Παρασκευή, 31 Ιανουαρίου 2014

My week in movies #2

And after a long January and a tiring week, I present to you, my beloved readers, some of the latest movies I have watched this past week. Most of them are quite new, compared to my last list, where some oldies were there. So, read these small reviews and enjoy your weekend with some more cinema.

(You can find detailed plots through each title linking to Imdb)

Strong performances for a movie I thought was boring in the beginning. Then it got my attention and I watched it till the end. Reese Witherspoon is astonishing as June Carter and along with Joaquin Phoenix they created a burning couple trying to get through life's difficulties. The music and the drugs, the fall and the rise of a great musician and this wonderful woman's integrity, with which she managed to save him. Amazing. They loved each other till the end.

So lyrical and magnetic direction from this extremely intelligent woman, named Sarah Polley. The story of one family unravels so effortlessly, their feelings and sides of the same story are so different, but at the same time so alike. Very very very good documentary. So honest. Polley isn't afraid of the exposure it gives to her personal life and family, but instead she pushes everything to the limit, like a constant need to get it all out there. Maybe that way all of these people, among the director, can find peace with their past.

Extended film critique coming up soon.

As a traveler myself or at least one who is on “travel break” now, I deeply fell in love with this movie and the story of this guy. The freedom he felt, the rebel he deeply was and the kindness he offered where elements that make everyone envy this man. Even though he got defeated by what he loved deeply, he still teaches us great life lessons. Is officially in my favorite's list. Truthful cinema doesn't deserve anything less.

Unfortunately, it fails in every attempt to reveal the Butler's story in a decent way. The narration has gaps, the scenes change abruptly. There is no proper flow. The direction doesn't allow its characters to unfold properly. They are suffocated in a long and boring story. Except for the admiration one can feel for the real butler's integrity, there is not much that the character can tell us. A much more fascinating figure is his son and his actions, leaving the mother (a decent acting by Oprah) drift through fuzziness. Quite disappointing.

This true story of rivalry is so righteously presented that you cannot do anything but admire. Its essence is so strong and powerful. The direction is so intense that lets the story unfolds easily. Except some fast editing in the beginning this movie deserves more attention and acclaim. What a figure Niki Lauda is. What an athlete. 

Τρίτη, 21 Ιανουαρίου 2014

Captain Phillips (2013)

Director: Paul Greengrass
Writer: Billy Ray (screenplay), Richard Phillips (based upon the book "A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea" by)
With: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman
Duration: 134'
Country: USA

One of the movies that claim the title “Movie of the Year” has already six Oscar nominations for this year, along with Best Achievement in Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for Barkhad Abdi. Having almost 70 nominations, the movie has already claimed a position in the “favorites” list.

The screenplay (Billy Ray) of “Captain Phillips” is based on the the book “A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea” (2010) by the real Richard Phillips who was taken hostage by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean as part of the Maersk Alabama hijacking in 2009.

The US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama was the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years as IMDB informs us on the movie's page, where it has scored 8, 1 so far. With most of the nominations gained for the performance of Tom Hanks and his co-star Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips” has become everyone's favorite action thriller of the year.

We follow the extraordinary story of a captain who, while on duty in the Indian Ocean, his cargo ship was hijacked by Somali pirates. We watch with extreme precision how the captain realized the menace and how he managed to prevent the hijacking by using all means from his crew, the ship and his own head.

While proving to be prepared with solutions for preventing the incident, he is unaware of what will follow next. The horror and fear he will face in the hands of these “fishermen”, who are nothing more than poor men in need for money for the boss who rules their lives.

Muse, the leader of this mission thinks that he got lucky choosing an American cargo ship. He believes its crew and captain will obey his orders and hand him the ship's money. But he miscalculates and soon realizes nothing is going to be easy with this captain.

The story unravels slow revealing its characters feelings. While we observe the growing tension we cannot help but notice this peculiar relationship created between Captain Phillips and the leader of the hijackers, Muse. 

Looking at each other deep in the eye, they are trying to show who is in control. Muse wants to impose his domination over his own crew, but mostly over the captain. Captain Phillips though, wants to preserve his own authority and is trying to maintain a neutral attitude towards the pirates. And he also tries the same thing: to show his own crew that he still has control.

After some serious incidents, everyone realizes that things have changed into worse. The pirates act recklessly doing the unthinkable. They kidnap Captain Phillips for at least two days, while the American coast guard along with trained marines await the appropriate moment to attack and disarm or better, eliminate them.

The negotiations fail to come to a desirable result and the USA justs wants to get rid of the targets. The morality that is hidden behind all these, the power America shows over anything named as terrorism or pirates is overwhelming. If you stand in front of the Americans as an obstacle, they will do anything to take you down in the name of national security. The movie tries hard to remind us this.

All this tension unraveling throughout the movie, bursts out at the last sequence, where Captain Phillips collapses. And here is where the sublime performance by Tom Hanks takes place. Weak and confused he gives up, he falls apart, he loses the control he fought for. His vulnerability is magnificent on screen. 

DiCaprio managed to steal the 'Best Actor in a Leading Role' nomination from Hanks, and me being a fan of both of them, cannot help but think this: Hanks has already proven his value, while DiCaprio still fights for a position in the Oscar Hall of Fame. Well, maybe Leo will get it this time.

One thing I admire in Paul Greengrass's direction is that he managed without any Hollywood tricks and effects to exhibit this slow growing tension and succeed in giving us a thrilling action movie with great performances (don't forget Barkhad Abdi's nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role).

One of the feelings I cannot hide for this movie, is my deep sadness over those poor Somali people who had no choice but to hijack, threaten, kidnap just to survive. They live in a world so different, where they grow up under war conditions. Even though this movie focuses on a more American way of dealing with things, it still makes us wonder why these people have no choice but turn to crime.