In Review: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

“It’s good to talk.” So goes the old adage of Mr. Rogers and the new film that follows his teachings and unique impact on American society, Marielle Heller’s restorative A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. The film uses the simplicity and unassuming depth of those words to examine how learn and hold on to pain, certain that there is nothing more dramatic than two people connecting. The two people on the film’s mind are a journalist named Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) and his subject, the incomparable Fred Rogers, played by Tom Hanks as no other performer could have. It’s largely, achingly, two men talking. Or sometimes, for one of them, struggling to talk.


Continue reading “In Review: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

In Review!: “Sully”

Occasionally there is a film that can make you want to scream at the screen “People don’t talk like this!” Reality in film is never a necessity; language itself can be absurd, heightened, merely a tool to be morphed to serve the film. But sometimes the literal words out of the mouths of characters only reveal the misguided point of view failing the film at play.


Unfortunately Sully is such a film. A new nadir for director Clint Eastwood, the film shows the director completely asleep at the wheel. It’s a film from a director who has turned off their eyes and ears to the world, completely disassociated from the reality it tries to create. Based on the true story of Captain Chelsea “Sully” Sullenberger (a rare flatline performance from Tom Hanks) and his miraculous emergency water landing of a US Airways passenger plane in 2009, the film becomes accidental farce.

Continue reading “In Review!: “Sully””

In Review!: “Bridge of Spies”

With nearly 30 films to his credit, Steven Spielberg continues to find new paths of entry into his career-spanning themes: the value of a single human life, the nobility of social outsiders, and, most famously, the impact of fathers. His newest, Bridge of Spies, is a Cold War humanist exercise, exciting in its confident classical tropes and frustrating in its assemblage.

Tom Hanks stars as an everyman insurance lawyer thrust into an unfriendly spotlight when chosen to defend a captured Soviet spy, ultimately compelled by his duty to democracy and attempts to negotiate the safe trade of agents across opposing sides. The story beats are often expected, but perfectly suited to gifts that Spielberg is only recently reinvigorating.


Spies is a natural successor to his previous efforts with Lincoln, in that exhibits a much more collaborative spirit than which Spielberg has been credited. Though he’s worked with the masters, often having long-spanning partnerships with the likes of John Williams and Janusz Kaminski, his directorial efforts are presented with the lens of one solitary vision. Like Lincoln, Spielberg feels here to be speaking in unison with expert screenwriting and a massive ensemble of actors, though without reaching the consistent heights of that effort.

Continue reading “In Review!: “Bridge of Spies””