Category Archives: Movies

The Zookeeper’s Wife: Reviewing The Book and Movie

By Maddie Scott

“At dawn in an outlying district of Warsaw, sunlight swarmed around the trunks of blooming linden trees and crept up the white walls of a 1930s stucco and glass villa where the zoo director and his wife slept in a bed crafted from white birch, a pale wood used in canoes, tongue depressors, and Windsor chairs.” So begins the Zookeeper’s Wife, a war story by Diane Ackerman, an acclaimed poet, essayist and naturalist. In the first sentence, it is clear that Ms. Ackerman is primarily a naturalist who likes to create sentences that have the same beauty in the words as the nature she is describing. The war story seems to at times have a secondary role in the Zookeeper’s Wife. For example, when describing the curfew the Poles were subject to under German occupation, Ackerman writes, “After curfew, Poles could no longer stroll under a canopy of stars.” This paragraph continues with a detailed explanation of meteor showers, including description and  history, with only cursory mention of the Poles who could still watch such showers from balconies or windows, and a brief comparison of meteors to German gunfire and bombs.

The reason this works for some readers is that Diane Ackerman seems to be a kindred spirit of sorts with the main character in the book, Antonina Zabinski, the Zookeeper’s Wife. Antonina had the same connection with nature that Ms. Ackerman has. As the author writes,“Antonina loved to slip out of her human skin for a while and spy on the world through each animal’s eyes, and she often wrote from that outlook, in which she intuited their concerns and know-how, including what they might be seeing, feeling, fearing, sensing, remembering.” Their residence at the Zoo, the Villa, was home to many animals that participated in family life, including a badger, rabbit and hamster.

Amidst the descriptions of nature, Antonina and Jan’s (her husband) zoo animals and family, Ackerman weaves in the story of occupied Warsaw, her own family’s fight for survival (Antonina left the Zoo and the Villa more than once with her young son during particularly dangerous times of bombing and fighting), and the remarkable resistance efforts that she and her husband participated in. Jan was part of the Home Army and took part in the Warsaw Polish Uprising. His connection with a Jewish entomologist, Szymon Tenenbaum, who left his collection of insects at the Villa for safekeeping when he was forced from his home, opened the doors to the Ghetto (the Polish director of the Warsaw Ghetto’s Labor Bureau had a mutual admiration for Tenenbaum and his collection of insects) and Jan was able to help many Jewish friends and strangers escape. Many of these people took up temporary (and some more semi-permanent) residence at the Villa. All told, the Zabinskis helped to save approximately 300 Jews. Antonina demonstrated the same strength, compassion and resolve in helping their Jewish “guests” as she did in keeping her family safe.

The Zoo itself went through many changes during the war. Many animals were killed during the first days of bombing in Warsaw, and many more were moved by the “benevolent” Lutz Heck, the director of the Berlin Zoo, and a Nazi, who tried to convince Antonina that he had the animals’ best interest in mind (while later taking a hunting party back to the Warsaw Zoo to kill remaining animals). After the war, Antonina and Jan restore the Warsaw Zoo, before Jan’s retirement from the Zoo in 1951.

Ackerman shows great skill in representing the Zookeeper’s wife’s strengths. In the concluding chapter, she relays Jan’s quotes via Danka Narnish, an Israeli reporter, “Her confidence could disarm even the most hostile. It wasn’t just that she identified with them, but from time to time she seemed to shed her own human traits and become a panther or hyena. Then, able to adopt their fighting instinct, she arose as a fearless defender of her kind.”

The movie adaptation of the Zookeeper’s Wife is visually appealing, and it is easier to follow the comings and goings of the Jews that the Zabinski’s save, rather than in the book with its heavy description and seemingly non-linear timeline. Antonina, played by Jessica Chastain, convincingly conveys her love for the people she saves, animals, and her son. Her love for her husband, however, is clouded by a fictionalized romance between her and Lutz Heck, played by Daniel Bruhl. The movie takes evidence of Lutz’ admiration of Antonina from the book and turns it into a mutual attraction, much of which the movie is based upon. Antonina is also portrayed as soft-spoken and unsure of herself. Despite the great things she accomplishes in helping Jews to escape the Warsaw ghetto by giving them shelter in her house, the sense that the audience gathers from the movie is that she is overly emotional, tempted romantically by a Nazi who in the book she is clearly wary of from the beginning, and not an equal partner to her husband. The movie also takes great artistic license in portraying a young Jewish woman who was taken in by the Zabinskis after being brutally raped by Germans in the Ghetto. While such atrocities certainly happened again and again during the war, this character is created for the movie, and not mentioned in the book.

