Archive | May, 2007

Review | Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

31 May

A Car-Wreck of a Movie, Savvy?*
IMDb entry
Official site

Despite ample caution from an army of critics, last night I ventured to my local Odeon to watch Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. What I observed was one of the most incoherent cinematic experiences I have ever come across. It’s a mess.

Now, before we go any further I’d like to say I thought that first Pirates film was excellent, even if was as cheesy as teenage boy’s bed sheets. Pirates 2 had its moments, but already the franchise had begun to slide and loose its focus. However, figuring out what happened to the narrative in last night’s disaster, I feel will take me years to fathom.

Quite a few critics had said that the film is confusing. It’s very confusing. But knowing this last week, I watched both previous movies and was up-to-speed on the story line. I think I just about held my own against the baffling plot, an accomplishment I feel quite proud of, and may put on my résumé. The sheer number of enchanted charts, magical boxes, lost souls, and charmed trinkets that were central to the story, meant that the viewer struggled to keep track of who was searching for what?

The catch is of course, that the script wasn’t finished when World’s End went into production. Inevitably time, and the number of loose ends needing tying up (a hangover from the confused second movie), meant that the story rambles on, thrashing around like a wounded lion. A well-aimed bullet from a decent director (i.e. anyone but Gore Verbinski), about 90 minutes in, would have saved everyone a lot of time and money.

There has also been a lot of talk about the violence in the film. I think most kids have been desensitised to most of the stuff in this film, but those whose children are a little less streetwise, would be wise to be cautious. There is a lot ‘fantasy violence’ and a mildly harrowing opening scene involving the hanging of a young boy (although it’s not like you see the poor scamp’s neck being broken).

The film also had a distinct lack of humour. The first, and even the second film in parts, had some excellent physical comedy, but sadly this offering was restricted to Jack’s admittedly amusing lines and the very funny firing of a monkey out of a cannon (which surely can’t fail, can it?). This movie was darker, even at times sombre.

Nevertheless, for all these criticisms, I actually think I enjoyed the movie. The film’s CGI effects are simply astonishing and easily knock any of the many superhero offerings into a cocked hat. During the introduction they played the new Fantastic Four trailer, and it looked underwhelming against the amazingly beautiful world crafted in At World’s End.

Tempests threw enormous galleons around as they launched cannonballs into battle. The tormented crew of the Flying Dutchman, cursed to slowly mutate into sea creatures, were simply awesome as they battled with their human foes. As disorderly as the movie’s narrative arch was, it would take a genuine sourpuss not to enjoy some of the fantastical set pieces created.

Rumours of a fourth film are rife and the ending of the film certainly sets one up. This would undoubtedly be a mistake if it were to be based around the surviving cast. Keira Knightly has wisely ruled herself out of another instalment, but the character of Jack Sparrow, so fundamental to the formulaic nature of the movie, will no-doubt be crucial to the marketing potential of any further movies.

For me the characters are spent. Each one, with the possible exception of the enigmatic and complex Sparrow, have travelled their cathartic journey and have – through experiencing their tribulations – developed as far as possible. The forth film, if it is indeed inevitable, must take a new direction and leave the narrative disaster of this trilogy behind.

6/10 – Utterly bewildering, but stunningly beautiful

*Sorry about the piracy parlance, but it seems everyone is doing it.

Cabinet minister: Iraq was wrong

30 May

Deputy PM hopeful, Harriet Harman, plays the Iraq card: –

“How would you re-unite the Labour Party after Iraq?” That was one of the many searching questions from Party members in Sheffield to us 6 deputy leadership candidates.  Here’s what I answered

  • I would not have voted for the invasion of Iraq if I had know there were no weapons of mass destruction.  We were wrong on that – there were no WMDs.  We have to admit that.
  • after the troops return we should have an enquiry which looks not just at the decision to go in but also the planning for the immediate post-invasion period
  • we should encourage a debate in Britain about our relationship with the US.  I regard them as important allies – but we must always do what is in our interests and is in the interest of peace and security in the world.
  • we should never forget the tragic loss of life in Iraq – our service men and women and Iraqi civilians.  But nor should we forget the lives saved by UK armed intervention in Sierra Leone, Kosovo and lives saved through our Aid programme for the developing world.

Should help her cause. I wonder, will they all play this hand, and what would this mean for Gordon? After all, didn’t Gordie throw his lot in with Blair ages ago?

Spam fritter

30 May

Just been checking the spam bin. I vapourised one promising a “black gay sex story…”

Not sure if there is much of a market for black gay sex stories, but anyone interested in the URL, drop me a line and I’ll pop it the return email.



