A work in progress
I painted the base coat of the Prof's Valentine cat food tin/ desk tidy and went to the cinema as it was drying on the sideboard.
I went to see a one off showing of Spielberg's Bridge Of Spies
I knew the movie would be worthy, after all everyone involved has a pedigree as long as your arm , but I wasn't prepared just how good a story it is and I was very grateful that I had no knowledge whatsoever of the "true"story that the film was based upon.
At the height of the cold war New York lawyer James Donovan ( Tom Hanks) reluctantly accepts to defend Rudolph Abel (Mark Rylance) who has been arrested on charges of being a KGB spy. Although the trial leads to Abel being imprisoned for life , the sudden capture of an American espionage pilot by Russian forces and the imprisonment of an American student in East Berlin, means that Donovan's negotiating skills are brought into play to forge an exchange in a wintry and divided Germany.
Rylance ( centre) and Hanks
Hummm, it sounds good, and believe me it is good with the ageing Hanks playing the cold war Jimmy Stewart role that Stewart should always have been offered. He is , quite simply marvellous as the measured , quick thinking and decent Donovan . Wisely, Spielberg pairs the warmth of Hanks with a wonderfully ambiguous and unreadable character of Abel. Their pairing has an electricity reminiscent of Hopkins and Foster in Silence of the Lambs.
Rylance's performace here is a masterclass of underplaying and with the faintest glimpse of a smile
and an almost reptilian glace he walks the very difficult line between slightly doddery invisable eccentric and a calculating and fiercely loyal Russian agent. When the pair are separated for film's second half East Berlin scenes , I bet the rest of the audience was rooting for their reunion, as much as I was.
Spielberg touches abound in this movie. A terribly upsetting machine gunning of five East German escapees in no man's land as seen by the passenges of a passing train, the savage beauty of a snow covered and decaying Berlin, the breathtaking shooting down of the American spy jet over Russia are just three set pieces that linger long in the mind.
The master is oh so back on form with Bridge Of Spies