Captain Phillips

It’s France, 1996 and I’m seven. The Wilson family – Mum, Dad, Hannah and I, plus our closest family friends The Fairests are in France camping and the weather has been utter shite. At one point we’d been to the Super U and had to wade through the flooded car park back to our cars. So naturally, the most sensible thing for my Dad, Hannah and I to do was book ourselves onto a deep sea mackerel fishing trip.

Now, my memory is a little jaded as I was only seven. But, I do remember very clearly the drama that unfolded on that trip….

Early morning we went to get the transport link to the fishing boat and surprisingly no alarm bells rang when we were hauled in a transit van with a big hole in the floor. Zooming along the French roads, we could see the slippery surface beneath our feet. At the port we were directed to an old rickety fishing boat – the authentic experience! It’s probably important to point out here that we’d been on these trips a couple of times before and Hannah and I really enjoyed them, my Dad wasn’t dragging us along to something that he wanted to do. So, shortly after, there we were, out at sea in the middle of day. Casting our lines and catching a pathetic amount of mackerel. It was fun! Loads of photos were taken and there was a lot of nodding and smiling with the crew.

All of sudden and what seemed to be as quick as a second, rain was gushing down. This was no ordinary rain, it was monsoon rain. The kind of rain that is like standing in a power shower or having a bucket of water thrown over your head. Realising the severity of running into a storm at sea in our boat, the crew quickly ushered us inside the small undercover body of the boat and presumed that it would pass. IT DID NOT PASS. It go worse. A lot worse. The boat was thrown all over the place and the waves were getting drastically bigger. As mentioned in a previous post (The Call), my dad the king of calm, grabbed both Hannah and I and held us each side of him as tight as he could. I remember very vividly him telling us that it would be OK and not to worry – this by definition means that he was actually very worried and not sure if it would be OK. Shortly afterwards the crew gave up trying to get the water out of the boat and in fear of falling overboard locked all of the doors onto deck. Obviously petrified, one of the the crew members sat on the bench opposite us, made the sign of the cross, looked up and began to pray in French. He then lay down with his eyes closed, mumbling and began to cry.

Now what happened next, I don’t remember too clearly but I know that were were there for a long time and it was shit scary.

Then, all of sudden just as quickly as the rain started, it stopped. The sun came out and a huge black cloud was lifted from our boat. I’m not quite sure how close we were to going down but I felt a huge sigh of relief from my Dad and since the incident he’s told me that he thought it could have been the end.

Back on dry land, thankfully my Mum was oblivious to what had happened. Needless to say that we haven’t been mackerel fishing since and I have no idea if we ate that day’s catch…

Captain Phillips is based on a true story, of a 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. A heavy suspense filled thriller the story sees Phillips (Tom Hanks) as the captain of the vessel who is held hostage by the pirates and their captain (Barkhad Abdi). The story evolves into the standoff between the Somali pirates and Hanks’ rescuers which reaches a climactic breaking point.

Hanks is extremely good in Captain Phillips. It would be surprising if he wasn’t nominated for an academy award. The last ten minutes are a masterclass in acting and, not only is Hanks brilliant, Abdi is arguably even better. The performances from both actors are brilliant. 

The film’s suspense is on another level. If you don’t feel sick with worry in this film, you’re not human. And, you might feel sick anyway due to being at sea for two or so hours. 

It’s enjoyable and even though there are few locations and characters, it carries itself well. In the middle, there’s editing that could have been done and interest levels in the plot drop. But, they pick up again so stay with it. The last ten minutes tug so hard at your heart strings and the story being so unusual, have we seen a Somali pirates film before?, adds an element of mystery and intrigue. Add in the true story aspect (although there has definitely been some Hollywoodisation here) and you have a hit.

Even though the subject is hard hitting and you could cut a knife through the tension – the script in part is funny. Abdi at one point says ‘I love America’ which sparked a huge reaction with the UK audience so surely the Americans will enjoy this irony…

Ultimately, the story forces you to enter a moral maze and despite all of the wrong doings on the surface, you side with both the Somali pirates and the ship crew in their individual ways. No doubt it’s a pro-American movie but hey, that’s where the money comes from and it puts bums on seats. 

When: Monday evening, October 2013

Why: The buzz around this film has been huge and who doesn’t like a Hanks survival story?

With: Alex

Where: Cineworld, Wandsworth, Screen 4

The Call

I’ve only ever had to call 999 once. I was the passenger in my friend’s mum’s car and she didn’t look when turning right, knocking a man from his motorbike into a ditch.

— Throughout my life I’ve been present in many minor emergencies and I can confidently boast and add to my CV of life that I have the ability to remain calm. Something that I’ve gained from the dream guest at an emergency, my Dad, John Wilson, The King Of Calm. —

On this particular occasion, the motorbike accident, when I called 999 on my Nokia 3310 (I was probably 14 at the time), the operator who answered asked me “which service do you require?”. I remember thinking OMG, I’m actually speaking to 999. What a big deal. The number you’re forbidden to prank as a child, the number you must, must remember and the number you never want to have to call. After I explained to the woman on the other end that the poor man was lying in a ditch and not moving, the woman told me to ask certain questions and do certain things to check he was OK. Luckily for the him, he was in fact very OK, apart from being very angry.

