A sure shot; a modern day Moses; a sci-fi Groundhog Day.
Today’s movies reveal brilliant men who fight against demons, real and imagined, to escape the things that hold them back from realizing their dreams.
15. American Sniper
Directed by Clint Eastwood
What’s it about: Thankfully, what’s it’s not is another movie about the horrors of war. The titular character (Bradley Cooper) is truly alive when in the heat of battle; the horror for him is whenever he’s trying to assimilate to civilian life.
Why watch it: For Cooper’s performance. It’s not a showy role, full of sound and fury. Instead, director Eastwood allows the camera to ponder over Cooper’s blank slate of a face, allowing the viewer to fill in whatever emotion he’s looking for.
Interesting factoid: Bradley Cooper consumed around 8,000 calories a day in preparation for the role. That intake, along with intense, Olympic weight training, allowed him to put on 40 pounds.
Business takeaway: Practice makes perfect.
Memorable scene: The tense, tender moment where Kyle (Cooper) finds a nurse neglecting his newborn child at the hospital.
Taya Renae Kyle: You’re my husband, you’re the father of my children. Even when you’re here, you’re not here. I see you, I feel you, but you’re not here.
Next up: Locke
Directed by Steven Knight
What’s it about: Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is a family man and a successful construction manager. Before heading home one night, he receives a call that will threaten his family and his career.
Why watch it: The term, tour de force, is way overused when describing acting performances, but not here. The entire movie, except for brief opening and closing shots, takes place inside Ivan Locke’s BMW, and the only actor featured on-screen is Tom Hardy.
Interesting factoid: Tom Hardy filmed his role in a tightly compressed six days, with director Stephen Knight allowing the film to roll continuously, creating a single take that he would later edit. The other actors, though never seen on-screen, were in a hotel room, speaking on the phone with Hardy.
Business takeaway: Sometimes, events transpire in a business that are entirely out of your control. It’s in these moments you have to decide if you’re going to take your hands off the wheel, or meet the challenge head-on.
Memorable scene: Because the entire movie could be considered one scene, I’ll break it down to one moment, where Locke (Hardy) tries to explain to his wife that everything’s going to be okay. While he may have convinced her for the moment, somehow, we don’t get the idea he believes it himself.
Bethan: I love you.
Ivan Locke: Okay then.
Bethan: Can’t you say it back just once?
Ivan Locke: No, but I can be there as fast as traffic will allow.
Next up: Mr. Turner
13. Mr. Turner
Directed by Mike Leigh
What’s it about: An exploration of the later period of the eccentric British painter J.M.W. Turner, who feels unappreciated and misunderstood by the art community of his time.
Why watch it: Although his early paintings were calm pastorals, the later Turner turned to scenes of stormy seas and skies that seemed to bleed light. It’s beautiful to watch director Leigh fill his shots with the same care and detail as a Turner work of art.
Interesting factoid: The film may be the cause of a rennaissance in the appreciation of Turner’s works. In December of last year, one of his paintings sold at a Sotheby’s auction for 30.3 million pounds ($47.47 million), a record for any pre-20th century British artist.