Bridge of Spies (2015)
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Probably Spielberg's best film since Munich, Bridge of Spies is a restrained and reflective film about the tense political climate of the Cold War and doing the right thing amidst the vast paranoia of that time period. Continuing his directing approach from Lincoln, Spielberg is equally restrained in his storytelling choices and narrative style. The opening ten minutes, a mostly wordless sequence without music lifted straight from police thrillers of the 70s, showcase this masterful approach, quite different from the usual Spielberg. However, once more, the trademark Spielberg sentimentality kept mostly in check for 95% of the film makes its appearance in the closing moments. Spielberg can't quite control himself from including schmaltz at least twice per film, but the final scene still provides an thematically interesting, if unsubtle, shot.
Kaminski's cinematography is unsurprisingly brillant and perfectly compliments Spielberg's bold visual staging. In a time where many mainstream films are edited within an inch of their life, Spielberg remains with his consistent use of brillant long takes that nevertheless don't call attention to themselves. For a director repeatedly criticized for being commercial and excessive, Spielberg continues to prove his knowledge of the craft.
Tom Hanks doesn't really stretch himself here in terms of acting, but he's undeniably solid. Hanks isn't really the kind of actor known for being diverse in his choice of roles, but at the same time he's a consistently reliable one. His conversations with Mark Rylance, in a fascinating and greatly understated performance, are the highlight of the film.
Bridge of Spies won't be remembered among Spielberg's classics, but remains an involving and stunningly made film.
Not going to lie, I've been struggling to find latter-day Steven Spielberg relevant, and it's the Cohen Bros.' contribution to Bridge of Spies' script that got me buying a ticket to his latest film. Spielberg's sentimental manipulation is reigned in for the most part (a cloying moment in the epilogue still annoyed me though), and what does shine through is the funny, quirky and absurdist dialog. In fact, Bridge of Spies is surprisingly funny, given the film still manages to be both suspenseful and heartfelt. If you don't know the story, the U.S. captured and jailed a communist spy at the height of the Cold War, and the U.S.S.R. did the same to the pilot of an American spy plane. They couldn't trade prisoners officially, so a lawyer was sent to broker a deal. Cue Tom Hanks. Obviously, Spielberg uses this to comment on today's War on Terror, with the American pilot being treated inhumanely, à la Guantanamo, and with Hanks making speeches about the American justice system that fall on the deaf ears of American lynch mobs. It's all supposed to feel familiar, but he doesn't over-stress it. It's there if you want it, but it doesn't get preachy. I can honestly say I haven't liked a Spielberg film this much in more than a decade.
Great first half. Mediocre second half.
Spielberg is a masterful film maker and Bridge of Spies once again proves why. The Coen brothers' script is well written and interesting.
Great acting all around, especially from Hanks as usual.
to see which of your friends have seen this movie!