20th Oct2013

Captain Phillips – Film

by timbaros


We’ve all seen the trailers for the new movie Captain Phillips, which stars Tom Hanks as the captain of a cargo ship that gets hijacked by Somali Pirates. But Captain Phillips is so much more than a film about a hijacked ship. It is also the story of man who is responsible not just for his ship but also for the lives of his crew members, it is a story of survival, action, adventure, human emotion and a look at a man who faces uncertainty. 
In an Academy Award worthy performance, Hanks plays Richard Phillips, a family man from America’s Northeast who does not have a typical office job, his job is to captain ships to carry cargo through friendly and sometimes not so friendly waters. It is March 2009, and Phillips (this film is based on the book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy Seals, and Dangerous Days at sea, by the real Richard Phillips) is captaining the MV Maersk Alabama, a cargo ship that is travelling to Moombasa, Kenya via the Arabian Sea and past the east coast of the Somali coastline – international waters. Once the Maersk Alabaman reaches these waters, Phillips and his captain Shane Murphy (Michael Chernus), notice two objects quickly approaching their ship. They know right there and then that these two boats are not a welcoming committee. They know, from information provided to them by the U.S. government, that these boats are Somali pirates. To try to thwart them, Phillips makes a false announcement on the radio that they can hear. One of the boats turns around, but one continues speeding straight ahead towards them.  Luckily for Phillips and his crew, this second boat eventually turns around and disappears off their radar. However, later in the day, a single boat is detected on their radar, again heading straight for them. This boat eventually gets to within meters of the Alabama, with four Somali’s on board, who start shooting at the captain and his crew. Trying to stave them off, Phillips orders the water cannons to be turned on as a deterrent from them getting on board. One of the water cannons fails, so Murphy attempts to fix it, but is unable to, and the four Somali pirates use a ladder to get on the boat, rifles in hand, demanding money. Not content with the $30,000 Phillips has onboard to offer them, the situation becomes tense and violent. Phillips tries to outsmart them, and at the same time trying to keep the whereabout of the rest of his crew known to the pirate. The pirates, headed by Bilal (a scary and amazing performance by newcomer Barkhad Abdirahman), are very aggressive and don’t want the hijacking to get out of hand, and they want to find the rest of the crew, who are hiding in the ship’s engine room. The movie gets more dramatic and tense as things go very wrong and Captain Phillips is taken hostage aboard the Somali’s boat. From this point Captain Phillips accelerates its action, intensifies the drama, and shows the pain that Captain Phillips has while he struggles and tries to reason with his captors, all the while being in a very cramped space in the small boat. He senses deep down that this may be the very last time he will be on the water. He is convinced his captors are going to kill him.Greengrass, who directed United 93, Green Zone and The Bourne Ultimatum and Supremacy, sure does know his away around an action film, However, in Captain Phillips, unlike in his other films, he gives his leading man depth, a personality, a real human being (Hanks), who carries the film throughout. Hanks gives the performance of his career, and at the age of 57, having appeared in some of the most successful films of all time, including Oscars for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, his performance here is a revelation. In Captain Phillips, Hanks plays a character almost similar to his character in Philadelphiia; death is imminent – or for Captain Phillips – is it? And in the last 10 minutes of this film, Phillips is very distressed, very emotional, very confused, and in shock, and Hanks’ performance in this scene is the mark of a true action genius. It is this part of the film that seals Hanks as one of the greatest actors of all time. Kudos are also for the actors playing the Somali pirates. They are not just the usual bad guy characters, each of them is completely drawn with their own personality, and not lumped as typical terrorists seen on the big screen nowadays. Actually, the actors who played the pirates auditioned to be in this film in Minneapolis, which has a large Somali community, by responding to a television advert. Abdirahman had been working as a limousine driver, and auditioned and got what is basically the second lead role in the film, behind Hanks.
To set the record straight, the real crew members of the Alabama have claimed that this film does not tell the true story. The Chief Engineer of the Alabama, according to CNN, said that Phillips’ recklessness put the ship in pirate-controlled waters. Another engineer claimed that Phillips ignored warnings and set a course through dangerous waters to save time and money. Whatever the facts are, Captain Phillips the movie is one exhilarating ride, with a truly stunning performance by Hanks. Captain Phillips is the film event of the year. Go see it.
14th Oct2013

London Film Festival – 2013

by timbaros

The 57th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express started on Wednesday October 9 with a stellar line up of films.

Here is a sneak peak of a few of those films.

Opening Night Gala

Captain Phillips – Tom Hanks (Directed by Paul Greengrass)

The first of two films starring Hanks in the festival, the eagerly awaited Captain Phillips has Hanks as the captain of a cargo ship which is hijacked by Somalis. The buzz on this film is that it is Hank’s best performance ever, and that the actors who play the kidnappers are just as good. This will be the film to watch.

Saving Mr. Banks – Tom Hanks (Directed by Lee Hancock)

This is the other film starring Hanks, and is about the making of Mary Poppins, the 1964 film which starred Julie Andrews. Emma Thompson plays PL Travers, the creator of Poppins, while Hanks plays Walt Disney. In this film, Disney asks Travers to come to Hollywood to participate in the development of the screenplay for Poppins.

