I Rate That: Captain Phillips.

Hanks shirtless and sporting a beard as Captain Phillips

Hanks shirtless and sporting a beard as Captain Phillips

Yes, I recently watched the latest, and most unexpected, installment of The Pirates of The Caribbean Sega. It is a modern day re-imagining of the Disney classic that follows a hilariously curmudgeon Sea-captain on his voyage in search of the legendary ‘Horn of Africa,’ which once played, will grant the musician a shit-ton of cash. Innovative and fresh, the new timeframe in which the film is set (2009) may indicate that the golden age of piracy has finally rusted and that these slapstick tales of pirate-pillaging need a newer domain. In a sense, it is comparable to the Call of Duty franchise; Modern Warfare was introduced because history gets boring after a while.

Unfortunately for some, it does seem as though Peter Greengrocer has put the final nail into Captain Jack Sparrow’s coffin by replacing him with the more mature Captain Phillips, who despite being less of an on-screen heartthrob, is played by notorious gambler Tom Hanks. Unlike Depp’s role, Hanks has gone for a very reserved approach to acting which may be either a God-send or risky business for the seafaring franchise. After POC: On Stranger Tides, the series was heading into choppy waters but I think that this altered perspective of comic piracy is now steering clear of the storm. Naturally many critics were skeptical of the drastic style divergence from the previous movies, particularly with Depp being swapped for Hanks. But the latest sequence of the James Bond menagerie acts as testament to the idea that change is ultimately good. After all, Daniel Craig has acted as a much needed breath-mint for the halitosis infection that was threatening the franchise with obscurity. Also, the cast (or crew) of POC: Captain Phillips still bang out the one-liners with sword-striking precision as has become expected of the film’s typesters and will have you chuckling at the shear lunacy unfolding on screen.

Now, it’s fair to say that Hanks and the ocean don’t really mix. We’ve seen before how the sea makes him go an utter mental-case and causes him to fabricate makeshift lovers out of volleyballs, (rumour has it that Warner bros. have finally bought the rights to a “Wilson” spinoff series which will focus on his exploits as he travels to Ankara for the CEV championships.) But in the case of Captain Phil, he is master of the waves and always manages a butt-clenching escape from anything the bad guys throw at him. Barkhad Abdi plays opposite Hanks as the lovable rogue ‘Muse,’ who is the leader of the ragtag band of pirates who share the endeavor to snatch the mythical horn. I did find his performance reminiscent of Captain Barbosa, which I’m sure would have served as inspiration for the character; Jeffrey Rush’s portrayal as the antagonist is obviously a hard act to follow. But Abdi is one mean motherfucker as far as acting is concerned. Delivering a bulletproof persona, he will have you crying, almost as much as he’ll have you smiling. There is definite potential in this man’s sea-shantying career.

Like any ground breaking pirate fantasy adventure, the film is not devoid of its share of controversy. Namely, from a feminist standpoint the film is devoid of almost all womenkind. Needless to say Captain Phillips fails the Bechdel test, and the few women that are included tend to be right whiners. Unfortunately, it’s a film not watched one-handed, if you know what I mean. Utter lack of tits, and not even a tasteful shower scene with a bit of side-bum. If raunchy is what you’re after try either Wolf of Wall Street or American Shuffle.

Overall, this movie is a delight to behold (I would recommend it solely for the last twenty minutes where Hanks does this shtick where he’s all shocked and confused; it’s textbook Chaplin). Captain Phillips is a classic adventure caper for the whole family. I would give it 4.3/5 wooden legs. Y’arrr Me Hearties.. Arrr.

Breaking Mad.

In 2011, after months of receiving aggressively relentless declarations of worship for the show “Breaking Bad,” I realised that there was some kind of epidemic sweeping my town. It had become difficult to hold even the idlest of chit-chat with anybody unless I could prove that I was a devoted fan; I would wince when the topic of TV arose, as I knew I would be faced with the inevitable question of whether I had seen the latest installment of the show. And God strike me down if I had the honesty to reveal that I hadn’t even viewed the first episode. My apparent ignorance warranted a barrage of response, such as “You just, like, have to see it” and “It’s totes amazeballs.” It’s as if Vince Gilligan himself, the writer and producer of the show, was managing to replace these people’s brains with the same incessant recordings of praise that would instantly siren whenever it detected a lack of Breaking Bad knowledge. They were somewhere in between zombies and robots. It’s a severe mental disorder I now dub “Breaking Mad.” I am ashamed to say that the bombardment took its toll and I buckled under the pressure.

Staring at the first season boxset, I was underwhelmed. I had been expecting something biblical. Reluctantly, I play the pilot episode.

…Oh my God. Breaking Bad. You have to see it.

Pinning ‘Breaking Bad’ to one genre is difficult, but a sickeningly simple description would be that it is a crime drama. The audience follows the story of Walter White, a high-school chemistry teacher who has, thus far, lived an uneventful life in a dusty corner of America. He has to toil two jobs to gain extra cash, his students don’t listen to him, his son faces constant challenges due to disability and to top that off he is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. Life could not be any suckier. And so, in order to support his family financially, Walter unites with a former student and current junkie Jesse to cook and distribute methamphetamine, or Crystal Meth.