If one wants to learn of the remarkable story of Antonina Zabinski and to get a more accurate representation, it is far better to read the book than to see the movie.

 

 

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Finding LDS Truths in Disney Films

By Toni Yee

Members of the LDS Church patronize Disney movies because they’re wholesome family entertainment promoting purity and hope; they capture the sweet magic of children. Most importantly, they teach lessons related to the teachings of the Church.

In Gordon B. Hinckley’s talk, he shared the story of a man who related Joseph Smith’s story to Disney. “Every time I would tell the bishop that Joseph Smith’s story was more Disney than Disney, he would tell me, “Maybe so, but it’s all true.” Members not only find happily ever afters in Disney movies, but also, in gospel truths of the Church.

The teachings of the Church is mostly emphasized on the importance of family. Elder Tom L. Perry, said “One of the great messages of the gospel is the doctrine of the eternal disneyandfriendsnature of the family unit. We declare to the world the value and importance of family life, but much of the confusion and difficulty we find existing in the world today is being traced to the deterioration of the family. Home experiences where children are taught and trained by loving parents are diminishing.” One Disney movie that strongly emphasizes family is Lilo and Stitch. “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” This line was made famous by Stitch who was adopted by Lilo’s family.

Goal setting is an essential part of every individual in order to attain the desired outcome and success. It is always good to have dreams in order to stay motivated. Just like Cinderella, she dreamt of attending the ball with her step sisters, but they did not want her to. Cinderella’s friends knew about her desire to go and because of her kind heart, they helped her. “Whatever you wish for, you keep. Have faith in your dreams, and someday, your rainbow will come smiling through. No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dreams that you wish will come true.” Elder M. Russell Ballard said, “Set goals that are well balanced—not too many nor too few, and not too high nor too low. Write down your attainable goals and work on them according to their importance. Pray for divine guidance in your goal setting.”

Past experiences are meant to be overcome. Whether we choose to disclose these experiences, like Simba has in the Lion King movie, is up to us as individuals and our personal relationships. There are some aspects of the past that hurt tremendously but Rafiki offers a sound advice. “The past can hurt, but the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.” We can either take our past experiences and use those as learning tools or we can pretend that they never happened and run, risking making mistakes as a result of the pain we are trying to avoid.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future.” The pain of tackling the past might be overwhelming and hard, but in the end, we become the best version of ourselves.

Blade Runner 2049 Sure to be “High Octane” Action

By Myck Miller

Blade Runner is back! With 2049 just around the corner, Warner Bros. released a full trailer of the new movie which will be starred by Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling. The cries of girls all over the country could be heard as one of Hollywood’s most famous actors, Ryan Gosling along with Harrison Ford take to the big screen together in what is anticipated to be a sure thriller.

In an interview, Gosling stated, “The first film made me question what it meant to be a human being.” Referring to the original movie which was made in 1982. Gosling need not fear to ruin his childhood movie because there is a seasoned veteran who will be joining with him.

blade_runner_2049_ryan_gosling_harrison_ford-2560x1440Harrison Ford, widely recognized as one of those actors who just won’t ride into the sunset. That is of course to the exception to his ever long-lasting desire to get out of the Star Wars movies. Ford was in the first Blade Runner back in 1982 and is very excited to be back on the big screen playing a character that he hasn’t visited in nearly 30 years.

At an event in Los Angeles Ford said, “It’s very interesting visiting a character after some time. It was a very gratifying experience.” This won’t be the first time that Ford has gone back in time to play a character that he hasn’t touched in years. Everyone was ecstatic to see him back with Chewy and the Millennium Falcon in Force Awakens and who can forget his Indiana Jones movies.

What can the audience expect from this Sci-Fi thriller? There is going to be a lot of action and it’s going to be so much different from the first movie made 30 years ago. The technology is going to allow the movie to reach new heights in technological advancements. The movie is set in 2049 so expect to see things that have never been seen before. The movie will take you back in time to the old film and bring a new generation of characters and plots. Here’s a bit of advice though…. If you truly want to enjoy this movie, go back and watch the first. Nothing worse than going to see a movie and not bladerunnercopsknowing the plot, characters, or theme of the movie. The character progression of Harrison Ford’s character will be something to keep an eye out for and will electrify movie theaters all across the country.

