Friday, June 15, 2018

Cast Away (2000)

Tom Hanks Quadruple Feature #2
Synopsis: Efficiency-obsessed nerd gets on the wrong plane and develops a close personal friendship with a volleyball. Wait, WTF? 
What Did I Learn?: 1) Coconut milk is a natural laxative. 2) 87 hours is an eternity. 3) We must not commit the sin of turning our back on the clock. 4) We live and die by the clock - that’s all we have. 5) 500,000 square miles is twice the size of Texas. 
Really?: 1) It’s nice of Chuck (Hanks) to bury the dead pilot, but I had a hard time believing he wouldn’t first remove the man’s tie and belt, considering each might prove useful. And why wouldn’t he open that last FedEx package? 2) I realize four years of solitude on a deserted island might drive anyone bonkers, and Chuck created an imaginary friend to keep himself sane, but holy cow, I really got tired of hearing him scream “Wilson!” over and over again. 3) So, wait…wouldn’t Chuck’s colleagues have known that he had lived on a meagre diet of coconuts, fish and crabs for four years before they welcomed him home with a big seafood dinner? 4) Does Chuck still have a driver’s licence at the end of the movie? Just curious….5) Hmm… funny how Chuck never once uses any profanities - even when he’s forced to remove a rotten tooth using a barbaric method. 
Rating: Cast Away is a very compelling adventure film  even though it consists of long stretches without any dialogue. Actually, the movie works best when Hanks is alone on the island and forced into survival mode - it’s fascinating to watch his character adapt to the environment and solve problems as they arrive. Still, the last 20-30 minutes are a little lacklustre. Highly recommended. 9/10 stars.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Punchline (1988)

Tom Hanks Quadruple Feature #1 (Please click the links to read my reviews of Saving Private Ryan, The Road to Perdition, Catch Me if You Can, and That Thing You Do)
Synopsis: Bored housewife forms platonic relationship with troubled-yet-brilliant tutor who teaches her how to use the English language more effectively. Oh, wait - that’s the synopsis for Educating Rita! Um… The search for the mysteries of comedy lures good people away from scholarship and loving relationships…no, that’s The Name of the Rose. Um…. Older woman charms frustrated, broke and desperate young man to help her become a star….no, that’s Sunset Boulevard. 
Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Comedy is no laughing matter for Sally Field and Tom Hanks who take centre stage in the smash hit PUNCHLINE.” 
What Did I Learn?: 1) Everybody loves housewives. 2) It’s safe to poke fun at debutantes. 
You Might Like This Movie If: You know that comedy is tough
Really?: 1) Hmm… Stephen (Hanks) mentions his larger-than-life, big-game-hunting heart surgeon father on numerous occasions, yet we never get to meet the guy. For that matter, Stephen flunks out of medical school early in the movie, his dad never finds out, and this potential conflict is never resolved. 2) Is it just me, or is nearly all of Stephen’s and Lilah’s (Fields) material really awful? 3) I’m pretty sure a comedy club audience would NOT sit silently if a comedian were to experience an on-stage nervous breakdown, complete with actual sobbing. 
Rating: Punchline is a slightly dated, but entertaining film about the late 1980s standup comedy scene in New York City. Hanks and Fields work well together (so well that they returned a few years later to play mother and son in Forrest Gump), and the film features a couple of great moments, such as Stephen doing a Gene Kelly impression, and Lilah (Fields) preparing for an important dinner set to Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance. My only complaint would be that I found it strange that a film which examines a potentially hysterical subject never once made me laugh (see: “Really?”). 7/10 stars.