Tag: Steven Spielberg


The Post

December 29th, 2017 — 7:29pm

****

The Post

This movie tells a great classic American story with outstanding lead actors a strong supporting cast and of course it has Steven Spielberg as director. We approached this film with very high expectations. After its sluggish start, where we weren’t sure who were all the characters and what exactly was going on, we soon got with the flow and we were not disappointed. We trust the filmmakers, so we believe this is a true behind-the-scene story which those of us who can recall the time and the events, did not know all the details.

If you know anything about these historical events, a government worker by the name of Daniel Ellsworth (Matthew Rhys) leaked secret documents to the New York Times and Washington Post which reveal a government study showing that the United States could not expect to win the Vietnam War. This had tremendous implications since this would mean that subsequent United States military deaths and casualties would serve no purpose.

The drama centered around Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) who inherited the ownership of the Washington Post and had to make the decision whether or not to publish these papers and Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) the heroic editor of The Post who advocated publishing the story despite possible risks to the newspaper and staff. There was an important back story as the viewer came to appreciate that Graham found herself in the unexpected role for a woman of her time and rose to the occasion. One of us was disappointed that part of the story, which involved Daniel Ellsworth’s psychiatrist, was not explored. Much of the drama in the movie involved phone calls often in the evening, which will have to be explained to any younger generation you might bring to the theater as they used “dial phones” “Princess phones” “payphones” which will be totally unknown to anyone under 40 who of course only has been familiar with cell phones (2017).

Comment » | 4 Stars, Documentary, Drama

Bridge of Spies

October 22nd, 2015 — 10:18pm

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 6.41.30 PM***

Bridge of Spies -rm

With Steven Spielberg directing, Tom Hanks staring, the Coen brothers being part of the writing team in this story of the spies in the cold war, this movie would seem to be bound for success. If you were around in the 1950’s, the story of Colonel Rudolf Abel, the Russian spy caught spying in  Brooklyn and Francis Gary Powers, the American pilot shot down taking pictures over Russia should be quite familiar to you. That may take some of the suspense away from you as you know how the movie is going to end. On the other hand, if you were close to the millennial generation, the film might generate enough tension to put you on the edge of your seat.

The film did show very interesting depictions of two persons who became well known to the American public as the central events unfolded. There is the captured Russian spy, Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) who was very devoted to his cause and not really a bad person although clearly hated by most Americans. On the other hand, Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) the American pilot on the secret spy mission taking pictures over Russia is shown as an all American-type handsome guy who is the center of attention because he didn’t do the expected, deadly self-destruct thing with the poison pin, before he was captured.

The main protagonist was James Donovan (Tom Hanks). It’s hard to say if we like him so much because he was Tom Hanks or was it because he was this idealistic attorney standing up for American principle’s of giving everyone a fair trial, even if his client were a despicable man of the times being a Russian spy.

Spielberg appeared to put his $40 million budget to good use as the scenes were all quite realistic. Especially dramatic was the building of the Berlin wall and the views of some attempted escapes from East Berlin and of course there was the bridge where the exchange was to take place. The shoot down of Powers’ plane seemed quite realistic (we hope no one was hurt in the escape from the plane – it seemed that good). There was a little too much repetition in this two-hour and fifteen-minute movie with much more talking than action. For those who didn’t live through this period, this film may very well become the mental representation of this period although we didn’t think it quite captured the fear and apprehension that existed in the country at that time. (2015)

Comment » | 3 Stars, History

Like Father, Like Son

January 24th, 2014 — 6:03am

***images

Like Father, Like Son- sp  This Japanese film with subtitles was an extremely successful in Japan earning so far more than 30 million dollars and is about to be released in the United States. It won a major award at the Cannes Film Festival where Steven Spielberg was the Chair of the committee that gave the award. Spielberg then optioned the rights to it and plans to make an English version. What is it about this movie that seems so captivating? In Japan it helps that the male lead is played by one of most popular singers and actors currently in Japan and that is Fukuyama Masahuro. Just as important is the screenplay written by the director Kore-Eda Hirokazu which presents a fascinating human dilemma which rarely happens in modern times but one to which just about everyone can relate. Early in the film, a young married couple with a six year old son, who is a bright, very delightful boy, learn that their son was switched at birth with another child born in the same hospital on the same day. They meet the other family and the differences between them, especially the fathers become very apparent. They must decide what will they do (in addition to suing the hospital). Will they switch children and how will they come to this decision? As we try to relate to the dilemma and see how the parents and children react to this situation, we get the impression that some of the responses seem to be culture bound. Of particular note was the depiction of the passivity of the women and the obedience of the 6 year-olds. In a post film discussion, we learned that in the 1970s when hospital practices in Japan in labeling newborn children were not as exacting as they are today, there were incidences such as the one depicted in the movie. Interestingly, we were told that 100% of the children were returned to the biological parent even in cases of 6 year olds! Director Hirokazu did a sensitive job of showing us the evolution in the thinking of one of the fathers as he leads us to the ultimate outcome of this dilemma. He also brought to the screen two delightful children who played the kids who were switched at birth.

