Archive for the ‘Alan Rickman’ Category

Eye In The Sky

01 May

Eye In The Sky – directed by Gavin Hood. Thriller. 102 minutes Color 2016


The Story: A little girl selling bread near an important drone target is the focus of the tension between the commander of the drone operation and the young man trained to pull the trigger on the target.


The story approaches absurdity as one higher-up after another is called upon to okay the pulling of the trigger. It skips over The Queen and would have landed on the crowded desk of God if things had gone on any further.

Why the heck are the Brits in command of a target upon which an American soldier must open fire? This curious distortion of the film holds one subconsciously in check as one watches. Its unposed question seals us in suspense as the surface difficulties regarding the little girl weave the protagonists in a cats cradle of difficulties.

Around the conference table pace and halt Alan Rickman, Jeremy Northam, and ranks of cellphones pulled tight as red-tape strangles everyone.

What makes the film work is the charm of the child on the one hand, which we get in following her day, her family, her tasks. And set against these, two people who never get to know her as we get to know her.

These two are Helen Mirren who, in a parallel line to her Detective-inspector Jane Tennison from Prime Suspect, runs the operation from a War Room and urges the immolation of the child at every turn – every turn turned-down.

The effectiveness of the entire film, however, depends upon the casting of the actor whose job it is to aim the drone and fire it. The film would not work at all without the presence of the particular actor the producers have hired.

Aaron Paul eyes possess the rare capacity to register an internal moral certainty being deeply questioned by the authority of external information coming at him. This was the quality that sustained Breaking Bad throughout its six seasons.

Paul’s ability to do this as an actor places the entire story in our shoes. His presence, the presence of those eyes, is a narrative necessity. And his strength, which the story requires, to sustain this balance, this question, this quandary, and to act upon it is the real story that supplants all the rest.


The Butler

26 Aug

The Butler – directed by Lee Daniels. A poor black farm boy becomes Butler to the White House during six Presidential occupancies concurrent with the Civil Rights movement. 132 minutes Color 2013.


What did those folks feel who did nothing during the Civil Rights years – which extended from The Eisenhower administration and still go on? What were those folks like? What did they go through?

I, a white man, was one of them, and so were a great many black folks. And this movie pays attention to those who were not on the firing lines, favored the black cause, but hung back. Rather than Cecil Gaines, the White House Butler, the true subject of this film is the sort of human he was: reserved, conservative, restrained, domestic, uxorious, responsible, honorable, hard-working, and unimaginative about and unsupportive of the racial revolution under his nose. Many black people were the same. They may have doubted or disbelieved or felt The Civil Rights Movement was not the way to go. They may have simply felt they were content with their lot or were lost in their own pleasures, work, and lives. They felt the movement was disrespectful and ill-mannered. They did not hold back the tide, but were carried along with it, and, in the end, had to acknowledge the accomplishments attained and still to be attained. The Presidents Cecil Gaines served all fall into this category as reluctant participants. They were ignorant of blacks. And to all of them, the Civil Rights Movement was an annoyance. It was supposed to be.

Cecil Gaines, who rose from the cotton fields to be the White House favorite, was reluctant also. Forest Whitaker plays this man with all his might, and his work is enforced by Oprah Winfrey, perfectly cast as his self-indulgent wife and the domestic tangle she and her son, played by David Oyelowo, in different ways, represent to Gaines. Coleman Domingo is brilliant as the White House matre d’ interviewing Gaines for his job. Clarence Williams III is grand as the man who first mentors him, as is Vanessa Redgrave, telling as the plantation owner who takes him into her house as a boy to learn to be a footman. Cuba Gooding Junior brings the character of a fellow butler and friend fully to life in every scene he plays. Various presidents are played by Robin Williams as Eisenhower, Liev Schreiber marvelously made up and played as Johnson, and Alan Rickman as Reagan. James Marsden has Kennedy down pat. But most amazing of all is John Cusack capturing psycho-physical screwiness of the rodent that was Richard Nixon.

The picture paints a strong picture of a part of the black world of that era – the world of the uncommitted or limitedly committed, that is to say, the majority. It balances and honors it. It puts before us ourselves as we were.

It is a rich entertainment indeed.

I was deeply influenced by seeing it.



Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Technorati button Reddit button Myspace button Linkedin button Webonews button Delicious button Digg button Flickr button Stumbleupon button Newsvine button