TTom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi
HE best movie dramas based on reallife events can make you forget the established facts and simply feel the moment at hand.
Such is the case with Captain Phillips, a gripping account of the 2009 hijacking of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates.
The taking of the Maersk Alabama was the first attack of its kind on a civilian US vessel in more than two centuries.
Four armed Somalis in an ancient speedboat were able to capture a modern ship about 2000 times the size and weight of their own craft. An impressive feat, even allowing for its criminal nature.
Director Paul Greengrass ( United 93) and screenwriter Billy Ray take a deep- focus, investigative tack with this compelling story.
We learn what drives the average Somali pirate to take such dangerous measures on the high seas.
We witness the day- to- day operations of a typical cargo liner. Due to meagre resources and skeleton staffing levels, these megaships have become sitting ducks for maritime mercenaries all over the world.
Most importantly of all, we are joined at the hip throughout the ordeal to Captain Richard Phillips ( masterfully played by Tom Hanks).
His defence against the impending assault on the Alabama is as clever ( faking the authorisation of a military air strike against the Somalis over a two- way radio) as it is doomed ( the ship’s high- pressure hoses are a laughable deterrent to the pirates).
While Phillips is able to shield a surprising number of his crew from direct contact with the pirates, the threat to his own life escalates by the hour.
By the time the American military finally arrives on the scene, Phillips is a hostage inside a motorised lifeboat capsule making a beeline towards the Somali coast.
Even in the final hours of his horrendous experience cooped up in a confined space with his increasingly desperate captors, Phillips is still trying out little ideas that might avert a big tragedy.
For some viewers, being put through an emotional wringer in such a nerve- frazzling HERE is a sublime example of how to magically transform the familiar into the original. Spanish filmmaker Pablo Berger takes the famous fairy tale Snow White, and gives it a retro reboot that kicks some majorly innovative goals. While Blancanieves will be compared by many to recent Oscar- winner The Artist – yep, it’s a black- and- white silent – the two share about as much in common as a panther and a panda. Even when dragging his audience into the darker recesses of the story first penned by the Brothers Grimm, Berger never lets the heady momentum drop. Nor is Blancanieves unafraid to rewrite or totally shred the source text as it sees fit. Lovers of film technique are going to be knocked out by the editing, cinematography and 1920s set designs on display. A flamenco- influenced musical score swells with sounds for sore ears. fashion for more than two hours will make little appeal.
Fair enough. Nevertheless, true stories on film rarely rise to the high standard achieved by the filmmakers here.
The same accolades must be given to Tom Hanks for his centred, unfailingly credible and nuanced performance in the title role.
His incredible work in the very final scene of Captain Phillips is some of the finest acting you will ever see.
Now showing at Village and State cinemas
THE long- awaited movie debut of a British TV character revered by comedy connoisseurs all over the globe. Alan Partridge ( played by Steve Coogan) is a washed- up talk- show host now making ends meet on a low- rating radio station. When a fellow DJ is sacked by management and takes the entire station hostage, the bitter, twisted and supremely self- serving Partridge is the only person the cops and the crook will trust. A big mistake for both parties. Perhaps best appreciated if you have already had some exposure to the unique absurdity of all things Alan Partridge. The humour can plunge to dark depths very quickly if you’re not on your guard. So have your wits about you, and be prepared to laugh hard and often. Sometimes against your better judgment.