September 06, 2016

Clint Eastwood's Latest Biopic - Sully


Clint Eastwood is still making great movies as always, here's another one to look forward to.
He really is a Hollywood legend!

Clint Eastwood’s new movie, “Sully,” transforms the seemingly familiar tale of U.S. Airways Flight 1549—in which Captain Chesley Sullenberger and First Officer Jeff Skiles safely landed in the Hudson River, in 2009, after losing both jets in a bird strike—into a fierce, stark, haunted, and bitterly political film, one that’s full of surprises and even shocks. In telling the story of a figure canonized in the mediascape as an unsullied and shining hero, Eastwood looks past the media representation to seek the essence of heroism, shattering the shining heroic veneer and restoring its tragic nature through the looming terror of death.

Eastwood opens the film with a dramatic coup that knocks the story, as well as its viewers, off-balance from the start: while Sully (played with terse gravity by Tom Hanks) is heard in voice-over, talking tech on his headset as he tries to land the troubled flight, the landing fails and results in a catastrophic, 9/11-esque vision of the plane crashing into the Manhattan cityscape and raising a fireball from a devastated building. Before Sully (that’s what we’ll call the character to distinguish him from the real-life Sullenberger) is seen pulling off the landing that made his name and his fame, Eastwood shows Sully’s nightmarish counterfactual vision, his tormented sense of the mortal stakes with which he gambled the landing.

The movie shows Sully enduring this horrific vision continually, as if it were a form of post-traumatic stress. “Sully” is a movie of a furious, relentless subjectivity. 

Eastwood approaches the well-known historical events with a bold and passionate inwardness and a dramatic liberty (as well as daringly free and associative editing, by Blu Murray) that places much of the film inside Sully’s mind and suggests that what Sully has done is inseparable from what he imagines, feels, and knows. After the nightmarish imaginings of the destruction that he averted, Sully is seen in the bathroom of a hotel, wiping steam off the mirror and wondering who he is. It’s a question that’s amplified to a worldwide scale when he’s confronted by cameras, sees himself on television, and is recognized and hailed as a public hero while enduring spasms of self-questioning and self-doubt that are sparked by an external—and equally vast—source of doubt: the federal government.

Though Eastwood stages and films, in meticulous and fascinating detail, the river landing itself, from its prelude on the runway to its aftermath in the aquatic rescue aboard ferries by the police department’s emergency crews, the movie’s mainspring is a bureaucratic tale, a virtual courtroom drama that arises not from the flight itself but from its administrative consequences. Sully and his first officer (or co-pilot), Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart), are called before a federal committee that—with the backing of the airline and its insurers—is investigating the flight and calling into question Sully’s judgment in landing the plane in the river, rather than returning to LaGuardia or landing at Teterboro Airport, as the airline and the investigators think he should have done.

The stakes here are high, too: if Sully is found at fault in the incident, he’ll be forced into immediate retirement and lose his pension. The action involved in those hearings is mainly behind the scenes: Sully’s discussions with Jeff, his fellow-defendant at the federal hearings; his negotiations with the committee and union representatives in the hope of being apprised in advance of the criteria on which he’s being judged; and, ultimately, his performance under questioning at the climactic hearing itself. 

The movie is about a real-life action hero who is nearly destroyed by pencil-pushing bureaucrats lacking a scintilla of his experience—and about precisely the kind of knowledge and experience that Sully relies on to pull off the landing. The movie’s freewheeling construction of Sully’s inner life serves, above all, to reconstruct precisely the experience and the temperamental inclinations (including his youthful début as a pilot and his years in the Air Force) that form the personal basis—or what, at the hearing, Sully calls “the human factor”—of his decision to attempt the river landing.

The contrast between Sully’s inward sense of himself and his public image is captured in reverse, with the throng of journalists occupying the street outside Sully’s house, as he talks to his wife, Lorrie (Laura Linney), on the phone, matched by the throng of journalists awaiting him as he leaves the hotel for the hearing. When he confesses his self-doubts—instilled by the investigation—to Lorrie and asks her, “What if I did blow this?,” she responds, with a quiet irony, “Watch the news—you’re a hero.” Yet to prepare himself for the hearings, Sully turns to a special form of reading matter: transcripts of communications by deceased pilots whose flights went down. The touchstone of Sully’s experience is the limit of experience, namely, death. (I found myself wishing at times to see Sully portrayed by someone more gaunt and taut than Hanks—say, Billy Bob Thornton—but Eastwood nonetheless makes the most of the contrast between Hanks’s stolid warmth and Sully’s anguish.)

After a long setup filled with shards of memory and hallucinatory intimations, Eastwood delivers the first narrative payoff: a fully unfolded depiction of the troubled flight and wondrous landing, from scenes in the airport and on the runway before takeoff to the completion of the rescue by passing ferries and their crews, aided by other first responders, mainly from the New York Police Department.

The movie was shot in IMAX, and that large-negative, large-screen format lends the events a dreamlike level of detail; it also makes the whole movie feel as if it were taking place in the lullingly perilous clearing of the open sky, a bright bare world stripped of illusion and revealed in its hard clear essence as a constant struggle to stave off chaos and instant catastrophe, as unremitting resistance to the ambient threat of death.

Crosscutting between passengers frivolously rushing to the plane claiming a “golf emergency” and the flight crew preparing, in deadly earnest, the exacting technical work on which the flight depends, “Sully” movingly depicts Sully’s modest insistence that he’s just “a man who was doing his job.” 

 The movie depicts, as well, the calm and the courage of the flight attendants, air-traffic controllers, police officers, and the passengers themselves—all of whom contributed mightily to the safe rescue of all concerned—which Sully also describes as their own “doing their job” as well. Yet in Eastwood’s reconstitution of the flight, one telling detail from inside the cockpit surges forth repeatedly to Sully’s own memory: the little red button on the throttle that’s beneath Sully’s thumb. It’s the coldly burning focus of life and death, the seeming existential center of the universe that Sully’s job places in his hands.

Amid the reconstruction of the events, Eastwood cuts to businesspeople in an office on a high floor of a midtown skyscraper, looking out the window and seeing a plane flying shockingly low, with flames spurting from jets, and clearly imagining that they’re seeing another 9/11 in the making. Sully’s burden of responsibility, in “Sully,” appears as quasi-universal, an awareness of grand-scale catastrophe that depends on the unwavering rightness of his judgment and sureness of his gestures—and not on his alone but on that of any pilot whose plane can crash, any truck driver whose eighteen-wheeler can veer out of lane, any doctor whose hand can slip, any officer whose finger can wrongly squeeze the trigger, any President who can press the button.

(Parenthetically, Eastwood’s endorsement of an ignorant and inexperienced blowhard for President is undercut by the very paean to competence, responsibility, seriousness, and—above all—experience that “Sully” embodies.)

“Sully” bases Eastwood’s own political imagination, his sense of civic duty, of shared responsibility for the general well-being, on Sully’s awareness of the unbreakable, fear-based density of the bonds that link him to everyone and anyone where an airplane flies. This enormous burden of mutual and collective responsibility is borne by everyone who has a job to do. This fundamental vision of grassroots politics, depending not on rights but on duties, not on demands but on exertions, weaves a tight civic fabric based on a relentlessly grim tragic awareness of the ineluctable inseparability of individual destinies and interests.

In Eastwood’s brisk yet grand and terrifying vision, the noble essence of work is revealed when it’s not done for money, fame, approval, or vanity but for the sense of simply doing it as it should be done. 

His political morality is unmoored from empathy and from identity, and is linked to history only in the personal sense of knowledge gained and experience cultivated. (Not coincidentally, Eastwood adds to the movie a sordid elbow jab, in passing, at identity politics, in the depiction of the one black member of the committee, a man whose last name is Smith, and who never asks a question or speaks a word. He’s the committee’s Clarence Thomas, and it’s hard to escape the sense that Eastwood is hinting that he considers Smith—and Thomas—to have been appointed less on merit than on race.)

The committee’s investigation depends ultimately not on its members’ own subjective judgment of Sully’s actions, however, but on a putatively objective criterion: a series of computer simulations of the flight. In a climactic cinematic coup that’s as great a metaphorical and symbolic shock as the one with which the movie begins, these simulations are presented by Eastwood as, in effect, movies of the flight—the committee’s own version of “Sully.” Avoiding spoilers, let’s say that the resulting contrast—between the committee’s depiction of the events and Eastwood’s own—turns “Sully” into a film about itself, a movie about the premises and powers of movie-making. The drama about people doing their jobs becomes a drama about Eastwood doing his job, too.

