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Tom Hanks Project – The Da Vinci Code Review

23 Aug

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This movie is entertaining enough. Hanks submits a pretty average performance (for him), but is helped by a solid turn by Audrey Tautou* (Amelie) and a scene stealing Ian McKellan (Gandolf). Based on the massively popular novel of the same name, The Da Vinci Code was called out for being low brow and making a lot of super obvious art references that make dumb people feel smart**. It’s hard to argue against that, though even though I’d seen the movie in theaters when it came out, it still kept me guessing and interested until the end.

*My girl!!! Amelie was my favorite movie for years and years. When this movie first came out and I discovered the cast list, my hopes rose very high — two of my favorites together?? Seemed like a recipe for perfection.

**I think this is an awfully exclusive point of view. I only took one art class in the entirety of college, and it was in the context of how film was influenced by art. It made me appreciate the works more when I went to museums afterward, so I think if a movie can accomplish a similar appreciation, that’s not a bad thing. Continue reading

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Tom Hanks Project – “The Polar Express” Review

26 Jul

the-polar-express-movie-poster-2004-1020193993This may be one of my more conflicted Tom Hanks Project reviews, friends. The problem is — before this latest viewing of Robert Zemeckis*’ The Polar Express, this was a film that I told myself I loved. I first watched it** with my family back when it came out in 2004, because the story of The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg was a family favorite and held with it special Christmas magic. I watched it again in 3D with my dad and brother years later, and all of the excitement of the film and pleasure it brought my dad was what I remembered of it. So I felt pretty confident*** in sharing it with Zack.

*The guy directed Forrest Gump, Cast Away and the Back to the Future movies. Then this.

**This was my first viewing. And last. 

***I think at some point you were confident, but the day before we watched, I said “So…I’ve seen that dancing hot chocolate scene and that was terrible. Am I gonna like this at all?” and you said “Oh, you’re going to hate it.” Correct.

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Christmas in July: The Wittbloom Take

22 Jul

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When I realized Zack and I were at The Polar Express* in our Hanks reviewing, I felt we could do only one thing — host a Christmas in July**, Wittbloom style. We’d get each other a few presents, have biscuits for breakfast and Christmas cookies for dessert, and drink apple champagne and generally make merry. Happily, Zack was on board with this plan***, and we set to work creating a little winter magic during this hot Texas summer.

*We’ll get to the film in a separate post. Spoiler: Not great. 

**I’m still getting used to Christmas in December. July? Are there fireworks? What is this? 

***I couldn’t say no to Caitlin when I saw how excited she was for it. And I thought it would be a good excuse to get a Hanks ornament. 

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Tom Hanks Project – “The Terminal” Review

17 Jun

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Another pleasant surprise in Hanks’ catalogue*. Somehow I’d never seen this gem, and didn’t even realize it was Spielberg, coming back for a third collaboration with Tom. Going in I knew that Tom was stuck in an airport and he had an odd accent, but didn’t know much else. In some ways there isn’t much more to it than that but, since it’s Hanks, you get a unique slice of humanity and it somehow makes the airport a fun, charming place to spend a couple hours**. Or in Viktor Navorski’s case, nine months.

*I had actually seen this one when it came out and loved it at the time, but I was worried that I’d given it too much credit, so I was very happy to be reminded that this is actually a really great movie.

**I wouldn’t go this far, but I will say that it humanizes all of the people who work at the airport, which I think is an incredible thing to remind us all of as we race back and forth. Continue reading

Tom Hanks Project – “The Ladykillers” Review

14 Apr

ladykMovies like this are the reason I enjoy doing this “Tom Hanks Project” so much. We would have never put this odd little Coen Brothers film on if left to our own devices, and though it has its issues* and I enjoyed it more than Caitlin**, I found it to be a pleasant surprise. It still beats the days of us scrambling to find something to watch on Netflix. The day after we watched this, we settled on “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and couldn’t make it through 15 minutes. Anyway, I had no idea what to expect from “The Ladykillers” and after seeing it I’m still not totally sure, but I laughed a lot and had fun seeing a new side of Hanks.

*To say the least.

**To say even less. Continue reading

Tom Hanks Project – “Catch me if you Can” Review

7 Apr

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After celebrating Tom Hanks Day last weekend with a Master Pancake mocking of “Forrest Gump” in theaters, we settled into the couch Sunday night for an Easter viewing of “Catch Me If You Can.” While Gump is my current favorite Hanks movie, after we finished watching, Caitlin claimed that even though Hanks is second billed, this may be her favorite in his catalog. It’s a great re-watch. Tom is directed by Spielberg for the first time since “Saving Private Ryan,” and plays second fiddle to a delightful Leo performance and a gem of a turn by Christopher Walken who got an Academy Award best supporting actor nomination for his work and won a SAG award. Helped by a score John Williams was Academy Award nominated for, this movie zips through it’s two hour and twenty minute run time. It’s slick, fun and endlessly clever from the word go. When this movie came out, I remember distinctly going, “OMG, my favorite things all together — Hanks! Leo! Spielberg!” It didn’t disappoint then, and it certainly doesn’t now.

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Tom Hanks Project – “Road to Perdition” Review

8 Mar

roadtoposterWe finally got through this one. We lost Caitlin at “Tom plays a hitman…” She brought out the eye mask and we settled in for a movie we actually enjoyed, despite it being another one I had to narrate large chunks of*. It’s a great story that kept us engaged and Hanks was great as always, bringing humanity to an assassin to the point that we had no qualms about rooting for him**. It’s a beautifully shot movie, earning a best cinematography Oscar and a best supporting actor nomination for Paul Newman in addition to three other sound and art nominations. The movie works, even if it feels predictable throughout.

*Honestly, this wasn’t TOO much of a necessity because I was pretty much guessing what was going to happen the whole way through. Also I read the MPAA ratings so I knew what all the gore/bloody bits would be.

**This is true. I honestly didn’t even think of NOT rooting for Hanks until Zack wrote that sentence. I would say this makes the real-life Hanks a dangerous fellow, because he could probably start murdering people and we’d still make excuses for him. Then again, he just starred in a Carly Rae Jepsen music video, so I’m not wringing my hands. And he even makes the video awesome!  Continue reading