Red hot script got Tom Hanks into Cold War thriller

Tom Hanks shares why he wanted in on Cold War thriller Bridge Of Spies... and it's not just to work with Spielberg again

It would come as no surprise if Tom Hanks gets an Oscar nomination for his role in Bridge Of Spies. His performance as US lawyer-turned-negotiator James Donovan has been talked about with something approaching stellar regard.

Directed by Steven Spielberg, the dramatic thriller is set in the 1950s during the early stages of the Cold War where tensions are rife between the US and USSR.

So when the FBI arrests Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), a Soviet agent living in New York, the fear and paranoia only escalate. Charged with sending coded messages back to Russia, Abel is detained in federal prison pending trial.

Donovan becomes Abel's reluctant defense lawyer. While Abel was found guilty, Donovan manages to prevent Abel from receiving the death penalty. 

Donovan soon finds himself thrust into the centre of the Cold War when the CIA enlists his services to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot. 

Here, Hanks — a five-time Oscar nominee and two-time winner — talks about the project and reuniting with Spielberg. 

What drew you to the project?

This subject matter has always fascinated me, because of the area and because of the time.

As a child, we were educated that there were bad guys on the other side of the world and that they put up an Iron Curtain to keep their people in and to keep us out. They were also hell-bent on destroying our way of life and making us live the same way they did.

So when I was growing up, it was part and parcel to our way of life that we had to live and be better human beings because there was this other anti-version of life, this anti-version of government and freedom which existed and which was trying to take us over.

I couldn’t figure out how things worked over there: they looked like us and they sort of dressed like us, but I wanted to know what was going on inside their heads, and as I grew up, I tried to educate myself into the differences between the West and what was on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

I love reading history and finding out something brand new — particularly about a subject that I think I'm well versed in — and when that happens, man, it's like the slot machine paying off. And one of the most exciting things to happen to an actor is when you read a red-hot piece of material and not only do they already want you for it, but Steven Spielberg already wants you for it.

Tom Hanks with director Steven Spielberg on the set of Bridge Of Spies. PHOTO: Twentieth Century Fox

How was it to work with Steven Spielberg again?

Steven thinks in cinematic terms. His ability to tell important story moments just by what he does with the camera is the reason he's Steven Spielberg.  He's done it again and again and again, and all you can do is stand back and watch.

Steven and I have a pretty good shorthand. I would come in with an enthusiastic idea for how to go about the scene and Steven would say, “That’s great, because what I want to do is play it all the way from back here, and if you’re moving around like that, that’s where the eye is going to go.”

When you show up on Steven’s set, it has already been built, not only physically, but deep inside his head. Your job is to do exactly what he wants you to do, but he also expects you to add in all the little things he expects you to come up with.

He has the film cut in his head long before we even get to the set. He reads the screenplay thousands and thousands of times, over and over and over again, so he knows what he's going to be doing, cinematically, five weeks from now.

Talking to Steven from day one, I could immediately see where the challenges for me as an actor were going to be: in the details of the defense, the details of so many of these very specific scenes, and then my job was going to be to fit into that so Steven can then go nuts with his instinctive cinematic talents — which are substantial.

What stuck with you from the film?

That we should not judge a book by its cover.

There will always be ignorance and prejudice, there will always be people who are going to jump to conclusions and there will always be people who try to label the motivations of others as either good or bad. 

Lots of people thought of James Donovan as a traitor, but he didn’t let it discourage him.

He thought they were idiots for thinking that, because he knew that by defending this man, he embodied the qualities of a true American. So for anyone looking for an introduction to the Cold War, Bridge Of Spies is it.



Attack of car clones

A Tesla S electric car and a charging station are displayed during a Detroit auto show preview in 2014.

Chinese automakers are introducing fast cars that look like clones of luxury models.

There's the Youxia X electric super sedan which was unveiled in China in July and set to compete against the upcoming Tesla Model 3.

Shanghai-based company Youxia Motors is scheduled to begin production in late 2016, said.

The start-up's version is likely to cost from 200,000 yuan (about S$43,700) upwards. 

The price includes a 90,000 yuan green car subsidy from the Chinese government.

The interior looks like Tesla's model, right down to the touchscreen, said.

The version from Youxia Motors. PHOTO: YOUXIA MOTORS.COM 


Reactions were mixed, as seen from a tweet like this.


The Thunder Power EV from Taiwan is another model that strongly resembles Tesla's design.

The electric sedan is the electronics company's first foray into the car market.

Thunder Power is aiming to make it to the European market in 2017, the Chinese market by 2018 and the United States after that, gizmag said.

It is likely to be priced at about 400,000 yuan.


Sources: Forbes, Green Car Reports, Wired, gizmag, Twitter/ @manbatan, Twitter/ @SFvdB

Police nab ex-con who preys on women

Released from jail, he returned to a life of crime and was caught again.