“Sully” is as much about the ethics of movie-making as is Eastwood’s “White Hunter Black Heart”;(about the making of "The African Queen") as much about the need for apt pageantry to fuse a civic identity as is “Invictus”; as much about media distortions as is “Flags of Our Fathers”; as much about returning from the dead as is “Hereafter”; as much about abusive governmental and civic authority as is “Changeling”; as much about the fragility of heroic strength as is “American Sniper.” This brash, vigorous, yet rueful film is among Eastwood’s most personal, farsighted, and deeply felt achievements.

By Richard Brody

With many thanks to The New Yorker


It is worth noting that Tom Hanks is no stranger to bio-pics.
Here are a few: "Saving Mr Banks", "The Bridge of Spies", "Charlie Wilson's War","Captain Phillips",  "Apollo 13",  & "Saving Private Ryan", just for starters.


From How Stuff Works:

How Pilots Like 'Sully' Sullenberger Land Planes on Water

In six minutes, U.S. Airways Flight 1549 went from a boring, old flight — tray tables up and locked, seats in upright positions — to fable. Captain Chelsey "Sully" Sullenberger and his first officer, Jeffrey Skiles, managed to carefully set an Airbus 320 in the waters between the jagged outlines of New York and New Jersey, pulling off a feat of emergency maneuvering.

It was called the Miracle on the Hudson, and the pilots, with particular attention to Sullenberger, were called true heroes.

For good reason, of course. The pilots were working with extremely limited resources. Both engines on the plane were completely disabled after hitting a flock of geese, which meant the pilots had to essentially "glide" the plane to safety. And despite what might sound like a gentle paper-plane like float, keep in mind the aircraft was shuddering, and the cabin was starting to fill with smoke

Despite hearing about the possibility of a water landing every time we hear the safety spiel on an aircraft, water landings, which aviation folks distinguish from water crashes, are quite unusual. One older report pegged their occurrence in the U.S. at about 12-15 per year. 

Flight instructor Steve Lohrey is an airline transport pilot and advanced gold seal flight instructor at Northwest Flight School, based out of Spokane, Washington. Lohrey says Captain Sullenberger's water landing — "ditching," in aviation jargon — was exceptional, both due to how extremely skilled the pilot was and how infrequently ditchings occur.

"They are very rare, particularly in multiengine and airline transport airplanes because the regulations that we operate under demand a certain amount of equipment redundancy," Lohrey says. 

In fact, pilots don't even train for them on flight simulators. "There's no provision in a simulator for training in a water landing because if you try to simulate it … the response is that the airplane crashes," Lohrey points out. But that doesn't mean that pilots are just winging it.

"The way we train for water landings is through a comprehensive ground school," Lohrey says. And that ground training, Lohrey explains, includes learning the real nuts and bolts of ditching a plane. Landing on a glassy mirror of water sounds great, but we all know that bodies of water aren't smooth. Waves and currents are going to affect the plane's touchdown, and they can bend the aluminum skin of the aircraft. That means the plane's belly isn't as capable of cushioning the blow as it can be when crashing on a harder surface, like a runway.

Wind will affect how well the ditching goes, too. "Ideally, airplanes take off and land into the wind because ditching into the wind provides the lowest speed over the water and therefore the lowest impact damage," Lohrey says. Landing into a breaker, for instance, is going to be "like running into something solid. It's more likely to cause extreme damage to the airplane and a violent deceleration with implications for the passengers."

Pilots follow meticulous checklists for different procedures — and emergencies. Ditching a plane in water is no different, although of course what you can do does depend on the time you have. "If you have a chance to reduce the weight in the airplane you can reduce your landing speed. The slower you strike the water, the happier you're going to be," Lohrey says.

And Lohrey points out another huge advantage to Flight 1549's landing. "Everyone was still buckled in," he says. Passenger preparedness is critical to keeping folks safe on impact. 

But the thing about water landings is that even if you do manage to land … you're still in water. Hypothermia and drowning are going to present real dangers. And that's exactly where Captain Sullenberger and co-pilot Skiles, skilled and competent as they were, also proved fortunate.  

"The airplane stayed above the water long enough for everybody to get out," Lohrey says, pointing out there were sophisticated emergency operations responding mere minutes after the touchdown. "It was a stroke of good luck, as well as good airmanship."  