Blade Runner will be hitting the theaters on October 6, 2017.

Family: Central Theme of the Fast and Furious Franchise

By Toni Yee

Family is the heart of Mormon theology.  Eternal family, extended family, – it comes in many forms.  But, rarely do we consider fast car families. The “Fast and Furious” movie franchise, however, maintains its core family theme through the recent installment “Fate of the Furious.” Fancy cars and drag racing are only part of the story. Family lends support, and can be drawn on by anyone in the most unusual circumstances . Even the urban race culture.

According to Michelle Rodriguez (Letty), a franchise star, the family theme fate-of-the-furious-filming-locations-jagcan be traced back to Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) Vin Diesel. “It’s something that came out of Vin’s mouth where he didn’t like the line that was there. At the end of the day, the movie is all about family.”  Throughout the 16 years of furious movies, one little ad-lib by Diesel established the idea that anchored the franchise. Your upbringing makes no difference. It doesn’t matter if your childhood was stable. If you’re willing to search, family can be found in many forms, just like the urban one in “Fate of the Furious.”  The premise is that humans are inherently drawn to family, and it doesn’t have to be traditional.

In “Fast and Furious Six,” Vin Diesel says, “You don’t turn back on your family, even when they do.” Despite their trials the characters stick together as a family in the end. Even though they encounter misunderstandings and arguments, all of the films repeat the family mantra over and over again.   In “Fate of the Furious,” however, Vin Diesel choses a path without his family. This is dome at his peril as is our lives are also at risk when we choose to go it alone.

Everything was going so well with Toretto’s family then all of a sudden, Cipher, a villain, tempts Toretto to turn his back from his family which he does. He is blinded with the consequences of his decision as he falls under Cipher’s spell.  Suddenly Toretto sees hismaxresdefault son, reminding him of the wonderful support family offers. Despite the influence of Cipher’s team, he reunites with the family reclaiming the satisfaction that brings.  Toretto’s family still welcomes him despite his sins.  “You don’t turn back on your family, even when they do” Toretto utters in “Fast and Furious Six.”  He thanks family members for their foregiveness.

A dominant theme of the Fast and Furious franchise is that despite our poor choices,  it is never too late to get back on track. Our family will always be there for us even when stray.  Toretto chooses to go rogue for a while, but later he realizes that family matters most. It may not be blood relatives, but friends can turn our to be even more loyal and loving if we invest in the group.

Trials and temptations are inevitable, but the lesson of Fast and Furious is that it’s up to us how we handle them.  No matter how hard life gets, family is all that matters in the end. As Diesel says, “I don’t have friends, but I have family.” A family awaits all us. But, perhaps not in the places we expect.

 

 

The Church, Suicide, and “13 Reasons Why”

By Dylan-Sage Wilcox

Suicide is one of the hardest topics to address, yet a young adult novel written by Jay Asher in 2007 tackles this important issue. “13 Reasons Why” has been adapted to film for Netflix. The story follows the aftermath of the death of Hannah Baker who takes her own life. She leaves behind a series of cassette tapes that explain the thirteen reasons why she killed herself, she explains in these tapes that each character in the story had contributed to her decision. The main character, Clay Jensen, discovers the tapes in a box delivered to his home shortly after Hannah’s death and finds out he was one of the thirteen reasons why the suicide happened.

“Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers,” the website’s synopsis of the book said. The series on Netflix has already been popular with young adult audiences.

Mary Leishman, in her review of “13 Reasons Why” said, “This is important because it brings awareness to the issue and shows 4860c887-4fc1-4ff1-a8d5-f29c4d510589the warning signs that you can look for in someone who is contemplating harming themselves. This story is phenomenally written and brilliantly directed.” Leishman, who also attempted suicide in high school added, “I have heard a lot of speculation that this story is ‘unrealistic’ and for some it may be, but to me this felt like I was watching a TV series of my high school years on Netflix and it was extremely real.”

Although there are some who see “13 Reasons Why” as an attention-grabber to one of society’s most important issues, others felt that the series’ use of graphic language and other extreme elements, such as rape, made for a distasteful experience.