He was put behind bars for theft and disposing stolen property.

When he was released from jail, the ex-convict returned to a life of crime.

He would prey on female victims who left their bags in their vehicles, breaking into cars and stealing their valuables, the Star Online reported.

But the 44-year-old man's spree came to an end once again after police nabbed him in connection with 15 cases of theft in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.

Cheras OCPD Assistant Commissioner Chong Kok Sin said the man admitted to committing seven offences.

Some of the tools the man used to break into cars. PHOTO: STAR ONLINE

One of the victims had left her handbag underneath the passenger seat and locked the car before going for supper at a restaurant on Sept 19.

ACP Chong said:

“After having supper, she realised that the front passenger window had been shattered and her handbag was missing.” 

The bag contained important documents, valuables and RM1,900 (about S$627) cash.

She lodged a police report the next day.

Following a tip-off, police arrested the man on Oct 8.

Source: Star Online

Movie Review: Pay The Ghost (PG13)

There are a lot of scary Halloween movies but Pay The Ghost isn't one of them.

With such a title, it would've been great to see a loan shark ghost who haunts his old debtors and leaves "O$P$" messages in blood on their walls.

Alas, no such fun is to be had here.

Nicolas Cage stars as Mike, whose only son Charlie (Jack Fulton) disappears at a Halloween parade. His last cryptic words to his father ("Dad, can we pay the ghost?") provide the one clue to bringing him back.

Cage's moony-eyed melancholy over his missing kid gets tiring fast and while the film's ghostly Celtic legend is intriguing, the whole thing falls rather flat, made worse by cheap-looking special effects.

Rating: 2/5

Movie Review: Straight Outta Compton (M18)

This biopic serves as a good crash course on the explicit world of gangsta rap.

Directed by F. Gary Gray, it traces the origins of US rap group N.W.A. (Niggaz With Attitudes), which led to the birth of successful musicians Ice Cube and Dr Dre.

The story follows aspiring musician DJ Andre "Dr Dre" Young (Corey Hawkins) as he ropes in Eric "Eazy-E" Wright (Jason Mitchell) to make a record using money from pushing drugs.

They then recruit O'Shea "Ice Cube" Jackson (O'Shea Jackson Jr), Antoine "DJ Yella" Carraby (Neil Brown Jr) and Lorenzo "MC Ren" Patterson (Aldis Hodge), and, together, they use music to get off the streets.

Such underdogs-to-stars stories are not new but somehow Gray manages to keep it moving and entertaining.

Rating: 3/5

National para-athlete Adam Kamis faces more charges

A file picture of Adam Kamis taking part in the 2008 Vertical Marathon

National para-athlete Adam Kamis, 36, who was charged in court last week (Oct 8) with one count of procuring a teenager for the purpose of prostitution, now faces five more charges for the same offence.

Adam, who lost his right arm in a motorcycle accident 12 years ago, had the charges slapped on him on Monday (Oct 12).

He is now accused of procuring six Singaporean women for prostitution aged between 18 and 38 years old.

He allegedly committed the offences in his flat at Block 173, Yishun Avenue 7, between October last year and June this year.

Adam, who was supposed to take part in December's Asean Para Games in Singapore, is represented by lawyer Ravinderpal Singh.

He will be back in court on Oct 26.

Abandoned M'sia teen with special needs dies

When immigration officers found Muhammad Firdaus Dullah, he was covered in filth.

When Malaysian immigration officers made checks to weed out illegals at a block of flats in Nilai in June last year, they were shocked to find a malnourished teen.

Muhammad Firdaus Dullah, then 15,​ was covered in filth and his own faeces.

All he had was the tattered and soiled T-shirt on his back.

While there was a wheelchair in the room, the teen could only move on his buttocks and could not use his legs.

Investigations revealed that he had been left there by his relatives as they could not care for him, Star Online reported.

Family problems

A babysitter who previously took care of the teen for eight years until she got married in 2012 and moved away said he used to be able to stand up and speak a few words.

She added that she didn't believe the teen's mother would abuse him:

"(His mother) has a lot of problems and suffered a miscarriage recently." 

He was eventually placed under the care of the Social Welfare Department's children's institutions.


Abandoned and malnourished, the teen died after suffering a seizure. PHOTO: STAR ONLINE

The 16-year-old suffered a seizure recently and died at the Tuanku Jaafar Hospital in Seremban.

Negri Sembilan welfare, women and family development committee chairman Datuk Norhayati Omar confirmed Firdaus' death in a short statement. 

Sources: Star Online, The Straits Times

Lign Em up ready to take 'Em On


TOUGH RACER: Lign Em Up (pink cap, beating Time Odyssey) showed on the training rack that he's back in form after a four-month break. 

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