The Rum Diary


Release: Wednesday, October 28, 2011


Tonight I was browsing through old movies I’ve seen and just was wanting to see how they did at the big ol’ aggregator, Rotten Tomatoes. I wanted to see how many of my favorites were going to be “squashed” (get shit ratings) or succeed and look like a full, ripe tomato. I guess when I put it that way, either or sounds like a lose-lose. But I really couldn’t believe how badly this movie was being slashed…or squashed, or whatever. So I am coming to the defense of one of my favorites here, an adaptation of the first of the many infamous Hunter S. Thompson novels……

This film received a 50% Critical Review on RT and only 38% of those who saw it enjoyed it.

And there’s a big part of me wondering if there’s just a movie critic/popular opinion bias against the guy, or something, because I’ve read many reviews asserting that this film re-creation lacked imagination; the so-called “gonzo-ness” found in Fear & Loathing also absent, or other things that just seemed as though no one had really read the book. I just checked back at the main aggregator site and true to form, the Fear & Loathing movie didn’t fare much better with critics, either. But at least it won the popular vote. I argue that this film is as true to any of Thompson’s novels as any that have come before, and it might be even more accurate. So, if that’s what the main problem is, that there’s “no action” or not even modest inspiration in this film, open up and start reading the rum-soaked novel itself. You’ll also find there’s not an action-packed thriller in Thompson’s words. Sometimes you gotta chill out a little bit and just float along on the journey. . . .

First of all, The Rum Diary is only the second novel penned by Thompson (first published one,….Prince Jellyfish still is yet to be printed.) He was just starting off as a writer and the writing in the book hadn’t yet matured to the level of things he would later go on to publish (Fear & Loathing/Campaign Trail/America, others.) There’s a lot of rum and drinking and boozing and stumbling and signature expressions and all that in the pages but quite a few of those pages are dedicated to telling what the journalistic culture was like amid corrupt Puerto Rican times and an even more disillusioning American political climate in the 60s. Thompson’s books have always held some element of political dissatisfaction (often bordering on satirical at times), and this movie reflects that attitude in the various, long scenes fixating on the dirtier, poorer parts of the Puerto Rican landscape in which our journalist Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) finds himself more often than not. The long scenes lend gravity to the way in which Thompson was describing the world around him, though not taking into account that the world may have also been altered at the time with the exquisite volume of liquor being consumed.

That’s why you’ll see many main characters drinking to the point of presumed lethal intoxication, but somehow they all manage. It’s a regimen for them. The story in the film — and this is where I really believe the film gets even less credit than it deserves — follows the short, troubled life of a small Puerto Rican newspaper, The San Juan Star. Kemp is hired down to try to help flesh out some stories and give the paper “life,” what little life one man can give a paper in San Juan. It is a terribly mismanaged, financially embarrassed publication held together somehow by A.L. Lotterman (so great that Richard Jenkins got offered the part!). All sorts of characters –creatures? — inhabit the space, and for a good time the movie focuses on its glorious disarray and shambling filth. That’s what the book did, too.

Guess I’m going to have to be careful to not start sounding like a snob. . .

True to the novel, the direction taken by Bruce Robinson eked its way out from the paper and began shifting between the publication and Kemp’s sudden interest in a powerful man’s land development scheme that will make both the reporter and the developer (Sanderson, played by Aaron Eckhart) extremely wealthy. Well, it’s either the land development part that’s got Kemp’s interests or his other pleasures. A woman by the name of Chenault shadows Sanderson through the film, and despite her obvious beauty, is clearly unhappy with Sanderson. Kemp and her have an almost immediate connection it would seem. Good thing Amber Heard has the part of Chenault, too. Hello? Any critic care to comment on that hire? . . . .

It seems that much of the talented cast also got overlooked on this production. I’m looking at you, Giovanni Ribisi and Aaron Eckhart. Moreso for Mr. Ribisi playing Moberg, because while I do appreciate what Eckhart brings to the screen, I had only just gotten over seeing him as the heroic mayor of Gotham City (Harvey Dent). His talents are not fully explored for this role as Sanderson, but he’s good nonetheless. But as Moberg, Ribisi gets to set on display his potential to be as outlandish a human being as possible. An über-alcoholic, Moberg is what editor Lotterman considers the scourge of his Star. In a particular scene (pic above) Moberg and Lotterman exchange some kind words, and this is one moment where it’s apparent Thompson’s creation of a crumbling infrastructure (be it a political system, the tourism industry, or something as lowly as a Puerto Rican daily paper) is both humorous and tragic. Moberg is unceremoniously fired (for the third or fourth time I think) and Lotterman loses his hair over it — literally.

