Flight Reviews

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Re: Flight Reviews

Postby flipp525 » Sun Feb 10, 2013 6:59 pm

The film's ending is nothing if not problematic, but I think it features Denzel Washington's strongest work in years. Tamara Tunie would've made my shortlist for Best Supporting Actress.
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Re: Flight Reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Feb 10, 2013 6:12 pm

Because this is a Zemeckis film, I feared it was driving toward the ending used, but I kept hoping against hope they'd find some more elegant alternative. Because this was a film that at least played with the idea that there were shades of gray here -- that Denzel's character might in fact have been able to save so many people BECAUSE of his heightened physical state. But in the end it fell back on the simplistic conclusion, even though that climactic scene massively violated the character -- he could so easily have answered "She might have drunk them; I don't know", which wouldn't have sullied her reputation beyond repair and would have saved his career and life. His sudden conversion seemed to come from nowhere -- such an attack of Maximal Sanctimony could only have been concocted by a screenwriter on a mission.

Which is a shame, because I thought the movie had virtues -- some well-written, cynical scenes, performed well by Denzel (I liked his sly "I think I see where we're headed here" after Cheadle suggests the flight attendant migth have been drinking). In a way, his performance resembles his first Oscar win in Glory, where he was the saving skeptical voice of the film, until he surrendered to the prevailing sentimentality at the finale.

The writers nominated this?

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Re: Flight Reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Sat Jan 26, 2013 5:08 pm

This belongs to a very American genre: the cautionary but eventually uplifting tale about the dangers of alcohol or drugs - or, as in this case, both. (Denzel Washington plays what is essentially the Susan Hayward role.) Now, let's face it, Americans make this kind of films since the birth of cinema - and, I am sure, the result is: after each of these movies, the number of American alcoholists increases dramatically. Which is in a way understandable - before being ultimately condemned with the expected, pious doses of redemption, alcoholism (or drug addiction) gets long intense scenes full of dramatic but attractive guilty pleasure. And I have worked with people into cocaine - their character and behavior was much, much worse than the one Washington shows in this movie.

The movie is big, expensive, technically well-made, but also terribly superficial - the (nominated) screenplay follows the rules of American screenwriting, and that of course doesn't make it more original. The redemption part (complete with final inspiring speech to the cleanest, less threatening prison inmates ever) never rings true, but that's not surprising; the problem is that for once the filmmakers don't seem to take very seriously even the "addiction" part, and even create an absolutely unnecessary comic-relief chararacter (a drug dealer). Denzel isn't young and fit anymore - which for an actor could be a good reason for trying new roles, finding new acting challenges, different, less heroic characters. It seems that we'll have to wait some more time - this much celebrated "profound" turn simply isn't that profound.

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Re: Flight Reviews

Postby Uri » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:12 pm

One of the downsides of being an avid Oscar watcher is having to see films from genres I won’t normally see just because they’re nominated. One of these genres is the I-am-Denzel-and you-are-not one which I stopped following ages ago. But I did go and watched Flight. Another genre I grew cold for over the years is the isn't-it-wicked-being-Jack, and I was reminded of the time I was promised Nicholson was a revelation in About Schmidt only to find he was his old too familiar self in it too. There is something so frustrating about the actors who were great once and now are stuck in this comfortable, lucrative shtick they seemingly can’t escape anymore. De Nero is another one (SLP included) and alas, tragically, so is Maggie Smith. I happened to watch The Chalk Garden this week and while I enjoyed the entertaining distinctiveness of the former Smith - Edith Evans, I couldn't but marvel at the fact that three years ahead she was going to make The Whisperers, a stunning reinvention of an actor’s persona if ever there was one. Hopefully these actors mentioned above will be able one day to do it too. Washington certainly didn't in this case.

As for the film itself, while it was reasonably entertaining,( though utterly improbable one a relation to reality is implied), but then came the last few minutes and I understood a) the enormity of what Sabin called “God complex” one can apply to Washington too, and b) why he’s nominated. An inexplicable, sanctimonious, self-righteous conclusion to a film if ever there was one.

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Re: Flight Reviews

Postby Sabin » Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:42 pm

A bait and switch was pulled on the American people with this one! Although I don't understand how anyone with a basic understanding of trailers could think that Flight was ultimately going to be *about* a plane crash and not his alcoholism and subsequent trial. The flight itself and what went wrong with the plane (and clearly something seemingly went wrong with the plane) becomes a point even the lead character recognizes is secondary to his alcoholism. Except, y'know, it's not! The film is pretty straightforward about something being wrong with the plane! John Gatins' screenplay meanders like an in-town odyssey from one personal moment of reflection on Denzel's part to another, the question of "Will he drink?" providing most of the suspense. The problem is that the trailer teases a deeper question: "Did Whip land the plane because of who he is?" Because he is a reckless alcoholic? The film seems to believe so, but it also believes that he needs some healing. So Flight becomes all things for all people, which I can see it needing to be because Whip is so steadfastly unlikable for most of the film.

