Historical accuracy be damned in Sully, Clint Eastwood’s take on the heroic actions of pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who landed his plane on the Hudson River and saved the lives of all crew and passengers on board. The passages about a pilot successfully landing his plane in an ice-cold Hudson River and allowing over 150 people to tell the tale, live long and prosper are really the most important, and most compelling, parts of this movie. As for the evil, fictitious inquisition that basically tortures Sully (played by Tom Hanks in a typically riveting performance) and co-pilot Jeff Skiles (welcome back to decent movies, Aaron Eckhart!), well, that’s basically a lot of made-up horseshit. That’s not to say Sully wasn’t tormented and obsessed in the days after the event, and the film does a good job displaying his internal struggles. The man had to land a plane after a bunch of birds flew into his engines, and then he probably did have a bunch of dicks asking him too many questions in the aftermath. Undoubtedly, he went through hell during that flight and is haunted until this day. Eastwood and Hanks deliver a compelling psychological drama about a man who doubts his own heroism, to the point of nightmarish visions and self deprecation. Where the film goes a bit afoul is the depiction of a panel that didn’t even give Sully and his crew a chance to breathe after being plucked out of the Hudson. Yes, there was an inquiry, but it took place many months later, not a few days after the event.
4 Eight Days a Week Ron Howard directs the first major Beatles documentary since The Beatles Anthology in the ’90s. While Anthology is still the most definitive and damn well perfect account of the greatest band to ever walk the Earth, Howard does a nice job culling footage snippets of the band during their short lived touring days, with screaming fans (one of them being Sigourney Weaver, who is seen in a crowd during vintage footage and in a recent interview). The surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, participate with interviews, while John Lennon and George Harrison have a strong presence in archived interviews. As with Anthology, there’s no narrator, just the voices of the Fab Four either recounting those crazy touring days or commenting on them as they were happening. The film focuses for the most part on their stretch as a live band. That stretch ended right before Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, when the Beatles became a studio band and eschewed live performances. As the film demonstrates, that decision came about not because they didn’t love playing together, but because they were basically afraid for their lives. Hardcore fans will be familiar with most of the interviews and performances, although you will see and hear some surprises. This film is actually a great starting point for any of you out there looking to get a little more serious in your examination of the band. Keep this in mind when you check them out: This band did what they did in just seven years. SEVEN YEARS. That’s how long it takes many current bands to put out one album. (Available to stream on Hulu during a limited theatrical release.)