A Hologram for the King

Not rated yet!
Director
Tom Tykwer
Runtime
1 h 37 min
Release Date
22 April 2016
Genres
Comedy, Drama
Overview
Alan Clay, a struggling American businessman, travels to Saudi Arabia to sell a new technology to the King, only to be challenged by endless Middle Eastern bureaucracy, a perpetually absent monarch, and a suspicious growth on his back.
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Crosswalk1
Cross Walk



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Thanks to Hanks, A Hologram for the King Moves Us Despite Little Action
    Movies As a salesman sent to the desert Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Tom Hanks delivers a relatable character and adds a warm glow to a relatively uneventful journey, as this book-to-movie adaptation feels far more like a novel than a cinematic adventure. 3 out of 5.   Synopsis Alan Clay (Hanks), has long been a successful salesman. However, after a nasty divorce and tanked business opportunities, he is struggling both financially and to gain a sense of purpose. A threadbare social connection lands him a job pitching holographic IT systems to the Saudi Arabian King for a massive new development. Jet lagged and given very little help from his hosts, Clay befriends a local driver (Alexander Black) who helps him get his bearings and keeps things lighthearted. When a mysterious cyst appears on Clay's back, he crosses paths with Dr. Zahra Hakem (Sarita Choudhury), a rare female doctor in a country where heavily veiled women seem to generally avoid eye contact. As Clay finds himself investing more in these unexpected friendships, his sales team is left wondering when, or if, the scheduled pitch to the King will take place.   What Works? The screenplay lights our imagination and the cast tugs at our hearts. A Hologram for the King is surprisingly adept at capturing attention and holding interest, not an easy task since there's not much here in the way of plot. Scenes often work even when there isn’t much substance to go on, thanks to the story being well-paced and unique, offering glimpses and hints into many topics the original novel by Dave Eggers probably explores more deeply.   What Doesn't? It's not exactly a flaw of the film, but many will notice that... well, not much actually happens. Clay goes hunting but doesn't fire a gun. He attends a wild party, but doesn't make a wild mistake. He walks past an intense and confusing brawl, but never finds out the cause. He finds himself nearly arrested, but walks away unscathed. There are obstacles, but very few confrontations. Characters find themselves faced with poverty, gender restrictions in the Middle East, controversial economic and business practices, religion and faith, violence and war... but no issue is fully fleshed out, no questions are really resolved. Now, this does parallel Alan Clay's own mindset, which is consumed with many worries and questions as he finds himself in a place of absorption, transition, and dysplasia.SEE ALSO: Hanks & Greengrass Bring Captain Phillips' True Story to Life googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-1'); }); There is one big exception, one big risk Clay takes that stands apart in vivid color from the rest of the film. While many will find this a storytelling strength, A Hologram for the King is undoubtedly not a movie for all viewers.   Christian Worldview Elements / Spiritual Themes Islam is a very present scenic element, observed by Clay with quiet respect but not much understanding. Though people are shown praying often and observing halal requirements, we are also shown the more casual side of religious characters who are willing to bend and even break rules when the time comes. Clay's strange cyst acts as a metaphor for his depression and pain. Characters discuss themes such as happiness, divorce, sorrow, direction, and the importance of family relationships, particularly between parents and children. The difference between humans of different cultures and religions is described as being incredibly small, in the grand scope of life.   CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers) MPAA Rating: R for some sexuality/nudity, language and brief drug use  Language/Profanity: A few instances of strong language, and a few times when characters nearly swear but stop themselves from doing so. Sexuality/Nudity: In order to appear male to distant neighbors, a woman swims topless in male swim trunks with another man. A woman sheds her dress (she still wears a slip), and propositions a man for sex, but he refuses. A different couple is shown having sex, but the scene is very brief and not graphic. A man is shown showering a few times from the waist up. Violence/Frightening/Intense: A man stabs a cyst on his own back (we see him preparing the blade, and then see blood afterward on his sheets and in the shower). A few scenes in the hospital include the wound inspection and then a few shots of a surgeon removing the cyst. Characters are shown examining rifles, and then later preparing to shoot wolves in the desert, but the guns are never fired. A man has a violent panic attack in one scene, and fears for his life. Drugs/Alcohol: Characters are shown drinking beer and hard liquor in several scenes. A man is shown several times to be drunk or hungover. At an intense, nightclub-esque party, a guest is briefly seen taking a line of cocaine.   The Bottom Line RECOMMENDED FOR: Mature moviegoers who want a quiet, thoughtful cinematic night; fans of Tom Hanks; lovers of the original novel curious to see what it looks like on the silver screen. NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Those looking for action/adventure, a passionate romance, a robust comedy, or a commentary on culture and religion with deep, clear conviction.SEE ALSO: Larry Crowne Should Have Been Better A Hologram for the King, directed by Tom Twyker, opened in theaters April 22, 2016; available for home viewing August 9, 2016. It runs 97 minutes and stars Tom Hanks, Alexander Black, Sarita Choudhury, Sidse Babett Knudsen, and Tracey Fairaway. Watch the trailer for A Hologram for the King here.   Debbie Holloway is a storyteller, creator, critic and advocate having adventures in Brooklyn, New York. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-2'); }); if (gptClientWidth >= 992 && gptClientWidth <= 1000000) googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-3'); }); Publication date: April 22, 2016 SEE ALSO: Bridge of Spies in Need of Structural Repairs ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)