The Call is about a 911 operator, Halle Berry, who makes an error of judgement on one of her calls and it ends badly, shaking her confidence and ability to do her job. A short while after when another 911 call is made of a similar scenario,  Berry has to act fast and try to use all of her skill and experience to save another girl from the same killer.

The film is ridiculous and in part frustrating. The last few scenes just shouldn’t have happened and wrecked the film or at least wrecked the end and you must be prepared for this. Until this point, it’s engrossing and SO SCARY. Kidnapping is scary anyway and kidnapping of young girls is even worse.

Berry is incredibly beautiful despite being ancient in Hollywood terms and she’s just alright here, nothing standoutish, but the role doesn’t really allow it. The kidnapper (Michael Eklund) is terrifying and at times very Silence of the Lambsesque – the creepier the better.

In general it’s just OK and there isn’t too much to say about it because of the stupid ending!! But, you know what, if you’re after a thriller to shove in the DVD player – you could do a lot worse. That is. if you don’t watch the ending.

When: Wednesday evening, September 2013

Why: 2-4-1 special, intrigued with the plot idea

With: Hannah, Megan, Alex

Where: Cineworld, Shaftsbury Avenue

Rush

When I was 17, I inherited my first car. It was 2006 and I was handed the keys to a grey Fiat Punto which would have originally looked like the one above. My Punto did not. Seriously defaced by its previous owner (my sister), it had scratches, missing paintwork, rust, dents, rear-view mirror issues, a sticking petrol cap, intermittent heating, dirt everywhere, lack of alloys, no spare tyre…I could go on. The damage so extreme that the cost of repair would have been higher than its worth!

Now, as a fresh on the driving scene 17-year-old, these problems alone wouldn’t have been ideal. But, I would’ve dealt with the embarrassment and go on with itUnfortunately for trying-to-be-cool teenage me, the Punto had a crucial feature that only highlighted its problems and caused me many moments of shame, embarrassment and horror. You see, the Punto HAD A PRIVATE PLATE – Yes, A PRIVATE PLATE (why you ask? I have no idea – they weren’t even my initials). Not only did the car look like it was falling apart, it also appeared to any innocent passers-by and more importantly, the boys that I was trying to impress in the year above at sixth form, that I was PROUD of how the Punto looked! A private plate on an old Punto is one thing, a private plate on an old, battered Punto is another…

After a few years and a couple of verge/ditch situations, side-mirrors falling off and an exhaust problem, the Punto was scrapped. Now, 7 years on, I finally appreciate that it was a great car, good to drive, got me from A to B, the CD player never let me down, I didn’t have to care about a small scratch or a bit of dirt and most of all, my amazing parents funded it for me as a jobless youth. Possibly a little too late, I’ll be eternally grateful for that moving wreck – private reg included – and forever feel at home in a banged up motor.

Rush is the story of two Formula 1 drivers in the 1970′s – British, James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Austrian, Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). Based on a true story, Hunt was well known as a womaniser who’s passion for race driving was on a similar par to that of his passion for ladies, cigarettes and alcohol. Lauda on the other hand shared the same passion for race driving but his private life was far more reserved and he believed in hard work on and off the track. Both brilliant drivers, the film takes us through their ever changing rivalry to gain the World Title, during the dramatic 1976 season. 

Watching it at Cineworld, Haymarket, Screen 1, my favourite Cineworld screen in London, not knowing the plot and what to expect, there were big shocks. The relationships between the two drivers are complex, intriguing and the noise of car engines is addictive and sexy. Rush is a fast paced, adrenaline fuelled film that lets you get up close and personal with Formula 1.

Brühl in particular is brilliant and the way we’re shown which race of the season we’re about to witness feels like a video game set in the ’70s . If you want to be pumped with petrol, drawn into a story of two men who hate and love each other, alongside trauma and the ’70s Formula 1 season, this is for you. 

When: Wednesday evening, September 2013

Why: 2-4-1 special and read a couple of positive reviews

With: My sister

Where: Cineworld, Haymarket, Screen 1

The Hunger Games

I watched The Hunger Games on a train back from Norwich to London after a wonderful weekend at the Norfolk coast. Leaving my boyfriend and his lovely family behind to enjoy a further week of bliss. Yes, poor me. Back to London, back to work and on a train with a screaming child for just over two hours. Not my child but someone else’s screaming bundle of joy. There I was, depressed, full to the brim of roast dinner (not complaining about this!) with my emergency pack-up of 1 x jam sandwich, 1 x chocolate cake slice, 1 x bottle of water and my parka for blanket purposes.