“I have watched the first few episodes and will not be continuing the series… I don’t understand why they have to include such graphic betrays and so many swear words in movies (and books). I stick to young adult fiction and even that is starting to have the same graphic and vulgar things that the rest of it does. Very sad,” said Stacey Hilderbrandt.

In recent years, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been addressing suicide Thirteen-Reasons-Why-thirteen-reasons-why-10661875-1458-2244and the affects it has on families who deal with it. In an article produced by the Church, they write, “Suicide is a global public health issue that can often be prevented. While it is a complex situation with no single cause, the risks can be reduced when family, friends, ward members, and mental health professionals come together to help those who are struggling. Everyone can play a role in suicide prevention and should learn the risk factors and warning signs.”

 

“Moana” gets Mixed Reviews

by Danny Stout and Gunnar Christensen

The much-promoted Moana debuted this week with fodder for film critics and giddy kids alike. Disney animation delivers a bouquet of folding color, and a clear moral message; parents and youngsters content with Saturday afternoon euphoria on the way to the post-theater ice cream cone. Directors Ron Clements and John Musker deserve modest praise. Unique in film history, millions will see a version of Polynesian culture for the first time. There’s a lot at stake for Pacific Islanders if Moana is the only introduction to Oceana. Tēvita O. Kaʻili, Indigenous Oceanian Cultural Anthropologist at Brigham Young University-Hawaii said in the The Huffington Post, “Minutes into Disney’s Moana, it became obvious that despite its important girl-power message, the film had a major flaw. It lacked symmetry by its omission of a heroic goddess. By failing to do this, Disney resorted to reducing the mighty god Māui to a one-dimensional selfish borderline abusive buffoon to foreground the strength of the movie’s protagonist Moana.”

<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/goddess-hina-the-missing-heroine-from-disney%CA%BCsmoana_us_5839f343e4b0a79f7433b6e5>.

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As Ka’ili points out, whimsy overrides the integral message; Disney’s versions are usually dilutions of the engaging age-old truth tales even children long to see (See reviews of Krampus, and The Real Beauty and the Beast on this site ). Again, a swing and a miss despite the cerulean ocean and lush green mountains interjected with upbeat music by Opetaia Foa’i, Mark Mancina, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, especially the snappy tune, “You’re Welcome.”

Despite underlying values of family, following your calling, and taking risks, Moana shows that even a Pixar movie with all its technological trappings, can miss and even offend Polynesian audience members.

Looking at it from a superficialmoana-movie perspective, there’s continuity of emotion— laughing, then sadness, and optimal tension  appropriate for children. It personifies various parts of the earth, as does Hawaiian belief. You see a sassy and loving side of the ocean, the earth’s anger at its mistreatment, and its gratitude when honored with love and respect.

Moana is a colorful joyful ride, but an immature view of Polynesian culture. Despite its inaccuracies and stereotypes, however,  it places Oceana on the media map so to speak. Polynesia has entered the popular discourse, and it is up to audience members to clarify for misguided fans what they missed in this perfunctory effort.

 

 

 

“Amanda Knox” documentary features a modern “Inspector Javert”and mass hysteria

By Daniel Stout

The new documentary, “Amanda Knox,” is exhilarating and haunting, yielding a paradoxical film; it dishes out ample joy and tension. Thematically, the truth-small_121129-233805_to291112est_9350conquers-doubt story is difficult to pull off. Take Dateline and 20/20, the accused are inevitably guilty, or at least convicted. The film is less successful as a crime story than a psychological examination of mass hysteria, similar to the deindividuation of the Salem Witch Trials. Amanda Knox, a University of Washington student visiting Perugia, Italy, was accused of murder in 2007. The film is preceded by Knox’s memoir, “Waiting to be Heard” published in 2013.

No real evidence that Knox and her boyfriend murdered Meredith Kercher ever surfaced. She was found guilty of the stabbing, then innocent, then guilty again. Finally released from shackles, she returned to Seattle, only to face extradition efforts from the Italian government. These efforts recently ceased partly impeded by the Innocence Project. A reporter for the West Seattle Herald, Knox is rebuilds her life and narrates sections of the film, enhancing the dramatic tension, providing personal testimony of the terror of captivity and joy of newfound freedom. What are the factors underpinning a global media event where Italian crowds burned effigies, shouted profanities in the streets, and demanded justice, only to have the real killer eventually confess.

