Captain Phillips: Thrilling Battle of Haves and Have Nots

Captain Phillips is a thriller directed by Paul Greengrass based on the true story of the captain of an American freighter whose ship gets attacked by Somali pirates and the thrilling events that follow the attack. I enjoyed the film a lot and thought it could've been a few minutes shorter for an even bigger impact. Tom Hanks is brilliant and so is the supporting cast. This film is quite an accomplishment.

While avoiding overt politics the film clearly highlights the outsized difference of the haves and have nots. Muse, the captain of the pirate enterprise isn't unlike Phillips but comes from a world that could not be more different. Both are doing a job that they believe needs to get done. And when the US navy intervenes, there are no heroics, just men doing a job that needs to get done. It is almost a procedural.

By the end of the film, the outsized American response almost seems comical and would be completely ridiculous had it not been real. The battle of four hungry, rag poor Somalis with the might of an American navy. To put things in perspective: Somalia's GDP in 2010 was about $6 billion. US Navy's budget for 2014 is $155 billion. I cannot wait for Gladwell to untangle this David vs. Goliath for us.

While watching the film I couldn't help but utter "To Have and Have Not", and recalling  Ernest Hemingway's 1937 novel of that name. I was immediately struck by the parallels between the film and the novel. The novel is the story of Harry Morgan, a decent man, captain of a fishing boat who hits hard times and becomes a criminal almost out of no choice and to a disastrous end. In a sense, Morgan is Captain Phillips and Muse rolled into one. The real villain often is the crushing hand of circumstances forced by poverty, a disease that is so hard to avoid specially when inherited.

Improbably entertaining Gravity celebrates the pursuit of life as not only primal but the only ethical course of action

Gravity is an entertaining space thriller that is the new 'must-see' film. A brief, pulsating exploration of claustrophobia of open space. It is fast-paced, poignant, scary and even funny. It celebrates the pursuit of life as not only the most primal but the most ethical course of action. It is one of the best single-idea movies out there.

Sandra Bullock, the much-maligned, unassuming super-star, makes a giant comeback with a strong, believable and rare likable performance. She makes you want to root for her no matter how improbable her pursuit seems.

Alfonso Cuarón, the young Mexican director, adds another excellent film to his small but wide portfolio.