Monday, February 22, 2016

Film Review: Bridge of Spies (2015)

Bridge of Spies poster

In 1957 Brooklyn, New York, reclusive amateur painter Rudolph Abel (Mark Rylance) is sat in jail accused of being a soviet informant after having his home raided by the FBI.  After refusing to put up a fight, he awaits his trial and is introduced to successful law partner James B. Donavon (Tom Hanks), who has reluctantly taken his case. 

The prosecutors, his law-firm partners, the public and even the judge all want Donavon to lose the case, yet after the inevitable guilty verdict, his strong belief in fair representation and the constitution convince him to appeal the conviction and spare Abel the electric chair.

Meanwhile, Francis Gary Powers an American pilot is shot down over the Soviet Union during a secret U-2 spy mission at the same time as an American economics student finds himself on the wrong side of the newly erected Berlin Wall.  Donavon has shrewdly predicted this eventuality and begins to negotiate a prisoner of war swap between the two super-powers. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Film Review: The Hateful Eight (2016)

Some time after the end of the Civil War, John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his stagecoach driver O.B. are travelling to the town of Red Rock, Wyoming with Ruth’s latest bounty: the notorious fugitive Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh). A couple of fortuitous happenstances and a roaring blizzard quickly ensure that the ride becomes a lot cosier due to fellow bounty hunter, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), and supposed new Red Rock sheriff Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) hitching a ride.

The fierce weather prohibits them for reaching their destination overnight, so they decide to stop at Minnie’s Haberdashery for respite and warm stew.  Yet already in residence at the small lodge are the enigmatic cowboy Joe Cage (Michael Madsen), elderly Confederate general Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern) and the new Red Rock hangman Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth).

What follows is an inevitably Tarantinoesque pressure cooker of narcissists, paranoiacs and sociopaths having to spend time in a room together slowly discovering the motivations and machinations that will build to a bloody climax… 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Film Review: Mad Max. Fury Road (2015)

Nuclear holocausts have been a staple of discouraging cinema for decades, yet somehow they just seem so… fun.  The thought experiment of what would arise from the ashes of Mutually Assured Destruction has preoccupied filmmakers since only a few years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and yet the apocalypticaphilia continues to perpetually reinvent itself.

More of an alternate reality offshoot than a sequel, Mad Max: Fury Road reinvents the franchise with Max (Tom Hardy) being captured by the War Boys – the neo-steam punk army of local tyrant Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) – and taken back to The Citadel to be used as a “blood bag” for the sickly driver Nix (Nicholas Hoult). 

Meanwhile, loyal lieutenant Furiosa (Charlize Theron) has re-routed a routine gasoline mission in the armored War-Rig, into becoming a maverick escape for Joe’s five specially selected breeding ‘wives’.  On hearing of the betrayal, Joe sends the War Boys – including Max strapped to his Nux’s car for blood transfusion – after the truck and his prized childbearing wives.