Nick Falzone (John Cusack) is a control freak. An air traffic control freak, who 'pushes
tin' at a chaotic New York facility covering the finite airspace above Kennedy, LaGuardia
and Newark airports. He believes he is the best, or at least until the unorthodox,
laid-back cowboy Russell Bell (Billy Bob Thornton) arrives and rocks his comfort zone.
Nick's wife Connie (Cate Blanchett) finds Bell 'interesting'; Nick finds Russell's young
sex-pot wife Mary (Angelina Jolie) irresistible. Nick and Russell collide in all things
competitive, from work to their wives.
"Cool, thrilling, dangerous and devastating, Pushing Tin is a ride on the
rollercoaster of emotions. It looks like a lot of fun - a bunch of raucous guys and gals
sitting around, organising blips on a large computer screen. But don't let that fool you,
air traffic controllers are some of the highest strung and most uptight people known,
whose pressure cooker work devours their lives and becomes a dangerous obsession. And control
is what it is all about. Their rowdy demeanor disguises the weight of responsibility of
the job: those cute blips on the screen each represent planes with hundreds of people
onboard. On this original backdrop, Pushing Tin takes us on an emotional journey into a
manic, all consuming world that pits together two loose canons whose egos collide. The
witty, insightful script together with Mike Newell's assured direction poignantly capture
the complexity of these otherwise ordinary men, who live in identical suburban houses.
John Cusack is terrific as Nick, whose competitive nature and insecurity reach breaking
point; Billy Bob Thornton's Zen cowboy Russell is complex, understated and belies a
volcano on the brink. The women are the catalysts - and both Cate Blanchett and Angelina
Jolie are superb. Blanchett amazes as a gutsy, down to earth, New Jersey housewife,
showcasing her extraordinary broad and versatile range. Jolie plays the sex bombshell as
naturally as flowers bloom, with a delightful, seductive vulnerability. Witty and
original, Pushing Tin is about being in control, losing touch with reality and the devil
that is temptation. Take the ride - flying will never be the same again!"
"If Pushing Tin accurately portrays air traffic controllers as a species, I'll never fly again. If it doesn't, I'll never know. So I'm grounded. Anyway, the film is entertaining and energetic, even if sometimes contrived and overstated. And there are plenty of upsides. It is not a techno toy film, rather concentrating on the mental and emotional aspects of the people involved, seeing private lives through their juxtaposition with their stressful work. But the relationships are the core. Effective and amusing, the film stops short of being great only because its dramatic elements are compromised for effect and humour - although it's also clever at mixing drama with comedy. The acting is marvellous. When Cate Blanchette first appears on screen, it is close to breathtaking for its surprise in how she looks. Surviving the shock, audiences will revel in her wonderful characterisation, at once intimately detailed and yet effortlessly larger than life, without losing credibility. John Cusack, in a vaguely familiar role, manages to add something new to his work, and Billy Bob Thornton again confirms his prowess as a charter actor of the highest order, complex, compelling, convincing and conniving all in one smoothly oiled performance. And Angelina Jolie is a welcome fourth piece of the romantic jigsaw. To its credit, the film is edgy as well as entertaining, and if it weren't for some schmaltz and pat endings, it would also be bravura and brilliant."
Andrew L. Urban
"When we board a plane, we like to know we're in safe hands: from the mechanics, through the pilot, to the air traffic controllers who will get us safely back on terra firma. Similarly, when we hand over our hard earned cash to enter a cinema, though the stakes are a tad less, we like to know we'll be looked after. Rest assured. We're in excellent hands in this examination of confidence and mental stability. The performances are masterful from the four leading players. John Cusack gives a perfectly judged portrayal of the central character whose being is slowly dismantled, thread by thread. Playing beautifully against this is Billy Bob Thornton as the laconic, off centre antagonist who turns his world upside down. The character work of Cate Blanchett as Cusack's very ordinary New York suburban wife (as far from Elizabeth as could be imagined) and Angelina Jolie as Thornton's seriously unstable sex bomb partner contribute further to this strong ensemble piece. The script of Glen and Les Charles (television's Taxi and Cheers) gives these actors plenty to work with. The dialogue is anything but cliched, a trap so easy to fall into when dealing with such a pressured macho world. The structure of the script follows traditional lines but is full of well observed moments and wonderful flights of fancy. It has a couple of faults: the major crisis point of the film is extremely contrived, and the ending a little cute. But it remains one Hollywood's more original efforts in recent years. Bringing it all together is
British director, Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral) who clearly knows his way around a comedy drama of human fragility. Pushing Tin is solid entertainment."
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SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES
PUSHING TIN (M15+)
CAST: John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett, Angelina Jolie, Jake Weber,
DIRECTOR: Mike Newell
PRODUCER: Art Linson
SCRIPT: Glen Charles & Les Charles
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Gale Tattersall
EDITOR: Jon Gregory
MUSIC: Anne Dudley
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Bruno Rubeo
RUNNING TIME: 124 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: July 22, 1999
VIDEO RELEASE: February 16, 2000
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment