A foreboding aura fills the air when Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks), captain of the MV Maersk Alabama, begins packing his suitcases. Not a word is spoken from the time he heads out onto the road and says goodbye to his family to when he boards his ship. Sailing from the Gulf of Aden to Mombasa seems like another day on the job, but little does Phillips know that he’s about to experience the most traumatic event of his life.
Captain Phillips relied heavily on actions and thrilling events to progress the story, rather than dialogue and “telling.” It was crafted in a way that the viewer could piece the plot together while enjoying the constant feeling of danger, suspense and not being able to escape the impending hijacking of the ship.
Mr. Phillips’ crew begging their captain to return home after they scare of the pirates the first time was depressing and terrifying. They just knew that those pirates would return to the ship and hijack it, yet the captain wished to follow his orders and deliver the cargo to the right location at the right time.
This movie has all the necessary elements of a great action thriller. There’s the starting point which sets the groundwork for the road of trials, as well as a nail-biting “calm before the storm.” Instead of there being a two-hour heart attack with no points of calmness, the last part of the second act included an attempt at building a relationship between Phillips and Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi), the pirate “captain” who took over the MV Maersk Alabama. This doesn’t go over so well with Muse’s crew, mainly Bilal (Barkhad Abdirahman) who makes a point of torturing Phillips any chance he gets.
Now, let’s talk about the ending. The final act wasn’t as exciting as it should have been, but thankfully it built up to a half-decent climax. Unfortunately, the movie ended on a slightly anticlimactic note, but the mental state of Captain Phillips was heartbreaking and haunting. As usual, Tom Hanks pulled off playing a memorable character, this one being a real person whose ship was actually hijacked. The way he begged for his family and was riddled with pain is just more prove that Hanks is one of the most versatile actors of our generation.
Despite some minor flaws with the story towards the end of the film, I’d recommend Captain Phillips to any moviegoer who enjoys a good action flick.
Directed by: Paul Greengrass
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Released: Oct. 11, 2013
Journalists have a pretty bad rep. According to a study conducted in September 2012, journalism is the least trusted profession next to banking and politics. With that being said, we don’t need the paparazzi to make the stigma any worse than it already is.
Photographers who harass famous people, are physically aggressive towards them and wait outside their homes are not journalists. They’re the ones who are doing what they’re not supposed to be doing, which is behaving unethically and invading a person’s right to privacy.
All they’re looking for is meaningless gossip which is bound to be exaggerated in some form. For example, I almost always hear stories about celebrities being spotted walking without a wedding or engagement ring on their finger, so right away the reporter jumps to conclusions about how their “relationship is in trouble” and before you know it, the rumour has become widespread and is taken as fact.
This doesn’t bear even the slightest resemblance to what journalism is supposed to be.
In journalism, we’re all about telling the truth and fascinating stories about people. It’s our duty as reporters to disseminate the most important and significant stories in an objective way.
Paparazzi are proving themselves to be no more than ruthless harm to famous people who deserve the same amount of privacy and respect as we do. Taking photos of a movie actress on the red carpet is one thing, but engaging in a high speed car chase just for some unavailing photos is unacceptable. Not just to the person you’re harassing, but sometimes you put your own life in danger.
Some people might think that a celebrity fluffing off a paparazzo is simply out of conceit, but little do they know that the situation can be far more serious than it may seem.
In May 2012, Halle Berry lit into a paparazzo who hid outside of her daughter’s school waiting to take photos of her. I don’t know about you, but I think harassing children (of famous people or not) just to satisfy your gossipy needs is pushing the envelope even more than doing it to their parents. Luckily though, Halle didn’t stop. She successfully got a bill passed in California criminalizing the harassing of children who have been singled out because of their parent’s profession.
That’s a substantial amount of progress in itself, but now it’s high time for a regulation to be put into place where these children’s parents are concerned, because to me paparazzi aren’t any different from a high school student taking unflattering photos of someone and posting them all over social media.
When I watched television growing up, there were a few distinct moments that always stuck out in my mind. I can’t really put my finger on what made them so special, but it was probably because they were extremely well-written and gave me chills, not to mention the fact that I would think and talk about those moments days later.
Here’s a list of my top four moments from children’s television back in the 1990s.
For those unfamiliar with Are You Afraid of the Dark?, it entailed a group of children who called themselves the “Midnight Society” huddling together near a fire in the woods taking turns telling horrifying and heart wrenching stories.
In this particular episode, a foreign exchange student named Julie is contacted by the ghost of a girl who died in an accident at her high school in the 1960s. The girl, Candy Warren, hands Julie a mysterious necklace that allows her to transport back to the 60s so she can “take Candy’s place” and prevent the accident, which ultimately changes reality.
Why was this moment so alluring to me? The ending of the episode sent chills down my spine. By Julie going back in time to stop the accident, she unknowingly saves Candy Warren’s life and finds out that she became the assistant principal of the high school.
