Bridge of Spies
3.5 out of 4 stars
Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated Cold War drama revisits the director’s favoured themes of outsiders and father figures while also recalling one of his classic movies: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
In Bridge of Spies, Tom Hanks plays “Elliott” to Mark Rylance’s “E.T.”, with the story this time being a true one, or as true as movies ever get.
It’s 1957 and suspected Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (Wolf Hall’s Rylance) has been nabbed by FBI agents. The electric chair seems inevitable for this hated enemy of America, although due process intrudes, requiring the legal services of an equally odd and upright figure: defence lawyer James Donovan (Hanks), whose specialty is insurance, not espionage.
He’s unflappable and shrewd, traits he’ll need when historic events — the U-2 spy plane crisis, the Berlin Wall rising, the atomic threat — conspire to have him use Abel as a bargaining chip to try to wrest captured U.S. pilot Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) from Soviet hands.
Hanks and Rylance deliver golden performances as natural combatants who find common cause in seeking honest justice, even if only they realize it.
Extras include several making-of and historical featurettes.
The Keeping Room
2.5 out of 4 stars
Post-Civil War as postapocalyptic mayhem is the grim backdrop for this female-led Southern thriller by Harry Brown director Daniel Barber.
Circa 1865, the Confederacy has fallen along with much of the social order. Southern farm sisters Augusta (Brit Marling) and Louise (Hailee Steinfeld), along with their loyal but forthright slave Mad (Muna Otaru), must take up arms to defend themselves against two rogue Union Army scouts (Sam Worthington and Kyle Soller). The men are murderous rapists, seeking any and all spoils of war.
The scattershot story doesn’t fully serve this stellar cast, as the drama often flags. But when it connects, the tension is almost unbearable.
Extras include a commentary track by Marling and screenwriter Julia Hart plus a making-of featurette.