Posts tagged "Tom Hanks"

“Greyhound” a gripping & harrowing WWII tale as Hanks becomes “Sully” of the high seas

July 8th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““Greyhound” a gripping & harrowing WWII tale as Hanks becomes “Sully” of the high seas”

Tom Hanks, writer and star of the new Apple TV+ distributed film “Greyhound,” gives us a fictional look into the dangers and pressure one captain experiences as he leads a convoy of Allied ships across the Atlantic Ocean during WWII. This isn’t the first WWII film Hanks has starred in (“Saving Private Ryan”) and it isn’t the first film he’s written a screenplay (“The Larry Crowne Affair”), and thankfully, Hanks also brings a familiar and welcomed character to his portrayal of Capt. Ernie Krause. Think of him as Sully of the High Seas.

It’s 1942 and Capt. Krause is departing to lead the Allied ships from the US to England. With aerial coverage unavailable for a great portion of the middle of the voyage, Krause must battle German U Boats known as the infamous submarine group, The Wolfpack. Krause is a natural leader with a steady moral compass as we are privy to his private moments, flashbacks to the love of his life, and how he deals with two sailors who came to fist to cuffs the evening before. He instills a confidence in us immediately as we must place an inordinate faith in this man, much like his sailors, as they slice through the waves destined to battle the enemy and find their way to England.

Taking place over the course of a few days, the uncertainty of success looms over the ships like a dark cloud. As an enemy submarine is spotted on radar, the next course of action is life or death. With Krause’s calm, cool, and collected demeanor and his precision thinking, one battle is won. It is at this point, as the German sub explodes, that we see Krause’s emotional depth. While he’s happy to have evaded death and kept his crew safe, he also acknowledges the loss of life on the other side. 50 souls are lost. This sounds familiar as Capt. Sully Sullivan in “Sully” also used the same terminology. And it is at this moment that we are more deeply connected to Krause, hoping our confidence in him will allow everyone to be safe. Of course, this is WWII and that cannot be the case.

As the days turn into nights and Krause and his sailors navigate the waters, the harsh elements create even more difficulties as the pack of German submarines attempt to sink as many ships in the convoy as possible. The obstacles encountered seem tantamount to failure with radar and equipment malfunctions due to extreme cold, lack of sleep, and no matter how hard Chef Cleveland (Rob Morgan) tries, Krause cannot eat. The intensity of this situation skyrockets as torpedos are launched during which time Krause must develop a course of action and turn back to save the lives of bombed ships. Technicians quickly and precisely relay coordinates to ensigns who repeat the information exactly to their Captain, and we can see the wheels turning in his head as he outsmarts and outmaneuvers the enemy. The intensity is so great that we feel the chill in the air as we are on the edge of our seats, plunged into the murky dark environment and holding our breath as the ship lists to one side. It’s chillingly breathtaking.

The film is based upon a book by C.S Forester called “The Good Shepherd,” and while it is not a true story, it could easily be interpreted as one. We see the youth and trust these boys, and they are boys, have in their leader as they follow his every order. A few questioning glances allow us to see the youth and fear these young men have, yet their courage and training takes over to help them work together like a well-oiled machine. What makes this film different than many other WWII or any war movie is the human factor and the connections we have to not just our main character, but his connection with each supporting character. All of this is not only engaging, but also connects us to everyone aboard the ship.

Hanks, not surprisingly, is extraordinary in this role as he deftly develops a character with integrity, strength, compassion, and intellect. The finely tuned and nuanced performance gives his character layers, depth, and a sense of reality. And paired with the direction of Aaron Schneider, the film becomes a detailed exhibit of the humanity and destruction of war along the seemingly endless nautical miles of the perilous deep blue sea. Of course, to experience this so completely is thanks to skillful cinematography. Camera angles, sweeping shots, and special effects bring us onto the ship to stand next to Krause and his crew, making this a gripping adventure with an unknown outcome.

4 Stars

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is what the world needs now

November 17th, 2019 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is what the world needs now”

What the world needs now is exactly what “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” provides. Starring Tom Hanks as the beloved children’s television show host Fred Rogers and Matthew Rhys as Lloyd Vogel, a talented yet jaded journalist who must interview Rogers for Esquire Magazine, much to his chagrin, for the “Hero” issue. “Neighborhood,” co-written by Micah Ritzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster and directed by Marielle Heller (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”) tells Vogel’s story and how Rogers’ impacted him in this brilliantly creative story that will change your heart and make the world a kinder place for all who see it.

