Movie Reviews
11:02 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

'Captain Phillips' Review And Why Boston's Accent Isn't Easy

Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 6:02 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Back in 2009, you may recall, Somali pirates boarded the cargo ship Alabama. The tension between the pirates and the American captain, Richard Phillips, is the basis for a new film in theaters this weekend, and critic Kenneth Turan has our review.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: The cargo ship Alabama is headed down the east coast of Africa when Captain Richard Phillips, played by Tom Hanks, sees something no captain in these waters wants to see.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "CAPTAIN PHILLIPS")

TOM HANKS: (as Captain Phillips) I don't like the look of that.

TURAN: Two small skiffs are suspiciously on his tail.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "CAPTAIN PHILLIPS")

HANKS: (as Captain Phillips) Four pirates on board. Four pirates coming towards us down the main deck. Lock down the bridge. Listen up. We have been boarded by four armed pirates. You know the drill. We stay hidden no matter what.

TURAN: Because the pirates are armed and the ship is not, the four outlaws are soon in control. That results in an intricate game of cat and mouse between captors and captives, which begins when the pirate leader asserts his authority.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "CAPTAIN PHILLIPS")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Look at me.

HANKS: (as Captain Phillips) Sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Look at me.

HANKS: (as Captain Phillips) Sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I'm the captain now.

TURAN: Tom Hanks is in his element here as the above-average average man who displays a kind of everyday heroism as he struggles to protect his crew. As good as Hanks has been in the past, there are moments - especially when he breaks down emotionally when it's all over - that are unlike anything we've seen from him before.

Director Paul Greengrass is best known for bringing a sense of propulsive reality to both "The Bourne Supremacy" and "The Bourne Ultimatum," and he's at his best here. The anxiety is so great that I found myself looking at my watch because I wasn't sure how much more of it I could stand.

"Captain Phillips" also spends time with the pirates. It gives us a sense of why these impoverished men under the thumb of dangerous warlords do what they do. The exasperated captain says to one of them: There's got to be something other than being a fisherman or kidnapping people. And the Somali replies: Maybe in America.

That clash of cultures adds another level of tension to an already disturbing film.

STEVE INKSEEP, HOST:

Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and for the Los Angeles Times.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

You may have picked out a Boston accent from the character played by Tom Hanks. We were wondering what makes a good Boston accent.

INSKEEP: So we called up the Boston Globe's movie critic Ty Burr who says Boston accents are hard.

TY BURR: It's one of those accents you have to live. You can't get it. So many great actors have come to grief on this accent. I think of Julianne Moore in "30 Rock." Remember that?

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SERIES, "30 ROCK")

JULIANNE MOORE: (as Nancy Donovan) You know, you're not from here anymore. It's different here.

MONTAGNE: OK, so what is Ty Burr's favorite Boston accent in a movie?

BURR: Robert Mitchum in "The Friends of Eddie Coyle," and he doesn't wear it heavily. It's very light. You only hear it in certain words and it feels lived in.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE")

ROBERT MITCHUM: (as Eddie Coyle) Count as many as you want. As many as you've got, I've got four more.

INSKEEP: Ty Burr says Laura Linney also does a good job in "Mystic River," though there are differing opinions on that.

MONTAGNE: And the worst?

BURR: My personal Hall of Shame would have to include Rob Morrow in "Quiz Show."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "QUIZ SHOW")

ROB MORROW: (as Dick Goodwin) That little box in your living room is plugged into something crooked.

BURR: Holly Hunter in "Once Around."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ONCE AROUND")

HOLLY HUNTER: (as Renata Bella) (Unintelligible).

BURR: And Kevin Costner in "Thirteen Days."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THIRTEEN DAYS")

KEVIN COSTNER: (as Kenny O'Donnell) If we're going to have a chance at a political solution we need international pressure.

BURR: Trying so hard to do the accent, and that's the problem. The harder you try, the worse it sounds.

MONTAGNE: Burr is a native of Brookline, not quite Boston but a stone's throw. And we asked him for a little tip on how to end this segment of the show the Boston way.

BURR: If I really want to sell it: This is NPR News. No. No. No. You talk it like you talk it. This is NPR News.

INSKEEP: OK. As he says, this is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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