It's a testament to Zemekis' skill as a filmmaker that the $31 million budget is so shocking. Really though, how could it have cost more? It just seems like such an event? Looking at the numbers even closer, how much of that money went to Denzel and Zemekis? A more probing duo could have really delved into the delusions of this guy's God complex. On the surface, Denzel Washington is the right actor for the gig, but Robert Zemekis is not the guy to push him into darker territory. On the one hand, there aren't a handful of people that can do what Denzel does in Hollywood these days. Matt Damon, Tom Cruise, Will Smith every four years...movie stars that carry blockbusters on a cultivated personality. Last George Clooney movie that made Flight money anyone? I like Denzel Washington. I like his persona. I'm not tired of it. In Flight, he never seems like a person. He seems like a series of acting moments in search of a persona, a problem represented on film. He might fare better with less daring fare, like Tony Scott's movies. Or Jonathan Demme's exceptional The Manchurian Candidate, which makes far better use of subverting his persona that in Flight. If Flight becomes an exploration of masculinity (and most Denzel Washington movies are), then it's a timid one because he rarely seems less than brave. Even when he's shit-housed like few are allowed to be in movies, he's always sympathetic. When he barges into his wife's house drunk, what does he do when his son attacks him? He hugs him. Should we laud a movie like Flight for attempting to tackle issues like alcoholism and God complex even while soft-selling them to the American public as a disaster flick? I'm not terribly interested in that. Melissa Leo shows up as the prosecutor in the last twenty minutes. That should tell you how deep in its sleeve this film wears its heart.

I don't dislike Flight, but it's a journey of healing and not exploration and I think it's a pretty myopic one. Amazing plane crash.
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Re: Flight Reviews

Postby flipp525 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:49 pm

The opening 20-25 minutes of Flight was one of the most terrifying experiences I've ever had in a movie theater. It's heart-stopping. Even if the rest of film might not exactly reach the opening's almost insurmountable heights (no pun intended), Denzel Washington gives one of his best performances. It's absolutely nomination-worthy.

Although it would never happen, I would definitely support Tamara Tunie for a nomination. She has one dynamite scene in the middle of the film. James Badge Dale has a really quick scene that makes a lot of impact (yet felt like it was part of a different movie entirely). Oh, and hello there, Melissa Leo!
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Flight Reviews

Postby Reza » Sat Nov 03, 2012 1:06 am

Chicago Sun-Times

My name is Whip, and I'm an alcoholic

Release Date: 2012

Ebert Rating: ****

By Roger Ebert Oct 31, 2012

After opening with one of the most terrifying flying scenes I've witnessed, in which an airplane is saved by being flown upside down, Robert Zemeckis' "Flight" segues into a brave and tortured performance by Denzel Washington ­ one of his very best. Not often does a movie character make such a harrowing personal journey that keeps us in deep sympathy all of the way.

Washington plays Whip Whitaker, a veteran commercial airlines pilot who over the years has built up a shaky tolerance for quantities of alcohol and cocaine that would be lethal for most people. At the film opens, he's finishing an all-night party with a friendly flight attendant named Katerina (Nadine Velazquez) and jolts himself back into action with two lines of cocaine. His co-pilot (Brian Geraghty) eyes him suspiciously, but Whip projects poise and authority from behind his dark aviator glasses.

Their flight takes off in a disturbing rainstorm and encounters the kind of turbulence that has the co-pilot crying out, "Oh, Lord!" But Whip powers them at high speed into an area of clear sky, before a mechanical malfunction sends the aircraft into an uncontrollable nosedive. Zemeckis and his team portray the terror in the cabin in stomach-churning style. Acting on instinct, seeming cool as ice, the veteran pilot inverts the plane to halt its descent, and it flies level upside-down until he rights it again to glide into a level crash-landing in an open field.

The field, as it happens, is next to a little church, and the way Zemeckis portrays an outdoor baptism on the ground below captures the hyper-realism with which I imagine we notice things when we think we're about to die. Only six people do die in the crash, and Whittaker is hailed as a hero.

Will this close call bring an end to his drinking? He retreats to his grandfather's farm where he was raised, pours out all his booze and is dry for a time ­ until he's told by his union representative (Bruce Greenwood) and his lawyer (Don Cheadle), that blood tests show he was flying drunk. A government hearing is fraught with hazard (he faces a possible life sentence). Meanwhile, he is befriended by a woman named Nicole (Kelly Reilly), who he met in the hospital, and she takes him to an AA meeting, but the program is not for him.

It becomes clear that intoxication is more important to Whip than anything else; it cost him a marriage and the respect of his son. One of the most effective things in Washington's performance is the way he puts up an impassive facade to conceal his defiant addiction. "No one else could have landed that plane!" he insists, and indeed tests in a flight simulator back him up. The fact remains that he was stoned.

One of the most gripping scenes takes place in a hotel room where Whittaker is being held essentially under guard for the week before his official hearing. At a crucial moment, his drug supplier Harling Mays (John Goodman) turns up, marching toward camera in one of a series of garish Hawaiian shirts, ready to battle a crisis. I don't have any idea if cocaine can snap you back from a killer hangover, but I wouldn't count on it.

Denzel Washington is one of the most sympathetic and rock-solid of actors, and it's effective here how his performance never goes over the top but instead is grounded on obsessive control. There are many scenes inviting emotional displays. A lesser actor might have wanted to act them out. Washington depends on his eyes, his manner and a gift for projecting inner emotion. In the way it meets every requirement of a tricky plot, this is an ideal performance.

Among the supporting performances, Don Cheadle projects guarded motivations, Greenwood is a loyal friend, Goodman seems like a handy medic, and Brian Geraghty's panic in the co-pilot's seat underlines the horror.
"Flight," a title with more than one meaning, is strangely the first live-action feature in 12 years by Robert Zemeckis, who seemed committed to stop-motion animation ("Beowulf," "Polar Express," "A Christmas Carol"). It is nearly flawless. I can think of another final line of dialogue for Whip Whitaker's character ("My name is Whip, and I'm an alcoholic"), but that's just me.

Cast & Credits

Whip Denzel Washington
Hugh Don Cheadle
Harling John Goodman
Ken Brian Geraghty
Charlie Bruce Greenwood
Katerina Nadine Velazquez

Paramount Pictures presents a film directed by Robert Zemeckis. Written by John Gatins. Running time: 138 minutes. Rated R (for drug and alcohol abuse, language, sexuality/nudity and an intense action sequence).

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