SULLY

Sully (2016)
ReviewerAutar Kaw
Grade: B
Genre: Biography, Drama
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 95 minutes

Well, Sully is another low-key semi-masterpiece by Clint Eastwood.

Tom Hanks with gray hair and a paunch carries the weight that a reluctant hero does. We all know the ending but the story has had many other players (passengers, coast guard, air traffic controllers, union, NTSB, transit) and they have been knitted well in the movie.

Why a grade of B – because it is straight forward and the nonlinearity of the presentation does not compensate for it, and also because Sully in his sarcasm points out, “Engineers are not pilots”.

Laura Linney as Sully’s wife was a waste of talent – but might have been just a paycheck role for her. On the other hand, Aaron Eckhart as the first flight officer gives an analytical performance.

Read the real critics reviews.

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THEORY OF EVERYTHING

Theory of Everything (20XX) 
ReviewerAutar Kaw
Grade: B
Genre: Biography, Drama, Romance
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 123 minutes

The theory of everything is a brief 2-hour history of the life of Stephen Hawking. The acting is great but the science has been trivialized to sudden inspirations rather than what would have been years of calculations and proofs, and disappointments and elations. The life stories have also been cleaned up a little except for a few marital indiscretions that many will not condemn. It was enjoyable as the humor was quite subtle and refreshing.

I am here to tell you that STEM degrees are hard, and they are challenging. The more we bring this revelation to the forefront, the better off we will be. It does not mean that it has to be boring and unreachable and that we keep teaching science courses the way we have been for decades. We still need to strive for diversity in STEM as that is where the new and exciting trails of science and engineering will be created.

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION

Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)
Reviewer: Autar Kaw
Grade: A
Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 131 minutes

Ya, the summer session is over and I have become a somewhat lenient grader. That is not true. I was just leaning toward an A-.

Tom Cruise makes 55-year-olds like me look like a mission possible. He is helping us relive the good old and sorely missed James Bond style action with a flair for stunts that are only semi-CGI and seat-edge worthy.

Two hours fly by nicely after 20 minutes of commercials which I do not mind. Some good thoughtful movies (think Oscar) are coming in October.

There is the usual comic relief from Simon Pegg with a dose of Alec Baldwin and Jeremy Renner two liners to keep the movie in Cruise control, while disabling the control during a motorcycle chase, airplane hanging, water hole jumping, and a knife fight. Who can forget to mention the grumpy Ving Rhames acting just like as if he is in the ADT commercials.

Rebecca Ferguson is the female lead who holds her own in acting chops (is that a pre-requisite), plot twists and screentime, and the directors were sensible in her having the last word in a well-choreographed knife fight.

BIRDMAN

Birdman
Reviewer: Autar Kaw
Grade: B
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rated: R
Running Time: 119 minutes

A movie about a washed-out actor trying to make it on Broadway is one that will be loved by some and hated by others. I liked it and it is not a popcorn movie. The acting ensemble of six – Keaton, Watts, Norton, Stone, Galafinikas and Ryan is worthy of a watch. I did not know that Keaton is so versatile in his depiction of emotions, and Watts always makes it look so easy.

The music was chaotic and it put me on the edge – may be that is what the city of NY is supposed to be portrayed as. It will be nominated for original score for the Oscars but I think it would be for the wrong reasons.

Whatever you may think about the movie, it is a cinematography marvel because of its fluid motion camera work and many long single-shot takes. There are some good lines, but some may be pretentious, but then again we are talking about actors acting as actors.

The movie is not playing in regular theaters – so we went to Zephyrhills Cinema 10 – that may have been a bad choice as the sound system is as good as the Tampa theater. Tickets are cheap and so is the popcorn, but once one gets used to the good stuff at Muvico 20, one gets spoiled.

BOYHOOD

Boyhood (2014)
Reviewer: Autar Kaw
Grade: A
Genre: Drama
Rating: R
Running Time: 165 minutes

We marched to the AMC Woodlands theater, an hour’s ride from the house, to watch the 166-minute running time Boyhood. It was worth it. This classic movie follows a real timeline of 12 years of a boy’s life growing in a home broken by divorces and a “parade” of bad men in his mother’s life. Not to under-emphasize, it is not at all gloomy but a funny movie as well with conversations that are subtle and timely.

You will see the four main characters (“biological father”-mother-son-daughter) growing with unique semblance in the 166 minutes of your own life, and it will resonate at the right amplitude for many of you. In some ways, we ourselves are apples falling from the same tree; some of us just fall harder than others.

The movie is a bold experiment as well where the producers and directors had to trust the four main characters to stay with the film through the real time of 12 years. I especially liked the low key nature of the mother played beautifully by Patricia Arquette who exemplifies her own growth as an example for her children to teach ‘em what to do and what not to do! She is not afraid to show her yoyoing middle-age paunch and pleasantly plumpish body thru the 12 years. This kind of authenticity may have come naturally because of the filming timeline but that is the marvel we come to appreciate when we leave the theater.

The boy Mason played by Ellar Coltraine who tugs at your heart with his boyish looks and long strands of hair at age 6 grows into an awkward but tender teenager. He may have had the luxury of acting his age but he is surely going places. The father played by Ethan Hawke and the daughter by Lorelei Linklater (the director’s daughter) have their own marked changes in the movie, but I am leaving the details for you to experience them for yourself.

The movie will leave you noticing little things as well – the wiper arc marks on the windshield and dusty dashboard of an old Toyota truck, a friend saying goodbye on a bike who vanishes from the screen behind the bushes in just a few seconds after his appearance, and the step-father drinking lots of vodka with a just a splash of sprite to make the medicine go down for his follies .

But the movie had me totally toward the end on a personal note. On coming back from his high school graduation, he is driven back to his house by his good friend for celebration in a reasonably new Toyota Corolla (I have driven the same brand since 1998) with a water-stained windshield. Nothing exemplifies the aura of dependability of family and independence of college years to follow like a Toyota Corolla –“maybe it is the moments that seize you”.