Welcome to the movies at PS News.
Each week, PS News's film critic Victor Rebikoff will highlight the latest offerings from the silver screen and share his expert commentary for our information and guidance.
Director: Mira Nair, Fox Searchlight Pictures, rated PG, 111 mins
Indian film director, Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding) brings to life the wonderful story of renowned aviatrix Amelia Earhart.
Nair covers Earhart’s first taste of fame in 1928 to the fateful day in 1937 when she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared over the tiny atoll of Howland Island in the Pacific as she attempted to circumnavigate the globe.
Based on Susan Butler's East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart (1997), Mary S. Lovell's The Sound of Wings (1989) and Elgin Long's Amelia Earhart: The Mystery Solved, this movie provides an interesting but somewhat brief insight into Amelia Earhart’s life as an aviatrix and free spirited woman.
The film starts with her introduction to the public arena when she attempts to become the first woman to fly over the Atlantic Ocean-though not alone, but which she accomplishes later on.
Hillary Swank (who won an Academy Award for her performance in Million Dollar Baby) is perfect in her role as Amelia Earhart.
Pretty Woman star, Richard Gere is the right choice as George Putnam, her publicist and future partner.
To add further realism to the storyline, Nair uses black and white newsreel footage of the real Amelia Earhart to great effect and creates striking visuals of the Great Depression era.
Regrettably, Nair’s captivating direction deals only with the last 10 years of Earhart’s illustrious life as a famous pilot and feminist.
These ten years include glimpses into her personal life, covering not only her partnership with George Putnam but also her brief affair with the ‘high flying’ Gene Vidal (played by the charming Ewan McGregor who appeared recently in Angels and Demons).
It is the stand out performance of Swank as the celebrated and fearless aviatrix that makes this an entertaining movie.
Saying this, Stephanie Carroll's production design vividly re-creates the 1920s and '30s, Stuart Dryburgh's cinematography is wonderful and composer Gabriel Yared's orchestral score is beautiful and foreboding in its evocation of Earhart's fate (he won an Academy Award for The English Patient).
Nair has clearly demonstrated that Amelia Earhart was not only a courageous, determined and restless woman who had a phenomenal spirit, but underneath her close-cropped, blond hair and aviator helmet, she was also a human being with feminine sensibilities.
Although the final few scenes were touching and unsettling, the mysterious disappearance of the real Amelia Earhart some seven decades ago continues to be a mystery - even today.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3½ Rubber Stamps
Release Date: November 2009
Director: Ernie Barbarash, Insight Film Studios, Rated M, 96 mins
Sony’s latest DVD is a sci-fi thriller complete with dark conspiracies and evil corporations that want to control everybody on the planet.
Luke Gibson (Cuba Gooding Jr) has lost his pregnant wife in a horrific car accident, and his own memory is a thing of the past.
After suffering severe head injuries, he awakes to find the Hope Corporation has taken it upon itself to implant a small computer chip into the back of his brain.
While he appears fit and well, Luke has no recollection of who he is or of his past.
Then there is also the issue of other people with the same chip suddenly losing their minds, especially where they violate the corporation’s protocol, which causes their destruction.
With the help of some computer hackers led by Michael Ironside, Luke can control the implant, and is able to take the fight to Hope Corporation itself, including the twisted head of 'Project 660', Val Kilmer.
Hardwired is not a bad sci-fi story and has a reasonable screenplay, good special effects and well choreographed action sequences.
There are plenty of crosses and double crosses, unmotivated corporate evils, and conspiracies to go around.
Cuba Gooding is the movie’s biggest asset and he handles each scene with conviction and professionalism.
Sony packs this DVD with trailers and an interesting extra, a 15-minute documentary where the cast and crew discuss the efforts they put into making the movie.
The disc's technical merits are good as well with a 5.1 audio proving effective and well separated, and the visuals (which appear to have been filmed in HD digital) providing a crisp and sharp picture.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 Rubber Stamps