Review of the Week
Cast: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Valerie Mahaffey, Delphi Harrington, Mike O’Malley, Jamey Sheridan, Anna Gunn, Holt McCallany, Ahmed Lucan, Laura Linney.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Classification: 10 PGV
Reviewer: Peter Feldman
The world was amazed in January 2009 when Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed his US Airways Flight 1549 in New York’s Hudson River after a flock of birds had blown out both engines.
He became an instant hero and there was even a TV commercial for a local investment firm hailing his achievement. All 155 passengers on board were saved, a remarkable feat.
Now celebrated director Clint Eastwood has climbed on board and turned the event into an eminently watchable film with plenty of drama and the director’s own music score.
Playing the role of Sully is the always reliable Tom Hanks, whose features have been remodelled with a snowy white moustache and hair to closely resemble the real pilot, whom we see during the final credits.
Hanks, of course, certainly knows how to play the hero. He risked his life in ‘Captain Philips’ to save his crew from pirates and now is equally at home in the skies saving his crew and passengers from an icy death in the cold waters of a New York winter.
Eastwood, who once again shows his unpretentious professionalism, has based his film on the book ‘Highest Duty’. What is fascinating here is that Eastwood withheld details of the flight for as long as possible, concentrating instead on the aftermath of the accident where the National Transportation Safety Board of enquiry is seeking answers to why Sully chose “landing” in the Hudson as opposed to flying to two nearby airports.
His decisions on that fateful day torture him relentlessly on what he might have done differently to save the plane itself. A good slice of the film is set in the hot seat of inquest chambers and courtrooms, beginning after the plane has safely landed and examining all aspects of the landing.
From a storytelling perspective, this is a cunning move because it allows Eastwood (and his scriptwriter Todd Kormarnicki) to project a number of different impressions of the incident, employing extended flashbacks and simulations in the process.
A two-time Academy Award-winner, Eastwood is famous for his no-fat style of filmmaking and holds back on what really occurred in the crash until more than an hour into the narrative, as everybody knows the outcome. Instead, the story suggests a horrific scenario of what might have happened had they returned to LaGuardia, their point of departure, showing the plane ploughing into the city’s familiar skyscrapers, conjuring up disturbing images of 9/11. Sully’s heroic action potentially saved more than just the lives of the passengers on board.
Aaron Eckard, given a thick moustache for the occasion, plays co-pilot Jeff Skiles, who remains a loyal colleague throughout Sully’s testing ordeal, while his wife, Lorrie (Laura Linney), offers constant encouragement from home via phone.
The cruel irony of it all,is that despite saving so many lives, he still had to answer to the NTSB, which felt that his decision to effect a forced water landing had actually endangered everyone aboard. According to protocol, Sully should have returned to LaGuardia, or else tried to land at nearby Teterboro Airport, and both the airline’s insurance company and Sully himself are faced with the consequences of his decision.
Throughout the production Hanks is a shining light and slips effortlessly into the skin of his character.
‘Sully’ is not Eastwood’s best movie, nor is it a riveting exercise, but it’s informative and spiritually uplifting and will surely resonate with audiences, especially Americans, around the globe.
CAST: Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rose Leslie, Paul Giamatti
DIRECTOR: Luke Scott
Lee Weathers (Kate Mara), a corporate risk-management consultant, is sent to a top-secret location to assess and investigate a terrifying accident. Discovering that the event was provoked by a seemingly innocent artificial being who was made in a laboratory, she’s forced to curb her fascination and determine whether or not to terminate the “human” known as Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy).
Director Luke Scott and his casting department’s biggest challenge was finding their Morgan – the artificial, yet organic being that would represent Scott’s vision of the next step in human evolution.
The actor would have to portray a character that is physically, mentally and intellectually amplified. She would have to balance these enhanced attributes with a clear emotional interpretation of her/its world, and the flawed people with whom she interacts each day. “That’s one of Morgan’s many ironies,” says Scott. “Morgan is as imperfect as a human, but in other ways, she is absolutely perfect.”
Finding an actor who could convey these contrasting traits was no easy task. “We needed someone who could meet the role’s physical requirements, and had the skill to project somebody who is in many ways childlike,” says Scott.
Before finalizing casting, Scott and his teams wrestled with how to characterize Morgan. She? It? Human? Or something else? “I came to identify Morgan an ‘it’ because I’m essentially the scientist who created her,” Scott says with a laugh.
“But we always intended Morgan to be somewhat feminized, because there is an inherent strength to the feminine form.”
After a long search, Scott chose Anya Taylor-Joy to portray Morgan. He had been impressed by her performance in director Robert Egger’s award-winning feature debut ‘The Witch’. “In that film, I saw that Anya had a unique delicacy and access to her emotional landscape that is critical to the character of Morgan,” says Scott.
Unlike her director, Taylor-Joy eschewed research into the field of synthetic life, opting instead for numerous discussions with Scott. “We didn’t discuss specific scenes,” says the actress. “It was more about Morgan’s viewpoints on certain things and events.”
FILM: SAUSAGE PARTY
VOICE CAST: James Franco, Kristen Wiig, Salma Hayek
DIRECTOR: Conrad Vernon,Greg Tiernan
Frank is a sausage, whose peaceful existence among various groceries in a supermarket is interrupted when he and his friends are picked by a customer. Once a life goal, they soon discover the disturbing truth when the woman takes them home to prepare a meal. Faced with torture and death, he and his buddies hatch a plan to escape.