30 May

Just about to sit down to watch Pirates of the Caribbean 3.

There is a 15min intermission half-way through. If it’s rubbish, then I’m going for a sleep in the car during the second half.

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Plug | Obsolete: The undead princess.

30 May

septicisle has a great post on the mawkish media obsession with Princess Diana: –

Princess Diana is dead, just in case you’d forgotten. She’s been dead for close to ten years. In life, she was chased by newspapers trying to sell their sordid wares. In death, she’s chased by newspapers trying to sell their sordid wares. Oddly, the very same newspapers which day after day filled their pages with paparazzi photographs of the woman, apart from suffering a few pangs of guilt in the immediate aftermath of the accident in the Paris tunnel, with the Daily Mail famously announcing that it would never again buy snatched shots, only to break its own declaration within a matter of weeks, have since then felt the need to act as her personal shield; she can’t defend herself, so they will instead. Again, this was a surprising role reversal, considering that the Glenda Slaggs’ had loved to rip Diana to shreds over whatever they saw fit, leading after her end to the biggest reverse ferret in newspaper history. No longer was she a silly bulimic girl who had betrayed the royal family, now she was the greatest Briton who had ever lived, whose beauty, principles and dignity were second to none.

Read more over at Obsolete…

septicisle is absolutely on the money. The days of news reporting in many of our daily newspapers are long gone. They don’t do news; they merely feed off celebrity, bigotry, and pseudo-scientific gobbledygook. If you were to actually take notice of the tabloid newspapers, you would believe that hoards of asylum seekers roam our nation’s streets feeding on our babies, that Victoria Beckham has reason to exist, that chopsticks cause bowel cancer, and that Wi-Fi is to blame for global warming.

Reality Check: Diana died a decade ago. I didn’t give a shit about her when she was alive, so I’m damned if I’m going to give a flying fuck about the woman now she’s little more than a rotting cadaver. I know it’s harsh, but I simply don’t care. The Express/Mail obsession with Diana is maudlin and self-serving. The editors that sanction this shit should never be allowed to call themselves journalists.

Oh, and what really pisses me off is that twats like Oliver Kamm have the temerity to say that the blogosphere is parasitical. It makes my teeth itch.

Peter Hitchins: incoherent and delusional

29 May

In today’s Guardian, Peter Hitchens has written a bombastic diatribe against the political establishment, as he argues that New Labour is not, as conventional wisdom states, rightwing; but is in essence, everything that is wrong with centrist liberalism.

There are some strange statements in Hitchens’ piece. Not least his claim that: –

Blair’s [tactics] only succeeded because the collapse of the USSR robbed the Tories of their claim to be the only reliable defenders of national security. It also undermined the belief that socialism could or should be achieved by government ownership of the economy. The left could now appear reasonable and responsible to those who had once feared it.

Oh, right. So it had nothing to do with two-decades of Thatcher and Major? Was this guy not around in 1997? Does he not appreciate the collective relief most of the nation felt when we had rid ourselves of a deeply discredited Tory government?

Hitchens’ piece is also a fine example of wishful thinking. He claims that: –

…lifelong leftists gain too much joy from believing themselves to be in internal exile. They hate to admit that they are in fact in power. That would compel them to think, an unsettling activity. It would also make them at least partly responsible for the Blair government. And the left are nothing if not irresponsible.

The arrogance and incoherence of this statement is astonishing. If Blairism were indeed liberalism in action, why would the Liberals want to dissociate themselves from it? The reason liberals abandoned Blair is exactly that he doesn’t govern progressively. Progressiveness has suffered blow-after-blow in the last 5-years, as Blair’s obsession with keeping the likes of Paul Dacre and Rupert Murdoch happy, has mutated the leadership into a reactionary and terrified executive unable to administer proven progressive solutions.

Indeed, Blair’s very failures have stemmed from the very social conservatism that Hitchens’ preaches. Hitchens is a hypocrite. Newspapers such as Hitchens’ own Mail on Sunday are as guilty for the muddled ineptitude of Blairism, as any among the left are.

More to the point, what is the purpose of Hitchins’ brand of conservatism anyway? If a political party were to pander to the likes of Peter Hitchens and Anne Atkins, they would be slaughtered at the polls. The silent majority that such commentators love to evoke doesn’t exist. We’re a liberal society governed by a reactionary and confused political establishment poisoned by a powerful rightwing print media.

Hitchens is right on one thing: Blair’s government is corruptible, too statist, and ineffective, but his reasons are hopelessly wide of the mark.

Is it me…

28 May

…or are there more idiots than usual in our local Tesco today?

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