Unabashedly sentimental, this war film was produced by David Putnam in partnership with Catherine Wyler, whose father William Wyler directed an acclaimed documentary about the real-life events depicted in the film. The ensemble cast is composed of ten young actors portraying the crew of the World War II B-17 bomber "Memphis Belle," anticipating their 25th and last mission before they will be able to go home. Having won fame with their exemplary war record and amazing lack of casualties, they expect their final assignment to be a cakewalk, but instead they are ordered to bomb Bremen, a heavily defended German city that will mean almost certain loss of life. Led by their experienced captain, Dennis Dearborn (Matthew Modine), the crew shoulders its responsibility despite mounting fears, while their commanding officer (David Strathairn) and a public relations specialist (John Lithgow) wait anxiously for their return. Aboard the bomber, there's friction between Dearborn and his disgruntled co-pilot Luke Sinclair (Tate Donovan), and between medical officer Val Kozlowski (Billy Zane) and the rest of the crew when it's learned that Val lied about his qualifications. Despite impressive technical credits and a popular Generation-X cast, Memphis Belle (1990) was a box-office disappointment, its enthusiastic patriotism considered a throwback to a bygone era of filmmaking.
Loosely based on a real-life operation during World War II, this action-adventure from director John Woo stars Nicolas Cage as Joe Enders, a Marine traumatized by the loss of his entire platoon in the Solomon Islands during an ambush he believes was deadlier than necessary due to his indecision. Suffering from eardrum damage in Hawaii, Joe manages to be declared fit for duty once again thanks to a sympathetic nurse (Frances O'Connor), but his new assignment isn't what he expects. Joe is ordered to safeguard a Navajo soldier named Ben Yahzee (Adam Beach) because the military has developed a new secret code based on the near-dead Navajo language that is proving unbreakable to the Japanese. Any soldier that speaks Navajo is an immediate asset, including Ben and his pal, Charlie Whitehorse (Roger Willie). Joe's orders are to "baby sit" Ben during the invasion of Saipan, protecting him if possible, but -- if the code-talker's capture becomes imminent -- to kill him before he falls into enemy hands. Meanwhile, Charlie is to be guarded by affable harmonica player Ox Henderson (Christian Slater). Joe reluctantly accepts this new duty as a way to get back into the war, and in the ensuing carnage, his nearly suicidal acts of bravery make him a hero while Ben becomes paralyzed by fear. Determined to live up to Joe's example, Ben musters up his courage, even in the face of racism from a fellow soldier (Noah Emmerich), and ends up rescuing his own protector behind enemy lines by briefly posing as a Japanese soldier. Despite their growing mutual respect, Joe is eventually forced to take an action that threatens to shatter his bond with Ben, as the war's tragic losses strike closer to home for both men. Windtalkers co-stars Peter Stormare, Jason Isaacs, and Mark Ruffalo
Cowriter and director George Clooney adapts author Robert M. Edsel's book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History to tell the incredible true story of the seven art historians and museum curators who went behind enemy lines during World War II on a mission to recover some of the world's greatest works of art. With war raging in Europe, the Nazis have managed to plunder some of the biggest art collections on the continent. As the Third Reich begins to topple, the German army receives explicit orders that in the event of Adolf Hitler's death, they are to destroy every work of art in their possession. Determined to prevent 1000 years of culture from going up in flames, American president Franklin D. Roosevelt approves a proposal by Frank Stokes (Clooney) to form a task force comprised entirely of art experts to enter Germany, recover the works of art, and ensure they are returned to their rightful owners. With little knowledge of modern weapons or warfare tactics, the ragtag squadron has their work cut out for them. Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, and Jean Dujardin also star.
Director Billy Bob Thornton explores coming of age in this Western based on Cormac McCarthy's prize-winning novel of the same name. John Grady Cole (Matt Damon) and Lacey Rawlins (Henry Thomas) are young Texan men who seek a more fulfilling life as cowboys in the slowly fading Old West, circa 1949. One night, the duo head for Mexico in hope of finding some adventure and employment, and along the way run into Blevins (Lucas Black), an even younger drifter who has supposedly stolen a horse from private property. Begrudgingly, Cole and Rawlins take him under their wing before they eventually find themselves in Mexico, working for a wealthy landowner (Ruben Blades). His stalwart and beautiful daughter Alejandra (Penelope Cruz) develops a romantic interest in Cole, which threatens the friendship between him and Rawlins, not to mention their living quarters, where Alejandra's watchful aunt (Miriam Colon) warns Cole that she has professed allegiance to her. Cole and Rawlins' thrill-seeking adventures with Blevins and the stolen horse catch up to them, however, and they are held prisoners in a brutal penitentiary, where their cowboy instincts are put to the ultimate test. Cole, meanwhile, wants nothing more than to get back to Alejandra and resume their love affair. The film also features Bruce Dern in a small role as a judge who eventually gives much-desired guidance to Cole.
