Thursday, October 22, 2015

Armond Allen White — The Dark Days of Spielberg

Armond Allen White is a New York-based film and music critic known for his provocative and idiosyncratic film criticism, which some have characterized as contrarian. He currently writes for National Review and Out.

via: The National Review

The dark, creepy murk of Steven Spielberg’s 2011 Lincoln also seeps into his new film, Bridge of Spies, an account of the 1957 exchange between the U.S. and the Soviet Union of captured espionage agents, the Russian Colonel Rudolph Abel and the American pilot Gary Francis Powers. This gloom can be attributed to Spielberg’s suggestion, in both films, of American political anxiety. After the ebullient history of Amistad, he has gone to the shadowy partisan chicanery behind Lincoln’s 14th Amendment to the Constitution and now to this consideration of the United States’ lack of innocence in global matters. Scenes of Abel’s and Powers’s secretive missions, and eventual imprisonment, juxtapose how our government and military matched Russia’s unprincipled subterfuge.
In Lincoln the weird darkness passed for cynical realism, but in Bridge of Spies it conveys disillusionment. When attorney James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) defends Abel before the Supreme Court, the imagery is overcast, somber; when Powers is detained by a Russian court, sunlight shines through the casements. Seem anti-American? In visual terms, Bridge of Spies is an ACLU movie. Through Donovan’s difficult maneuvers (against public disapproval and family discouragement), Spielberg pursues the sanctity of civil-liberties issues. Donovan, an insurance lawyer who served at the Nuremberg trials, must fight Cold War paranoia — presented as an eternal threat to America democracy.

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