Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Archive for the tag “Tom Hanks”

Must-See Movies: Fall 2013

The last three movies I saw were excellent, and I highly recommend you check them out:

About Time

About Time

I just saw About Time and it greatly exceeded my expectations. While the premise of a romantic movie built around time travel sounded absurd, I decided to give in to my girlfriend’s recommendation and see the film. I’m glad I did because it was one of the most emotionally moving films I’ve ever seen. The acting was top-notch across the board, the chemistry between the characters was believable – especially between Domhnall Gleeson and Bill Nighy – and the dialogue was charmingly engaging. While one scene at the end of the film had me in tears, there were many portions of the movie that had me laughing hard. It was a nice balance of drama and levity, and the spectacular soundtrack did a terrific job of complimenting and enhancing the scenes. I can’t recommend About Time enough – go see it, now.

Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips 

Prior to this movie, I couldn’t remember the last time Tom Hanks had a great dramatic leading role. I’m glad to report that he reclaimed his throne as arguably the best A-list dramatic actor of his generation with Captain Phillips. While watching this film, I kept thinking to myself I can’t believe this happened in real life. The story played out like a tightly-wound thriller and Hanks’ perfect portrayal of the Captain kept my rapt attention from start to finish. What impressed me most was the last scene where Hanks’ character is recovering from the trauma of the incident; the whirlwind of emotions contained within the character shone through Hanks’ superb body language. While good actors can deliver lines to paint a picture, excellent ones like Hanks can say a million words without speaking a single syllable. I was so moved by this scene that I had to fight back tears. This film restored my faith in Tom Hanks’ ability to be an Oscar-worthy leading actor and it’s one of the best movies this year.

Gravity

Gravity

Gravity seems to be a polarizing film. Some people love it, while others hate it. I saw it in 3-D and thought it was one of the most visually impressive movies I’ve ever seen. Going into it, I thought that George Clooney was going to be the star, but I was delightfully surprised by what turned out to be a career-defining role for Sandra Bullock; her excellent acting and Alfonso Cuarón’s deft directing made me feel as if I were her character – struggling to live. This movie was full of tension and suspense and, by the end, I was exhausted…in a good way. Gravity is an emotional tour de force that everyone should experience on the big screen in 3-D. See it now before it’s too late.

An Evening With Dan Brown

IMG_0992Last night my girlfriend and I went to New York City to see best-selling author Dan Brown speak at the Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall about his illustrious career and new novel, Inferno.

The evening’s festivities started with an introduction by TODAY Show anchor Matt Lauer. He was his usual charming self and showed a clip of a recent interview he did with Brown at his home in New Hampshire. Speaking of which, Brown’s opulent abode features multiple secret passages and a “fortress of gratitude,” which contains the myriad versions of his books that have been published around the world.

The Lincoln Center steps were used to promote Dan Brown's new novel.

The Lincoln Center steps were used to promote Dan Brown’s new novel. They said: “9 circles. 7 sins. 1 secret. Inferno. The new novel by Dan Brown.”

After the clip ended Lauer introduced Brown, who was met with a warm round of applause. Brown’s hour-long presentation covered a variety of topics, including his childhood, feedback from fans and critics on his work, and a humorous story about what it was like to have Tom Hanks fasten Brown’s kilt prior to a social gathering for the film version of The Da Vinci Code.

IMG_0979The underlying theme that’s weaved through many of Brown’s most popular novels are whether humans should turn to faith or science for answers to challenging questions. He explained that being the son of a “church lady” and mathematician had something to do with his fascination with this eternal struggle. It was also interesting to learn that Brown grew up in a household with no TV or junk food, but plenty of books.

His new novel, Inferno, takes place in Florence and it focuses on the first part of Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century poem, Divine Comedy. “With the exception of the Bible, no book in history has influenced more art, music or literature than the Divine Comedy,” said Brown.

The most interesting part of the evening came at the end, when Brown said the following:

“There is nothing in our DNA that predetermines our beliefs. We’re not born into this world believing that a particular god is the true god; we’re born into a culture. We worship the gods of our parents. If all of us in this room had been born in the mountains of Tibet, most of us would be Buddhists. And we would hold onto that Buddhist philosophy with the same passion that we have for our current beliefs. We worship the gods of our parents. It’s truly that simple.

The world is getting smaller every day. And now, more than ever, there is enormous danger in believing we are infallible, that our version of the truth is absolute, and that everyone who does not think like we do is wrong and are therefore enemies. For our own survival, it is critical that we live with open minds, that we educate ourselves, that we ask difficult questions, and above all, that we engage in dialogue, especially with those whose ideas are not our own.

So in the name of the dialogue we share and ideas, I just wanted to acknowledge that tonight, what has brought us together in this space is quite simply, books. Those magical artifacts that share ideas across borders, across cultures, across languages, and most importantly, across time. So for all of you in the audience that write books, publish books, sell books, and above all, read books, thank you.”

IMG_0989Overall, it was an enjoyable event that provided a rare glimpse into the mind of one of the most talented modern-day authors. As a parting gift, everyone in attendance received a free copy of Inferno. Since most people read books based on recommendations they receive either in-person or online, this was a smart idea.

Look out for my review of Inferno within the next several weeks. From what I’ve heard thus far, it’s an epic yarn.

The Da Vinci Code: 10 Years Later

The Da Vinci Code10 years ago Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, took the world by storm. When it came out, I remember passing by numerous book stores and seeing it prominently displayed as a bestseller for months. Then people I knew started reading it, including my Dad. Once he was done, I read it and thought it was pretty good, but not mind blowing. When the film came out, I went with my Dad and his friends and felt the same way: It was good, but not great.

The Novel

Now that 10 years have passed, I decided to revisit Dan Brown’s most popular book, which went on to sell more than 80 million copies. During these past 10 years, I’ve read hundreds of books, so I was afraid I would think even less of The Da Vinci Code. To my surprise, I enjoyed the book even more than I did the first time. To be fair, I listened to the audiobook version instead of reading the free e-book I downloaded. I opted for the audiobook for two reasons: I love audiobooks and it’s a much faster way to consume books – especially when you work two jobs and go to school, like I do. As an added bonus, the audiobook featured an interview with the screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman, who was tasked with adapting the novel to film, as well as a 2005 Dan Brown speech at the University of New Hampshire. Both special features were interesting and insightful.

All in all, it was an excellent book that magnificently blended fact and fiction. If you’re not one of the millions who has already read it, I highly recommend you check it out right away. It’ll keep you turning pages late into the night wondering what’s going to happen next.

The Film

I also decided to revisit the film, which came out in 2006, and I’m glad I did. I watched the extended version and it was beautifully done. While it wasn’t a line-for-line or scene-for-scene reenactment of the book, Ron Howard did a wonderful job of bringing the novel to life through film. The cast was excellent across the board, especially Sir Ian McKellan as Leigh Teabing. The score by Hanz Zimmer was well done and suited the movie perfectly. Overall, it was a thrilling experience that kept my attention from start to finish.

If you’ve read the book, you’ll notice that certain changes were made in the film, but, in my opinion, some of them helped move the plot along at a faster pace while staying true to the story in the novel. But don’t take my word for it, check out the film, for free, below.

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