Sully – LFF Review

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On the 15th of January 2009 Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was flying an Airbus out of New York’s LaGuardia airport. Following a massive bird strike Sully lost both engines and was forced to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River for fear of crashing into New York city. The whole event took less than four minutes and Sully is widely regarded as a modern day hero. Seven years later Clint Eastwood has stretched and padded those four minutes to make them into feature film and thrown in a bad guy for good measure.

In Sully we get Hollywood’s favourite everyman Tom Hanks stepping into the lead role and bringing with him his reliable air of humble gravitas. Sully doesn’t see himself as a hero but the film forces him to defend his status as one as it shows the pivotal four minutes intercut with an investigation into whether or not Sully actually had to land in the Hudson; the alternative theory being that he could have safely made a return trip back to the airport. The bulk of the film is Sully wringing his hands about this disagreement and the wildly exaggerated depiction of the aggressive investigation into the crash landing. It seems than in making Sully a hero Eastwood decided he needed to make someone the villain. Clearly Eastwood is a fan of Unbreakable.

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Further padding out the film are flashbacks showing Sully’s past flying planes and scenes of his wife fretting at home. Feel sorry for Laura Linney who is reduced to looking concerned while talking into the phone and peering out of the window at photographers. Hanks’ Sully seems almost cold towards his wife so any emotional weight intended to be brought by their relationship is non existent. The flashbacks also add nothing to the film beyond showing us that Sully has always enjoyed flying and that flying isn’t always easy. Nothing revelatory there. These are mere distractions from the flight investigation which is itself a distraction from the crash which we get to see numerous times over from moderately different viewpoints.

It doesn’t feel nice to say that the story of Sully is too bland to make a decent film. There is no doubt that the real Sully did something brave and heroic but this very lack of doubt is why there is no drama in the rest of the film. Outside of the thrilling minutes of the crash the film is nothing but filler. Tom Hanks does his best but Sully, a wonderful man I’m sure, isn’t particularly interesting to spend time with. The resultant film is a completely non-cynical patriotic celebration of Sully and is just missing him standing in front of a slowly waving American flag to complete the canonisation.

Sully’s actions deserve celebrating but they do not deserve this lightweight drama. Never has a film based on true events suffered so much from a lack of material.

Hyde Park on Hudson – LFF Review

Hyde Park on Hudson

Hyde Park on Hudson is a little confused about what makes for an interesting film. It is convinced that we want to watch a romance between FDR (Bill Murray) and an annoying woman (Laura Linney) rather than enjoy the social awkwardness when King Bertie (Samuel West) and Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) come to stay. The story of this momentous visit from British royals is for some reason told through the eyes of FDR’s mistress who is mercifully absent from many of the scenes surrounding the visit. Linney’s Daisy is most fawning or crying over FDR – loitering around like a wet blanket with nothing better to do than hang around looking needy as FDR’s wife (Olivia Williams) looks on with all the contempt I myself was feeling.

Murray gives a routinely robust performance as FDR managing to be amusing without ever trying too hard. He plays a warm president with a slight weakness for women and an effortless charm. In contrast the royal couple are a socially awkward pair experiencing culture shock in their first trip to America. It helps that The King’s Speech has made us familiar with this pair but the never less than perfect Colman and the not-quite-Colin-Firth West play a stiff but friendly couple with a fear of hot dogs and a humanising vulnerability. These three combined with Williams make for a curious double date as the two couples gradually feel one another out and gradually become friends.

This could have easily been a very enjoyable, if slightly lightweight, period drama about international relations. There is plenty of meat here for a film dealing with a similar mix of humour and historical importance as The King’s Speech with which Hyde Park on Hudson would have made a perfect double bill. However… Laura Linney’s character stops this from happening. Whenever the film shift to focus on her dull affair with FDR the film veers away from anything interesting and ends up an inconsistent mess.

Hyde Park on Hudson is a promising film that has been sat on by Laura Linney. The film has been left flat and deformed and is no longer fit for use. What a waste.

Hyde Park on Hudson – Trailer

While we are clearly all film connoisseurs here at Mild Concern and watch all films regardless of their outward appearance and marketing, sometimes seeing a certain bunch of actors in a trailer gets me all excited. (see Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)

To give you an insight into how my brain reacts to this sort of trailer, and the general inane chatter I have to put up with all day long from inside my own head, I have broken down my thought process while watching the trailer for Hyde Park on Hudson, embedded below.

My reaction to the trailer for Hyde Park on Hudson can be broken down as follows:

0:12 – Laura Linney! She’s normally really good in things (and I once saw her making out in Piccadilly Circus). Let’s hope this isn’t one of her annoying roles.
0:16 – Who’s that? I don’t recognise the voice.
0:20 – Bill Murray! I love him in every single film he’s done.
0:26 – Wow, he really doesn’t sound like Bill Murray. I will hopefully get over this soon.
0:40 – Was that Olivia Colman? It probably wasn’t but wouldn’t it be great if it was?
0:49 – King of England? I guess this is King Colin Firth. This is what you get for choosing Geography over History.
0:56 – Olivia Williams too! She was great even in Dollhouse.
1:00 – Nice fake teeth you’re wearing Olivia Williams.
1:04 – It certainly sounds like Olivia Colman. (At this point I start to look up the film on IMDb)
1:14 – It is Olivia Colman. I love Olivia Colman! (And IMDb gets closed)
1:25 – Fantastic awkward wave, very Roger & Val.
1:36 – I like cocktails.
1:40 – “Based on True Events” means I might actually learn something about history. Fantastic.
2:08 – I wonder what Bill Murray was Oscar nominated for?*
2:10 – Bill Murray and Olivia Colman in the same car. Amazing.
2:12 – I wonder what Laura Linney was Oscar nominated for? Presumably not Love Actually.**
2:23 – Excellent use of the film’s title in dialogue. Kudos.
2:29 – When is soon?