The theme of this movie is a variation of the successful 2013 film Philomenaas well as other movies which we have reviewed and discussed this interesting psychological variable . These include The Kids Are All Right, People Like Us Stories We TellAdmissions, and Mother and Child. One of us (MB)has also discussed this elsewhere with real life case examples (Psychiatrytalk.com). Each of these movie reviews and the psychiatry blog can be reached directly by clicking the words in this paragraph. (2013)

 

 

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Foreign

Lincoln

December 1st, 2012 — 9:39pm

*****

Lincoln -rm                                                          

The problem with any movie that gets a lot of hype because it is about two giants in in their respective spheres of influence, Lincoln and Spielberg, is that you expect to be blown away, enthralled , introduced to new ideas that you never thought about before etc. etc.  What we have here is a good movie, a really good movie that provides insight into one of the greatest American Presidents, as well as a lesson in political history that brought about one of the most important pieces of our constitutional history, the 13th Amendment that prohibits slavery. However, in order to appreciate this movie, you have to do more than sit back and enjoy, you really have to concentrate and think about what is going on before you. You are skillfully helped in this task by the screenplay by Tony Kushner based in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book “ Team of Rivals”, superb acting especially by Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln , Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln and, of course, the brilliant directing of Steven Spielberg.

The portrayal of Lincoln is distinctive and consistent. We have no way of knowing how on the mark it was, but his thoughtful, intense caring persona yet with a  sense of humor makes him appear to be a  person we would like to think that he was. He also was shown to be struggling with a parental dilemma with which we can  easily identify. Imagine if you had a son that wanted to enlist in the military where young soldiers were dying by the thousands. Would you do everything you could to stop him ( and what if you could, since you were the Commander in Chief?). Or, if you understood how he could never forgive himself if he didn’t enlist would you allow him to choose his destiny (despite the protests of your wife). This was just a small side theme of this movie.

Thaddeus Stevens, one of the Republican leaders in the House of Representatives, appears to be a fascinating person, as dedicated as Lincoln to their common cause but quite feisty with a sharp tongue that he wasn’t afraid to use. One of us was moved to read a little bit more about this man who was shown in the film as having a secret that was actually true to life.

The potential pertinence of this film to our modern day political issues was quite apparent. We know that there is a great deal of wheeling and dealing behind the scenes and the cynical among us would say that most politicians can bought if you find the right price. But what if in the end, the goal in this case a constitutional amendment, was actually priceless in human terms. What do you bargain away to get it? It left much to think about regarding compromise and it’s many layers, as well as stopping ”perfect from being the enemy of the good.”

Then there is the “Rocky Factor”. Whenever there is a situation where a good guy has an uphill battle, can the movie send a chill up your spine at the right time. This one did. (2012)

Comment » | 5 Stars, History

War Horse

December 9th, 2011 — 9:25pm

****

War Horse sp —  Steven Spielberg, producer and director along with  his team may have made another classic film. The movie is based on a book by Michael Morpurgo  as well as Broadway show that had puppets for the horses. The screen play is by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis. The film has very well done elements, a music score by John Williams, photography by Janusz Kaminski and features Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Peter Mullan and Tom Hiddleston and what appeared to be a cast of thousands. The storyline  deals   with the universal appeal of the love of an animal, father-son relationship, accomplishing something against almost impossible odds, the fascination with epic war scenes, breathtaking scenery with magnificent colors and much more. The problem with this 146 minute  film is that is that it seems that Spielberg and the writers  couldn’t decide if this were to be a young person’s movie where you fall in love with the horse , root for it, cry with it and identify with the young people who befriend this lovely creature. Or is it really an adult movie which gives us the best and most realisitic  depiction of World War I  trench warfare and the battle scenes since , All Is Quiet on the Western Front ? It obviously is a combination of both which probably made it a little difficult for us to get completely lost in it since we weren’t sure if it was our child self or adult self that was into the film. At the point where we might think that it would a great film for our 10 year old granddaughter ( it is PG-13 however) , the story progresses where we are watching a fairly violent massive battle scene although no blood  is really shown. And just as we were getting into the realism of World War I we realize the German soldiers are speaking English with a German accent. ( German with subtitles may have been more realistic a la  Tarrentino’s Inglorious Basterds) . We recall reading stories where during World War I, opposing sides on Christmas Day or other occasions would emerge from their trenches and socialize and then return to their respective sides and continue to try to wipe each other out. This spirit was captured so well in the highlight of the film where two soldiers from opposites sides of the battle line meet midway between their trenches because they care about a horse. No doubt the appeal of this film will be to people from both sides of the age divide and should be enjoyed by most of them.(2011)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Family / Kids, War

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