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Cinema Dispatch: American Made

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American Made and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Doug Liman

Hollywood?  We need to talk.  I know that you love to make movies about people (usually white dudes) who catch a lucky break or have one useful skill that pays off which launches them into fame, fortune, and eventual ruin, but I think it’s time to stop.  Look, Wolf of Wall Street was wonderful and so was that Nicolas Cage movie from 2005, but these are starting to get stale and repetitive; especially with this film that looks so paint by numbers and generic that even Tom Cruise can barely seem to bring anything to the material.  Still, bad trailers and a tired premise don’t ALWAYS spell doom for a movie, and Tom Cruise can really be THAT good in a movie so as to keep it engaging even if everything else is working against it.  Does this film manage to avoid the pitfalls that so many films before it have fallen into, or are we scraping the bottom of the barrel to find just ONE more interesting story about a dude who found an odd way to strike it rich?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is supposedly based on the real life story of Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) who was your run of the mill airline pilot who was making some extra cash by smuggling in Cuban Cigars.  His actions don’t go unnoticed by the mysterious Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) who is a CIA agent looking to make his mark and believes he has found it in this pilot that he easily convinces to quit his job and start working for the US Government.  His patriotic duty turns out to be driving a plane with a camera on it so he can take pictures of Central American communist freedom fighters that the US has an interest in repressing and these pictures prove to be invaluable to that cause.  Eventually he gets bigger missions such as delivering intel to Manuel Noriega, running guns to the Contra fighters in Nicaragua, and even running cocaine for the cartel which isn’t QUITE what the CIA had in mind but they certainly aren’t gonna stop him from doing it.  Of course, with the CIA apparently doing all this on the down low, Barry not only starts catching the ire of other government organizations like the FBI and DEA, but also runs the risk of losing his sweetheart deals with the Cartel which is led up by Pablo Escobar (Maunicio Mejia).  Throw in some family drama with his wife (Sarah Wright) who is kept in the dark for a lot of this and his brother in law (Caleb Landry Jones) who’s a total fuck up that knows too much and you’re looking at a powder keg ready to explode right in Barry’s handsome face!  Will Barry find a way to keep the balancing act going indefinitely?  How far will the US Government under Reagan go to get what it wants and what will that eventually mean for Barry?  Wait, is this what the Top Gun sequel will be about!?

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“Without Goose, things just kinda went downhill for me…”

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Cinema Dispatch: Bridge of Spies

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Bridge of Spies and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios and 20th Century Fox

Directed by Steven Spielberg

We’re well into the Oscar season by this point, but now it’s time for the BIG guns to strut their stuff, and you can’t get any bigger the Steven Spielberg!!  It also seems that he’s found a niche that he’s starting to get comfortable with considering this is his second historical film based on a bunch of lawyers and politicians arguing during a very contentious time in our country’s history.  Does Spielberg remind us once again why he’s one of Hollywood’s greatest living directors, or will this be one of those lesser films he makes that we’ll all forget about as soon as his next film is made?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins in 1957 with the arrest of Soviet Spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) and the media storm that surrounded it.  When it comes time to actually try the bastard, the US government hires a law firm to represent Rudolf so that at least it can APPEAR to be a legit trial instead of a kangaroo court.  Unfortunately for everyone, the man the law firm assigns to the case is James B Donovan (Tom Hanks) who actually believes in the constitution and won’t just let the legal system run all over this guy.  For doing the right thing, he ends up drawing unwanted attention from hot heads looking to see some Soviet scumbag hang as well as the ire of the FBI who want him to tell them everything that Rudolph has said in their meetings which would obviously be a breach of attorney client privilege.  While this is going on, we occasionally cut to Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stonewall) who is a US solider training to be a spy and will one day fly a stealth plane of USSR territories to take covert pictures.  Will fate conspire to put him in a similar situation as Rudolph Abel finds himself now?  What kinds of consequences will James incur for himself, his law firm, and his family for simply believing in and fighting for what the constitution guarantees?  Just how many awards will Spielberg win for directing a period piece political thriller starring Tom Hanks!?  Like… fifty?

“I’m willing to talk Mr. Spielberg down to forty-eight, but you need to guarantee us best picture first.”

“I’m willing to talk Mr. Spielberg down to forty-eight, but you need to guarantee us best picture first.”

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