Notice again how I continue to reference the movie scenes back to Thompson. . . if only passive-aggression weren’t so hard to detect in a blog. Oh well. The point is I’m starting to lay it on pretty thick, but therein lies part of my argument in defense of this release. The way Robinson lays the film out flows exactly like the lightweight novel. Sure it meanders a little and its tempo doesn’t quite kick it into cocaine-mode like the Vegas setting basically required of Thompson; of its producers, editors and actors. Conversely, The Rum Diary is a lush, steamy and rather funny account of a “straight” man (by Puerto Rican’s standards, I guess) who gets mixed up in some fraudulent business down near the Equator. You should hop on this boat if you want, but you need to really leave those expectations at the door, whether you read the book or not.

There is one formal complaint I would like to lodge against the editors, however. And unfortunately it’s something involving the ending. Forget the whole cliché of a boat riding off into sunset (yes, that’s exactly where our fearless journalist Kemp finds himself at the bittersweet hour). I’m more bothered by the second-grade-level editing avenue they pursued by placing a block of text on this image of the Gulf waters and a tangerine sunset fading into black. What this text basically explained was the fate of Kemp and Chenault. You could have gathered much of that from earlier in the film, or if you had read the book you knew what was going to happen later. Instead the editors chose not to film a lengthier cut but wanted to continue with the exposition. It was awkward and felt tacked-on. Not a fan of the final version, I will concede that much.

I am, however, a fan of Lotterman’s wig:


3-0Recommendation: If you’re a fan of the Hunter S. Thompson books, it deserves your undivided, divided, chopped up or halved attention. Those who have yet to be swayed by the style of Thompson journalism/storytelling, maybe this won’t be your cup of tea.

Rated: R

Running Time: 120 mins.

Quoted: “Your tongue is like an accusatory giblet!”

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Release: Friday, November 16, 2012


Start getting used to seeing Daniel Day-Lewis’ face on the penny after this performance.

The latest creation from the legendary Steven Spielberg has maintained some pretty high levels of hype for some time now (I think I remember seeing the first photos of Day-Lewis as Lincoln back in early summer, maybe as early as March or April this year). When you think about all the time that has passed, and especially with an eye toward all those films that have suffered from a case of too-much hype (cough-cough Cloud Atlas cough) it’s amazing the promotional campaign for this one didn’t take it down a notch or two for millions of eager moviegoers everywhere. I guess that’s a simple gesture toward just how damn good Mr. Lewis is in this feature.

Here comes another extremely difficult act to follow. Everything — from the falsetto voice that is at times quite shaky and strange to hear coming from a man of his iconic stature, to the way Mr. Lewis shuffles down the White House corridors, to the way he cozies up to his youngest son on the floor while he sleeps peacefully — I mean everything; every scene is a poignant moment. When Abe excitedly fills an entire room with his stories that sometimes don’t even have anything to do with the current discussion, we all listen up. That ‘we’ includes us in the audience and all those fantastic actors on screen, too. Mr. Lewis’ Lincoln is simply mesmerizing. The description I’ve read across the board is ‘captivating.’

Okay, okay! Agree to disagree on all these pretty adjectives.

Much credit, though, has got to be given to the writers. Tony Kushner has adopted parts of a book titled the same by Doris Kearns Goodwin and transformed it into a beautiful, eloquently-delivered and well-balanced script. Lincoln is most of the time respectful of its historical and cultural significance, but it has no compunction to stick to flat, dull, humorless speech. Most of the jokes come from a rambling Abe Lincoln as he attempts to lighten the mood in whatever room he may be in while discussing the emancipation of slaves versus ending the war:

“I could write shorter sermons but when I get started I’m too lazy to stop.”

Along with great lines like that (and far too many others for me to even try to stick in here) it is very difficult to not at once be taken in by the warmth of this man and his bushy beard. His kind eyes and smile glow as he passionately expresses his desire to see his divided States of America unite.

