Weekend Roundup + Mini Review of Bridge of Spies (2015)

What a weekend it’s been! It’s just three days until Twin Cities Film Fest kicks off Wednesday night 10/21 so naturally my week and the entire weekend is filled with preparation for the festivities.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve likely seen me tweeting up a storm about TCFF, so yeah clearly I’m excited 😛

The TCFF programmers have traveled to Austin, Los Angeles, & New York in search of great movies this year… the result is an awesome lineup of more than 100 premieres, including a bunch that have huge awards buzz. I’ve highlighted some of those must-see films here, but I’ve also made a list of MN-connected films that I can’t wait to see – from comedies, dramas, thrillers, docs, there’s definitely something for everyone, cinephiles or otherwise.

This weekend happened to be a perfect Fall day here in MN, with seasonably cool temps and ample of bright sunshine both Saturday and Sunday. So I did get a chance to get out and be outdoors before I’m cooped up inside a theater watching a whole bunch of movies. I LOVE Autumn in Minnesota… the fall colors is just absolutely gorgeous!!


The last Steven Spielberg film I saw was War Horse, which was back in 2011. I haven’t got around to seeing Lincoln but for some reason, I haven’t been um, compelled to see it. Spielberg is back to yet another based-on-a-true-story historical drama, about an American insurance lawyer who’s recruited by the CIA during the Cold War to help arrange a prisoner swap when a rescue a pilot is detained in the Soviet Union.

Bridge of Spies is the kind of slow-burn espionage thriller in the vein of a John le Carré’s adaptation, so if you’re expecting an action-packed movie a la James Bond or Jason Bourne then you’re likely disappointed. But the lack of action doesn’t mean there’s lack of suspense and the Cold War intrigue is ever present. I don’t think a film needs to be violent to build tension, and Bridge of Spies is proof of that. The film lives up to the title as well as the pivotal scene on the Glienicke Bridge is certainly memorable.


Tom Hanks is perfectly cast as James B. Donovan, channeling Jimmy Stewart as a virtuous and effortlessly likable everyman who’s more shrewd and skillful than meets the eye. There’s an unsubtle message about defending an American value that everyone deserves a fair shake, but yet it doesn’t feel preachy thanks to Hanks’ portrayal. Hanks is in nearly every frame of the film, but English actor Mark Rylance is equally brilliant as the Soviet spy Rudolf Abel. In fact, he’s quite the scene stealer right from the opening scene. Abel’s relentlessly-unperturbed demeanor is part of what makes his character so intriguing. I love that the film also takes the time to show us the unlikely friendship of these two characters.


Out of a decent ensemble of supporting cast, Amy Ryan stood out as Hanks’ wife, a role that would’ve been utterly forgettable in less capable hands. The script is co-written by the Coens, who infused it with a dose of wity humor to break the tension that make all those dialog scenes sprightly. Visually speaking, the set design looks realistic, especially all the Berlin scenes just right after WWII. The cinematography by Spielberg’s frequent collaborator Janusz Kaminski is stunning to look at, especially the rainy scenes that echoed a memorable scene in The Road to Perdition that also starred Hanks. The music by Thomas Newman perfectly complements the tone of the film, I’ve come to expect that Spielberg movies usually have memorable scores.


There are slower moments, but overall this film was pretty engrossing. This is definitely another Spielberg/Hanks fruitful collaboration and clearly the two have formed a great rapport over the years. I didn’t know anything about the protagonist, but Mr. Donovan’s story is definitely worth telling. Unlike some of le Carré’s spy stories though, this film is pretty straightforward and easy to follow. There’s an earnest quality about Spielberg directing, the lack of cynicism in the way he tells the story that some people might call conventional. But I admire that sincerity that Spielberg and Hanks are known for, and there’s a great deal of measured and astute work from the both of them.


Have you seen Bridge of Spies? Well, what did you think?

40 thoughts on “Weekend Roundup + Mini Review of Bridge of Spies (2015)

  1. Beautiful pictures! Bridge of Spies isn’t out yet here, but looking forward to it. I went to a festival and saw A Perfect Day, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Pawn Sacrifice and Carol. Most of them were great!

    1. Hi Nostra! Oh I see, I think you’ll like Bridge of Spies if you like Spielberg’s work. Oooh you saw a ton of great films, I’ve only seen Me and Earl and the Dying Girl from your list which I really like. I look forward to your reviews!

    1. Thanks Allie! Wow it takes so long for Bridge of Spies to make it to the UK. I like it, it’s a smart espionage film that isn’t flashy but engrossing, plus the performances are top notch!

  2. Sounds like something I’d like. The Coens wrote the script eh? That’ll be interesting, looking forward to seeing

    BTW great photos. I need to get out more to take photos. Oh and have fun at the film fest! Our fest ends on Sunday with a screening of Youth… Not too sure about it but I’ve read good things. It has a great cast too

    1. Hi ya Jordan! Yeah I didn’t realize it was the Coens until later, no wonder there’s that biting, witty humor throughout.

      It was nice to get out and see Fall colors this weekend before I’m cooped up inside a movie theater in the next two weeks. Oh we’ve got YOUTH as well, seeing that on Saturday, I love the cast!

