Published on: May 13, 2016
Last week, looking for something other than a superhero movie to see, we ventured out to see A Hologram For The King
, the new Tom Hanks movie that has been released to relatively little fanfare, which is something of a surprise considering Hanks is arguably the pre-eminent movie star of our generation, but less so since it is an adult-oriented character-driven drama in which very little happens.
Hanks plays a salesman who has fallen on professional and personal hard times, who is dispatched by his company to Saudi Arabia to sell a holographic teleconferencing technology to the government. Once there, he essentially waits for an audience with the king, lost in a maze of government bureaucracy, isolated and disconnected in a culture he does not understand. In addition, he is dealing with an unexplained growth on his back - which shouts "metaphor!" - and the guilt he feels from having been a Schwinn executive who, by outsourcing all production to China, was responsible for that company losing its competitive and differential advantages. (In some ways, that was the story I really wanted to see.)A Hologram For The King
is written and directed by Tom Tykwer, based on a novel by Dave Eggers with which I am unfamiliar. The movie, I must concede, is flawed - the narrative line is entirely too dotted for my taste, and the movie ambles off in different directions at various points as Hanks' character waits and waits and waits. But I was never bored ... I found the movie's flaws to be kind of interesting, since it was clear that Hologram
had not been made by committee and edited by focus group.
The good news about the movie is that Hanks brings enormous good will and enthusiasm to his role, holding the whole thing together in a way that a lesser star never could have. Or would have. He's at the point in his career right now where he's almost an elder statesman in the film business; if he's in a movie, it is a pretty good bet that it'll have some level of taste and intelligence behind it. (We'll forget about Larry Crowne
.) He can make big movies, like last year's Bridge of Spies
and the coming Inferno
, and small movies like this one, and even do the occasional Broadway show ("Lucky Guy"), and challenge himself and keep his audience coming back for more.
I have two red wines to suggest to you this weekend ... the Chateau Haut Selve 2012 Grand Vin de Bordeaux, which is a deep and smooth wine that is absolutely perfect with a steak ... and the Carlton Cellars 2012 Estate Pinot Noir, a wonderful pinot from one of my favorite Oregon vineyards. Enjoy. Thank me later.
That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.