Armond White1
The National Review / OUT



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Measuring Love and Anger
    Films fit for common men and a king. Tom Hanks beats President Obama to Saudi Arabia in A Hologram for the King, in which an American business deal turns into a personal sanity-keeping mission. As information-technology salesman Alan Clay, who is assigned to pitch an IT system to a Saudi royal, Hanks varies his role in Bridge of Spies. Unlike Spielberg’s specious allegory condemning U.S. Cold War subterfuge, A Hologram for the King assuages American guilt even while admitting U.S. complicity in international corporate alliances that are questionable. Clay’s feeling of culpability applies to his personal life as well as his profession. Formerly an exec who facilitated China’s takeover of the Schwinn bicycle company (a touch that implicitly works as a Spielberg corrective), Clay suffers remorse brought on by his father’s scorn for “hollowing out [our] economy” and by the distance his divorce creates from his college-age daughter — all manifested in fatigue and physical ailments. This disorientation is presented comically (as based on the novel by satirist Dave Eggers), and director Tom Tykwer makes good use of the story’s culture-clash premise. Tykwer, who directed the gimmicky chase film Run, Lola, Run, depicts the irony of an American in the Middle East and the vast Saudi setting to an unusual effect: Clay’s dilemma occurs in a new frontier heightened by a possibility for renewal and education. This bests such post–9/11 comedies as Bill Murray’s Rock the Kasbah, Albert Brooks’s Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, and Mike Nichols’s Charlie Wilson’s War, which was the sarcastic low point of Hanks’s political filmmaking. Hanks has moved forward — as an artist must, and as American foreign policy should have — toward reconciliation. A Hologram for the King lets modern technological commitment (the world’s new secular faith in industry) lead toward Clay’s rediscovery of his humanity. The film’s title is a metaphor for virtual presence — political occupation supplied without emotional guarantee — but that changes when Clay meets a female Saudi doctor, Zahra (Sarita Choudury). Their rapport makes a humanist message that surpasses the sexless, passionless sentimentality in Bridge of Spies. Clay laments, “I’ve lost direction, strength, certain abilities.” Hanks embodies that weakening humorously and is believably less gung-ho than in Bridge of Spies. His needful contrast to the calm, dark-skinned Choudury avoids the conventional Western lapse into exoticism because Choudury evokes Ava Gardner, a reminder of human connection. (“We are separated by the thinnest filament,” Zahra tells Clay.) Her still-waters beauty is an oasis in the moral desert of a constantly alienating world. (function($){ var swapArticleBodyPullAd = function() { if ($('body').hasClass('node-type-articles')) { var $pullAd = $('.story-container .pullad').addClass('mobile-position'); if (window.matchMedia("(min-width: 640px)").matches) { if ($pullAd.hasClass('mobile-position')) { $pullAd .addClass('desktop-position') .insertBefore('.article-ad-desktop-position'); } } else { if ($pullAd.hasClass('mobile-position')) { $pullAd .addClass('mobile-position') .insertBefore('.article-ad-mobile-position'); } } } }; $(window).on('resize', function(){ swapArticleBodyPullAd(); }).resize(); })(jQuery); Tykwer doesn’t overplay the obvious scenes of Clay’s détente with his Saudi driver, Yousef (Alexander Black), but even the image of Yousef’s family praying while Clay handles the family’s stock of rifles (evoking his own Texas boyhood memories) is, ideologically, just “universal” enough (and another Spielberg corrective). Clay and Zahra’s mutual seduction is the film’s high point. It turns political and cultural détente into an adult, erotic ideal, something better than a bridge. *      *      * Thierry Taugourdeau, the 51-year-old out-of-work Frenchman played by Vincent Lindon in The Measure of a Man, is not angry. But