Posts Tagged ‘Kyle Chandler’

Damien Chazelle’s ‘First Man’ offers a frosty portrayal of a pilot’s historic journey to the moon

October 15, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 15, 2018

First Man, director Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to his acclaimed 2016 feature film La La Land, documents how Neil Armstrong progressed from being one of a handful of test pilots pushing past Earth’s atmosphere to the first individual to set foot on another celestial body.

The movie serves as a sequel of sorts to The Right Stuff, writer-director Philip Kaufman’s adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s 1979 book about America’s first astronauts. Indeed, Chazelle’s movie was adapted (by screenwriter Josh Singer, a co-author of The Post) from a 2005 authorized biography of the same title by Auburn University space historian James R. Hansen.

Kaufman began his movie with Chuck Yeager’s breaking the sound barrier in 1947 and ended roughly 15 years later as NASA approaches the end of Project Mercury, the first crewed American orbital missions. Chazelle and Singer start their story in the early 1960s, literally seconds before Armstrong embarks on a hazardous suborbital flight in an X-15 rocket plane and a few months before the civilian test pilot is selected for Gemini, NASA’s second set of crewed missions.

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An unlikely love blossoms in the 1950s in Todd Haynes’s excellent ‘Carol’

January 15, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 15, 2016

Director Todd Haynes develops a romance between a young shop clerk and an elegant married mother in Carol, his new adaptation of a 1952 novel by the American writer Patricia Highsmith.

The title character, an upper-crust New Jerseyan, is played by Cate Blanchett. The exotic Australian actress, who may possess the most prominent cheekbones in history, portrays Carol Aird as a sort of cocktail: four parts confidence and two parts doubt along with an infusion of alcohol and nicotine. (The ratio of the latter two elements varies widely from scene to scene but tends to be high.) When she meets Therese Belivet, the younger woman is working at a Manhattan department store. The mousy, neurotic Belivet, whose first name is pronounced tuh-REZ, is so low on the store’s totem pole that she’s subjected to a manager’s withering regard for having the temerity to ask to borrow a pencil and paper.

The movie is framed by a meeting Therese and Carol have at a hotel tea service — potentially their very last encounter — that’s interrupted by one of Belivet’s friends.

Carol is in the process of divorcing Harge Aird (Kyle Chandler, the straight-laced FBI agent in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street). The resentful Harge becomes suspicious of Belivet the moment he sees her, and he is more than willing to use evidence of a lesbian liaison as leverage in the divorce proceedings.

Belivet is dating Richard Semco (Jake Lacy), a younger, less well-heeled version of Harge who’s cajoling Therese into marrying and/or taking a honeymoon in Europe. But the reluctant Belivet is more interested in taking photographs — although usually not of people, which she sees as an invasion of privacy — and talking to her friend who works for The New York Times than she is in reciprocating the affections of either Richard or her reporter pal. (I didn’t catch this character’s name.)

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Is unrestrained greed good? Nay, declares Martin Scorsese in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ his sprawling indictment of Wall Street and America

January 10, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 10, 2014

Let me tell you about a Martin Scorsese movie that I recently saw. The protagonist is an unscrupulous young white man who aspires to wealth and luxury. By associating himself with a gang of other similarly avaricious, unprincipled young men, the ambitious outsider achieves wild levels of success. The rewards include free-flowing money, drugs, sex and power. Those outside his circle sometimes pay a heavy price for the protagonist’s triumphs. After the group attracts the scrutiny of the authorities, they’re cleaved by internal divisions. Ultimately, the leading character is humbled, but he does not attain humility.

If this sounds familiar, there’s good reason for that. Squint at Scorsese’s late 2013 release, The Wolf of Wall Street, and one might easily mistake it for his 1990 mafia classic, Goodfellas. In a broader sense, it also matches the outsider-makes-good-before-getting-his-comeuppance template that Goodfellas shares with Scorsese’s 1995 drama, Casino, wherein a Philadelphia oddsmaker becomes a top Las Vegas power broker but is undone by greed, drugs, lust and politics. In all three films, the protagonist’s success is threatened by a profligate right-hand man.

Both Goodfellas and Casino are based on nonfiction books by Nicholas Pileggi. This time around, the source material is a memoir by arriviste financier Jordan Belfort; thugs, guns and violence are de-emphasized in favor of opulence and sex, but the parallels with Scorsese’s early works are unmistakable.

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