12 Years A Slave – (Directed by Steve McQueen)

Unknown actor Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon, an accomplished violinist who is living as a free man in New York City but is conned into joining a traveling show and then sold into slavery. Ejiofor is being tipped for the Best Actor Oscar for his performance. 12 Years A Slave is produced by Brad Pitt, who has a small role in the film. Expect awards aplenty for this film.

Gravity- Sandra Bullock and George Clooney (Directed by Alfonso Cuaron)

Cuaron, director of the well-received Pan’s Labyrinth and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, leads heavy duty starts Bullock and Clooney who play astronauts who encounter danger on a mission in space. Expect huge box office for this film.

Labor Day – Kate Winslet (Directed by Jason Reitman)

Winslet, back on the big screen for the first time since 2011’s Contagion, plays the reclusive mother of a sensitive teenager, and is withdrawn and brokenhearted after the breakdown of her marriage. On Labor Day weekend, they meet a wounded man (Josh Brolin), who changes their lives forever.

The Invisible Woman – Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas (Directed by Fiennes)

Fiennes, who directed Coriolanus, stars as Charles Dickens, and tells the story of his affair with a young actress (Felicity Jones), which lasts until his death. Thomas plays the young girl’s mother. The Invisible Woman was written by recent Emmy winner Abi Morgan, who also wrote The Iron Lady.

The Epic of Everest – Directed by John Noel

Another documentary about Mount Everest? Yes, but this one is different. It records the third attempt to climb Everest, which culminated in the deaths of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine. This sparked the debate on whether they made it to the top or not. Noel filmed this in brutally harsh conditions to realistically retell this moment in history.

Parkland – Directed by Peter Landesman

Hanks (him again?) produced this film, which recreates the events of November 22, 1963, the day that President John F. Kennedy was shot dead in his motorcade while traveling through downtown Dallas. Featuring an ensemble cast, including Zac Effron, Billy Bob Thornton, Paul Giamatti, and Colin Hanks (his son), Parkland tells in detail every single decision that was made that day which would change history.

Kill Your Darlings – Daniel Radcliffe (Directed by John Krokidas)

The hotly anticipated Kill Your Darlings has Radcliffe playing a young Allen Ginsburg. Torn between loyalty to his sick mother and the burgeoning Beat Generation scene of downtown New York City in 1944, Kill Your Darlings follows the trails of Ginsburg as he makes friendships with William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac.

These are just some of the highlights as to what is on offer at the festival. For more information, and to buy tickets, please visit http://www.bfi.org.uk/lff.

04th Oct2013

Blue Jasmine – Film

by timbaros

images-4Jasmine’s life is no longer what it used to be. Once married to a rich businessman in New York City who turns out to be a crook and a cheat, she moves to San Francisco to start a new life. This is the plot of Woody Allen’s charming new film Blue Jasmine.

Jasmine, in an Oscar-worthy performance by Cate Blanchett, lived in a sumptious apartment on Park Avenue, had lots of clothes and jewellery, and seemed to have the perfect life. Her husband, Harold “Hal” Francis (a perfectly cast and suave Alec Baldwin), was a successful businessman. But it was all smoke and mirrors. Not only was her husband having affairs behind her back, but he was also swindling investors (friends and family included – a la Bernie Madoff), including her sister and her husband. When he tells Jasmine that he is leaving her for a much younger woman, she decides to call the FBI to report him. By doing this, she realizes her life will change dramatically, and change it does. Jasmine has a nervous breakdown, everything that she and her husband owned are taken by the U.S. government, and she is left with just the clothes she has. Broke and nowhere to go, she heads to San Francisco to live with her half-sister, Ginger (an adorable and perky Sally Hawkins). Blue Jasmine juxtaposes her San Francisco life with her former New York life, the smallest memory or thought she has in San Francisco takes her mind back to certain New York memories. Yet, still mentally unstable and extremely emotional,  she is at a loss as to what to do with her life.  Thanks to her sister’s fiance Chili (recent Emmy winner Bobby Cannavale), she gets a job as a receptionist in a dentist office while at night she studies computers so that she can become an interior designer. In the meantime, she meets and falls in love with wealthy diplomat Dwight Westlake (Peter Sarsgaard), yet she is not quite ready to tell him about her previous life in New York, including the fact that her husband committed suicide in prison. Jasmine is not having it easy.

Blue Jasmine, written and directed by Woody Allen, is one of his best films in years. His last two films, the charming To Rome With Love and the beautiful Midnight in Paris, took him to Europe. With Blue Jasmine Allen is back on familiar territory (New York). Allen tends to bring out the best in acting from his actors, and Blue Jasmine is no exception. Blanchett has never been better, in Blue Jasmine she is obviously having a hard time of life, and when it appears she is on the way up, she just gets knocked back down again. Her character is a strong woman, but circumstance beyond her control have changed that. Baldwin, all so suave and slick, is one of those actors where you can always count on giving a great performance, and in Blue Jasmine he does again. Hawkins, always so bubbly in everything she is in, is fantastic as the sister who is happy with her lot in life (working as a clerk in a grocery store) and being attracted to men who are not very ambitious. Max Casalla as Ginger’s ex-husband is very good as he still blames Jasmine for her husband’s swindling of all of his money and the breakdown of his marriage. Blue Jasmine is a very charming movie, with great performances, great location scenery in San Francisco, and a timely story. Let’s hope Woody Allen continues to make movies for the next 50 years.