‘Beirut’ is an audacious thriller with a star-making performance from Jon Hamm

Espionage supports the political poker game and thrills here


Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm) embraces the gutter. A former United States diplomat who suffered tragedy in the Middle East many years ago and abandoned everything that made him whole, Skiles spends the better part of his days drinking himself into a stupor with no care in the world for whether the night is old or young. When a former colleague and friend, Cal (Mark Pellegrino) is kidnapped, Skiles is requested to broker the exchange, thus bringing back all the trauma and bad blood of his past to the forefront.

As Mason would say, welcome to Beirut, an audacious and insightful thriller that holds your attention due to the star-making performance from Hamm. Continue reading “‘Beirut’ is an audacious thriller with a star-making performance from Jon Hamm”

‘7 Days in Entebbe’ makes a great story seem boring

In the summer of 1976, Israel put their foot down as an international power, and that didn’t sit well with Palestine. War broke out, murder was commonplace, and politicians merely tried to keep a resemblance of peace. Israel’s reputation as a country that didn’t negotiate was put to the test when a group of freedom fighters hijacked a plane containing Jewish passenger, landing in Entebbe, Uganda, demanding terrorists held in Israeli prisons to be released.

7 Days in Entebbe is inspired by this true story, but I wouldn’t call it an idea that was executed well. Jose Padilha directs the movie like a guy reading a recipe off the internet, injecting nothing unique or thought-provoking into the tale to give it any extra cinematic juice. He basically sat in a chair and said, “go ahead”.

The plot is divided between the airport in Uganda and the political war room back in Israel, where the conservative peace seeking Prime Minister (Lior Askenazi, Norman) butts heads with the military force hungry advisor, Shimon Peres (Eddie Marsan, Ray Donovan). The strategy of how to deal with a situation involving over 100 innocent passengers requires multiple trains of thought, but the movie doesn’t stick to either one, spending most of its time with the hijackers, which include Bose (Daniel Bruhl) and Bridgette (Rosamund Pike). Continue reading “‘7 Days in Entebbe’ makes a great story seem boring”

Gone Girl: Easier To Admire Than To Love

Review-Warning. You will leave Gone Girl mad as hell. It will get inside your head, crawl down into your nervous system and dance the jig around your heart and try to make it chilly inside.
Gillian Flynn took her novel to the one director who could make this material sing and that was the brilliant David Fincher. The man doesn’t miss. He crafted classics with Seven, Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network. He can do crime, dark comedy, uncomfortable sexual drama and elicit performances from actors few others can.
Gone Girl can’t be explained without giving away juicy plot details that need to be digested inside a theater and not on your IPhone at a bookstore. I can tell you this. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike are perfectly cast as the greatest looking couple who carry a warehouse full of secrets that uncoil as the plot points and twists unfold on screen. They are Nick and Amy Dunne. A couple of New York writers who get rocked by the recession and drift apart when they move to Cape Girardeau. When she goes missing, he falls under the microscope of the local police, talk show hosts and the locals.
Affleck has always been a better actor than he has ever given credit for but he truly nails it here. He was born to play the well meaning yet weak in the knees Nick, who seems a little less worried about his missing wife than the usual husband. Nick is charming, speaks well, and doesn’t show harm but has a few secrets buried in his gut(pre-Batman Fleck body). Pike plays a number of personalities and this movie could be her coming out party as an actress or type cast her as the sweet blonde who rocked Fincher’s mystery. Carrie Coon is dynamite as Nick’s caring yet clingy sister. Tyler Perry puts the perfect shade of slick on the lawyer struggling to free Nick from potential doom. Kim Dickens is solid as the detective clearing the waters and Neil Patrick Harris is something entirely different than you’d expect playing a creepy dude from Amy’s past. The entire cast makes for a good ensemble and everybody gets their moments. In my eyes, Affleck nails his role the best but the cast as a whole is aces.
Trent Reznor’s score is perfectly gloomy and restrained, never overpowering the slow devil’s dance being transmitted by Fincher’s directing, Flynn’s writing and the cast’s flavor.
The only thing that kept me from loving this film was the ending. It will hit you in the gut and then the head. It pissed me off. Flynn stuck to her guns and kept the ending intact, but the result isn’t as golden as one would think. It just made me mad. I get the idea. When Law and Order is referenced and mocked early on in the film, I get the idea Fincher is going for. This plot won’t get tied up the way the audience wants it. Nice and tight? Nope. It’s going to be chilly and awkward, like a marriage slowly coming undone. That’s the effect and the goal. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Continue reading “Gone Girl: Easier To Admire Than To Love”