his frustration, as detailed in Stéphane Brizé’s film, is what media pundits like to label as “anger.” That term, frequently used during the current presidential primary campaigns to describe populist movements, sexes up a disenchantment, a sense of defeat, and an irritation that can be manipulated by politicians and categorized by journalists who seek an easy diagnosis and explanation for a complicated social and spiritual illness. The Measure of a Man coincidentally corrects this development. It charts a global unease in the case of a working-class white male trying to stay afloat in Europe’s unsteady economy. After 20 months of unemployment, Thierry is desperate for work; his background as a machinist is his only experience. Brizé shows Thierry’s struggles to keep his wife (Karine de Mirbeck) and his autistic son (Mattthieu Schaller) in their mortgaged home. Brizé’s unplotted, naturalistic style highlights a common man’s series of on-going indignities. Thierry’s desperate straits are similar to those of the other working-class folk he encounters (men, women, whites, blacks, Muslims), all wrestling with daily needs, measured through the Euro. Brizé’s unplotted, naturalistic style highlights a common man’s series of on-going indignities. Brizé’s position on this is obvious from the film’s original French title, La Loi du marché which translates as “The Law of the Market.” Thierry is viewed as a capitalist commodity. He’s the only character with a full name — an alliteration that’s practically a bureaucratic designation. Brizé tries to extract Thierry’s humanity from the dehumanizing circumstances of the labor market. Various sequences depict Thierry in immobile situations or forced to follow regimented movements. European filmmakers are the first — and best — to imagine this dilemma. It’s been the constant subject of Belgium’s Dardennes brothers — often to a point of exasperation — most recently in Two Days, One Night with Marion Cotillard, cinema’s reigning sad-sack actress, whom the Dardennes dragged through the proletarian stations of the cross. She played Sandra, a stressed-out worker begging for her downsized job, too demoralized and depressed to feel anger. Instead, her conniptions and crying jags were the disguise of the desperately alienated. More Movies Mark Ruffalo vs. White ‘Conservative’ Women The Mummy Unwrapped: American Guilt and Masochism There’s Still Life in The Mummy Watching Thierry’s and Sandra’s travails brought back a pop-culture memory about “anger,” when Elvis Costello’s debut album, My Aim is True (1977), caused him to be mistakenly categorized with the political faction of Britain’s punk movement. One of Costello’s most impassioned, politically shaded songs was “I’m Not Angry.” I first misheard its cryptic opening lyrics as “Europe’s in a boardroom while I feel futile listening,” as if it were related to the Sex Pistols’ anarchic wanting to “go over the Berlin Wall.” But, in fact, Costello was singing his refusal to admit anger or confess class and bedroom defeat. What sounded to me like seething, barely suppressed anger was, actually, freshly articulated dissatisfaction and disgust. That’s also what Thierry comes to feel when forced to play big brother as a store security guard, spying on customers and fellow employees. “Anger is an energy,” John Lydon sang, but it’s not always politicized, as Thierry importantly demonstrates. In a moral sense he’s been taxed enough already, and instead of shouting in anger, he walks away and drives off, seeking an economic and moral alternative. Pundits can learn a lot about what “anger” really means from The Measure of a Man. — Armond White, a film critic who writes about movies for National Review Online, received the American Book Awards’ Anti-Censorship Award. He is the author of The Resistance: Ten Years of Pop Culture That Shook the World and the forthcoming What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about the Movies. ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)

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