WATCH THE TRAILER

Can a movie really do that? Change your heart? I challenge you to prove me wrong as the “Fred Effect” is a powerfully positive one. And if you’re thinking this is just going to be a narrative feature film based on the phenomenal 2018 documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” it’s not. We begin the tale, inspired by journalist Tom Junod’s Esquire1998 article “Can You Say… ‘Hero?’” in the Land of Make-Believe. The camera sweeps in to an incredibly elaborate design of Pittsburgh and then takes us on to the set of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Fred (Hanks) welcomes us as he calmly goes through his routine of taking off his shoes and putting on that red cardigan that has become synonymous with love and kindness. Just when you think the film is going to be a reenactment of the show, Mr. Rogers introduces us to our main character, Lloyd, whose beaten face is uncovered beneath Picture Board’s doors. We are then magically transported to Lloyd’s world in NYC and how he came to this angry state.

“Neighborhood” builds on these juxtaposing tones of positivity and negativity, aka real life, with deft skill. Lloyd, hearing that his new assignment is not hard-nosed investigative journalism, but a puff piece about a kids’ show host, makes him quite angry; not realizing that this will change his life forever. Reluctantly, he arranges a meeting with Rogers and each subsequent interaction Lloyd finds frustration, disbelief, igniting his long-buried internal. It’s a revelatory narrative arc of growth for Lloyd that will resonate with us al.

The story is incredibly powerful as the writers masterfully take us into both Lloyd’s and Rogers’ worlds. One moment we are laughing aloud, the next tears are streaming down our faces with joy and sometimes sadness. It completes all the emotional ranges we are capable of expressing. To describe scenes such as the subway or the dream scenes would be spoiling your fun so I will only alert you to them.

Attention to detail is evident in not only the script, but the set and sound design. Mr. Rogers thoughtfully explains the very dark topics that he addresses on his show and why. Lloyd is the devil’s advocate and bluntly states what many of us are perhaps thinking only to get a remarkable answer in return. Their chemistry is sometimes uncomfortable, but always genuine. It feels as if you are watching real-time events unfold, not a movie.

The interactions between Lloyd and his father Jerry (Chris Cooper) reveal where Lloyd’s anger stems and we get a clear picture of his past and what he must overcome. It is during these painful memories and current interactions that there is a tinnitus or high-pitched sound that bombards Lloyd, sending him into his angry and unbearable world. The emotional roller coaster then quickly jettisons us into the next scene from NYC to Pittsburgh and back using extraordinarily detailed sets imitating the Land of Make Believe. These are the small, no pun intended, but important details that accentuate the creativity of all who are involved in this film giving the intense story a way to bounce into a safer emotional state.

All of this could not be possible or believable if it wasn’t for the fact that Hanks becomes Rogers. From the moment we meet him going through the door of the set at WQED in Pittsburgh, he is Mr. Rogers. His body language, affect, mannerisms, speech pattern and cadence and most importantly, his expressive eyes all replicate the man millions of children (and now adults) have come to love and admire. To resemble another person for a film is a grand accomplishment, but to become him, making the audience believe in him, is quite another. Hanks is sublime.

Rhys performance is equally as powerful, balancing the story in a difficult way. It’s real and one with which most of us can connect. Cooper has a stand out performance as well and Enrico Colantoni’s role as Rogers’ right-hand man Bill Isler is a small role, but one that has heart and comedy as well. Every actor in this film is perfectly cast adding just the right dose of personality to make this film come to life.

Director Heller’s “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is a brilliant work of art as Hanks captures the heart, soul, and essence of Fred Rogers. Make no mistake, this is Vogel’s story. Heller found a gem of a tale to retell and gives audiences a powerfully uplifting story based on reality. Her ingenious imagination and creativity keeps us grounded in Fred’s world as we walk in Lloyd’s shoes, experiencing an empathy with this character like no other and hopefully, ultimately changing us. It’s a metamorphosis of a character and maybe even of us as viewers.

4 STARS out of 4. (I’d give it more if I could!)

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