Tuesday, October 22, 2013

You gotta be strong to survive out there.

Last week, I quit my job. I prefer the term resigned, but I guess it really doesn't matter either way. While I'm 99% sure I'll have another job in just a few weeks, the timing was, personally speaking, perfect. Not only did my wife's maternity leave expire today, but the school I was working for ultimately appears doomed. Our charter has not been renewed and the school district is shutting us down. And while I'm hoping it works out for the dozens of teachers (including some of the best people I've ever met) still there fighting the good fight, their fate is likely already determined. The ship, it seems, is starting to sink.

In my new career path, ship captain was never considered. Sure, there's the whole not at all qualified thing, but honestly, after seeing Captain Phillips last Saturday, the main reason is fear. Not just ooh, that looks kind of scary uneasiness, but full-on I'm never going on a boat again level of fear. Seriously, Jaws ain't got shit on Somali pirates.

Captain Phillips is an excellent movie. The acting, the cinematography and direction, the score, everything really, all effortlessly coalesces into something so compelling and so tense it's almost hard to watch, even if you can't turn away. And that's presuming you know the ending beforehand (I'm assuming you do). It's truly an incredible story.

And there's the rub, huh? The story. I'm not really interested in debating the facts, as I will personally never know what happened over those days in 2009. What I do know, is that director Paul Greengrass is a brilliant filmmaker. I also know that Tom Hanks is one of the greatest actors of all time. Everything else, it seems, is debatable. For my money, the greatness of their collaboration is not.

My wife and I didn't know anything about the controversy as we headed into the theater that evening. And as we left, we were both floored by what we had just seen. I'm not sure about her, but I distinctly recall a lone tear sliding down the center of my cheek in the film's final moments. It was quietly devastating, and it felt so utterly real

It wasn't until the next day when Haspe gave me the heads up about the pending litigation surrounding the events of the film that I really questioned anything. Reading the differing versions about what happened sullied my opinion of the whole story, sure, but not the impact of the film itself, if that's possible. Maybe you won't be able to, and that's completely fair, but I absolutely loved the movie regardless. Easily one of the best of the year.

Not the best of this or any year, are the Yays and Boos, even in truncated form. Turns out, when a giant ship is taken over by Somali pirates? Outside of that fact, there's not a lot to jeer. And outside of less pirates, there's not a lot to cheer for, either. But, good advice be damned, we press on regardless.

Yaaaaaaay!
  • I loved the simple juxtaposition of each of the main characters getting ready to start their day. It's handled very matter-of-factly and free of any real judgement. Sets and interesting tone minutes into the film.
  • The actual boarding of the ship is an intense as anything you'll ever see. The whole time my wife and I were cringing, as if this were something that could actually be avoided.
  • Barkhad Abdi, as Muse, the leader of the pirates, is a force. This guy, despite there being almost nothing to him physically, is a remarkable screen presence. I'm not sure we'll ever see him again, but what a performance he delivered. Frightening.
  • Seal Team Six. Even though you knew how it was going to end, these guys are incredible. As ridiculous as it is to think there are people out there that brave and talented, it's even more nuts to think that events like this are just another day at the office. Seriously, these guys pack up from the most intense thing I've ever seen like they're headed to their lunch break. Shit, they probably were.
  • Speaking of, one green, two red was probably my favorite line of the movie. It's great in and out of context, really.
  • Broken glass. If it was good enough to slow down John McClane, not to mention The Wet Bandits, it's certainly good enough to use on some Somali pirates. Damn,
  • And finally, Tom Hanks. Alex Withrow, a much smarter blogger than myself, mentioned in his review that the final five minutes were the finest in Tom Hanks' career, a statement which I found particularly alluring (if not incomprehensible) prior to having seen the film. Outside of the fact that I wasn't sure when the movie was going to end, thereby making it hard to judge as it was happening, when it did, I simply couldn't agree more with AW. That might have been the most powerful scene I have ever watched in any film. The whole performance is great, but the final scene is truly awe-inspiring. 
The scariest one? The skinny, crazy guy with the gun.
Booooo!
  • First Gravity and now this? Can a brother get some levity? Please?.
  • Okay, serious time for a second. Did Capt. Phillips really continue to drill his crew during the attack? Really?
  • The hoses are cool and everything, but that's the best line of defense? Oh, they also launch a couple of flares, too. My bad. 
  • Capt. Phillips is presented as kind of a jerk at times, which is fine. But near the end, it almost felt like he had a death wish the way he was dispensing advice. Guy, just keep it quiet for a minute, yeah? Your wisdom ain't really helping right now.
  • And finally, even though I've addressed it, I guess I have to throw the ultimate Boo to damn near every film featuring the dreaded words based on a true story. I realize those words are carefully chosen, but I'd be lying if finding out things contrary to what was portrayed doesn't feel like a punch to the sack, even if just a little.
During the writing of this post, my other job actually called me, which is a very good thing. They want me down there on Thursday. Unfortunately, I'm not able to get started at this point, as I've got the kiddos to manage for at least the next two weeks. I mean, I could blindly press on and try to reach my goal, regardless of the lives of others...but that would be foolish. Or heroic, I suppose.

