With another deeply committed performance, Washington brings badly needed complexity to what is otherwise a contrived, overstated drama about addiction. It helps that the film is directed by Zemeckis as a kind of companion piece to his last live-action movie, 2000's Cast Away, another film about a man whose life is dramatically changed by a plane crash. Although here he's lost in a wilderness of substance abuse.
Washington plays Whip, a veteran commercial pilot who fills his days with women, alcohol and drugs. Even when he's flying a plane full of passengers. On a routine flight from Orlando to Atlanta, a catastrophic malfunction sends his airliner hurtling toward the ground, prompting an outrageously inventive reaction that saves 96 of the 102 lives on board. Then the investigators discover that he had both alcohol and cocaine in his system at the time. His union rep (Greenwood) hires a high-powered lawyer (Cheadle) to represent him, but Whip doesn't even try to straighten up until he meets young junkie Nicole (Reilly), who's serious about cleaning up her life.
The main problem here is that Gatins' script completely misses the point of his own story, never remotely touching on the central theme of a flawed hero who has no real moral compass. So drugs are the villain; it has nothing to do with Whip's personal failings. Instead, the script just uses a variety of contrived characters to confront him with his drug problems until he finally cracks under all this pressure. Fortunately, Washington is excellent as the high-functioning addict, and the supporting cast is solid in providing whatever element Gatins needs at the moment: Cheadle's straight-arrow efficiency, Reilly's hopeful anguish and Greenwood's steadfast friendship, plus scene-stealer Goodman as Whip's hilariously honest dealer-buddy and Leo as a ruthlessly tenacious investigator.
Continue reading: Flight Review
When airplane pilot Whit makes an extraordinary landing following an engine failure which saves the lives of his passengers, he becomes a national hero mobbed by the press. It is only when he is introduced to an attorney that he discovers that he the one person he didn't manage to save was himself. The lawyer informs him that a blood test taken on the night of the crash revealed alcohol in system; an offence which is punishable by life imprisonment. An investigation follows and Whit reveals that he did drink the night before he was due for the flight, however, an experiment involving ten pilots in aircraft simulators with recreated circumstances from the crash revealed that, were any other pilot to land the plane in the way that Whit did, they would've killed every soul on board. Was Whit's risky landing a result of drunken recklessness, or was his decision made by the years of experience and general confidence in his area of expertise? This is the judgement the jury must make.
Continue: Flight Trailer
What immediately sets Conversations apart is how, over its 85 minutes, it makes such fun and inventive use of the split-screen technique. The technique's most obvious function is to convey how the story's man and woman (Aaron Eckhart and Helena Bonham Carter), no matter their passion for each other, inhabit disparate and irreconcilable worlds. But it goes brilliantly beyond that, using split-screen also for flashbacks, triggered by memory, in which younger versions of the characters (Erik Eidem and Nora Zehetner), play out the halcyon days of their long-ago romance. What's more, the details of these flashbacks warp and alter, depending on who's doing the remembering. In an intriguing twist, the split-screen projects not only alternate versions of the past, but of the present too -- showing variations on small but important moments either as a character perceives they happened or he/she wishes they had. It's a sensationally expressive use of a tired cinematic device, now revitalized and itself revitalizing a tired genre.
Continue reading: Conversations With Other Women Review
You won't find any sort of rabblerousing or sense of time in Emilio Estevez's Bobby, his account of the people that were in attendance when Robert F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel. Estevez tosses together close to two dozen major characters and storylines along with footage of RFK campaigning against racism, America's poverty, and unlawful McCarthy tactics. The stories run the gamut from a young couple (Elijah Wood and Lindsay Lohan) getting hitched to keep the groom out of the war to an alcoholic diva (Demi Moore) and her forgotten husband (Estevez himself) to a philandering hotel manager (William H. Macy) who must keep his affair with a switchboard operator (Heather Graham) from his wife (Sharon Stone) and from an infuriated ex-employee (Christian Slater). There's also a pack of poll campaigners (Nick Cannon, Joshua Jackson, Shia Labeouf, and Brian Geraghty) who must deal with an acid freak out facilitated by a hippie (Ashton Kutcher), a pushy Czech journalist (Svetlana Metkina), and a flirty waitress at the hotel restaurant (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Sounds like the makings of an ensemble comedy, no?
Continue reading: Bobby Review
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