Movies I Want Everyone to See: “The Right Stuff” (1983)

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Review by Richard Kirkham

Kids of my generation all had the same heroes, astronauts. We watched the launches and splash downs on television both at home and at school. Everyone knew who John Glenn was and the Moon landing in July of 1969 seemed like the greatest day in history. A lot of kids followed test pilots and experimental aircraft like they were ball players with statistics. By the time the Vietnam War was finally run out, and Watergate had drained us of much of the respect we had for our government, the space program had shriveled in size and Skylab had tumbled back to Earth. Astronauts had become at best technicians in the sky and often faceless. In 1979, Tom Wolfe published “The Right Stuff” which reminded us all of what it took to be an American Hero in the Space Race. The rights to the book were snapped up and plans for the movie began. Four years later emerged a film that would be called by many one of the finest films of the decade. It is not a forgotten film, but in many ways it is a neglected film. Readers on a site like this might know the movie intimately, but casual movie audiences are often unfamiliar with movies that lack a cult following or came out before they were born. Let’s see if we can work on that.

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The Bourne Legacy

“The Bourne Legacy” is the fourth chapter in the “Bourne” saga, the series that to date has featured Matt Damon as the titular Jason Bourne, a trained killing machine with amnesia.

Each of the previous three were simple stories. Bourne attempts to elude pursuit and evade capture while simultaneously unraveling the mystery of his past.

In this installment, the camera pulls further back and shows much more of the program which created Bourne. The lead character, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), is a similar Treadstone subject who manages to survive elimination when the government decides to “Burn” the program in the wake of the Jason Bourne scandal, in order to mitigate the potential damage. But by delving so deeply into the background story, this chapter waters down its focus and becomes much broader. It doesn’t help that the action isn’t as plentiful – or as exciting – as prior installments either.

It’s still enjoyable, and I wouldn’t call it unworthy of inclusion in the series… but it’s undoubtedly the weakest chapter of the quadrilogy.

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Movies That Everyone Should See: “The Silence of the Lambs”

1991.

Jonathan Demme, Jodie Foster, and Anthony Hopkins unleash a tour de force.

“The Silence of the Lambs”.

The movie would sweep the Oscars; Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay (Adapted). It makes AFI’s “100 Years… 100 Movies” on both the original (#65) and 10th Anniversary (#74) editions. AFI honors Hopkin’s Hannibal Lecter with the top spot on their “100 Years… Heroes & Villains”, declaring him the greatest villain of all time. They honor Foster’s Clarice Starling on the same list, at number 6 on the heroes side. She is also the highest ranking female character on said list, which makes her the de facto greatest heroine of all time per AFI.

But most importantly to me, this is the first movie in this series that cracks my personal top ten.

I love this %$&#ing movie.

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