Virgin Movie Review – Sully

tom hanks in sullyLet’s just open with this axiom: Tom Hanks can do no wrong.

Done.

That’s not much of a review, is it?

Starting again: I just watched Sully last night for the first time. Somehow, I never heard about “The Miracle on the Hudson.” I shy away from the news, because “news” usually equals “bad news” and I don’t need any more of that. But in this case, as with The Apollo 13 mission, the story fell into the rare “good news” category.

Funnily enough, both Sully and Apollo 13 star Tom Hanks. This man can really lead a film — and I kind of felt, watching Sully, this was a bit like “Apollo 13 with Planes.”

Take a situation where the wrong split-second decision (here it’s a 32-second decision) means a loss of all hands.  155 people survived because Captain Chesley Sullenberger saw no feasible options, and came up with a brand new one. He landed a passenger aircraft on the Hudson River, and everyone — everyone  — survived. RunPee Mom, who used to be an airline attendant, tells me no one survives an emergency landing on water. I assume this aspect led to the “Miracle” moniker. The image of everyone standing on the wings as the Airbus plane slowly sank into the Hudson River is indelible, iconic perhaps.

(The rescue scenes in the frigid water reminded me of Titanic, another true-life-based disaster film, but in that case, only 706 out of 2208 souls were pulled from the water. I assume that’s because Tom Hanks wasn’t there to save them.)

Since everyone lived, there had to be SOME kind of plot jeopardy. In Sully, it’s the “blood sucking lawyers.” The climactic formal hearing was tense and well-structured: it perfectly illustrated the obfuscating influence of insurance companies needing to place the blame on someone. How about on the shoulders of the calm-under-pressure hero who saved all the people? Great, let’s go after him! He’s about to retire anyway.

I for one loved the simulation sequences. I’m a sucker for that kind of movie exposition. I liked it when they did it on Titanic, too. It’s an early version of Star Trek’s holodeck!

What else happened in this film? There’s the inquiry and the hearing. The simulations. Tom Hanks acting opposite a cell phone. Tom Hanks having traumatic flashbacks and nightmares. He gets a drink named in his honor: The Sully: Grey Goose Vodka with a splash of water. Get it?

tom hanks and aaron eckhart
You have 32 seconds to save 155 people. What do you do?

Aaron Eckhart had an agreeable role as the co-pilot. I appreciated that he had Sully’s back. He was there; he knew what happened (“BIRDS!”).  He loyally told everyone that he trusted Sully’s judgement and was grateful to be alive. Laura Linney, playing a thankless role as Sully’s wife, had absolutely nothing to do, stuck on the end of a cell phone, in the kitchen with their daughters. That’s one of the misfires of this film. Mike O’Malley, playing the heavy, looks like he tried, but he still seemed to me like Burt Hummel from Glee, and it was hard to take him seriously. I’m glad he found a leading part in a good movie, but it was probably miscast — someone either scarier or more arch would have been a better choice. (Maybe he looked like the real person. I don’t care enough to check.) 🙂

Trying to make a side plot with some of the passengers didn’t pay off so well. Early on we are introduced to a trio of golfers getting last minute seats on the plane. That went exactly nowhere. There was also a woman with her wheelchair bound mother shoehorned into the narrative, and that was a dead end too. It was a bizarre choice: what worked in Titanic with people’s stories was only a token effort in Sully. Those well-drawn characters are what made the Titanic film so immersive and enduring. We know what happens at the end, but you kind of forget the ship will sink, because you’re caught up in the story of Jack and Rose.

Maybe they wanted to pad out Sully’s 88-minute run-time, but if so, they should have expanded the film to have these side-stories resonate. Or don’t bother trying to put a human face on the passengers, and expand on Sully’s family watching the news, back home (again, as in Apollo 13).

tom hands and sully photo
Tom Hanks and the real hero, Sully

I really enjoyed Sully and don’t want to nit-pick on it anymore. It’s a feel-good true to life story, and an inspiring one. It’s a relief to know that sometimes things work out.

By the way, Tom Hanks can carry an entire movie just talking to a volleyball. How’s that for good acting?  Who would have guessed from his early comedic films like Bosom Buddies and Big that he had so much talent? I think without him, this sometimes dry and definitely spare film would have felt like a documentary.

I also think the non-linear, almost Roshoman-type story structure helped keep the interest high. There are no world changing stakes, but things could so easily have gone wrong, and crashing a plane into New York City’s skyscrapers would have rocked the nation with memories of 9/11. We can be lucky Manhattan escaped this time, and we saw from Sully’s nightmares that this was entirely on his mind. What if? Thankfully, we never found out.

(Just thinking — maybe it’s time to move the NYC airports out of the city, like Denver did, closing down Stapleton Airport. The new one is safely out on the Colorado plains, and is a state of the art, lovely airport to get stuck in.)

Overall: Sully provides an easy hour and a half of entertainment, with a real-life disaster tale and a happy ending. You get to know a little bit more about the historical events and Captain Sully himself. I was glad to see it. Like I said, there’s too much bad news out there.

