Hammerle On… ‘Captain America: Civil War’, ‘Sing Street’

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bob hammerle movie reviews“Captain America: Civil War”

Here is the secret behind many Marvel films, including directors Anthony and Joe Russo’s “Captain America: Civil War.” While most of us go with a bit of reluctance, we can only shake our head as we leave the theater thinking of Joan Jett singing the classic song, “I Hate Myself for Loving You.”

rating-captainFirst of all, much like the “Fast and Furious” films, the strength of the Avengers movies flows from its diverse cast of characters. Despite the fact that the two principle stars, Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), are two talented Caucasians, the film finds room for both women and African-American men.

Much like the recent film “Eye in the Sky,” “Captain America” focuses on the innocent civilian casualties associated with fighting terrorists. What happens here is similar to the incident in Afghanistan recently where U.S. missiles took out a Doctors Without Borders hospital. No matter how noble the cause, you can’t simply write incidents like that off as the cost of doing business.

In this film, William Hurt plays Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross, a guy who looks a great deal like John Kerry. He seeks to bring the Avengers under the control of the United Nations, and this produces a schism in our group of friends and colleagues.

Forced to either play by the rules or retire, you know that you’re destined to watch a knockout street fight between Iron Man and Captain America. Fortunately, it is done with far more meaningful style than the Batman/Superman fisticuffs in their recent film. Our heroes are arguing over fundamental principles, and it is hard to choose sides.

Interestingly, some spunk and humor is added to the film with the introduction of Spider-Man, played by newcomer Tom Holland, and Paul Rudd recreating his caustic Ant-Man. Holland resembles an energetic teenager as he gives all of us some hope for the next entry in the Spider-Man saga. As for Rudd, his Ant-Man is a PG-13 version of Ryan Reynolds’ hysterical Deadpool.

The characters in this film are voluminous, and it would be foolish to try and single out anyone over the others. While Mark Ruffalo’s The Hulk is left off the screen, it is hard to ignore Chadwick Boseman as The Black Panther. He holds his own with his colleagues, and you know his character will soon appear in his own film.

Let me close by making the observation that the principle reason “Captain America” works was because of a great villain played by Daniel Bruhl. Thankfully, he’s not some “Twilight Zone” re-creation seeking to destroy Earth, but merely a deranged guy who has an ugly associationwith Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) going back decades. Mr. Bruhl has an obvious reason for wanting to get even, and he is one of the few movie assassins who will produce a bit of empathy.

“Sing Street”

I sat in a crowded theater when I saw “Sing Street” and everyone loved it. It is a spectacularly enjoyable film from director John Carney that builds upon, and in many ways exceeds, his two prior hits, “Once” (2007) and “Begin Again” (2013).

Taking place in Dublin in 1985, it tells a tale of Conor, a young Irish lad in secondary school trying to rise above the financial quagmire afflicting his country and family. He sets out to form a band, and there is not a moment in this film that I didn’t treasure.

rating-singWith his parents struggling over both money and a potential divorce, Conor (a memorable performance by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) is forced to attend a rigid Catholic school run by priests still thinking that they live in the Middle Ages. In weak moments, Conor receives strength and consolation from his older brother Brendan (Jack Reynor), a guy smart enough to recognize his own weaknesses.

Director Carney’s strength focuses on his ability to combine music with a moving love story. Here, as Conor tries to form a musical group after meeting some boys with talent, his heart starts to skip a beat when he sees a beautiful girl standing on the steps of a facility for homeless girls. This is a lad who is instantly in love, and you root for both of them to the conclusion of this glorious film.

The young woman, Raphina, is played by Lucy Boynton. Clearly attracted to Conor, she also has her eyes set on fleeing to London and pursuing a modeling career. The relationship between her, Conor, and the entire band is at times flat-out hysterical, and much of the audience was left laughing throughout the film.

While the music is phenomenal, the movie actually focuses on the human condition. All of these young people eventually learn that sadness is simply another feature of happiness, and it has to be embraced with a sense of optimism. Any hope of finding joy in life comes from a determination to spit in the face of adversity. As the old saying goes, if you want to guide your boat safely to land during a storm, then don’t forget to row toward shore while praying to God.

In closing, let me point out that songs from both of Mr. Carney’s prior films have been nominated for Oscars. I strongly suspect that it will happen again with “Sing Street.” In particular, watch for the incredibly moving song “On My Way to Find You” sung by Walsh-Peelo at a school concert at the end of the movie. It is powerful, tear-jerking, and incredibly romantic. It wraps the entire film in a bow that makes it an enthralling experience.•

Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis at Pence Hensel LLC as of counsel. When he is not in the courtroom or the office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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