Depends on who you ask.

17 comments:

  1. I hope everything works out with your new job. It's hard being in between. I haven't actually researched the real story enough, so I'm not aware of the controversy. Maybe I'll skip it now. I definitely agree with Alex after reading his review as well. Those last few scenes for Hanks were intense.

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    1. Thanks, Brittani. I think everything is going to be fine, but as you've said, the transition is the hardest part.

      As for the film, Hanks' performance was so, so good. My wife said he had to film that final scene twice, as the medic lady (the actual medic, no less) botched her lines on the first take (no pressure there...goodness). I can't even fathom the ability that Hanks' possesses.

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  2. Great movie, especially because Hanks is so damn great. Good review M. Good luck on your job!

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    1. Thanks, Dan - I appreciate it. I'm really hoping it works out. Um, so is my wife....

      Seriously, seeing Gravity and Captain Phillips back-to-back? So much goodness. I gotta break that streak soon.

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  3. I don't know much about the real story but the words that this is the best performance from Hanks I've seen in several reviews are encouraging enough for me to see this one.

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    1. Avoid doing the research if you can, well...at least until after you see it.

      As for the performance, it really is incredible. And coming from Hanks, who has a list of great roles as long as anyone's...that really is saying a lot. It's ridiculously intense.

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  4. You've spent your temporary unemployment well. Two great movies in a row! You know both movies had awe-inspiring endings (I haven't seen Captain Phillips yet though) with great characters, it could very well give the motivation and make most of your next job. Good luck with that anyway dude!

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    1. You haven't seen Captain Phillips? Did I read that right? Probably because you've already seen everything else, huh?

      Man, I hope I made the right decision leaving teaching. It's weird to turn my back on something I've been working at for the last ten years, but it was the right time. And Hell, if Sandra Bullock can survive being lost in space...what I'm dealing with is nothing. i wouldn't mind a little encouragement from George Clooney...couldn't hurt.

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  5. Wow! What a great review ... so beautifully written. I'm sorry about the shake-up in your career. You and your wife are going through enough life changes right now without that. I hope you land a new teaching position very soon.

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    1. Thanks, Steph.

      Actually, I left teaching altogether...which I'm not completely sure was the right move. We'll see, I suppose. My time had come at that place anyway...best to get out before it got ugly. Well, extra ugly. Hope you are hanging in with your hectic schedule. Goodness.

      If you haven't seen the movie, I would certainly recommend it. It's soooo good.

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  6. Great review. I love Hanks, and I was hoping he pulled it off in this one. Next he'll play Walt Disney. Great year for him. Gotta see this one. Why am I commenting like a robot?

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    1. Thanks, man.

      Ah, Mr. McFilm.

      I'm actually pretty stoked to see Hanks as Disney, as I really know so little about the iconic, um, icon.

      As for Captain Phillips? Must see. Easily.

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  7. I really enjoyed the film. Was gripped from start to finish. I loved the intensity of it and Tom Hanks was great (as was the rest of the cast).

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    1. It was as tense as anything I've ever seen. Glad you liked it.

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  8. Great review! I was nervous when I wrote that bit about the ending of this film containing Hanks' best work. But I'm glad you agree. It was so startling and real. Thanks for the link, my friend. And hey, you're a damn smart blogger too!

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    1. Nah, man, nothing to be nervous about - you nailed it.

      I guess he had to immediately do that scene over, too, which is nuts. Apparently, the real-life medic lady opposite him froze up.

      Ha...yea. I'm a genius. Maybe even a Baby Genius.

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