The new “Mission Impossible” movie is an intense, action-filled movie that re-establishes Tom Cruise as our national action hero. The film was shot in some remarkable places around the world, e.g., Dubai, Budapest, and Moscow. Regarding the latter, this film has some of the best aerial shots of the Kremlin that I can remember seeing. This movie has more humor than its predecessor’s particularly with the addition of Simon Pegg. The female lead is Paula Patton, who apparently can pack a punch as effectively as the men. Cruise (or a stunt man) does some incredible stunts, particularly off the side of the Burj Khalifa, tallest building in the world. I am not sure what was CGI but it didn’t matter, the effect was so exciting. The weakest cast member was Jeremy Renner. He doesn’t have Cruise’s action-hero star power, so he paled a bit by comparison. Lea Seydoux played a key role as a femme fatale who has the unfortunate distinction of being pushed out of one of the half-mile high Burj Khalifa windows. She is a beautiful woman and plays her part believably. I saw the movie in IMAX. It is a wonderful medium that increases the intimacy and excitement of the stunts. I recommend “MI: The Ghost Protocol” highly.
I attended a Broadway touring company presentation of “My Fair Lady.” It was well-staged and performed. I only stayed until after the intermission. In spite of the high quality music and lyrics, Broadway musicals, in general, do not engage me. And “I could have danced all-night” seemed to be inserted into the show, without clearly informing me about what Liza thought she should dance for. I probably missed something.
I saw the indie film “Another Earth.” The film stars Brit Marling and William Mapother (Tom Cruise’s first cousin) who has all of Cruise’s facial features, but not put together as well. Both of these actors were convincing in their roles. The story is about a promising young woman who has a bit too much to drink and drives. She hears a news report about the discovery of another earth. While behind the wheel, she cranes her neck to see the new planet and drives head long into another car, killing the driver’s pregnant wife, and the couple’s son. The driver is in a coma for four years, and she conveniently goes to prison for four years. As part of her redemptive process, she offers her services to him, post-coma, as a housekeeper. This was part of a strategy to find a way to say she was sorry, but instead falls in love with him. Fast forwarding, she wins a trip to the new earth. She instead gives the ticket to her lover in hopes that he might see his family again. This was possible through a plot device which said that the two worlds and their inhabitants lost synchronicity when the new earth became visible. He goes, she stays. In the final scene she meets herself in the back of her house. I liked the movie while watching it, but after about a week, it seems less compelling. The plot so stretches credulity that it seems mostly a contrivance. The notion that he might find his family again was so far-fetched that her self-sacrifice lost its punch. I was also distracted by the poor quality of the cinematography and lighting. I appreciate it is a low-budget picture, but think more could have been done it make it a bit more visually appealing. The soundtrack by Fall on Your Sword was effective in underscoring the storytelling. “Melancholia,” another recent release (see my review elsewhere) has a similar plot device, i.e., the discovery of a new planet close to the earth, but it is visually stunning and makes its point without having to stretch believabililty.
“Homecoming” has proven to be one of the best dramas on television. The plot involving a possibly turncoat returning prisoner of war is contemporary and compelling. Claire Danes is spectacular as the obsessed bipolar CIA operative who has no boundaries when it comes to protecting the country. Danes inhabits the character fully and the scene where she is in full-blown mania is realistic and convincing. The plot is full of twists and turns and it’s difficult to tell who is patriotic and who is a traitor. Damien Lewis is also superb as the conflicted returnee and Mandy Patinkin plays the depressed and possibly duplicitous CIA boss of Dane’s character. Morena Baccarin plays the wife of Damien Lewis’ character. She is warm, controlled, and beautiful. She was great in last season’s “V” and is equally good here.