Wednesday, December 04, 2013


Entertainment planing tip: two Somali pirate movies in one month is quite enough. Back around the beginning of November we watched Tom Hanks do his stuff in Captain Phillips; last night we took in (I shouldn't say "endured") Tobias Lindholm's Danish Kapringen, A Hijacking, which tells (of course) tells the story in a much different way. It was exhausting, but time well spent. I wouldn't say that it's a better movie in the sense of "things that move," movable parts, all that stuff: in Captain Phillips, Paul Greengrass directed about the best overall action film I've ever seen--really. But I'd say that Lindholm's is perhaps a better "movie" in the sense of storytelling and high drama. The focus here--you probably know this--is on the negotiations for the hostage release. We never even see the boarding.  Rotten Tomatoes reports that critics loved it all the way to 95 %; interestingly, audiences were more lukewarm, weighing in at only 77 percent.  My guess is that they might have been confused; they may have gone to A Hijacking expecting Tom Hanks and he was nowhere to be seen.

There's a superb general summary/review here (of all places) which I won't try to duplicate, but I do want to follow up one one issue--specifically, the treatment of the corporate boss back in the boardroom. At least one leading right-wing crazy site has said it is a subtle and insidious piece of leftist anti-corporate propaganda--made more mischievous, I suppose, by the absence of Navy Seals. But that is precisely what it is not. The leading grey-suit negotiator makes at least one horrifically wrong decision and some other questionable judgments.  But in this respect he is not all that different from his counterpart on the boat. He still comes across as a serious guy who understands that running his company does not cancel his responsibilities to his crewmen, both as employees but also as human beings.

I suppose you might sort this out as "Hollywood" versus "independent," but I'm more inclined to go with "US" v "Danish." I've had a bit of exposure to Danes: in my caricature I find them as highly entrepreneurial, serious about business but with some sense of themselves as parts of a functioning society. I don't mean to suggest they have better DNA than the rest of us: I'm more incline to ascribe it to us v them as in "small country" v "the world." You get a sense of "we're all in this together," coupled with a knack for cooperation (now that is the mystery ingredient) as they gear up to face the world.

So I'm tempted to full back on my own favorite bit of historical reconstruction: that it goes back to Viking longboats, collaborative enterprises where, in the words of the immortal Milo Minderbinder, everybody gets a share. Of course these were the same guys who used to kidnap their neighbors and sell them as slaves to chop cotton in Iran.

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