It’s where Spielberg decided to start focusing on Lincoln’s personal and presidential timeline that provides us such a magnificent vantage point: the embattled president fighting over what’s more critical, ending the war or ending slavery. As something of an idealist, Lincoln wanted both to happen. Simultaneously. But good luck accomplishing that with a Congress acting more like a loosely-assembled bunch of party kids than political professionals. Best case scenario as far as the item of slavery was concerned, the President may officially pass a law declaring it illegal, but that would hardly change what was more or less an unanimous national view on human rights (or the lack thereof). In order to show the intensity of this animosity amongst fellow Americans, Lincoln dives headfirst into two-and-a-half hours of dialogue-intensive depictions of how committed our beloved Lincoln was to righting what was so clearly wrong with the country. He spoke thoughtfully, often in prose-like fashion, and deliberately slowly in times that were so trying that hardly any of his own Cabinet members were sharing his viewpoints. “Blood’s been spilt to afford us this moment! Now! Now! Now!”

Bolstered by a supporting cast with members who are hardly supporting actors at all (in fact this movie has three Academy Award winners in Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field) the movie plays out as though it were found footage from the day. It is astonishingly flesh-and-blood, despite the 150 years or so that have gotten in the way. Jones plays the loudmouthed Republican majority leader Thaddeus Stevens, and is characteristically stealing all the scenes again. Field is the perpetually ailing Mary Todd Lincoln, who is desperate for her husband to successfully end the war and have her family no longer torn apart by this war. She does an excellent job adding to Abe’s stresses. And ours. Then there’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the eldest Lincoln son, Robert; James Spader as snappy dresser W.N. Bilbo; Hal Holbrook as Francis Preston Blair; and a strong, convincing Jared Harris as General Ulysses S. Grant.

What may win the battle entirely, though, is the moment in which the decision is reached concerning the 13th Amendment. The moment when it is announced in Congress; the moment in which Thaddeus Stevens can no longer contain his disdain for the Democratic proponents of slavery, is A) a groundbreaking moment in American history, and B) one of the biggest chills I have gotten watching a movie ever. All of the appeal of the CGI porns like Transformers and the Matrix Trilogy seem to weigh nothing compared to this dramatization of factual events.

So, when Lincoln pleads, “Shall we stop this bleeding?” you’re likely to do only one thing: nod your head, in wholehearted agreement. You’ll want peace so badly for Mr. Lincoln in this film, and that’s helped by hopefully some prior knowledge you might have of what he achieved as president, and all that may come after him. Still, even if, I guess, you somehow have no idea who Abraham Lincoln was and are hence shielding your eyes from the blinding sun (having just crawled out from underneath a rock) you’ll get to fall in love with at minimum, Day-Lewis’ portrayal. And that’s enough for the soul. There have been few movies that have this potent power to warm people and at the same time, educate, like Lincoln does. And to think, when I first was seeing photos of the new film, I was so obsessed with just how authentic it [the costume and make-up] looked. Gave no thought to how well it would also play out.

But I guarantee you, no matter how well “he is fit into these times” the anticipation leading up to the release will be the last thing on your mind when his final announcements echo off into the crowd, into the audience, into the canon of truly great American heroes.


4-5Recommendation: I kind of want to leave this section blank…just based on the fact that I can’t truly recommend a deeply patriotic American movie when I myself am not American. But it goes without saying that this is well-done. Through-and-through. It brought tears to the eyes every now and then. Emotions certainly run high. There’s laughter. There’s Lincoln getting infuriated at his own Cabinet. Wounded young soldiers, blood and gore in a war that was waged on the ridiculous notion that blacks should be in bondage. And a Brit plays the great American President. If none of the above will interest you in seeing it, then nothing will.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 149 mins.

Quoted: “How can I hold that all men are created equal when here before me stands, stinking, the moral carcass of the gentleman from Ohio? Proof that some men ARE inferior, endowed by their maker with dim wits, impermeable to reason, with cold, pallid slime in their veins instead of hot, red blood! YOU are more reptile than man, George, so low and flat that the foot of man is incapable of crushing you!”

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2016: Obama’s America

Release: Friday, July 13, 2012 (Limited)


I’m hoping the motivation behind watching and then reviewing a movie like this has got to be because I like a good challenge every now and then. I’m owning up to it right now that I am not the most politically-minded of individuals out there. Nothing tunes my brain out during a conversation faster than when people start talking politics. Sure, it’s an important discussion to have. That’s why these discussions become vehemently passionate…almost always. But here I am going to try and be as objective as possible and not lean one way or another in reviewing this film because, let’s face it, there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that I will get someone to change their mind on whether America made a good decision in voting in Obama for a second term of office in 2012.