* Lost in Translation, of course.
** The Savages, Kinsey and You Can Count on Me. Steady on Linney.

Sundance Sales

Martha Marcy May Marlene

We didn’t spend the whole ten days of Sundance jealously scrounging for news while stuck in an airless office in grey London. Not at all. But now that the only thing Park City has to look forward to is sub-zero temperatures and a whole lot of snow (ha! Take that, Utah!), Mild Concern sorts through the film sales and picks out the ones to watch out for when some studio exec decides they can see the light of day. (We’re still waiting for Hesher from last year’s Sundance.)

Sundance was a strong festival for Mild Concern favourites. First up (and previously teased): Like Crazy – the long distance relationship drama starring Anton Yelchin and, more importantly, Felicity Jones. We do like to see all this buzz around our fellow East London resident. Don’t forget us when you’re a Hollywood starlet, Felicity.

Having already peeked at the next tip due to this blog’s stalking casual interest in the roles of Ms. Deschanel, My Idiot Brother stars Paul Rudd as a pot-dealing idealist who disrupts the lives of his three sisters in what is hopefully a non-bromance film. At last!

Tired of seeing Paul Bettany wasted in bad films? Or period dramas? Or as English villains? Or as a disembodied voice at the beck and call of Robert Downey Jr? Well how about seeing how he does as a banker? Or at least, Margin Call is set in an investment bank during 24 hours in the financial crisis so we might be extrapolating a bit. It’s a thriller, really! Also looking to enthrall you with numbers and graphs is writer-director newcomer, J.C. Chandor and the combined acting force of Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Stanley Tucci and President of the Earth, Mary McDonnell.

From an established cast of big names to Homework. Billed as a ‘coming-of-age romantic comedy’, it can only be filled with actors that make me show my age when I ask, “Wait – aren’t they 10 years old?” Case in point: little Charlie of Chocolate Factory fame (Freddie Highmore) and blonde starlet, Emma Roberts, who I haven’t seen in anything since she was 10. It’s got a lot of buzz and has an indie poster. It even has music from The Shins.

Does having celebrity older siblings who have demonstrated how to have a car crash of a youth acting career make you more likely to go about having a similar career in a more sensible manner? That’s probably a question that requires more research (and better editing) but if we take a sample size of one and make that one person Elizabeth Olsen, then the answer is yes. I am weirdly excited about Martha Marcy May Marlene, which stars Olsen as an escapee from a cult and tracks between her time there and her failing attempts to re-assimilate back into her life. Sounds like the girl has made some good choices; just make sure you finish that Psychology degree, Elizabeth – hey, it worked for Portman.

Every time we hear about good stuff that the UK Film Council has done, we get a little sinking feeling because we worry for its future. The Guard, starring Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson, inspires that sinking feeling. Drug smuggling, FBI agents and reluctant Irish village police. It’s either a crime thriller or a farcical comedy! (It’s a thriller.)

I’m rounding this section off with The Details – Elizabeth Banks, Tobey Maguire and Laura Linney. Apparently it’s about the ridiculousness of the every day, involves a raccoon-ruined lawn and is a comedy that isn’t going to provide obvious jokes for a trailer. Got to be worth a look, just for that.

Films about real stuff!

We like a good documentary, we do.

Being Elmo

  • Project Nim opened Sundance and looked at the chimp who was brought up as a human in the 70s. A BBC production, hopefully it’ll go on wider distribution somehow over here. Insert some sort of rambling about the license fee.
  • The advertising world pays the collective rent of Mild Concern, so we’ve got a bit of a vested interest in how marketing works. Morgan Spurlock, creator of Super Size Me, made a film entirely financed by product placement and advertising: Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.
  • Seeing as penguins have already been covered, Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey will probably be the second cutest thing you can get in a feature-length documentary. As far as I can tell (my sketchy research could easily be wrong), it’s not been sold yet but it’s all about the fuzzy red one and pretty much guarantees a cinema full of “awwww”s. How could it not be picked up soon?
  • The New York Times has a movie – Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times, which presumably does what it says on the tin. I am geekily intrigued.
  • Life in a Day was put together after YouTube users were encouraged to record their day on 24th July 2010, which the film-makers mixed together. Sounds like a marvel of editing.

More A-Listers Join the Small Screen

As if Dustin Hoffman wasn’t enough, American TV is getting even more critically acclaimed acting folk to give up lots of movie-making time.

Laura Linney is taking on the lead role in The Big C on Showtime starting next month. She plays a wife and mother who finds out she has cancer and unravels in a funny way. It’s like Breaking Bad less crystal meth and sadness.

But that’s not all, The Big C also has Oliver Platt and Gabourey Sidibe amongst it’s cast and as of yesterday they got…. Liam Neeson!

American acotars are starting to see TV as some British actors do, just another medium but not necessarily a lesser one. Have a look at the trailer if you’ve got a few minutes, it doesn’t look terrible: