The Circle by Dave Eggars vs The Circle (2018) – Book Review, Film Review

The Circle by Dave Eggars – Book Review

This is a world similar to ours. We have social media technology which connects us all. But what if a little is not enough? When Mae is employed by The Circle, she is over the moon. Highly paid, with an amazing campus filled with excitement and all of the best of everything, she wants to succeed. The longer she is there, the more she buys into the philosophy that the only way to live is to have your whole life on display.

I loved that the protagonist of the book buys into the whole system, and that as we, the reader, see red flags, she is swept up in the excitement of the world. We want her to fight the system, but we can also see how charismatic leaders and groupthink can influence the individual. It’s a scary world and a scary thought, but a truly wonderful read.

The Circle (2017) Film Review

It’s impossible for the entirety of a novel to be translated into a film and choices need to be made about what to leave out. This is a film I wish I’d seen before the book, because it felt like a waterer-down version of the book, and perhaps it would hold its own without the background of the book. We had to lose the overwhelmed feelings of Mae, the amount of pressure put on in this new job and for her to commit to the world of The Circle, and this meant that it lost some of the dread and suspense. It was good but just a bit weak – I’d love to have seen it as a television series, even just a three- or six-parter.


The Post (2017) Film Review

Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) is the owner of the Washington Post in the early seventies, dropped into the role after the death of her husband who was appointed by her late father. When the opportunity comes to be part of an expose that involves breaking the law and putting her fortune and even her freedom at risk, she is torn between the advice of her board and her editor, Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks).

It’s a slow start, with a lot of very necessary character and background information, and while I was interested, I wasn’t all that compelled. But as the action heated up, I was on the edge of my seat. I was so tense, feeding from the high energy and stress onscreen. And at the end, I felt down. Looking at the sixties and seventies, people really seemed to care about the government lying to them. Now, it seems that it doesn’t matter. People in power lie blatantly in ways that are easily proven and yet there is no outrage, no consequences. Such a timely film.

The Post was nominated for Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama (Meryl Streep), for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama (Tom Hanks), Best Director – Motion Picture (Steven Spielberg), Best Screenplay – Motion Picture (Liz Hannah, Josh Singer) and Best Original Score – Motion Picture (John Wiliams).

Sully (2016) Film Review

In 2009, pilot Chelsey Sullenberger made an emergency landing of a plane onto the Hudson River in New York and every person on the plane survived. The investigation that followed suggested that he made a bad decision and could have still saved everyone in a far less flashy manner. This film follows the investigation, showing the emergency landing and everything leading up to it in flashback. It’s big and cheesy and Sully is the American hero against adversity. Big government vs the little guy. One guy against the world. A real Clint Eastwood story.

I’ve not been a huge fan of Eastwood’s directing, and this could have been the one that I got into, except for the film Flight just a few years ago. Similar story, only that was fiction. I didn’t really love that one either – although the crash scene was most spectacular. None the less, I got quite irate watching this, thinking how dare they try to prove Sully and his co-pilot wrong when they did such an amazing job? Yeah, one man against the world!

Sully was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Sound Editing.

Bridge of Spies (2015) Film Review

There’s a Russian Spy, Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) who’s been caught in the process of spying. It’s the height (well, the start) of the Cold War, and lawyer James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) is tapped on the shoulder to defend him. Of course it is all for appearance, and Donovan is frustrated at being unable to present a full defence, but the American’s don’t want to risk him actually being freed. Meanwhile, a couple of America citizens are stuck behind the Iron Curtain: a pilot who crashed in the USSR and a student who got stuck in East Berlin as the wall was built, and Donovan is brought in to try to find a trade.

I expected a spy film to be all a bit Bond with lots of guns and running and tuxedos and cocktails, and this is so far from that… it’s the Cold War. It’s men in suits negotiating, it’s slow moving, and it’s fascinating. I especially loved watching the depiction of the Berlin Wall being built; that such a thing could just happen – and did. It was a great film – but with a crap name.

Bridge of Spies won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Mark Rylance) and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Writing, Original Screenplay, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing and Best Achievement in Production Design. It won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Mark Rylance) and a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor (Mark Rylance) and was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Production Design, Best Original Music, Best Sound and Best Film.

Toy Story 3 (2010) Film Review

Andy’s off to college and something has to happen with his stuff. Unfortunately, the bags get mixed up, and instead of being stored in the attic, the toys find themselves at a day care centre. Excited about finally being played with again after years of abandonment by Andy, who has long outgrown them, they are yet to discover that the day care centre may not be the heaven that they are looking forward to.

Brilliant. It’s not hard to see why this was nominated for a Best Film award at the Oscars – even thinking about it now is making me tear up. It’s clever, it’s emotional, there are good guys and bad guys, but as always, it’s about sticking together, loyalty, and all that stuff. And it’s just wonderful.

Toy Story 3 won Oscars for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song (Randy Newman, We Belong Together) and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay.

Toy Story 2 (1999) Film Review

It’s a few years post Toy Story and everyone in Andy’s Room get along just fine. But Andy’s getting a bit older and doesn’t really play with them so much, and when an error is made during a yard sale, Woody (Tom Hanks)ends up in the hands of the evil toy collector, Al (Wayne Knight) and Buzz (Tim Allen) leads the other toys on a rescue mission. But Woody meets a few new friends in captivity and learns of his past as a cartoon series.

So, it’s another great film about friendship and loyalty and the greater good. I felt a bit sad for poor old Al, because it seems that he is just a lonely, fat, lazy man who runs a successful toy business but who has spent years collecting classic toys with the hope of hitting it rich – and isn’t that the American dream? Imagine the story told from his point of view: after years of searching, he finds a toy in a yard sale that is damaged and poorly cared for – a toy that has been carelessly left on the ground. He saves it, has it fixed by a professional, and is going to put it into the hands of a rich, Japanese collector, who will treat it with respect and ensure it is always taken care of. Suddenly, the doll goes missing, as do his hopes and dreams, and poor Al is left looking as though he is delusional, doubting his own sanity. Not such a nice film now, hey?

Toy Story 2 was nominated for an Oscar for Best Music, Original Song for When She Loved Me by Randy Newman.

Toy Story (1995) Film Review

Ah, Toy Story. How magnificent. Based in the room/world of young boy, Andy (John Morris), Toy Story sees Andy’s favourite toy, cowboy Woody (Tom Hanks) and his other faves Mr Potato Head (the late, great Don Rickles), Slinky Dog (Jim Varney), Rex (Wallace Shawn), Hamm (John Ratzenberger) and Bo Peep (Annie Potts) fearing for the worst as Andy gets a new toy for his birthday – a Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), the exciting new astronaut toy. Will jealousy win? Can they find a way for all the toys to co-exist?

It’s so good. Despite my usual complaint that there are nowhere near enough female characters (Bo Peep is the love interest, there’s the annoying little sister character, and mom. Why Slinky Dog or Rex or Hamm couldn’t have been female – yes, it would be a shame to lose those characters as we know and love them, but could have actually been good…). It’s a great story, well written, fabulous characters, and just so much fun.

Toy Story was nominated for Oscars for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Best Music (Original Song) You’ve got a Friend in Me, Randy Newman, and Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score. It won an award for Executive Producer John Lasseter for the development and inspired application of techniques that have made possible the first feature-length computer-animated film.


Saving Private Ryan (1998) Film Review


During WW2, someone in the US military finds out that Mrs Ryan is about to receive telegraphs advising her that three of her four sons have been killed in action. Someone decides that it would not be ideal for her to lose another, so they send Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) and a bunch of soldiers (including Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Vin Diesel, Giovani Ribisi and Jeremy Davis) to find him and bring him home. Along the way, they meet a whole heap of soldiers played by actors of note (Ted Danson, Paul Giamati, Dennis Farina, Nathan Fillion) until they finally find Private Ryan (Mattt Damon).

I think for me, this is one of my favourite Spielberg films – not because of the overly sentimental story (and certainly not for the appalling top and tailing of the film with ‘present day’ Private Ryan – that was so totally not needed), but I think because the images of WW2 and the way it represents soldiers. This film led to the wonderful miniseries Band of Brothers which is truly amazing. If you’re concerned that you can’t commit to a whole series, start with this. But be aware that Band of Brothers is much better and more comprehensive – but of course that is the difference between a 2 ½ hour film and a 10 episode series.


Turner & Hooch (1989) Film Review


There must be something wrong with Scott Turner (Tom Hanks) – in the opening scene, there is montage of him doing somewhat obsessive things like flossing his teeth, ironing his clothes and (oh my goodness) cleaning his fridge. Surely he couldn’t just be… a bit clean and tidy? He’s a cop, about to move from his small town to the big city, about to be replaced by David Sutton (Reginald VelJohnson – remember him from Family Matters or, more importantly, Die Hard?), but then there is a murder. It’s the old man from the junkyard that, conveniently, we met with Scott the day before, after watching him chased by a massive, slobbery dog (Hooch). The old man had been complaining about activity at the nearby fish packing factory, and was killed by a nasty criminal.

It’s a classic eighties comedy, just don’t spend too much time looking into plot or character.. It’s a comedy with an attempt at serious crime stuff, but let’s face it, the main reason to watch is to see young Tom Hanks in his tight black jocks trying to give the dog a bath.


Cast Away (2000) Film Review


Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) is a FedEx executive whose plane comes down in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but he survives the crash and winds up on a small island. For the next four years he manages to keep himself alive accompanied only by a volleyball he names Wilson until he is able to sail off and escape.

I’m pretty glad that I didn’t watch this in the cinema. It’s pretty good, tense at times, (stupid at times, too, but I still loved Wilson). Sometimes, I’m a bit over Tom Hanks. I think some films he has chosen have been really twee and quite average, but this is a good one. If you like this kind of thing – fairly schmaltzy, but with some strong, powerful moments. For me, there could have been a bit more focus on his return to civilization and his disorientation, but I guess that would have made for an extra long film.

Cast Away was nominated for Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Tom Hanks) and Best Sound.