as an individual who had never been in the public arena.  Stick around for the credits and you’ll see photos of the real Sully interacting with his crew and the real passengers.  Eastwood continues to know how to put together a well crafted film.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Movie: Kubo and the Two Strings

Kubo and the Two Strings:  an animation movie.  I don’t often do cartoon movies, but every once in a while a story comes along that peaks my interest.  Kubo is one of those.  What you’ll notice right away is that the animation looks different.  This difference arises from a technique known as “stop motion”, which gives all movement, down to the smallest detail, a very different appearance.  But the “stop motion” technique is far from the only reason to see this film.  Kubo offers the viewer an arresting story.  Following the opening scene of a woman in a small boat fighting off turbulent waves with nothing but a shamisen (a type of three stringed lute), we are introduced to Kubo, a young Japanese boy sporting an eye patch.  Kubo lives with his mother in a cave on a small, faraway island.  Each day Kubo goes to the nearby village with his shamisen and entertains the locals with his captivating stories.  His mother warns him to come home each evening before dark.  One day, being a young  boy, Kubo gets distracted and fails to make his twilight curfew.  While the story to this point is interesting, what happens next is what makes this 102 minute film so delightful.  We meet an extremely protective talking monkey and a samurai warrior beetle.  As Kubo, Monkey and Beetle search for the armor once owned by Kubo’s father, the only items that can provide Kubo with the protection he needs, things begin happening and Kubo learns of his lineage and history.  Quality actors provide the voices, including Matthew McConaughey (Beetle), Charlize Theron (Monkey), George Takei (a villager), Ralph Fiennes (Grandfather) and Art Parkinson (Kubo).  The film is directed by Travis Knight.  The story of Kubo and the Two Strings is a tale for people of all ages.  Because of its visuals, Kubo is best enjoyed in a theatre.