        1. It’s based on a true story of an unlikely American hero. Hanks is perfect in the role and yeah, the humor is just right to break up the tension.

  3. One of these days we will see Bridge of Spies! It flew under my radar but looks excellent. We were just a little busy this weekend with NHFF 🙂

    Twin Cities Film Fest looks great and now it will be our turn to be jealous of you! We have been lucky enough to see several of the films you highlighted at other festivals (Room and Anomalisa at TIFF and Touched With Fire at NHFF) and they were all excellent. I’ll be very interested to read about the ones you get to see over the next week and a half!

    1. Hi Sean! Oh I’m sure you’re seeing a ton of great films at NHFF!

      Nice to hear you like Anomalisa and Touched With Fire, I have that on my schedule as well. The one I’m looking forward to the most is BROOKLYN. I saw ROOM a couple of weeks ago and indeed it was excellent.

  4. I think the last film I saw from Spielberg was also War Horse, which i fell asleep couple of times while watching it. I kind of want to see Lincoln but at nearly 3 hours, I have to be in a mood to sit through it. I’ll just rent Bridge of Spies, I hate seeing this kind of films at a theater, mostly because annoying people.

    1. Thankfully this one wasn’t as overly sentimental as War Horse. Yeah I’m not all that interested in Lincoln despite the great cast. I’m fortunate that I don’t experience annoying people at the theater most of the time, and I do go to screenings often.

      1. Having seen Lincoln I can say it was one of his best. It’s a shame both of you had to sit through one of his worst. The 3 hours wasn’t a problem. Like I always say “a good movie can’t be long enough and a bad movie can’t be short enough.” Method as ever Day-Lewis is of course brilliant as always. Shockingly Daniel Day-Lewis became the first actor to receive an Oscar for working with Steven Spielberg.

        1. Dave, I’ll have to agree that War Horse was one of Spielberg’s worse films, besides the beautiful cinematography, the film has nothing of interest to me. Like I mentioned, I must’ve fell asleep a few times while watching it.

          Nice to hear that you loved Lincoln, I’ll give it a rent.

        2. Hi Dave! I think DDL is the only draw for me to see Lincoln, though I’m not in a hurry to do so. Yeah I never thought of that, it’s rare that an actor won an Oscar for working with Spielberg but hey, it’s Day-Lewis after all 😀

      2. You know I didn’t think War Horse was sentimental or anything, it’s just boring to me, ha ha. I love the advance screenings that you got me into, since these showings were very strict and they kick people out if they’re being disruptive or even use their cell phones. It’s the showings for paid customers that seems to make some people act like idiots. For example, there was a guy who can’t seem to keep his mouth shut when I saw The Martian a couple of weeks ago. I understand he paid to see the movie too but he also has to realized other paid to see it and he should be respectful of others. I can name so many other instances of my bad experience at the movies.

        1. Oh I agree, I think the general movie going experience is always worse than press screenings. I think some people just have zero manners!! So yeah, it’s good that we get to go to more press screenings now, too bad you can’t go to BURNT though, but I’ll see what other screenings you might be interested in.

  5. Good to see Bridge of Spies working out for you Ruth, I’m looking forward to it. The images I’ve seen from the film suggest it looks gorgeous and I know Hanks and Spielberg work so well together. I enjoyed Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy so the film is set-up for me to like it.

    By the way – you haven’t seen Lincoln yet I see… don’t bother. I hated it. Perhaps the most boring Spielberg film ever made.

    1. Hey there Dan! Nice to see what you look like from your Gravatar! I picture you looking totally different, ahah. I appreciate Le Carre’s stuff, though Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a bit confusing when I saw it without subtitles, but Bridge of Spies is much easier to follow.

      Glad I skipped Lincoln, I reckon it’ll bore me too 😀

      1. Haha. Yes, recently changed that Gravatar! 🙂

        I’ve got no intention of revisiting Lincoln but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a film I’d like to watch again some time (only seen it once). I remember describing its plot as “labyrinthine” when I reviewed it years ago and because of that I think there will be new things to discover on second viewing.

        1. Somehow I imagined you as having blond hair 😛 Oh very true about Tinker Tailor being labyrinthine, I definitely will be keen on rewatching it… but w/ caption on 😀

  6. Its impossible not to be excited for a movie that’s directed by Spielberg, written by the Coen Brothers and stars Tom Hanks and the subject-matter is really interesting as well. Glad you liked it. Looking forward to seeing it myself

  7. I quite liked Bridge of Spies (4/5 for me too), and I’m kind of surprised by it. Spielberg isn’t making masterpieces these days, but he’s still making solid films. I wouldn’t mind seeing this do well at the Oscars, especially for Mark Rylance to be nominated.

    Lincoln grew on me after a second viewing, so I’d recommend giving it a look. Though, I wouldn’t call it essential.

  8. Pingback: 2015 Recap: Top 10 Best + 5 Worst Movies of the Year |

  9. Pingback: Five for the Fifth: JULY 2016 Edition

Join the conversation by leaving a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s