Tag Archive: Mark Rylance

If there’s one director working today who can be described as possessing movie magic, it has to be Steven Spielberg. The guy made us terrified of sharks, showed us how an alien can be a boy’s best friend and even convinced us that dinosaurs could once again walk the earth. Lately, his filmography has consisted of more prestige historical dramas, such as Lincoln and Bridge of Spies. While this is fine, I’ve been hoping to see him make a return to the more fantastical stories that made us fall in love with him in the first place. The BFG is definitely a step in that direction; it might not be the great return that we were hoping for, but it certainly has its moments and it’s hard to imagine anyone doing a better job with the material.

Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) is a lonely young girl who wanders the halls of her orphanage at night due to her inability to sleep. One night, she hears a strange noise outside and after venturing over to the window for a peek, she spots a giant being (Mark Rylance) wandering the streets. This giant grabs her out of her bed and carries her to giant country. While she is initially frightened by this miraculously tall individual she soon learns that, unlike other giants, he doesn’t actually eat children. This giant is a vegetarian and he’s nicknamed the BFG (Big Friendly Giant). He and Sophie begin to form a close bond that’s put to the test when the two of them are forced to contend with a group of dangerous giants, led by the hateful Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement).

Based on Roald Dahl’s classic 1982 children’s book, The BFG is a solid effort from all involved, featuring humor, heart and great visual effects. The core of the film is the relationship between Sophie and the BFG and the two great performances from Barnhill and Rylance ensures that their friendship feels as real as possible. Barnhill’s Sophie is charming and relatable, giving us a nice point-of-view as we enter this strange world of giants. Rylance excellently captures the unique personality of the BFG and the screenplay from the late Melissa Mathison hilariously showcases his inability to grasp the English language. This is a legitimately funny film, one that will generate laughs from audience members of any age. A third-act sequence in Buckingham Palace is nothing short of delightful and it gives us the rare opportunity to see Spielberg attempt a fart joke and actually succeed.

What ultimately drags the film down is that it’s pretty forgettable and lacks any fun adventure sequences. It opens strong, sags a lot in the middle, before ending on a high note. Maybe this is just because the film feels too long, but adding in more memorable moments of suspense and adventure certainly wouldn’t have hurt. And while everything regarding the BFG’s concoctions of dreams is an essential part of the plot, its portrayal onscreen is pretty boring. Spielberg does the best he can with the material and while it has its problems, more things work than don’t. Spielberg may be getting older, but he hasn’t forgotten how to make a movie for kids.

The BFG receives 3/4


Steven Spielberg is a master storyteller. Whether he’s filming giant dinosaurs, creating iconic characters or depicting a particular moment in history, the guy rarely makes a major mistake. So it should come as no surprise that his latest film, Bridge of Spies, is pretty great, but what’s especially surprising is just how great it is. A true story about the Cold War that carries themes that still feel particularly relevant today, the film manages to grab your attention from the get-go and carry you through its long runtime. In the hands of a less capable director, this period piece could have felt like a dry history lesson. But you care about the story in the film because it genuinely feels like Spielberg is excited to tell it.

In 1957, the FBI arrest Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) under the suspicion of being a Soviet spy. Because they want people to know that Abel is receiving a fair trial, they assign him the defense of James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks), an insurance lawyer. Donovan is initially reluctant to take on the case, realizing that most of America will probably hate him for defending a Soviet spy. But he decides that even a potential spy deserves a fair defense, so he gives the case everything he’s got. But things take a turn when an American soldier (Austin Stowell) is captured and detained by the Soviets. Because of his commitment to Abel, the US government tasks Donovan with traveling to East Berlin to initiate a trade of the two prisoners.

This is the fourth collaboration that Spielberg and Hanks have done together and while they may be getting older, they’re still managing to deliver high caliber work. Hanks isn’t reaching the dramatic heights that he was able to achieve with 2013’s Captain Phillips, but he’s perfectly cast in the role. The real standout in the cast is Mark Rylance who effortlessly gives one of the most understated and powerful performances of the year. It’s no surprise that the highlights of the film are the scenes between Hanks and Rylance, so it’s too bad that the majority of their scenes only occupy the first half of the film. The film doesn’t necessarily drop off in quality when Donovan travels to East Berlin, but there’s something about the earlier scenes in the film that I found much more engaging.

With a script that was co-written by the Coen Brothers, it’s no surprise that the film features some great dialogue exchanges and character moments. Along with co-screenwriter Matt Charman, the Coen Brothers also manage to weave in universal themes that feel particularly timely in the 21st century. The cinematography from Janusz Kaminski is unsurprisingly great and the score by Thomas Newman (stepping in for frequent Spielberg collaborator, John Williams) sounds very nice and is never overused. With a runtime that exceeds two hours, the film may feel a little long, but it builds to such a moving ending that’s worth the wait. Even with a dream team in front of an behind the camera, it’s Spielberg himself that makes Bridge of Spies such a great motion picture. The guy sure does know how to make history interesting.

Bridge of Spies receives 3.5/4