I believe that the most glaring mistake in 2016 — and in its Liberal counterpart Fahrenheit 9/11 — is there is no neutral stance taken. Denish D’Souza’s film is strongly conservative;  9/11…well, I guess I already stated it’s place on the political spectrum. The polarization of its viewers starts in the first five minutes or so, and in so doing, makes those who are on the opposite side of the fence work harder to not only understand the core objective/message but agree with it.

I’m not calling those people out who favor D’Souza here, either. There are a lot of great arguments made and disturbing information revealed throughout the course of a film attempting to predict an America four years from now, under the presidency of one Barack Obama. Some viewers argue it’s not predictability at all, but more of an eventuality. ‘Look at the numbers. An economy in crisis: the national debt since our very first President up until Bill Clinton stepped out accumulated to something in the neighborhood of $5 trillion. As Obama enters the White House for his second term, it is at least triple that number. That is horrifying.’ If this were a horror film, it would do well. Along with a rising debt crisis, America is suffering from a painful lack of employment since Obama took office. Hovering currently around 8% (though Forbes argues it realistically is around 14%) the percentage of Americans out of work since Obama was sworn in has fluctuated at a disconcerting 8-10%, numbers reminiscent of the Great Depression. Though not a quarter of the entire population, it is a problem. And there I shall step off the statistic podium. It is already giving me a headache.

But I’m not here to dispute numbers. He’s an expensive as hell President. I won’t argue the facts that this film brings to light. What I argue is why doesn’t D’Souza give equal time to those who support Obama? I mean, aside from scant street-interviews with those who once supported the President in his first term but no longer do. There’s no real face time with those who continue to support him. And the reasons why he wouldn’t interview anyone in the party itself are pretty obvious. Every interview he conducts is anti-Obama, and it seriously starts to get annoying. Even harder to believe that D’Souza is trying to convince anyone that America is in as deep a pile of trouble as he is forming with his words, his script, his camera crew.

Unless you were already subscribing to the notion that Obama is trying to draw the United States back into the political and economic Dark Ages, you would otherwise think nothing different. Had he taken the time to provide insight from those who are in high profile positions who might speak favorably of the President, there would be balance between both parties and a far more formidable argument would have been formed. I, for one, would then have to sit back and listen to the rhetoric (and facts) from both sides, and subsequently take the time on my own to differentiate that which is true and accurate from information that is largely based on scare tactic scriptwriting and fear-mongering filmmaking. Without the liberal view, we get just the latter. We have absolutely no frame of reference and almost are forced to take the narrator’s words as truth serum.

And I believe the same applied to Michael Moore’s film on the whole post-9/11 war on Afghanistan agenda. Well, first of all, I actually despise that man to begin with. D’Souza, I appreciate: the intelligence, the control he has of the film, and his general composure are hard to dislike. However, both men are unfair to their source material. This may be the first and only time I ever review a film like this since it is difficult to access the middle ground that I always try to reach in movie critiquing. That’s alright, I suppose. America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. D’Souza has every right NOT to include the other side of the argument in his work. Should he have, though? Absolutely. Perhaps what is most frustrating of all is D’Souza had a perfect opportunity to create that space: the DVD special features. There are none.


2-5Recommendation: A film everyone needs to see, no matter your place on the political spectrum. I’m kind of astonished it took me this long to see it. Now that I have, I’ve got a few more things to think about, whether positive or negative. And again, I am one of the least politically involved individuals that I know of. Shame on me.

Rated: PG

Running Time: 89 mins.

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Release: Friday, November 9, 2012


It took until this day, late in the ever-crispening air of November for this new installment in Ian Fleming’s James Bond franchise to appear, but better late than never. That’s a reasonable expectation to have for a movie like this, similar to the one most of us have for the  single delivery of the line, “Bond. James Bond.”

It just hits you at the right moment, scene by scene, and at some point deep in the two-and-a-half hour affair it starts nipping at the heels of Casino Royale for a run at the “Best Bond Film Ever” distinction. And there’s been a LOT of good ones. Or, it might just get a nomination for Best Picture of the Year. Probably not, when it comes to the Oscar’s, but this is the closest a director behind Bond’s explosive story has ever come to that. Thank you, Sam Mendes. And, to be honest, we can or should thank Mendes for getting one thing perfect about this latest mission: the functionality of seemingly brainwashed operative orphans like James Bond.