Movie Grade: B+

 

Movie Review – The Post

Tom Hanks is the man. Streep does her usual good job, but basically she’s playing a nicer version of her Miranda Priestly role from The Devil Wears Prada. Hanks is really the standout actor in this, and it’s not easy to upstage Streep! He’s settling nicely into his older roles, and in The Post he is so good at being this smart, genial, likeable, dedicated newsman that I lost myself in his part, instead of being constantly impressed with his work. If this sounds like a contradiction, remember that really good acting is about the story, not the actor. When someone subsumes their persona into the role given, you forget about star power and just enjoy the work. Many kudos to Hanks. He’s become really reliable and versatile over the years.

Bob Odenkirk also deserves a shout out — he had some of the best, most gripping scenes, and was a great choice in this altogether stellar cast.

One question I do have: did every man in this era have a growly voice like the actors affected here?

The film documents a brave, historic, and positive moment in time, showcasing the better side of human nature. It will make you feel happy to be a small part of it, even as just a passive movie viewer. Politics sometimes isn’t completely depressing! Good job, Spielberg; once again you haven’t let us down. The wonderful score by John Williams is resonant and uplifting as well. I don’t usually enjoy historical dramas, but this is easily an A experience.

Movie grade: A

Movie Review – The Circle

Grade – C+ (a little bit above average)

Imagine if Facebook and Google got married, had a monster-child, and named it Circle. There you have it. Could this really happen? Yes indeed, and to take that one step further, I’ll wager that there’s a monster-child already gestating out there in cyber space.

The Circle had a star studded cast, but if you’re going only because Tom Hanks is in it, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Hanks has about 10 minutes of screen time; he delivers his few lines nicely, disappears for fifteen or twenty minutes, then shows back up to deliver more nice lines. Emma Watson does keep us pretty much entertained throughout the movie, but the real kudos goes to Glenne Headly and the late Bill Paxton. No one in Hollywood will ever be able to shout obscenities the way you did, Bill.

I’m a big fan of Dave Eggers, and his book *A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius* has been in my top 20 books since I read it when it first came out. I think it would have made a better movie than The Circle, but that’s only my opinion, for what it’s worth.

Movie Review – Sully

 

Movie Review - SullyBeing a retired flight attendant who was based in New York, and having flown out of LaGuardia airport frequently, gave me a unique perspective on this movie.

I can’t say that I was looking forward to seeing ‘Sully’. I was flying out of New York during 9/11 and lost many peers and one good friend on that ill-fated morning. So I tend to shy away from any reminders of that day. However, I thank my lucky stars that I did bite the bullet and watched this extraordinary film.

Thank you, Clint Eastwood for not going all ‘Hollywood’ by turning this true event into some tacky, overblown piece of junk just to boost ticket sales. You told us the story as it happened through the eyes of Captain Sullenburger.

I paid close attention to the technical aspect of the movie with regards to the events prior to and following the water landing and I give high praise to the accuracy of what I saw. Even though I never experienced a water landing or ditching (and there is a difference), all safety rules were done accurately. I do appreciate that.

As for the acting and directing, hopefully ‘Sully’ will be remembered during the Oscar season. Not since Million Dollar Baby has Eastwood directed such a powerful film. And as for Tom Hanks; I believe he gave the performance of his career.

Even though the format of RunPee will only allow me to give a movie an A+ as the highest rating possible, I must give Sully an A++ in this review.

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: Even though there was plenty of drama in this movie, I did choose 2 Peetimes that were easily summed up in the synopsis. You will not miss any of the excellent scenes concerning the water landing of flight 1549.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Sully. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Buy the movie from Amazon.com on DVD or Blu Ray

Virgin Movie Review – Sully

Movie Review – Saving Mr. Banks

SavingMrBanksAn enchanting story from beginning to end. The story wove the past with the present — the present being 1961 — beautifully. The flashbacks to Mrs. Travers’ past helped us understand her character and build the drama for the climax of the movie.

The acting was what you would expect if you are expecting perfection. Emma Thompson is one of my favorite actresses, and she was the ideal choice for this role. Of course, Tom Hanks does what Tom Hanks does, with every role he performs.

It’s easy to overlook the importance of Colin Farrell’s performance, but he did a masterful job portraying the loving but tortured father who inspired his daughter.

mary poppins flies with her unbrella
How do I get my Umbrella to do that?

I was pleasantly surprised that Paul Giamatti had a small part in the film. After doing a little research, I discovered his character isn’t based on any single person in reality, but was added to give Mrs. Travers someone to warm up to. They certainly cast the perfect actor for the role. Giamatti does a great job at playing understated but likable characters.

There is a fair amount of humor, although little of it is of the laugh out loud variety.

Confession: I’ve never read the book or seen the movie Mary Poppins. All through the movie I confused the movie “Mary Poppins” with “Bed Knobs and Broom Sticks”, which I have seen, and enjoyed, many times. It wasn’t until the end of “Saving Mr. Banks” that I realized my confusion. I wonder if anyone else will do the same thing.

Movie Review – Mary Poppins Returns

5 Differences between the Old and New Mary Poppins