“International Crimes” Films

Captain Phillips PosterI. Piracy 

Article 101 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea defines piracy as “any illegal acts of violence or detention… committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or aircraft and directed…on the high seas against another ship or aircraft…”. In 2017, there were 117 piracy incidents recorded (Statista statistics); and, in 2016, 191 similar incidents were reported (ICC statistics); in 2010, Somali pirates took hostage 49 ships with over 1.000 people on board (International Maritime Bureau information).

Captain Phillips (2013) 

The film showcases just this instance of a rising cross-border illegal activity, and tells of an incredible true story of the 2009 Maersk Alabama hijacking (see also a Danish counterpart “A Hijacking” (2012)). Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) was in charge of one ship destined for Mombasa, Kenya from Oman. Captain Phillips and his crew then had to handle four Somali pirates who boarded their ship. “Captain Phillips” has plenty of nicely-executed, tense scenes, and Hanks gives a magnificent performances in the lead role, even though Barkhad Abdi (later “Blade Runner 2049” (2017)) was the only actor nominated for an Academy Award. In the film, it is easy to empathise with the Captain Phillips’s situation and admire his and his crew members’ actions. Perhaps, the film is a little too straightforward for the lovers of intrigue and nuance, but Hanks always plays sympathetic characters excellently, and the film largely holds on the fascinating situation involving the lead character’s commitment to preserve the lives of his crew members as he tries to reason with irrational demands of the invaders. 9/10  Read more of this post

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Documentary: “California Typewriter”

21032751_1965785847022028_1477658988198835929_n California Typewriter (2017)

Narrated by Tom Hanks, John Mayer, Sam Shepard and David McCullough, among others, “California Typewriter” is an insightful documentary about the particular loss which technological advances are capable of causing. One small family-run business in California revolves around the selling and mending of typewriters, and still believes in the power and value of typewriters in today’s world, which has become dominated by personal computers and digital technologies. Through the interviews held with various people, we realise the particular value which typewriters can still bring into this world as well as get to know the fascinating history of typewriters.

Growing up around typewriters, this documentary resonates with me personally and makes a very persuasive argument about the value embedded in old technological processes and machines that we leave behind. “California Typewriter” opens with the crime scene of a typewriter being intentionally destroyed by a speeding car in 1963, and from that point on, as the narrator says, a typewriter stopped being one thing and became something totally different. This scene cuts to a present small Californian business that still sells typewriters – California Typewriter. The head of this business is Herbert L. Permillion, III, while their star Kenneth Alexander is a master of typewriters’ repair. Obviously, the business is not doing well, and its failure to generate enough interest in typewriters is contrasted with Apple’s new products launch events where the frenzy and long queues for new Ipads start the day before at night. Then, we meet people who are still in love with their typewriters (an avid typewriters collector, a song-writer, a book-writer and a metal sculptor), and hear why they prefer their machines to any other alternatives. And, there is even the Boston Typewriter Orchestra that performs music on old typewriters!

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10 Popular Films that are actually Remakes

A number of remakes (new film adaptations) is coming soon or has already hit the screens, including “Murder on the Orient Express” (2017) and “Suspiria” (2018) (still to premiere), and “It” (2017) and “Flatliners” (2017) (already here). Perhaps, it is time to revisit/draw attention to some other in existence. While such remakes as “The Departed” (2006), “The Fly” (1986) or “The Italian Job” (2003) are relatively well-known, some others may just not be. So, without further ado and in no particular order:

MPW-932561. Original: Ocean’s 11 (1960) = Remake: Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Ocean’s Eleven” (2001) is a popular fast-paced heist film directed by Steven Soderbergh (“Side Effects” (2013)) and starring such major names as George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts. In the film, Danny Ocean (Clooney) assembles his team to steal millions from three casinos in Las Vegas: The Bellagio, The Mirage and the MGM Grand. Extremely entertaining and amusing, “Ocean’s Eleven” proved to be a great film overall, largely thanks to the clever script and the star-packed cast. However, “Ocean’s Eleven” is, in fact, a remake of the movie by Lewis Milestone (“All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930)) of the same name, i.e. Ocean’s 11” (1960). Here, Frank Sinatra plays Danny Ocean, and the story now echoes the remake, save for the fact that Las Vegas here is the old one, and all the technology employed in the 2001 version is, understandably, nowhere to be seen. That also means that both films differ in a way the teams do their job and rob the casinos. It looks now that few people will prefer the 1960 version to the 2001 one. “Ocean’s Eleven” (2001) not only has a more ironical and sharper script, its secondary characters received their full spotlight, something which could not be said for the 1960 version.  Read more of this post

Previews: “Queen of Katwe”, “Sully” and “The Light between Oceans”

 Queen of Katwe (2016)Queen of Katwe Poster

“…in chess, the small one can become the big one…” (from the trailer “Queen of Katwe”)

Story: The movie is the upcoming Disney-produced drama based on the real story of Phiona Mutesi (played by the newcomer Madina Nalwanga), a 10-year old Ugandan chess prodigy, who, against all odds, becomes a Woman Candidate Master after World Chess Olympiads. Brought up in the slums of Katwe, an area in the city of Kampala, Uganda, young Phiona endures a daily routine of trying to survive when she discovers a game named “chess”, which turns her life upside down. Encouraged and supported by her mother (Lupita Nyong’o) and couch (David Oyelowo), Phiona quickly becomes a young chess sensation in her country, participating in international competitions abroad.

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“Inferno” Trailer

The trailer to “Inferno“…or, perhaps more accurately: the whole movie in 2 minutes and 23 seconds…

The Academy Awards 2014

oscars-2013-670

Best Picture

Winner: 12 Years a Slave

Other nominees: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, The Wolf of Wall Street

Well, there are hardly any surprises here, with virtually every film commentator predicting ‘12 Years a Slave’s win. It is easy to see why there was hardly any competition at all in this category, too. With greatest respect and admiration for other nominated films, ‘12 Years a Slave’ just stands out in terms of its artistic merit and, most importantly, the impact it produces. I don’t mind if ‘Gravity’ sweeps every award out there, as long as the Best Picture goes to its most deserved contender. Arguably, ’12 Years a Slave’ is the only film in the category to which you can comfortably assign the word ‘masterpiece’. It is a great achievement for everyone involved in the production of this film, especially for its director, Steve McQueen.

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Dan Brown’s Inferno: Tom Hanks to return in 2015 film

db_uk_cover_of_inferno_by_dan_brown

Tom Hanks will reprise his role as Robert Langdon for the film version of Dan Brown’s latest bestseller, Inferno, due to be released in December 2015.

By Alice Vincent, Entertainment writer, online (17 July 2013)

Dan Brown’s Inferno was only released in May, but already plans for a movie version of the book are shaping up.

Tom Hanks will reprise the role of Robert Langdon, the Harvard symbologist and main character of Dan Brown’s series of bestselling books. The Inferno film will be directed by Ron Howard, the director of 2006’s The Da Vinci Code and its sequel, Angels and Demons (2009). It is expected that the film will be released in December 2015, according to film industry website Deadline.

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