Day 238: A Hologram For The King (2016)

coverThere are certain actors in Hollywood that when you see their name attached to a film, it’s more than likely that you’re going to pick it up. Tom Hanks (Bridge Of Spies) is definitely one of those actors and hence the reason I chose A Hologram For The King for today’s film. Alan (Hanks) is a failed US salesman that made the ultimate mistake with one company in his past. Things are falling apart for Alan as he is going through a divorce, he has to find a way to pay for college for his daughter, and he has a small lump on his back. In a last ditch effort, he goes to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to present a new technology to the king in hopes that it will save him. What he actually finds there is not what he expected when he took the chance. The film also stars Alexander Black (Tim) as Yousef, Sarita Choudhury (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1) as Zahra, Sidse Babett Knudsen (The Duke Of Burgundy) as Hanne, Tracey Fairaway (Enough Said) as Kit, Tom Skerritt (Top Gun) as Ron, David Menkin (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) as Brad, Christy Meyer (Snowden) as Cayley, Megan Maczko (The In-Between) as Rachel, Khalid Laith (The Devil’s Double) as Hassan, Amira El Sayed (Schleierhaft) as Hana, and the film was directed by Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run).

rs-231797-Screen-Shot-2016-03-10-at-9.57.54-PMBefore I get into the review of the film, the one thing that I want to get out of the way is that I loved the cinematography. Yes, there is a lot of amazing shots of the desert and what not, but one of my favorite scenes comes towards the end of the film. There is a scene where Tom Hanks is underwater and it just looks absolutely amazing. According to Rotten Tomatoes the critic consensus is, “A Hologram for the King amiably ambles through a narrative desert, saved by an oasis of a performance from the ever-dependable Tom Hanks.” I would have to agree with the critics because it is a rather enjoyable ride through a culture shock. You see Tom Hank’s character grow from someone who doesn’t know the customs of the culture to eventually someone who understands the way their world works. He has to travel around the red tape and navigate his way through their world, but he gets the job done. One of the relationships I loved seeing in the film was the bond of friendship that developed between Alan and his driver Yousef. It starts off a little shaky because Alan just treats him like a crazy driver, but the relationship that soon develops is great and full of comedic gold. One of my other favorite aspects from the film is the soundtrack believe it or not. It features music from The Talking Heads, Chicago, Electric Light Orchestra, and more courtesy of Yousef for the most part (minus The Talking Heads track, that seems to be the overall theme of the film). I really enjoyed watching the film and I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of Mr. Hanks. I am going to give the film an B+ for a final grade.

Day 154: Risen (2016)

download (1)Since mankind could start filming things, we have seen countless films regarding the bible and how things went down for Jesus Christ. Until this year, we had never seen a film that explored the subject matter present in today’s film Risen. All Roman Tribune Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) wants to do in 33 AD is to finally relax and make his way back to Rome. Unfortunately for him, he is given a hefty task by Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth) and that is to find the body of Jesus (or Yeshua as he is known in the film). There were rumblings in Judea that Jesus was going to rise out of his tomb and walk the Earth again. The Romans and most of the Jewish are against that idea and so Clavius has to find the body to prove that theory wrong before it spreads and changes the minds of all the Jewish community. The film also stars Tom Felton (Harry Potter and the Goblet Of Fire) as Lucius, Cliff Curtis (Live Free Or Die Hard) as Yeshua, María Botto (Only Human) as Mary Magdalene, Stewart Scudamore (The Devil’s Double) as Peter, Stephen Hagan (Against The Dark) as Bartholomew,  Luis Callejo (Triage) as Joses, and the film was directed by Kevin Reynolds  (The Count Of Monte Cristo).

720x405-CLAVIUS-desert-108One thing you can always question when going into a film like this is whether this films is Christian propaganda? The other question you can also ask in rebuttal of the last one is whether this was just an honest attempt at looking at a different part of the story? Obviously, you have to form your own opinion because I am not here to enlighten you on the subject of God, but merely to be objective in the art of film making and storytelling. The film was an excellent example of amazing film making because the cinematography was pretty top notch. The sets made you believe that you were in 33 AD Judea and some of the visuals can be a little hard to take. There is this one scene where after they crucify a body, they just throw them in a ditch like area and throw salt over them. You see all the rotting corpses and all of the flies. I can only imagine how disgusting that must have smelled like back then. I had wondered going into the film how factual it was and I came to find out that it was historical fiction meaning that they place fictional characters in real historical situations. It makes sense why they did it because it offers you a point of view from someone who was a non believer. So I ask you again, Christian propaganda or another way to look at the story? Nevertheless, the film features some great acting along with great storytelling as well as great costumes and amazing sets. If you don’t mind watching these kinds of films, then I would say give it a shot because it was worth the watch. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.