So while water landings are rare, experienced pilots are prepared to make quick and expert decisions to execute them. But a little luck is going to go a long way to make those preparations count.
By Kate Kirschner

100 Greatest Movie Characters 

The African Queen Sails Again

George Hurrell: Stars of the Silver Screen Immortalized By Master of the Hollywood Glamor Photo 

Daniel Day-Lewis Receives A Knighthood 

Frank Sinatra: 100 Years of Great Music - December 12th

Oscar Winners 2016: The Full List

How Sergio Leone’s Westerns Changed Cinema

Top 10 Movie Twists of All Time

Joni Mitchell: Why She Blocked Taylor Swift For Biopic Role 

Burt Bacharach Brings Back The Hits: From Marlene Dietrich to Glastonbury

Rick Nelson Validated

How Los Angeles and Hollywood Took Rock ‘N’ Roll Around The World

Rock Around the Clock: B-side Find Accidentally Launched Rock Anthem 

Tina Turner: What’s Age Got To Do With It? 

Sylvester Stallone: Not Feeling Old!

Hedy Lamarr - Beauty And Brains in Abundance

Charlie Chaplin: The Birth Of The Tramp

Carlos Gardel And The Tango In Movies 

"Rush" - An Under-rated Ron Howard Movie

 Audrey Hepburn Quotes

John Lennon Born 75 Years Ago Today 

From New York to Las Vegas: How the Rat Pack Influenced Modern American Culture

 A Look at a Legend: Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor Quotes

Top 10 Best Actress Oscar Winners Ever? 

10 Historically Inaccurate Movies

Some Like It Hot - Still!

Robert Mitchum: Film Noir Legend 

Clint Eastwood - A True "Renaissance Man" - Updated

John Wayne 7th Most Popular Star - Still!

How Marlon Brando Almost Missed His Defining Role

Top 10 Best Actress Oscar Winners Ever?

The Book Every Movie Lover Should Own:David Thomson’s New Biographical Dictionary of Film

Hollywood's 100 Favorite Films

Paul Newman - Hollywood Legend 

Rita Hayworth - The Dancing Queen

Orry-Kelly:The untold story Of A Hollywood legend - "Women He's Undressed" Review

Top 10 Movie Sets Ever Built

A Look at a Legend: Rita Hayworth

The Importance of Costume in Films: Some Iconic Images of our Culture

A Look at a Legend: James Dean

Dolly Parton: A Biography Movie And A Time Capsule For Her 100th Birthday

Maggie Smith: Michael Coveney’s Biography

The Best Movies of 2015

Sophia Loren Quotes 

Michael Douglas: The Hemsworth Brothers And Hugh Jackman Are Hollywood Gold 

After Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, The Hemsworths, Where Are The Men Of The Movies? 

Alfred Hitchcock: Mysteries Of The Master Of Suspense

How Groucho Marx Invented Modern Comedy

Marilyn Monroe: Fashioning The Myth And The Reality

Loretta Lynn

Gregory Peck: Hollywood Legend 

A History Of Mick Jagger On Film

Florence Foster Jenkins: Meryl Streep's Latest Biopic

Citizen Kane: Orson Welles’s Masterpiece, As A 1941 NYT Critic Saw It

"The Man Who Knew Infinity" Review - Jeremy Irons And Dev Patel

New Book: Mom In The Movies By Richard Corliss

The 100 Greatest American Films

Loving Vincent: The World's First Fully Painted Film

The Lasting Legacy Of The Good, The Bad And the Ugly

Are These The Top 10 Songs Named After Famous People?

Dean Martin: 99 Years Of His Music and Movies

Judy Garland: Happy Birthday!

Marilyn Monroe: Her Secret Diary

The Rolling Stones: A New Movie About The Making of 'Exile on Main Street'

Jennifer Saunders And Joanna Lumley Return In Absolutely Fabulous The Movie 

Biopics Now Focus On Key Moments Rather Than A Whole Life 

10 Historical Movies That Mostly Get It Right

Long-Lost Peter Sellers Films Found In Rubbish Skip

Are These The Top 10 Comedy Actors of All Time?

Happy Birthday, Julie Andrews! 

Happy Birthday Dame Angela Lansbury!

Happy Birthday Grace Kelly!