Since Quantum of Solace, I’ve had a real concern about the future of Daniel Craig’s relationship with Bond. If some people found something to like about his second try at the role, maybe I missed it but I recall feeling nothing but confusion and disappointment trailing me after seeing it. It was one of the emptiest Bond films maybe ever made: the plot had Bond blowing up more things than ever and whomever was unfortunate to cross paths with him were mowed down like blades of grass. His bloodthirst was unquenchable and a little…..out of whack with Bond’s normal style.

Good thing there was such a low quantum of quality in that flick; it seemed to do nothing but just make Skyfall “pop” that much more. Made it feel a much more matured, premeditated idea. In Solace, it was like the directors slapped on a fancy title to an angry film, forgetting that the Lethal Weapon series had concluded a decade earlier and did not require yet another sequel.

But I shall doubt no more whether Craig is the right Bond; the suspicion if the role could be reprised, gone.

Neal Purvis, Robert Wade (the Broccoli film writer originals) and John Logan weave a darker and more personal storyline, great interpretations of what Fleming penned years back. First of all, they restored some old-school Bondisms: The silver Aston Martin DB-5; Miss Moneypenny; some primitive weaponry to get that rust off Bond’s trigger finger. In a way, in Skyfall we go back to Bond’s roots. We go to Scotland, where we learn what ‘Skyfall’ really is. But that’s fairly far into the film. Before we even get to that, we become more personally acquainted with M, a perspective never before tampered with in previous missions, because, simply, it wasn’t called for. In this one, the dreaded evil genius of one Javier Bardem (otherwise known as the looming threat in No Country For Old Men) has personal business with “Mum.” In fact, Raoul Silva’s hatred is so fixated on MI6 and M that Bond becomes more of a pawn in the game rather than the center of attention, a trend we’ve been accustomed to seeing in the previous 22 films.

But before I spin off into infinity with details about “how it is great,” I need to first pay tribute to “who is great” here. Bardem’s Silva, formerly known as  Tiago Rodriguez, is a former employee of M. Cast out for going rogue on a mission long ago, he has since seriously gone rogue on himself, turning into a maniacal beast of a human being having been taken captive by the Chinese during a mission. Presumed dead MI6 gave up on him, and Silva/Rodriguez, in a domino effect, attempted suicide by swallowing a cyanide tablet,  causing horrific damage to his facial features. Though it is no mouth built of metal, Silva serves as one of the creepiest, most unsettling villains since Jaws in Moonraker. Did I mention humorous?

Silva’s sick scheme here is to eliminate five MI6 agents per week until M decides to finally come forward,  conceding this latest chapter in British geopolitical unrest. She may be stern, she may be patriotic, she may be well-versed in dealing with terrorism. But as the film unfolds, it is difficult to believe that she can withstand this as well.

And because Silva (and Mendes) successfully reach to the very core of what (maybe more importantly who) Bond’s missions are all about, there’s a unique sensitivity in the feature; an unsettling grace that carries through Act One and peaks come Act 3.  Good thing Bond survives that first shot in the beginning, and is as tough as nails to begin with. That’s why we need someone like Daniel Craig to carry on. A man who may somehow stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Silva’s insanity.

There are other amenities in this continuation of the spy saga. One of which is our wide and bright-eyed Q-branch (Ben Whishaw), offering more irony than Bond can really tolerate. He’s afraid to fly, yet  he’s no old-schooler. There’l be none of those exploding pens these days. He tells Bond in the museum, “We don’t really go in for that anymore.” This Q seems an adequate fit for this installment, though I still miss Desmond Llewelyn.

The Bond girls certainly seem up to par. And by that I mean, Eve Moneypenny (played by Naomi Harris) and the Chinese casino babe Sévérine (Bérénice Marlohe) each give Eva Green (who was Vesper Lynd) a run for her money. It would seem fitting that Bond be introduced to a new, perhaps healthier relationship fostered with Moneypenny (who is now much more appealing than the secretary of the Pierce Brosnan era), since his last “relationship” — should Bond afford himself the luxury — pretty much resulted in the forgettable second Craig Bond movie.

In theaters November 9, Skyfall has taken its place among the great Bond films produced to date. Agree or disagree, I think many are going to find it easier than ever to sit through this and at times forget it’s even a movie involving the British Secret Service. That’s an accomplishment in and of itself. Why didn’t Mendes come to the attention of Albert Broccoli and company earlier??


