Monday, January 4, 2010



In 1962, the U.S.S.R. was desperately behind the United States in the nuclear arms race. Soviet missiles were only powerful enough to be effective against European targets but U.S. missiles were capable of striking anywhere in the Soviet Union. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev came up with the idea of secretly placing intermediate-range missiles closer to the U.S.A. Working quickly during the summer months the Soviet Union built missile installations in Communist Cuba. In so doing they doubled their strategic arsenal and now had a meaningful deterrent to any potential U.S. attack just 90 miles off the eastern coast of the United States.

Routine flyover reconnaissance photographs taken October 15, 1962 revealed the presence of these missiles. The next day United States President John Kennedy along with twelve of his most important advisors got together to discuss and debate how to handle the crisis. A week later Kennedy announced his decision to set up a naval quarantine of the island and said that “any nuclear missile launched from Cuba would be regarded as an attack on the United States by the Soviet Union” and demanded that the Soviets remove all of their offensive weapons from Cuba.

Khrushchev did not respond. Tensions mounted as Russian ships continued to sail towards Cuba, presumably with missals on board. On October 25 Kennedy pulled the quarantine line back further from Cuba and raised military readiness to DEFCON 2. Finally on October 28 Khrushchev announced that he would dismantle the installations and return the missiles to the Soviet Union, expressing his trust that the United States would not invade Cuba.

As it turned out, the Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest the world has ever come to nuclear war. The United States armed forces were at their highest state of readiness and Soviet field commanders in Cuba were prepared to use battlefield nuclear weapons to defend the island if it was invaded.

Colin Firth: George Falconer, small Southern California university professor
Nicholas Hoult: Kenny, one of his students
Julianne Moore: George’s best friend Charley
Matthew Goode: George’s friend of 16 years Jim

Dealing with circumstances life hands us is not always easy. Sometimes it is downright difficult and this becomes painfully apparent as we watch George coping with his situation.
With great attention to detail (apart from a few minor instances noted below) it has the look and feel of Los Angeles in the early ‘60’s. But what really stands out is the performance of Colin Firth: although he betrays very little emotion this is probably his best effort ever. Not far behind is Julianne Moore.
One quibble though: the ending, it didn't work for me, but perhaps I’m of the minority? Change that and it gets another star.

for some disturbing images and nudity/sexual content.

• This is one of my classic all-time favourite nitpicks: at the end of the telephone conversation the caller hangs up and George is left listening to the dial tone. In reality the dial tone is only heard after picking up the phone before dialling. That’s why it’s called a dial tone.
• And this happens a second time when Charley hangs up on him. They just don’t get it!
• Georges sets his brief case down on his desk in school. It has a mind of its own: without being touched by anyone, it changes position between one shot and the next, sometimes at an angle to George, sometimes parallel to him and other times off to the side.
• George bangs his head and a band-aid is applied covering most of the contusion but in some shots it completely hides the abrasion which changes in size with great abandon.

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