Relentless persecution of the innocent at all costs is a frequent subject of dramatic works. Hugo’s Les Miserables comes to mind as Italian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini makesgallery-1475164281-gettyimages-127239622 Inspector Javert look like a lightweight. Despite insurmountable evidence, Amanda Knox must be punished in the name of the people, country, and God. In a late scene in the documentary, he’s psychologically and, perhaps pathologically, unwilling to concede the court erred.

With the exception of The Thin Blue Line, Amanda Knox is superior to recent works on the wrongly accused, including Making of a Murderer and the The Central Park Five.

As Latter-day Saints, it’s difficult to view Amanda Knox without reflecting on the The Mountain Meadows Massacre, an event where Christ-like community gives way to sinister social pressure and mob hysteria based on misinformation and collective paranoia. Although a somber film, it flickers with the light of those willing to stand up for truth despite the punishments of opposing the crowd.

At a more personal level, the Amanda Knox story elicits conversation about how rumor and gossip often expands into immense harm that isn’t easily reversed.

 

Audiences React to “Moana”

by Ho Lam Leung

Disney’s “Moana” received abundant pre-release attention – not surprising given the Disney brand.  It’s stirring debate about insensitivity and culture appropriation regarding Pacific Islanders. What do actual viewers think of the film?  It earned $2.6 million at the box office among preview audiences, according to <forbes.com>, doubling that of Disney’s “Frozen”which earned $1.2 million in 2012.

We turned to social media for audience reaction.  Dominant themes were gleaned from 57 interviews at a theater in Laie, Hawaii.  More than half of the opinions came from  Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islander (53.6%). The rest are from Caucasians (21.4%), Asians (16.1%), and (8.9%) from other groups.

The majority of statements (91.3%) hqdefaultexpressed overall satisfaction toward the movie, praising “spectacular” animation and “vibrant color.” Audience members liked the “innovative” story. Others expressed pride in Polynesian traditions: “Well, I figured out why the ocean didn’t just get the heart over to Te Fiti (the goddess of islands)? The answer to that is simple … it was necessary for both Moana and Maui to grow from the journey. Life is about growth. Our ancestors and the elements know this too.” A “personal growth” message was grasped by several audience members.

The character, Maui, was depicted as a “buffoon“, “selfish idiot“, “scared“, “arrogant” and “hideous,” according to several interviewees. The Real People Audience: Group Diverse Watching Movie Theater Comedymajority, however, liked Disney’s depiction, arguing his accomplishments were conveyed. The “lighthearted portray” fit well with Maui’s trickster role. In fact, several Islanders agreed that a “built” and “big” appearance was an appropriate description of Maui. One said, “Maui has multiple descriptions throughout Polynesia and even within a Polynesian group. History was maintained orally and has not preserved a single detailed Maui description.” Few said Disney fabricated the Maui story. Musker and Celements depict a combination of South Pacific cultures in “Moana”, instead of just one (as seen in “Lilo and Stitch”).  Fijian, Samoan, Tahitian, and other Oceanic cultures are synthesized. How do the audiences thought about such mingling of cultures in the movie?

In order to understand the Pacific spirit, the directors and production team made  visits to the Pacific, engaging an Oceanic consulting team. Did their efforts pay off? Several seem to think so: “I felt that it was portrayed pretty accurately as I felt like I could relate to a number of characters as they reminded me of people I know or knew in my life.” Citing the moment Moana fights through the reef with her canoe said, “(it) brought lots of memories.

The integration of different island cultures was both praised and criticized.  On one side, Real People Audience: Group Diverse Watching Movie Theater ComedyDisney’s inclusion of “all the islands” was lauded. A Pacific Islander said, “It’s difficult to tell the different cultures,” while several participants found the mixing “all too jumbled,” making it hard to follow the story. Several were surprised to find a “strong Samoan influence.”  Perhaps this is because Samoa is one of the few islands allowing women to have the chiefly title. One viewer recognized the “twist of legends and customs” compared to their own island versions. Knowing the Moana role in her island, one responded, “Women don’t take the responsibility of providing and protecting in Polynesia, but maybe Moana is based on some Tahitian myth or legend.” Some sensed favoritism in the choice of culture. “I don’t like how (the movie) was only Samoan and Tahitian-based. Maui is a Polynesian demigod, but the movie only displayed him as only a few.