The only thing to make my journey that tiny bit more bearable was the thought of Batman. The one with Heath Ledger. So, I plugged my headphones into my tablet and tried to watch Batman –  did I mention it was the one with Heath Ledger that I wanted? – to find that I had put the one with Tom Hardy on my tablet by mistake. Nearly having a breakdown, hearing the words ‘Harvey Dent was a great guy’ (or something similar) – if you’re up to date with Batman, you’ll know the film I mean – it nearly tipped me over the edge on this dark, rainy night WANTING HEATH AND GETTING HARDY. I only had one choice and that was to scroll through the pathetic list of films on my tablet and watch something else. This is how I came to watch The Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games is set in a dystopian future, made up of the capital, Panem, and 12 districts. Every year the capital holds ‘The Hunger Games’ which is a Big Brother like scenario in which people watch a chosen 24 from the 12 districts to compete against one another for the prize. The prize – to be crowned the last person ALIVE. Yes ALIVE. I didn’t realise people were killing each other either. It’s so much darker than I thought it was going to be. So no surprises here that one of the 24 chosen to compete is Jennifer Lawrence, Katniss, and the film focuses on her fight for survival in this bizarre and often gruesome world.

The idea is good, the book was published in 2008, so some creative license must have been stolen from reality TV, and not often a fan of sci-fi, it was the right mix of reality and made-up nonsense for me.

There’s nothing particularly clever or noteworthy in the way it is shot or its stylistic qualities. The CGI is just OK (this could have been because of my tablet) and it’s definitely aimed at more of a teenage audience with a simple plot, teenage romance and it doesn’t really, er, go anywhere. Although, it is part one of two or possibly more. Anyway, it’s a good watch and has good performances from Lawrence and Woody Harrelson and if you want a film to immerse yourself in for a depressing journey, you’ll get lost in this world and everything won’t seem so bad after all. As unlike Lawrence, no-one is trying to kill you with a sword or poison you with berries or kill you with wasp stings.

When: Sunday evening in September

Why: Batman failed

With: Myself

Where: On a train from Norwich to London

About Time

Orange Wednesdays – the 2-4-1 cinema ticket. It is without a doubt, a mid-week perk. Being able to take a friend to see a film for free (I’m a Cineworld Unlimited holder you see!) is great. Who doesn’t like giving the gift of cinema?

So, my beautiful sister and I made plans to see About Time on a soggy, Wednesday evening. After a hard week (well two days…) we were really in need of a Richard Curtis classic. Come on Rich, don’t let us down. We want squidgy, romanticised mush that is so far from reality it makes us wish that our own lives would somehow, just somehow turn out the same way.

It was a date, the time and place set – Wandsworth Cineworld, 19:50, Wednesday 11th Sept.

I left work late and in a rush to meet my sister at Tesco – except for the fact that she wasn’t there – I rang her. Nothing. I rang again. Nothing. I rang her AGAIN. nothing. Tired, grumpy and unwillingly herded into the self-service machine queue, I was in a mard. Then, my phone rang. It was my sister and she was in a different Tesco and was having what sounded like a prawn salad purchasing nightmare. If you’re like me and have a sister, I’m sure that you will, just like I do, get the most annoyed with her out of anyone in the whole world and often it isn’t even justified. There she was trying to buy me a prawn salad and there I was getting angry. Wow I sound ungrateful. Somehow in the shop my sister had managed to lose the prawn salad and rang me to tell me about the commotions…

We didn’t meet until half an hour later, at platform 15 in Waterloo station and got on the train to Clapham Junction next TO THE CREEPIEST MAN I HAVE EVER SEEN. I don’t want to dwell on this man because he was very strange. Think Robin Williams in One Hour Photo times one million. Feeling a bit freaked out, we left him on the train and walked into the POURING rain, were soaked and got on the bus to Wandsworth.

When we finally arrived, there was only one thing to do. Buy crazy amounts of pik-n-mix, apologise to my very kind sister and settle into our seats.

About Time is the story of Tim Lake (played by the lovable Domhnall Gleeson) who is told a family secret by his father at age 21. He can time-travel. Yes, it would have lost me there too if it weren’t for those two little words on the credits – Richard Curtis – something was going to make my bum stay firmly in the seat.

Having the ability to time-travel means that Tim travels back and changes some of what has already happened (sometimes with consequences). His first idea? To use it to help him get a girlfriend. Successfully he meets Mary (Rachel McAdams – she is so beautiful) and they fall in love. The film becomes the story of how Tim uses his super power and how the couple’s lives pan out together, along with Tim’s family. Of course, time- travel creates some awkward situations and a massive emotive ending means that this film is full of laughs (particular love for the Andy Warhol joke) and tears.

I hadn’t been to the cinema with my sister for a long time so that was always going to put a positive spin on any film that we saw and then add the overwhelming excitement to have made it with our food and our exploding bags of pik-n-mix, the film was pretty much certain to go down well.  But, it did give us what we wanted – a laugh out loud rom-com set in London that also made us cry. There’s nothing breath-taking about the way it is shot and sometimes the story is clumsy. But, the script is fantastic and it is a real washing machine of emotions type film. The acting is great – always will love Bill Nighy – and in true Curtis style, it’s cheesy and a bit naff and really romantic oh and possibly a little too long. But, if you want a heart warmer and a film to watch with someone you love, go see this.

When: Wednesday evening in September

Why: Love Curtis, 241 special

With: Sister

Where: Wandsworth Cineworld