Another episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? takes a spot. This episode, “Tale of the Dream Girl,” wasn’t so much terrifying as much as it was tear jerking. What’s interesting to note is that this episode inspired M. Night Shyamalan to create the movie “Sixth Sense.” In “Tale of the Dream Girl,” a teenager named Johnny doesn’t realize that the girl who keeps stalking him is actually the ghost of his dead girlfriend, who died in a car accident in the 1950s. At the end, his sister finds his obituary and tombstone, making Johnny realize that he is a ghost as well.
I will always remember this moment as being one of the best I’ve witnessed on television. Although the show was meant to be scary, this episode was heartbreaking.
Boy Meets World depicted the ups and downs of a child’s life as they reach adulthood. What stuck out about the series finale was the raw emotion displayed by the main cast members. They did not want the show to end, but they knew that it was time to move on from the show. As for the characters, they departed for New York, but not before saying one final farewell to their teacher, Mr. Feeny.
Moody’s Point was a “show within a show” to the Amanda Show, which starred Amanda Bynes from 1999 to 2002. This episode was considered the finale to Moody’s Point, because the Amanda Show was unexpectedly canceled in 2002, even though it was set to go on for another season until 2003.
That’s probably why it was so alluring to me. The way it ended was enchanting, and we’ll probably not know what happened after this moment.
The music industry can be a brutal business. There are thousands of hopefuls who attempt to achieve their big break by displaying their talent online, promoting themselves through family and friends and performing in their local communities. But the sad truth is, very few of these people will actually land solid record deals, garner millions of fans and join the ranks of the A-listers we know today.
Having said all that, what qualities must an aspiring artist have (whether they’re solo or part of a group) in order to drop countless chart-topping singles and accept prestigious awards? What must they do if they want to become a household name?
To even be remembered after singing the last note of a song, an artist seriously needs to consider their “secret sauce” or “X Factor.” After all, it takes a lot more than just having a great voice to make a living off music.
You might have perfect vocals, but if you don’t show a pittance of charisma, confidence and emotion, chances are you won’t be listened to again. That, or some music-goers won’t see (or hear) past your voice and take into consideration who you are as an artist.
You also need to think about what uniqueness you can bring to the forefront. If you look like at Lady Gaga and Katy Perry for example, they’re known for their outlandish styles of clothing, as well as their music videos and on-stage performances. You don’t pay any attention to how their voice sounds, so instead you wonder how such eccentricity was even thought of. Another example is Madonna, who is recognized for continuously reinventing her music, image and influencing over 100 popular artists today.
Don’t get me wrong. I realize that you need to have a solid voice to back up your secret sauce. All I’m saying is that in order to even be successful, you need to bring a lot more to the table than just vocal talent.
My advice for any aspiring artist, whether you’re independent or seeking a record label, is to wait a bit before uploading your next YouTube video or performing at your pub downtown. Take a good look at yourself in the mirror and contemplate who you are as an artist. Consider what you want to be known for if you achieve your big break into Hollywood.
The Guilt Trip
I won’t lie. When I first watched the trailer for the Guilt Trip, I was expecting a wacky, crazy adventure between a mother and son who shared a close bond. I hoped for another prodigious comedy that could be added to the list of “timeless classics.”
But unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Instead, we got a story that taught some very important lessons, but was extremely flat.
Andy Webster (Seth Rogen) is a self-absorbed inventor attempting to get his organic cleaning product “ScioClean”, into a major retail store. Each store dismisses him before he can finish his pitch, visibly spiritless about his delivery. After another disappointing sales pitch to K-Mart, Andy visits his mother Joyce (Barbra Streisand) before leaving on a cross-country trip to Las Vegas. He tells her that his pitch ended well so that she wouldn’t worry about him.
Joyce tells Andy that he named after a boy she fell in love before she met his father. After some research, he discovers that Andy is alive and unmarried, and invites on unknowing mother on the trip with him. She continues to intervene with his life, coddle him and criticize him (to Andy’s displeasure). Eventually Andy points out that the reason he miraculously had an extra pitch meeting in San Fransisco is because he wanted his mother to reconnect with the love of her life. Joyce becomes disoriented upon hearing this, feeling like she was lead on the entire time.
Squeezing in a few humdingers into the picture here and there doesn’t classify a movie as a “comedy.” A comedy needs to have well-written jokes, material, and hilarious situations. The Guilt Trip felt more like a distant mother and son unexpectedly working out their differences. This movie wasn’t funny and got really slow at some points. Seth Rogen is a comedic actor, so he should have acted more like it. I realize his character was supposed to be a taciturn, condescending man, but you could tell it really didn’t suit Rogen’s expertise.
Barbra Streisand has years of experience on stage and in the recording studio, so she was unknowingly hilarious throughout the whole movie. Even when she was giving motherly advice to her son, you just had to laugh at the way she did it.
Overall, the Guilt Trip was an absolute let down, with Rogen and Streisand really not playing off each other very well. If these two are ever in another film together again, it’s best that they not act as a duo.
Directed by: Anne Fletcher
Written by: Dan Fogelman
Cinematography: Oliver Stapleton
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
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Identity Thief Review
For a movie that was advertised as a comedy, I only laughed about three times. And not because it was intelligently written material.
