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 200: Alien (1979)

alienBelieve it or not, I was never a huge fan of science fiction films growing up as a kid and in fact I preferred horror movies over them. With all the talk of a new Alien film, I figured what better time than now to see all the films in the franchise and start with the film Alien. A space merchant vessel known as the Nostromo is heading back to Earth after a routine pick up of whatever the cargo is. The crew is nice and asleep in their pods during the long and strenuous travel when they are awoken by MOTHER which is the ships computer. They discover that there is a distress signal from somewhere in space and protocol says that they have to investigate. After investigating the call, one of the crew members is attacked by something and they bring aboard a master alien specie that is takes no prisoners. The crew has to figure out a way to get safely home and away from the alien before it’s too late. The film stars Tom Skerritt (Top Gun) as Dallas, Sigourney Weaver (1492: Conquest Of Paradise) as Ripley, Veronica Cartwright (The Witches Of Eastwick) as Lambert, Harry Dean Stanton (The Green Mile) as Brett, John Hurt (Hellboy) as Kane, Ian Holm (The Fifth Element) as Ash, Yaphet Kotto (The Running Man) as Parker, Bolaji Badejo as the Alien, and the film was directed by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner).

alien 1So, I am happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised with how much I really liked the film. One thing I noticed about spaceships in space carrying humans and that is all of them are run by a computer that malfunctions. For example in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Hal 9000 runs the ship and basically kills everyone while MOTHER runs the ship in Alien and she’s not very helpful.  Humans will never learn throughout time that we should never trust a computer. Nevertheless, the computer in this film is obviously the least of their troubles as they are being chased around and killed by an amazing H.R. Giger designed Alien. Now that is a pretty scary scenario if you ask me, but the beauty of the film wasn’t how much you saw the alien, it was where the hell was he. The film gave you that Jaws effect where you are wondering where on this creepy ship is that scary alien. When it’s time to go, they give you the alien on the ship. The film contained a small cast, but this cast is as brilliant as it gets with the likes of John Hurt, Harry Dean Stanton, etc. As I said above, I was never a huge fan of Sci-Fi films so I avoided watching these, but I am glad that I started because it has a brilliant story and sets. The cinematography and the editing of the film is also a strong point for the film. That is why I am going to give the film an A for a final grade.