Hacksaw Ridge is one of director Mel Gibson's best films, ranking with Braveheart (1995). It's based on the true story of Desmond Doss, the U.S. Army's first conscientious objector to win the Medal of Honor. Andrew Garfield is outstanding in the lead role. After refusing to touch a rifle, even in training, Doss became a combat medic and served courageously in three Pacific campaigns during World War II. Hacksaw Ridge tells his backstory and focuses on his heroism in the battle of Okinawa, when he rescued dozens of wounded soldiers while under fire. The truth is actually more dramatic than this adaptation, which distorts his early military service, marriage, and family. Despite Gibson's curious inability to tell a straight story, he effectively shows that bravery takes many forms, and the violent battle scenes are among the most realistic ever staged.
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Loving is a fictional but uncommonly accurate portrayal of the mixed-race couple who successfully challenged the South's miscegenation laws in the 1960s. After Richard Loving, a white man, married Mildred Jeter, a black woman, they were arrested, charged, and convicted of felonies for violating Virginia's law against mixed marriages. Years later they appealed, and their case reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967. Although this movie is a fictionalized drama, it's based on Nancy Buirski's 2012 documentary (The Loving Story) and is an unusually faithful adaptation. Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga deliver outstanding performances as the Lovings and strongly resemble their real-life counterparts. The supporting cast is equally good. Best of all, by not overdramatizing these events, this movie shows that the Lovings were not civil-rights crusaders but merely two loving people who yearned to be left alone.
Arrival is a brain-bending science-fiction drama about the first contact with extraterrestrials. After 12 mysterious ships arrive at various locations around the globe, scientists struggle to establish communication with the mysterious creatures. Their verbal language seems unintelligible at first, so an American linguist (the always-excellent Amy Adams) tries to decipher their emoji. She gets help from a physicist (Jeremy Renner) and a gruff Army colonel (Forest Whitaker). Meanwhile, the world is going crazy with fear, and some people want a first strike. But this movie departs from the usual alien-invasion scripts. The surprising conclusion will mystify, not satisfy, if you don't pay attention to every word from the very beginning and assemble clues in flashbacks and flash-forwards. For the aliens, time is nonlinear, and so is this fascinating film.
Snowden dramatizes the true story of Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency contractor who fled the U.S. in 2013 and revealed the government's classified mass-surveillance programs. While he was changing planes in Moscow en route to Latin America, the U.S. revoked his passport, forcing him to seek asylum in Russia, where he still lives. Oliver Stone directed this fictionalized but essentially truthful account of Snowden's intelligence career and the conflicting loyalties that led him to expose the secret programs. Depending on your viewpoint, Snowden is either a patriotic whistleblower or a dangerous traitor, but this movie is an unalloyed defense of his actions. Like all of Stone's films, it is fast-paced and powerfully made. Stay after the credits roll to see the coda.
>> See more mini-reviews, including Sully ... Star Trek Beyond ... Finding Dory ... The Jungle Book ... Eye in the Sky ... Hello, My Name is Doris ... Whiskey Tango Foxtrot ... Anomalisa ... The Revenant ... The Big Short ... and many more!
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Here is an index to more than 180 of Tom's computer articles from BYTE Magazine published from 1992 to 1998. (BYTE ceased publication in June 1998.) Most articles are still available online and include the original photographs, figures, and screen shots.
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- The Death of BYTE Magazine. In 1998, after 23 years of operation, BYTE Magazine was shut down by its new owner, CMP Media. A year later, CMP launched BYTE.com as a very different web-only publication. To learn the inside story about what happened to the world's second personal computer magazine, see Tom's Unofficial BYTE FAQ: The Death of BYTE Magazine.
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