Set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War, “War Horse” begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets.
Actor Viggo Mortensen made his first starring appearance in a film after his breakthrough performance in the Lord of the Rings trilogy with this period adventure. Frank T. Hopkins (Mortensen) is a U.S. Cavalry officer who earned a reputation as one of the fastest and most daring riders in the West; however, after taking part in the bloody massacre at Wounded Knee, Hopkins becomes disenchanted with the Cavalry, and once his hitch is up, he takes a job as a rider with a seedy touring Wild West show. During an engagement in New York, Hopkins meets Aziz (Adam Alexi-Malle), an associate of wealthy Bedouin Sheikh Riyadh (Omar Sharif), who knows of Hopkins' talents and wants him to take part in "The Ocean of Fire," an annual 3,000-mile desert horse race running from Arabia to Iraq. Hopkins accepts the invitation and sails to the Middle East with his trusty mustang Hidalgo without knowing just what he's getting himself into. Once he arrives, Hopkins learns that the punishing race course claims the lives of nearly half its contestants, and that most of his competitors ride pure-bred Arabian stallions and do not regard Hidalgo and his master as worthy adversaries. Temporarily exiled to a land where freedom eludes the multitudes and class and wealth define one's fate, Hopkins finds himself riding for both honor and principle, with the support of Riyadh and his beautiful, headstrong daughter, Jazira (Zuleikha Robinson), though the Sheikh's nephew Katib (Silas Carson) is equally determined to see Hopkins go down in defeat. Hidalgo was directed by Joe Johnston, who previously worked with animals on the run in Jumanji and Jurassic Park III.
The story of how Walt Disney courted P.L. Travers into letting him option the rights to Mary Poppins is brought to the screen in this non-fiction drama starring Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, and Colin Farrell. A doting father, Walt Disney (Hanks) promises his adoring daughters that he will bring their favorite fictional nanny Mary Poppins to the big screen. Little does Walt realize that surly author P.L. Travers has no intention of seeing her most famous creation bastardized on the big screen, a fact that makes keeping his promise a difficult endeavor. Years later, however, when Travers' book sales begin to slow, dwindling finances drive her to schedule a meeting with Disney to discuss the film rights to the beloved story. For two weeks in 1961, a determined Disney does his absolute best to convince Travers that the film version of Mary Poppins will be a wondrous and respectful adaptation, meanwhile the author only grows more convinced that she has made the right move in preventing the proposed film adaptation. Later, just when it begins to appear that the rights to Mary Poppins have slipped through his fingers, the ingenious Disney reflects back on his childhood, and realizes that a sensitive chapter from Travers' youth could be the key to clinching the deal. Bradley Whitford, Paul Giamatti, and Jason Schwartzman co-star.
Director Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity stars Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone, a scientist on a space shuttle mission headed by astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney), a talkative, charismatic leader full of colorful stories that he shares with his crewmates as well as mission control. As the two are on a space walk, debris hits the area where they are working, and soon the pair finds themselves detached from their ship and stranded in space. While figuring out what steps they can take to save themselves, Stone grapples with a painful past that makes her consider giving up altogether. Gravity screened at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.
Academy Award-nominated writer/director J.C. Chandor (Margin Call) takes the helm for this tense adventure drama about a man (Robert Redford) who must fight for survival after being shipwrecked at sea. We first meet the unnamed protagonist -- a sailor floating on the ocean waves, sans hope, minutes from death. On the soundtrack, our hero reads a final missive to the world; he expresses remorse to his loved ones for hurting them, and prepares to enter a watery grave. The picture then jumps back in time by eight days, and an intertitle places us in the Indian Ocean, 1700 nautical miles from the Sunda Straits. The boatsman, lying asleep below deck on his schooner, is suddenly jostled to consciousness by a horrifying crash. He discovers that a steel crate, floating in mid-ocean, has torn a gaping hole into the side of his vessel. From that ominous beginning, the crises mount, including flooding, a ruined ham radio, and blinding thunderstorms. Though the sailor tries everything he can think of to save himself, external challenges ultimately coalesce and threaten to damn him.
Light and laugh-filled, Send Me No Flowers is typical Rock Hudson and Doris Day fare. George (Hudson) is a hypochondriac married to Judy (Day) in this marital comedy. When George goes to visit the doctor, he overhears two doctors talking about a diagnosis of a terminally ill patient. George believes they are talking about him and that he is doomed to die. He recruits his friend Arnold (Tony Randall) to find a new husband for Judy. Judy thinks George is covering up for an illicit affair and throws him out of the house. George locates Judy's old college flame Bert (Clint Walker), now a Texas oil millionaire. Excellent performances by Edward Andrews as Dr. Morrissey and Paul Lynde as the aggressive cemetery-plot salesman help this feature along. Although not as solid as the Day/Hudson pairing in Pillow Talk or Lover Come Back, Send Me No Flowers is still a good romantic comedy.