While October 2013 kicked off the holiday season with some of the best movies of the year, the November line-up is impressive, as well. Both major and independent film companies bring us not only entertainment, but also an opportunity to witness wonderful introspectives of our human condition and how we relate to one another.
As we continue to adjust to the constant instant information coming in ever faster sound bites, so comes the opportunity for the ever present ancient art of storytelling to continue reflecting our condition. Be it evolution or devolution, fantasy or fact, these experiences of sound and dancing images of darkness and light bring us closer together as we see and witness intimate details that remind us of how connected we are.
Because there are now so many films being made, it is impossible for one to see all the wonderful content that is so readily available. However, many films which are no longer on the big screen can be viewed on DVD and various online distribution sites. Never has there been a time when we have such a plethora of art and information to choose from. Whether you want to curl up at home with a good movie or go out to your favorite cinema, there is no lack of something for everyone. Here are a few current best picks to choose from.
“Captain Phillips” is one of the most riveting reenactments of true occurrences produced this year. Tom Hanks, as Captain Phillips, and Barkhad Abdi, as Muse, turn in spellbinding performances. From the moment the film begins we sense the ominous feeling in the air. When we meet the American captain we see a well-seasoned seaman with great integrity fearlessly preparing for yet another dangerous mission. Likewise, when we meet the African captain we see a fearless country man preparing to do what is necessary to survive in the bleak conditions into which he has been forced to live.
Muse and his crew
These fine actors, some of whom have never acted before, turn in superlative performances that draw white-knuckled responses of terror from the audience. Muse, played by Barkhad Abdi, is not your traditional pirate. He is sensitive. He doesn’t take pleasure in the deed of theft. He is complex and contemplative in every move, as if playing a game of chess. In the world he knows, he must succeed or he will perish, yet he wants to be fair. He wants no harm to come to anyone. He is, in fact, a sort of Robin Hood, complete with his not-so-merry men, going for the big American king’s ship, hold it ransom, and claim the booty.
Tom Hanks with the Real captain Phillips
Here we have Tom Hanks beside a picture of the real Captain Phillips. It is uncanny how similar they look, right down to the smile. In the film we see Hanks once again carefully craft a role, this time out of real cloth. In fact, only one moment in the film do we get a glimpse of Hanks as he peeks out through a touching and truly Oscar-worthy moment at the end of the film. Although Mr. Hanks’ entire performance is riveting, it is here where he peels back the veil of human frailty and touches our deeper most sensitive parts.
Captian Phillips almost Hanks like
In this photo of the real Captain Phillips he looks as if he could be Tom Hanks’ slightly younger brother. It also looks as if this picture may have been taken some time near the incident. Members of the crew have brought lawsuits as a result of his decision to take the route that brought them to this near-death experience. Didn’t they know the trip was dangerous? Did Captain Phillips take an alternate route, rather than the usual path? In the film it seemed as if these men had traveled with the Captain on many occasions.
The life boat
Here we see one of the turning points of the story. Captain Phillips “Hanks” and Muse “Abdi” discuss and reason a possible outcome as another crew looks on. There are sure to be story enhancements in a reenactment, for dramatic effect. It would be good to learn more about the full account from all available participants.
All is lost
“All is Lost” is the new megahit starring two-time Oscar winner, Robert Redford. In this, the latest of two performances this year, he is the sole character. While he utters only a few lines, he communicates volumes with thought and action through this life-threatening adventure. Like Tom Hanks in “Captain Phillips”, Redford is the captain of his own vessel, a beautiful sailing yacht. This is a story of a man in his golden years on an excursion of leisure, traveling the Indian Ocean.
In “All is Lost “we learn that one must always prepare for the unexpected when taking risk, especially risk that includes the often uncontrollable elements of the mighty ocean. This film is a lesson in being prepared and, above all, never losing the perspective of hope. “All is Lost” is a spellbinding film of 2013 and a triumph for Mr. Redford.
All is lost
When the unexpected happens in “All is Lost”, we witness a quintessential “how-to-do-it” lesson in survival. He is alone, not uttering more than a word or two; yet we hear every word he thinks. He lets us feel each moment of his struggle. We are on the edge of our seats with hope that he will somehow makes it.
All is lost
This role is tailor-made for Mr. Redford, an avid outdoorsman and champion for social and environmental causes. He is right at home as the lone traveler on this sojourn of bliss — a man and his boat, a few good books, enough fuel and enough food. He is on a restful retreat with nature; but one thing is certain about nature: Like all adversity, she is unpredictable.
All is Lost Redford genius
“All is Lost” is indeed a masterful work of cinematography. It is a master class in moment-to-moment acting. It is a love letter to the wisdom of living many years and aging well. At seventy-seven years of age, Robert Redford is at the top of his game: He climbs, swims, dives, and jumps better than many a young man. Writer /director J. C. Chandor has crafted an action film with no special effects or pyrotechnics, all of which have their place in films that require them; but the simple beauty of independent films or documentaries is that they normally require only the complexities that are in our personal interactions and experience.