What struck me most from watching this show was the constant genius from the writing team. Each episode manages to artistically continue from one to the other, with cliff-hangers that will frequently make your brain explode. I imagine waiting for each is episode is like a meth addict waiting for his next fix; it is only comparable to that of the show “Lost.” But instead of the abysmal ending that made absolutely no sense, “Breaking Bad” manages to answer more questions than it poses and wraps up neatly without obvious loose-ends. The characters are tragic, funny, and can rarely be described in black-and-white terms with morality being completely contorted. By the finale of the show it is completely unclear of who is good and who is evil. Similarly, the cast that embody the characters are impeccable. If someone had told me a few years ago that Hal from “Malcolm in the Middle” would become the kingpin of a drug empire I would have aggressively laughed in their face. However, Bryan Cranston is utterly convincing as both innocent Mr White and his megalomaniacal alter-ego, Heisenberg. This is the same for Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, from the offset it is clear that he is a good guy that finds himself in bad situations. But by far, my favourite character was the slick-and-slimy lawyer Saul Goodman played by Bob Odenkirk who manages to flit instantly between humour and straight-faced lawyer-badassery. I am currently awaiting news of the spin-off show “Just Call Saul,” it is fair to say that I am buzzing off of my ratty nut.

After watching all 5 seasons I can confirm that the robotic hordes were correct. The show needs to be watched, and it is in all fact totes amazeballs. I hope that “Breaking Bad” will be emblazoned onto popular culture significantly into the future so that the one or two people who haven’t seen it yet can understand the hype. I have never been happier to be a mindless conformist.

I rate that, I rate that a lot.

So, I’ve started a blog… Yay?

Umm, okay. Blog…What do I talk about? How do I even start?.. Oh God, I’m actually getting quite concerned at the sheer amount of dread and tension I’m currently feeling. I feel as if I’m moments away from a panic attack; just one more heart palpitation and it’ll be hyperventilation time and I’ll be curled in the fetal position on my bedroom floor. Do all bloggers get this red in the face? This hot on the forehead, with hints of perspiration peppered at the armpits? Is it good that I feel a sensation of impending doom and foreboding? Should my fingers be spasming this much as I attempt to clack a few words onto the keyboard?

– *Buzz* *Buzz* –

Ah, brief respite as my phone displays the email icon. I give out a big fat sigh as I slide the touchscreen to find that it’s from a teacher, Mrs Lane. Oh good, hopefully the boredom caused by this email will be enough to calm my neuroticism. I open it, my mind relishing the change of focus.

It reads, “Hello, How’s the blog coming along? ;)”

Jesus Christ! Okay, break’s over. Eyes widening, stomach lurching, and I can feel the sweat beginning to press against the skin behind my forehead. I’m fairly Shocked at both the immaculate timing of the email and the sudden bodily response that causes my cheek and lip to twitch slightly; but I am determined to escape this feeling, to claw back some kind of procrastination… and so I stare blankly at the email and think about it for a moment.

The funny thing (and by “funny”, I mean “mind-questioningly abnormal”) is that I don’t pay much attention to the blog bit so much, which is the bit that’s causing me anguish. No, instead I deeply analyse the most trivial aspects, such as the question: When is it an appropriate time to email back? Should I email back at all? Was it intentionally rhetorical? Is the winky face flirty? Because that would be extremely inappropriate for a teacher, not to mention school poli-

…And then it clicks. I understand the winky face. Mrs Lane knows me so well; she knows exactly how the blog is coming along. After about three years of being my English teacher and tolerating me as a student, I think she realizes how much of a weasel I can be when it comes to following advice. I will find and exaggerate any reason to distract myself. And yes, she was the one responsible for sending my body into meltdown because she suggested that I start a blog in the first place. And here I am now, my body malfunctioning. My mind is fuzzy like TV static. It’s a self-constructed writers’ block. I think I’ll give it two days to see if the apprehension stops.

So two days have passed and I believe that I am ready to start blogging. In this time I have contemplated what had caused such an irrational uncertainty of whether to continue attempting a blog. Originally, it was the idea that others reading what I had written would sneer judgmentally whilst thinking that I must be some brain-dead idiot to post such moronic-ism onto the infinity of internet. It was Mrs Lane that consoled me, she told me that blogging is about escape, and in her case, aggressive venting. My pleasure in blogging is paramount, the reader is second place. And hopefully my writing will improve as a byproduct, (I do realise that at the moment I am like an artist wildly stabbing a canvas with a paint soaked knife.) So here’s my first blog-post, and it’s been a painful one at that.

Good vibes, people.

(I was finally sold to the idea of blogging when, with a wink, Mrs Lane said “Who knows, you might be able to use your blog as a way to procrastinate.” And all I kept thinking was, was that wink a bit flirty?)