As the title suggests, Identity Thief follows the story of a diabolical woman (Melissa McCarthy) who goes around stealing other peoples’ identities and ruining their lives. She tricks a man named Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman), into believing his identity may potentially be stolen by another source. Sandy imprudently gives his soon-to-be predator his name, credit card number and other confidential information that allows her to get Sandy arrested and potentially lose his new job.
This prods Sandy to set out on a journey to track down this woman and retrieve his identity, which kind of blew up in his face at first. After getting punched in the Adam’s apple (and apparently surviving it), he manages to steal his enemy’s car (she really doesn’t have a name until the end of the film, but she was known mainly as “Diana”) and follow her until she attempts to escape on foot. Diana unsuccessfully runs down the highway until she runs out of breath, eventually having to give in to Sandy Patterson and follow him back to his home so he can have his name cleared.
On came the hour long migraine.
The way Diana spoke and acted with Sandy was enough to make anyone’s blood boil. Constantly calling names, making him out to be some sort of loser, and just making his life a living nightmare. It might just be me, but I don’t consider continuous berating to be hilarious.
It seemed as though this movie was supposed to mimic the concept of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Two unsuspecting people who just got plopped together and are forced to find their own way home. Of course, there are major differences between that timeless classic and Identity Thief. Planes, Trains and Automobiles had a deeper meaning to it, teaching vital life lessons along the way, which made the lead character think a lot about his life and how he treated other people. He was paired up with a happy-go-lucky shower curtain salesman who annoyed him excessively, but not with someone who consistently castigated him all of the way.
Identity Thief was filled to the rim with gratuitous yammering, not providing any strong character development or contribution to the story.
On the plus side, Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy had great chemistry with one another and played off each other really well. The only thing that didn’t work for them was the movie. I hope that I can see these two in a future project that will bring out their impressive acting skills.
Directed by: Seth Gordon
Music by: Christopher Lennertz
Cinematography: Javier Aguirresarobe
Release date: February 8, 2013
Running date: 111 minutes
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When the semifinals started, I expected to kick back, relax, and enjoy some top-of-the-line talent. I was let down significantly last night. Not all of the performers didn’t do good, but most of them didn’t too as well as they should have. A lot of them moved out of their comfort zones (and not positively) and didn’t raise their game. That’s not a constructive thing to do at this stage of the game. It needs to be perfected and more critical.
Here are what acts performed during last night’s semifinal:
Alright, seriously? Enough is enough already. This guy was funny was the first two times, but this a talent contest worth $1,000,000. I’m not going to say that this guy isn’t funny or that his song isn’t catchy, but he doesn’t belong on America’s Got Talent. He wants his song to become a one-hit wonder (which he very well could accomplish), but in a contest like this, we need to see something different each round. Not the same song with a different genre rendition. Mel B could have used her wild card pick for a contestant who was more talented.
When I first heard that this woman had personal issues that prevented her from performing in the quarterfinals, I wasn’t happy. But when Howie Mandel announced her back as a semifinal wild card, I was ecstatic. Her performance last night was breathtaking. Although she dropped one bowl when it tried to land on her head, she mustered enough courage to keep going and finish the performance. When I say that an act needs to be perfected, I only mean that from the standpoint of America. I can sometimes overlook a dropped note in a singer’s voice, a ball while juggling, or a mixed up dance move. But when the semifinals have taken off, most people won’t like it when a contestant doesn’t perform to their full potential and not make mistakes.
This woman is a remarkable impressionist, but not a very good comedian. She can nail almost any woman’s voice and facial expressions, but that’s about it. Her material needs to be stronger and funnier if she wants to have a starving chance to make it out there as both a comedian and an impressionist.
How do these people do what they can do on the stage? This was the slight beginning of a positive turnaround for the semifinals. Their performance was extremely sultry and suspenseful to watch.
I have my doubts about this guy. The way his performances go lead me to believe that what he’s doing isn’t real. The reaction on the girls’ face when she found out the features described about her were accurate didn’t seem real. I don’t know if it was real or not, but I do have my doubts overall.
These people performed a dangerous acrobatic routine that defied gravity and created a human staircase. I was on the edge of my seat during this entire performance, leading me to believe that sometimes they weren’t going to make it through their jumps. Luckily for them, they made out just fine and stepped up their game big time.
This man’s a good singer, but him performing a song that wasn’t really for him didn’t do him a whole lot of justice.
His jokes aren’t the best, but you can’t help but just laugh at this guy. It’s not so much his material that makes the show, but it’s his awkwardness and quirky personality.
This guy stepped out of his comfort zone last night and it wasn’t very good for him. He has a great voice, but didn’t project the emotion all too well.
I didn’t really the story that these people were trying to tell last night. There were a few technical glitches that were noticeable, that could have definitely not did a lot of good for them.
This girl is a star in the makings. She sang the song beautifully, had wonderful stage presence and lit up the whole room.
These guys could very well go all the way if they play their cards right.