That’s amore`, that’s a screenplay! Spinelli’s American Made

Two aspects of American Made immediately impressed me; first the taut screenplay by Gary Spinelli* and Tom Cruise‘s perpetual likeability**.

*I’ll continue to research, but thus far, there’s not a whole lot of bio information about Gary Spinelli. I assume he’s relatively new at screenwriting according to the short list of his writings on IMDB. Though it appears he wrote a stinker back in 2012 (Stash House), and has since roared back now with American Made (with a tv show and a film in pre-production). Spinelli’s American Made condensed a complicated story (drugs and weapon running in the 80’s) with equally convoluted politicians (are there any other kinds?) and clearly established three sets of characters (Cruise and wife, the CIA and a drug cartel). So bravo Mr. Spinelli. Your script is worth seeing again.

Speaking of seeing a movie again, a shout out to the prince of princes who saw American Made a second time for my benefit AND who bought me a garment to keep me warm in the why-the-f-must-Floridians-a.c.-the-hell-out-of-us atmosphere of CineBistro?

**Another gentlemen who’s a prince in his roles at least, Tom Cruise is certainly irresistible in his polite and handsome, “ma’am, I’m sorry to inconvenience you, but this is the way it has to be. I must be heroic, or anti-heroic.” Here, he’s the latter, playing real life Barry Seal who is fleshed out in a fantastic piece of journalism ( that takes apart the truth vs. make believe of the story. Tom Cruise with his gargantuan acting ability hypnotizes us into rooting for him, no matter what his character does, in this case putting his family in danger for his thrill seeking career pursuits.
And anti-hero could be closer to the real Tom Cruise, according to the rumor mill, what with his rather demented Scientology fixation).

Three other quick accolades must be mentioned: Doug Liman, director (and not coincidentally, probably got the great stories from his dad, Iran/Contra counsel Arthur Liman) also director of Edge of Tomorrow (great film!), Sarah Wright as Mrs. Seal, and though not a huge role, the always consistently good, Domhnall Gleeson as a cold, calculated CIA agent.

American Made is definitely worth going to, even for a second viewing to fully grasp the screenwriting’s excellency.

Tom Cruise shouldn’t be a punchline: Edge of Tomorrow

You shouldn’t wait till the Edge of Tomorrow to see this film. See it on the brink of today.

And let’s discontinue the Scientology jokes, shall we?

Tom Cruise not only chooses again and again self-deprecating characters (think his rotund balding exec from Tropic Thunder to the frightened military officer in this film), but delivers each performance with sincerity.

As for his public persona, Tom Cruise has learned not to jump on couches declaring his love for a woman or proselytize his patriarchal views as he did with Today Show’s Matt Lauer years ago. He’s left the ring as media’s punching bag. If anything, his silence almost admits that he either is: a. is what people have said, a bit of a controlling religious zealot or b. that he has taken Polonius’s advice in ‘to thine own self be true’ and be darned with the rest of ya.

Emily Blunt’s been great in everything, from wonderfully wounded in Her Sister’s Sister, to glowing scarecrow in the corn of Salmon Fishing in Yemen to a believable Linda Hamiltonesque action hero in Edge of Tomorrow.

Edge’s story is the perfect metaphor for life; that we wake each morn to die another day. That we take our punches and become smarter and stronger . We battle rejection, cancer, divorce. We keep on trying until the demons have been slayed. That we learn to keep our mouths shut on opinions and simply lead our lives using our own genuine compass.

The best gift films give us is the empowerment that lingers well after you leave the theater. After Edge of Tomorrow, my grip on the steering wheel was more confident, the turns and traffic feeling like an alien easily conquered. And I’ll wake up tomorrow knowing I can face another work week.