Movies: 10 Cloverfield Land and Eye in the Sky

 

Eye in the Sky

It is unusual to have a pretty good dramatic film show up this time of year but Eye in the Sky is probably one of the best movies to check out this week. Helen Mirren stars as a British Army Captain responsible for deciding whether to order a drone strike on some terrorists in Nairobi Kenya. In what I believe is his final film, Alan Rickman gives a wonderfully nuanced performance as her boss and someone who must get consensus from both the British legal experts and politicians in order to make any kind of a military move.  Because there is an American involved, permission must also be granted from the USA all while the clock is ticking and the targets could leave their location at any time. Rickman’s ability to take it all in stride with the most amazing facial expressions is a reminder of just how much we’ll miss him.

This film gives a very balanced view of the pros and cons of drone strikes – the collateral damage they may cause and the controversy here revolves around a young girl who gets caught up in the proposed strike. Aaron Paul gives a fine performance as the young drone pilot who has many more moral qualms about the strike than most others involved although I didn’t really buy the way his character’s final teary reaction was written at the end of the movie. The action moves primarily between Nairobi, Las Vegas, and Surrey England but there are other locations as well. I must admit that about an hour into the film, as all the parties go back and forth on whether to make the strike as each new obstacle is raised, I turned to my friend and said that I wouldn’t make it through another hour of that. Thankfully I didn’t have to. Things started moving quickly after that.  The movie is somewhat of a thriller and the audience was very engaged. It’s a good one for post-movie discussions as well.

10 Cloverfield Lane

So I saw Cloverfield when it came out and remember little except that a herky- jerky camcorder followed a bunch of 20 somethings around Manhattan while alien monsters were blowing up the city.  If I didn’t have to see 10 Cloverfield for my film club, I probably would have passed even though  JJ Abrams has hinted that there will be an over-arching story line that connects the first two Cloverfield movies with a third one that he hopes to make.  At any rate, I am late to the party on this one but finally saw it.

Going in, I was aware 10 Cloverfield is a Sy Fy/horror flick and that a girl is held hostage in a bunker by a man (Howard) played by John Goodman who tells her the outside world has had some sort of nuclear/alien event that makes the air unsafe.  I deduced that his hostage was a bit skeptical about that particular story and it might be more of a hostage thing.  The young woman (played extremely well by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has left her  fiance/husband and is in a car accident. She wakes up chained to a bed in a bunker with an IV in her where she meets Howard, her captor.  There is also a third person in the bunker, Howard’s handyman, played by John Gallagher Jr. (Newsroom).

As the story unfolds, you aren’t sure whether what Howard says about the outside air is true or not nor what his motivations are. You do suspect they aren’t good. The drama builds slowly but effectively.  There is terror and violence a plenty as the two hostages figure out what is going on.  The movie is fast paced and well done – a coup for first time Director John Trachtenberg. John Goodman is at his creepiest in the film. I hope he gets nominated for an Oscar because his performance in this movie deserves it but it is rare for an April performance to be recognized.

You will be really uncomfortable sitting through this film (my companion said it is “Room on steroids” which is an apt description) but the story, acting and directing are strong. It’s not for everyone and the ending answers few questions and begs for a sequel. If you don’t mind some horror and violence it will certainly keep you on the edge of your seat.

 

 

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