Matthew Lickona 4:30 p.m., Aug. 20
If you can get past the bombastic score and the wavering, seasick camera and what is perhaps the hackiest, laziest opening-scene conversation of the year, you might find something remarkable in Captain Phillips: a quietly scathing critique of American exceptionalism, wrapped in a story of American survival. Captain Richard Phillips (beloved everyman Tom Hanks), whose cargo ship is boarded by Somali pirates bent on obtaining a ransom, is the victim throughout. But consider those bad guys. One of them winds up with broken glass in his foot because (a) the crew proves resourceful in their efforts to slow him down and (b) he has no shoes. Eventually, the lovely long shots of massive Navy gunships trailing behind a tiny lifeboat that is trying to reach the shore start to sink in. On the one hand, we're fighting to preserve civilization and the rule of law. On the other, they're fighting for survival. 2013.
- "Captain Phillips: Unacceptable exceptionalism" • October 9, 2013