October 17, 2015 |
There are many reasons to recommend Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies : the Cold War brought to life in vivid, disconcertingly timely ways; the quickstep hugger-mugger of G-men in fedoras tailing a foreign agent on the streets of New York; the noirish intrigue of early 1960s East Berlin, with its military checkpoints, its paranoia, its secret police. But without doubt, the biggest reason to see Bridge of Spies - based on true Eisenhower-era events - is Mark Rylance, the British actor of TV's Wolf Hall and theater's Jerusalem, as he disappears into the quietly duplicitous role of the man known as Rudolf Abel.
October 11, 2015 |
Bridge of Spies , Steven Spielberg's Cold War drama, opening Friday, comes with the tag "Inspired by true events. " Most of those events concern a New York lawyer, James Donovan, played by Tom Hanks, his defense of a captured Russian spy, Rudolf Abel, played by Mark Rylance, and the subsequent negotiations to facilitate the release of Francis Gary Powers, the American spy plane pilot shot down and captured by the Soviets in 1960. It would be a swap: the American for the Russian. But another "true event" in the Oscar-bound picture comes straight out of Spielberg's life.
October 7, 2015
ISSUE | SYRIA Good, bad bombs With Russia's entry into Syria's war, it didn't take long for the old Cold War claims of immoral equivalence between our two countries to emerge. The Signe Wilkinson cartoon (Thursday) showing a U.S. bomb and a Russian bomb being dropped there sarcastically implied that ours, labeled "Good," was no better than theirs, labeled "Bad. " This ignores the fact that we are bombing mass murderers, and the Russians are bombing our moderate allies. This reasoning is reminiscent of previous wars in Korea and Vietnam, in which the proof of which was the moral side became obvious after they were over.
July 13, 2015 |
TUCSON, Ariz. - The Sonoran Desert surrounding Tucson is a hauntingly beautiful place. Majestic saguaro cactus forests rise from a landscape that reveals an unexpected array of plant and animal life. For years, visitors and new residents have been drawn to its sweeping vistas. This desert, though, is about not only nature, but also human nature - at its most maleficent. Burrowed in a bunker deep beneath the scrub and the scurrying lizards, I prepared to turn the launch key for a Titan missile.
June 13, 2015 |
After meeting behind closed doors in Harrisburg earlier this week, Gov. Wolf and state House Speaker Mike Turzai said little about their talks to find common ground on a new budget. But as both swung through the Philadelphia region Thursday, they left little doubt their gap was as wide as ever. Turzai, an Allegheny County Republican, used a stop in Delaware County to rip Wolf's plan to tax natural-gas drillers, a key plank in the Democratic governor's budget proposal. Fifty miles away, in Doylestown, Wolf and his wife sat with school officials extolling his plan to levy a 5 percent tax on extracted natural gas, which they say would raise about $1 billion for schools.
February 27, 2015 |
GABE POLSKY loves hockey. Got good at it. Played at Yale. Wasn't good enough to play in the NHL, which is just as well. "I can't watch it," he told the Daily News yesterday. "It's chippy and choppy, and they can barely complete three passes in a row. " Polsky likes his hockey fast and fluid, which is part of the reason he wrote and directed the critically acclaimed "Red Army" documentary that opens tomorrow at the Ritz Five in Society Hill. Another reason is he's the son of Russian immigrants who, he said, came to America with "$500 and two suitcases.
December 30, 2014 |
Sometimes it seems as if America, at 238 years old, is suffering from a sort of midlife crisis that has it questioning its strength and leadership. Questioning is fine; few are pleased with Washington these days. But it was more troubling to hear some critics suggest that President Obama should be more like Russian President Vladimir Putin. Some were apparently impressed by the machismo Putin displayed in invading Ukraine even though it was morally wrong. Much of that sentiment evaporated as casualties mounted in the war Putin incited to keep Ukraine firmly in Russia's orbit rather than the European Union's.
November 10, 2014 |
I was strolling along Bernauer Strasse during a foggy night typical of Berlin. The low-lying mist shrouded the streetlamps, casting sepia shadows on the neighborhood. The hues were reminiscent of old newsreels from August 1963, when this street became a last-gasp escape route for those seeking to flee over the Berlin Wall, a structure that was erected overnight in its initial crude form of concrete blocks and barbed wire. It encircled West Berlin to keep East Germans from escaping to the lone outpost of freedom behind the Iron Curtain.
September 27, 2014 |
It's always refreshing to be reminded that beyond James Bond, Jason Bourne, and Jack Ryan there lies an entire world of espionage dramas that are as intelligent as they are exciting. This year's greatest find is Bethlehem , a rich, multilayered character study about a young Israeli spymaster (Tsahi Halevi) who recruits the teenage brother (Shadi Mar'i) of a Palestinian militant wanted for launching numerous violent attacks against Israeli targets. Cowritten by Israeli intelligence officer-turned director Yuval Adler and Palestinian author Ali Waked, and directed by Adler, Bethlehem is an amazing chronicle of the strange, intimate relationship that develops between handler and agent.
July 25, 2014 |
"A MOST Wanted Man" is based on a John le Carre novel, possibly titled "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy With a Really Bad German Accent. " I regret to say that the accent belongs to the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman, starring here as Gunther, a German spy working to snare a possible terrorist financier, all while bucking bureaucrats and his own come-and-go accent - the movie is mysteriously in English, though almost no character in the movie would...