4-0Recommendation: Simply put, a must-see: for the scenery, the free travel, the women and the high-tech terrorism. It’s a complete package and then some. It has all the right ingredients for being my favorite of the Bond’s, which is not the same thing as being the absolute best.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 145 mins.

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Released: Friday, November 2, 2012


I think I just fixed my fear of flying. I saw this movie Saturday afternoon. I gained valuable insight into the flight time life of your, I guess, not-so-typical commercial jet pilot, and I also learned that there are worse things that could happen to you should you be involved in a horrific plane crash like the one portrayed in Flight, a brilliant and tightly-shot production from Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Cast Away).

Its release almost certainly is being overshadowed by other pictures coming out at this moment. To name a few: Seven Psychopaths, Cloud Atlas, Wreck-It Ralph. The Man With the Iron Fists, Chasing Mavericks. Tucked in between all these is a great film whose emotional lows and highs will likely lead to some Academy Awards. Well, first off, it stars an Academy Award winner — Denzel Washington, as the veteran pilot Whip Whitaker. And with an award-winning director — Robert Zemeckis — at the helm, Flight ends up becoming a great combination of very good acting and convincing special effects, the likes of which will probably make people even more fearful of flying.

And the even bigger kicker is this film’s plot has as much to do with flying as James Cameron’s Titanic had with the cerulean blue of the North Atlantic.

Sure, we get the flight at the beginning — your typical shot of a tightly-packed second-class cabin. Oh, wait. That’s not typical. Even if the moments in the plane were short-lived, they felt real — turning quickly to horrifying when things start to go wrong — which was almost from the take-off. Rough weather begins pounding our airline and within minutes Whitaker finds that, despite his BAC being a little higher than most self-respecting pilots who have graduated up the tiers of aviation training, he has to make some dramatic aerial maneuvers to get the passengers to smoother, safer air. His training and ability to make snap decisions save all but six souls of a total 102 when he is forced to crash land the plane in an open field. That’s only after righting the plane having inverted it to avoid a full-on head-dive to certain death.

Once this scene has passed, the audience wakes up in a South Atlanta area hospital along with a beaten up Whitaker. What ensues concerns itself less with the act of flying than with the man behind the aviators and dark blue suit. What Zemeckis pulls off is an insightful yet troubling character study into one of Washington’s best roles yet.

It becomes more and more apparent that despite his skills in the sky, his personal issues ground him somewhat in the face of reality. He is a drunk. A drug-addict. A brilliant liar with an innocent face.

The days and weeks following the crash Whitaker, as we would expect, earns a high profile in the media and it becomes more and more difficult for him to separate that which he had gone through from his own private affairs, one of which he would not acknowledge to be the whole drinking thing. As he picks up another bottle, he shuffles through an old farm house that was once his fathers before he passed away, which Whitaker now uses to  find some sense of peace in the midst of a thorough investigation from the NTSB, a routine following any sort of disaster in the field of aerospace engineering.

Unfortunately, the circumstances are nothing if not extraordinary surrounding this event. As the movie unravels Whitaker takes steps further and further back against his own fight to prove innocence in a case developing out of that investigation. Don Cheadle steps in as Hugh Lang, attorney. Sharp, dedicated and willing, apparently, to bend some truths, Lang rides the surging wave of Whitaker’s emotional response to his plight for as long as he can bare. And to give Lang some credit, Whitaker, sixty minutes into the affair, is nothing like the man we were enthralled by in the first ten or twenty. He loses it.

And I bought it all — hook, line and sinker: the fragility of the human character, unwinding like frail fabric off the spool during the last half of Flight.

Alongside the strong performances led by Washington and Cheadle, we are treated to a silly John Goodman as Whitaker’s long-time friend and drug supply, Harling Mays. Had it not been for him and the “veal” run he went on, it is worthwhile to venture the guess that Whitaker’s self-destructive moments may not have catapulted to such a degree, but then, no one has control of themselves except themselves. Whitaker learns this the hardest way of all.


3-5Recommendation: Flight, though probably not a good one to see if you’re opposed to flyingis a movie perhaps best kept a “secret” (as secretive as a film can be with a man like Denzel Washington dominating the screen), and I felt myself secretly smiling that I was neither in a theater for Cloud Atlas, nor Argo. Hey, those are going to be great pieces, too. But give this one a chance as well. It takes off quickly.

Rated: R

Running Time: 138 minutes

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