In the course of two weeks, I viewed four very different movies: “Sully,” “Snowden,” “Bridget Jones’s Baby” and “Blair Witch.” At first, it was difficult to decide which movie to review for this issue, but then I had an epiphany: give a small review of all four films in a Fall Movie Preview. I had the good sense to realize it would be a lot of writing for one article, so I decided to split the preview up: review two of the four films for this edition, and the remaining two for the next edition. And so, my dear readers, I give you the fall movie preview of 2016… Part One.
Clint Eastwood’s latest film “Sully” is a biographical and artistic depiction of Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger who was burdened with the task of landing US Airway’s Flight 1549 on Jan. 15, 2009. Not only does the film detail the events of that day and the adversarial investigation that proceeds, but Eastwood creates a clean-cut and detailed movie, making this the shortest film he’s ever directed. The lack in run time, however, doesn’t stop this movie from maintaining the same level of intensity as any other Clint Eastwood film.
The beginning of the film shows Capt. Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) and his co-pilot, Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart), land the large plane carrying 155 people in the Hudson River on a brisk New York winter day. The story largely involves the events that take place in the aftermath of the landing, mainly the investigation (or witch-hunt) by the National Transportation Safety Board. The table of judges, led by Mike O’Malley, run countless simulations and ask insinuating questions in order to find some fault in the heroics of Sully that day.
Eastwood and Hanks make a formidable team in portraying Sully not only as a true American hero but as a classic hero whom Eastwood himself might have played: a man faced not only with a life-or-death scenario but afterwards put on trial. Sully depicts the old-fashioned American man: sturdy, honest, noble and, most of all, brave. Eastwood once again produces a hero that you just can’t help but root for. The movie itself is to the point. It’s greatly detailed with just enough intensity to keep you absorbed in the film. There’s no fluff and no unnecessary dialogue or action. If you have a fear of flights, however, consider yourself warned.
“Snowden” is a politically charged dramatic thriller directed by the prolific Oliver Stone. It’s a dramatization of the events in Edward Snowden’s life between the years of 2003 and 2015. It’s based on two books, the first being “The Time of the Octopus” by Anatoly Kucherena, and the second being “The Snowden Files” by Luke Harding. It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor who blew the whistle on the U.S. government’s mass collection of data and the fact that it was spying on its own citizens in the name of security and safety.
There has been a public debate in the media by politicians and people alike when it comes to whether or not Snowden is a hero or a traitor. There’s no question as to the side of this debate Oliver Stone falls on and what message he’s presenting in the film. Much of the plot is about Snowden the person and his evolution from a gung-ho “government can do no wrong” blind patriot to an “oh no, my government is breaking the law and I have to expose it and tell people” patriot. It also has a strong focus on his relationship with longtime girlfriend Lindsay Mills, played by Shailene Woodley (“The Divergent Series”). The couple have ups and downs in their relationship like any couple would, as mounting stress from Edward’s career puts them at odds. He essentially has to lie and keep secrets from her, two things that are very damaging to a relationship. The audience sees the moral struggle Edward faces in relation to the United States’ surveillance programs and the fact that he is unable to talk about it out with anyone. This means he can’t work through his issues, and they just create more strain and pressure on him in his home life.
In the end, how you feel about “Snowden” may depend on how you feel about the man himself and your ability to separate your personal feelings from the media scrutiny. Since I’m a dirty hippy, I found it fairly engaging and mostly entertaining, though a little heavy-handed on the preaching and a bit timid when it came to Stone’s signature conspiracy angle. It’s a bit sluggish in its pacing and run time, though I didn’t find it as bad as I thought it would be. By the end, you may be so paranoid you’ll want to tape over your computer’s webcam and turn off your computer’s microphones or possibly store your cell phone in the microwave to block UHF frequencies. Not that we have anything to hide, NSA, just an observation!