At another level, music and dance played a big role.  The song, “We Know The Way,” was sung in Tokelauan. One participant said, “It was like being back on the island.” However, several noted a lack of Polynesian sound: Some songs “didn’t really fit.” Some argued that the soundtracks are more “Polynesian-inspired” than “authentic.

In summary, the audience clearly enjoyed the film, yet were assertive in their cultural critique. Those unfamiliar with Island cultures are likely to miss the nuances, but feel entertained nevertheless.   But to Oceanic peoples, we are speaking of heroes and Gods.  They live in the heart of those that preserve their heritage. They make Pacific Islanders unique from other nations of the world. Did Disney introduce these traditions to the world in Moana? Perhaps not, but new interest may be kindled.

 

New Film on the Greatest Costume Designer, Orry-Kelly

by Kayna Kemp Stout

“Women He’s Undressed,” a documentary about Hollywood costume designer Orry-Kelly, may sound scandalous, but it’s a film that can be enjoyed by diverse audiences. Those who womenhesundressed3are fans of classic films will take notice of the many clips from among the 285 movies that Australian born Kelly has designed including Casablanca, Some Like It Hot, Auntie Mame, and Oklahoma. He left his small seaside village in the early 1920’s for New York City and landed in Greenwich Village and the bohemian lifestyle of an artist who hand painted ties to make ends meet. He got a toe hold on Broadway, which led to his first costume designing jobs for the lavish musicals popular at the time. He moved to Hollywood to be a part of the burgeoning film industry. He was hired by the Warner Brothers Studio and began living a lavish lifestyle.

For audiences who enjoy costume design, this documentary rewards with many behindveda-ann-borg-and-orry-kelly-ca-1937-in-women-hes-undressed-courtesy-of-wolfe-video-1 the scenes details about costume choices for a litany of stars during the golden age of Hollywood, such as Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, Barbara Stanwyck, Angela Lansbury, Ingrid Bergman, Marilyn Monroe, Katharine Hepburn, and Jane Fonda. Orry-Kelly possessed a masterful eye for choosing colors, draping fabric, and disguising the figure flaws and assets of the starlets who became his friends. His personal life as an out of the closet gay man had its share of drama during a time when that was expected to be kept hidden. His early co-habitation with Cary Grant was a carefully guarded secret even in his autobiography. Grant played by the Hollywood rules and requested that their liaison not be written about and Kelly obliged.  Grant was a pallbearer at Kelly’s funeral in 1954. The years of his life 1897-1954 provide a time capsule that illuminates Hollywood in its hay days. Interviews include Jane Fonda, Angela Lansbury, Catherine Martin, Leonard Maltin and Ann Roth.

In “Sully,” worries are set aside for a miracle.

By Kayna Kemp Stout

The word miracle gets tossed around lightly these days in reference to diet pills, wrinkle creams, and even football victories. So there is always reason to be cynical when the media dubs something a miracle. However, after viewing the film “Sully”, I believe the media got it right when they called the incident, “The Miracle on the Hudson”.

The film, expertly directed by Clint Eastwood, gives viewers an insiders look into why the unnamed1emergency landing of the airliner by Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger is nothing short of miraculous. Much of the film focuses on the National Transportation Safety Board investigation of the emergency landing on the Hudson River after both engines are hit by a flock of birds shortly after take off from LaGuardia) Airport in NYC.

Could the disaster have been averted if Captain Sully had returned to LaGuardia? Computer simulations seemed to say yes. Sully’s training of 30 years as a pilot said no. The investigation hearings are stressful for Sully because he could lose his retirement pension if found negligent. While the 155 saved passengers and crew are hailing him as a hero, and the national media is touting him as a savior and miracle maker, the behind the scenes drama feels much different with so much at stake for Sully, including personal financial challenges concerning an outside business. He simply puts these worries aside, and focuses on the goal. Averting distractions is a God-given talent, or perhaps should be better developed in us.

1408319_1280x720-1Tom Hanks portrayal as a calm professional airline pilot is spot on as are the other leading performances by Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Autumn Reeser, Holt McCallany, Jamey Sheridan and Jerry Ferrara. The film is not over when the credits begin to roll, so stay seated until you’ve witnessed the entire miracle.