13 December 2015

The Benefits Of Being A Slow Burner

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Do you ever have one of those evenings in which one second you're having a casual sip of alcohol and the next you're screaming abuse over some loud music and projectile vomiting up the walls? Ah, nights in are the best aren't they?! Well, in many ways the new film Bridge Of Spies is a non-aggressive version of that kind of night except it won't result in you needing a new liver or losing custody of the kids. Well, not unless you're watching it with them whilst rubbing your belly button and masturbating, anyway. So the movie began calmly, I relaxed back into my chair, and then two hours later I left the cinema having seen one of my new favourites of the year. In the same way that David Hasselhoff can't handle his drink, I had no idea that I was being affected as much as I was until the credits rolled and I could feel my sense of awe. Except in my case I'd just gone to the cinema to see a really good movie - in the Hoff's case, he was filmed trying to eat a broken burger off his bathroom floor whilst naked from the waist up. I don't know if you've seen that video of him making a complete fool of himself? Although I will say, in his defence, and as Pamela Anderson will be aware, there is more undignified footage online featuring the cast of Baywatch. It's called Baywatch.
On the off chance that you yourself aren't a single-minded pisshead whose found themselves here in a disastrous attempt to locate porn, I guess I'll briefly explain what Bridge of Spies is about. Back in 1957, Russia was indulging in its favourite hobby of putting the fear of fuck up the world, as we found ourselves in the middle of a Cold War. I know that should go without saying but I've been talking to some young people lately and you'd be surprised at the shit they don't know about. I mean, I had to explain to one eighteen year old who David Bowie was the other day. How are we to expect them to know about the threat of communism and nuclear annihilation if they're not even aware that we once had a fucking alien as a pop-star? Anyway, so the first half of Bridge Of Spies is about the fate of a Russian spy that's been captured by the Americans. Due to the fairness of the legal system, the plan is to give him a 'show' trial before strapping him to an electric chair and turning his brains into deep-fried skull smeg. The second half of the film is about how it might instead be a better idea to simply exchange him for one of our own captured spies. It's kind of like taking your Pokémon Card swaps to school and trying to negotiate for that elusive shiny Venusaur with the only difference being that if you fail, then somebody's going to get shot in the fucking head.

Orchestrating this whole thing is an insurance guy named Donovan who was originally recruited as the spy's lawyer and who didn't seem so keen on the whole brain-smeg thing. Played by Tom Hanks, I would say this performance is the reason that I loved the film so much. I would say it but it's just not true. Hanks is obviously great because he's Tom fucking Hanks and unless he's got a stupid mullet and is pratting about in some shite Ron Howard/Dan Brown bollocks then what's not to love?! But the truth is that as amazing he is, pretty much everybody else in the making of this film is equally impressive. Obviously this also includes Hanks's co-star Mark Rylance as the Russian spy, with their characters' bond essentially acting as the heart of the film. In case you were also unaware, this film was directed by Spielberg who seems to flit between family blockbusters and historical dramas. When asked which he prefers making he claimed to simply like the variety as it keeps the process fresh for him. So in this film we have one character who is tall with dark hair befriending another that's shorter, more shrivelled, constantly referred to as an alien, and just wants to go home. Yeah.. that's some variety you've got yourself there, Spielberg.

Not only does the plot have a drunken, hazy resemblance to E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, but one of the main themes acts as a kind of throwback to Spielberg's previous historical epic, Lincoln. Both essentially argue that both the constitution and sticking to the rules are what makes the country stand out. Personally I'd argue that, right now, it's racist police, mass-shootings, morbid obesity, and Donald Trump's hair being less stupid than the things he says that make America what it is. However as well as that, the film also sees Spielberg return to one of his other favourite themes which is the idea that one ordinary man can make a difference. Whether it's Richard Dreyfus' intergalactic abandonment of his family in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, or the soldier in Saving Private Ryan who dodders to a war grave and has a psychic vision of what was endured by a completely separate man, Spielberg loves to show the extraordinary potential of the everyman and Bridge Of Spies is no exception.

Which also means that as well as the cast, crew, and characters, the other thing that made this film as brilliant as it was, was obviously the story. Like an annoying little nipper whose never heard of the Spiders from Mars, I too was unaware of these events and so was as gripped as an old man's cock in an arthritic whore's hands. I mean, I was aware of the concept of swapping spies on a bridge as I'd seen it done in a steaming pile of shite known as Die Another Day... but I had no clue how this story was going to end and so enjoyed every second of the journey as the film played out. It's been widely reported that the script had the involvement of the Coen Brothers with so many lines bearing their recognisable ironies, patter, or humour, however credit should also go to Matt Charman who apparently figured out the structure of the film before it was given away to be Coen-ized. It might seem an odd thing for them to be involved in but I suppose this whole film could be summarised by that one scene in Burn After Reading in which Brad Pitt mysteriously says “I thought you might be worried about the security.. of your shit”. 
 
All of this I think explains why Bridge Of Spies was able to so subtly get under my skin like a greedy little botfly. It has an amazing director, an amazing cast, and the ever quotable Coen brothers and yet nobody seems to be showing off. On the giant concrete wall of the cinematic screen, not one of them has attempted to piss higher than the others, with them all working as a collective to simply saturate the entire thing with their talents. In fact, all of them tend to work at such a consistently high standard that it's kind of easy to take them all for granted and the quiet brilliance of this movie is exactly why we shouldn't, as with the exception of those magical bitches that we used to burn at a stake, I don't know of many other people who have such control over their craft. It's also worth mentioning that this is one of the few films in which Spielberg hasn't teamed up with John Williams for the ear-porn. This time he's turned to Thomas Newman, who's brilliantly scoring his second spy film of 2015 after Spectre. Obviously these films couldn't be further apart despite dealing with people of a similar career. It also means that along with Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Spy, The Man From U.N.C.L.E, and Kingsman: The Secret Service, 2015 has not only been a great year for espionage films but is proof that anybody bitching about the amount of superhero films being released is a fucking idiot. Thanks for reading motherfuckers, and see you next time.
 
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