Bridge of Spies

I watched this film during the very long plane journey home from Las Vegas and was pleasantly surprised. Myself and the hubby had seen it advertised on TV a lot but as nothing exploded and no one got naked he wasn’t really interested.

Bridge of Spies

If you are looking for a high suspense, scary thriller style spy film then this isn’t really one for you. But if you do enjoy cleverly written drama with poignant moments that cut deeper than expected and the odd moment of humour – then this is the one for you.

I have always been a fan of Tom Hanks so for me this film just showed off his skills even further. He was intelligent, witty, engaging and drew you into his fears and emotions enough to make the film feel truly personal. His role as the hero worked well throughout the film, giving you a constant although complicated character. Through him the audience are able to work their way through the consistently conflicted and changing loyalties and emotions throughout the story.

The film works through the story of the capture and trade of American and Russian spies in the Cold War, James Donovan (Tom Hanks) is assigned to represent a Russian spy during his criminal trial in the US. The trial unfolds with the backdrop of high media and public interest in the impact and possible future of the Cold War as well as intense scrutiny of all those involved in the trial. Donovan and his family are viewed as villains by the general public, due to the huge amount of general fear the public are unable to see why someone would defend such a dangerous character.

Taken at face value myself as a British woman in 2016 it could be difficult to understand the fear and almost exaggerated refusal to understand Donovan’s case in defending the spy Abel. However, when you really pay attention it isn’t difficult to compare it to our current climate. Some people would argue we are not at open war, some would argue that we are just as it was during the Cold War. However, what you cannot deny is just like the characters in the film we are under constant threat by a seemingly unreasonable force that could attack at any time and without provocation.

One of the scenes from this film which will probably stay with me is that of the children in school watching the information about the bombs and how to stay safe, this is followed up by Donovan finding his son in the bathroom with the bath filled and following instructions about how to survive an attack. This cannot fail to resonate today with anyone who watched the effects of the attacks in Paris and Brussels, after the Paris attacks my family and I were due to go to Manchester and many members of my family did not want to go – just incase. Just like during the Cold War, as in the film, we cannot let the fear of an attack ruin our daily life otherwise “they” have already won. We cannot also allow this fear of an attack to change how we treat those around us, to do so would make us lesser than we owe it to ourselves to be. This fear could also drive us to discriminate against and harm those who are innocent, whether through panic or just misunderstanding.

I would highly recommend this film as one which will entertain and stay with you.

Finally, personally I wanted to comment on the portrayal of the Berlin Wall. I was born on the 12th November 1989, the day the wall came down. My Mum had visited the wall previously and my Uncle worked in the RAF and on the wall. It is something I have grown up knowing about but never really comprehending the truth of it. This film helped me to really understand the fear, the absolute destruction that was East Germany and the impact that the wall had on those on either side. It is definitely something I will be looking into more.

 

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The Martian

Recently my husband had been repeatedly nagging me to watch The Martian, he had been to watch at the cinemas with my brother and wanted me to watch it now. I like science fiction and who doesn’t like to look at Matt Damon? But still the concept just made me think “meh!”

So he nagged and one night I caved and agreed to watch it. I spent the next two hours on the edge of my seat in a state of anxiety. Hysterically laughing one minute, holding my breath and crying the next. Not to mention the number of times I turned and grilled my husband about what was going to happen. Within two minutes of the film finishing I was online and rush ordering the book.

Okay so spoilers will probably occur going forward. If you haven’t experienced The Martian yet, go away, watch it, read it and come back!

If we start with the film, I know that’s backwards, but humour me. Matt Damon is witty, intelligent and desperate in equal measures, he brings the life into the film. Ironic when they thought he was dead and abandoned him eh? But I also love the appearance of some favourite actors, in particular Sean Bean, Jeff Daniels and Kristen Wiig. Their combination of humour, timing and sincerity really made the film special for me. Also, the Council of Elrond jokes made this LOTR nerd almost indecently happy. Seriously. My reaction was NSFW.

Anyway I obviously finished the film on a high and said those rare words heard in marriages, “yes hubby, you were right. I should have watched it sooner”. He did try to get me to repeat it on camera, but sorry no such luck.

Then onto the book, which is even more impressive. Firstly and a bit technically I loved the switch of narrator and narration styles to tell each bit of history and different plot and story line. It is often managed with such aplomb in modern novels and really was enjoyable. It kept me on my toes and always wanting more from the other plot lines, just perfect. The book is even more hilarious and devastating in equal measures. With Mark you deal with the complete acceptance that he is alone and probably going to die. How to deal with that? How to survive? You physically feel yourself standing up with him and deciding to fight, to not give in. To the personal favourite bit of mine, where you are with Teddy in NASA trying to hold it all together, but thinking what must my astronaut be going through, how is he coping, what is he thinking. Cut back to Mark arguing that aqua man should not have control over whales… Genius

I cannot recommend this highly enough, in either book or film, or even both. I am now the one doing the nagging at work “you MUST watch/read this”. But it has been quite a while since I have been so entertained and enthralled that I just can’t stop talking about it.

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