Archive for May, 2007

Pirates of the Carribean 3

Posted in Film Review on May 30, 2007 by ephisus

It’s probably worth noting that most of the pirates in pirates 3 are not, in fact, from the Caribbean, but from all over the world. That was one of the things that promised so much in the latest epic pirate film from Disney. Okay, I’ll stop sounding like a professional critic now. They’re mostly windbags.

So, I had high hopes for Pirates 3 to be the best in the series yet. A few reasons.

– The leap forward in character animation with Davey Jones was incredible in Pirates 2. I was excited at the prospect of seeing that wonderful quality translated into the scenes with Jones that would no doubt promise higher action, and drama. He is, without a doubt, the best thing in the franchise, on account of his excellent effects, and moving backstory of unrequited, cursed, love, with a retention of his sense of duty and loyalty.

– Keira Knightley.

Hah, Im just kidding. But it seems like so many men say that. I don’t even know why. There are women I could call if I just wanted to have an evening with an attractive woman, and its not only possible, but highly probable that I would exchange more words and smiles with said women, than went between Keira and I the night I saw Pirates 3.

Really, guys. Social Commentary, over.

– the trailers promised a fresh look for the film. The earth-tones and greenish blues that were so prevalent in the first film were not as present in the second, replaced by darks and cold, wet blues, and the final chapter was heading towards greys. High contrast smokey deep greys. That had me interested, certainly.

– With the antagonist from the first film now playing on the side of good… uh.. good…ish, a very calm and capable villian from the second, and killer awesome henchmen, and increasingly ambiguous loyalties and love triangles on the better side… well, there is plenty of room for good writing there.

So. The Supper was terrible.

I’m not going to say flat out “the writing sucked” or something like this. As a whole, the Pirates Franchise is not known for its witty writing. It is known for consistently portraying the events, characters, and motivations that are present, with an entertaining shell.

Which is where 3 fails. Instead of portraying events, the progression of the film is arm-twisted into gags and gimmicks.

Avert your eyes if you wish to avoid spoilers.

So, Elizabeth is on a ship…. uh.. let’s make her the captain, so that she’s more capable and a stronger female character. Why on earth would the captain name her the successor? Uh….. I dunno. Let’s make him senile and think that she is calypso, the sea goddess.

So, for the sake of watering elizabeth’s character down into a strong-female gimmick, we’ve made one of the major characters loco-insane.

Another example:

Towards the end, there are is a multitude of interesting elements, and a broad range of wonderful visuals. The pirate lords from all over the world! A huge fleet of ships under Beckett, prepared to destroy them! A SEA GODDESS HAS BEEN RELEASED AFTER HUNDREDS OF YEARS. A MALSTORM IS TAKING DOMINANCE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BATTLEFIELD!!! CURSED PIRATES ARE BOARDING OUR HEROES’ SHIP!

So, what do we devote screen time to? A wedding gag, and shooting a monkey out of a canon for no reason.

Nevermind that the characters stopped speaking romantically half a movie ago
Nevermind that it detracts from the gravity of the scenario,
Nevermind that its been done a million times.

It’s boring. Its really friggin boring.

I can just hear the execs discussing the Jack Sparrow insanity scenes.

“Well, Johnny Depp is what makes these movies good… let’s put johnny depp on the screen as much as is possible.”

So, Verbinski probably suggests clone shots, and doing this insanity thing with him, and it doesn’t get integrated properly. Its just chopped up and thrown into the pot and served to us raw, unrefined,… a hodgepodge of not-well-thought-out ideas.

Bottom line, is that the filmmakers abandoned selling the story, which is supposed to be happening constantly in a film, with no breaks whatsoever…. and tried to replicate the effective situational humor from the previous films.

And it wound up sucking. Save your money.

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On Fires and Flags and Freedom

Posted in Politics on May 30, 2007 by ephisus

I was blindsided the other day by my roommates’ idealogies.

I shall describe the scene.  M loads up a video on some underground media site, as he is oft wont to do.  Ja and M watch video.  I’m working on migrating film stuff to my new laptop, because it’s been more stable than my desktop system.

 So, in this video, there’s some stoners burning an American for no good reason, and the one that talks slow and loud and rolls his’ L’s is talking about how great it is that they are burning a flag.  ‘Burn America’ 

And this sort of thing.

The idiots aren’t really doing it publically, and it’s no where near as dramatic as it needs to be if they are actually trying to make a statement.

So, total idiots.  No big deal.

M starts talking about how this should be illegal.  Ja agrees.

I think that I missed something, somewhere along the line, where we held up symbols above ideas.  It doesn’t matter that the American flag stands for Freedom this afternoon.  It doesn’t matter that I’m basically good with the current administration.  It doesn’t matter that the people in the video have no backing for thier ideas.  We don’t imprison people for free assembly and symbolic protest.  We don’t fine them.  We don’t even tax them, and those ideas have left a bad taste in our mouth since the sedition acts were repealed over two hundred years ago.

I can think of a hundred reasons off the cuff- why I might want to burn an American flag in the abstact-tomorrow…. But, never mind all that- I don’t feel the need to suggest why it might need to happen at my hands…

Because-

We have a constitutional right to assembly and speech, and there is something inherently wrong with a government seeing to its own surety against defamation with the use of legal action against its citizens, regardless of how right or wrong or justified or unjustified the perpetrators are.

The appropriate thing to do is to combat these ideas in the social realm, with other ideas.

Cuius regio, Eius religio

Posted in Loukusisms, Love, Sex on May 23, 2007 by ephisus

  I think I’m beginning to narrow down my problem with some of the status quo a little more.  Just the problem, not a practical solution, other than waiting on the Lord.

  See, Joel Loukus is a huge idealist.  He persists in quixotic notions about Life.  He values truth and morality, honor, love, respect for life, and wisdom above his own happiness, and tries to carry this idea to it’s ultimate conclusion in all that he does.

So, of the three objectives:  Pursuing God, propogating an Family, and making cool movies, I’ll unabashedly claim that numbers one and three are pretty well in the works.  Number Two is sticky, at best.

 I value monogamous love, it’s expression in sex, and the institution of marriage at such a staggering importance, that I have taken this vow to not Kiss until marriage.

  Here’s the main rub.  More than a few women have exclaimed at how wonderful this is.  The words echo, “Any woman would be lucky”.  In time- on average of about a year- most of these women have opted to *not* be the lucky girl, and have gone for men with far less idealism.  In fact, most of them have gone off with men with no idealism. 

 Agnostics.

Or, in other words, Men that are inherently unable to commit to real ideas.  Maybe that’s harsh.  I am not sorry, neither.

 The reason that this is so offensive to me, is that I have held out this romantic, idealistic, pure love to women, and I have been spurned in favor of men with worldviews that, when pressed, would force them to admit that thier actions– all those sweet kisses on the forehead, or quiet tea parties, or sweet nothings whispered– are simply biological, and that monogamy is a joke, and that the only finality in the universe is chaos and death.  That men and women(or whichever) embrace each other temporarily, worshiping the physical comfort of thier biology.

And it is truly, absolutely, offensive to have that chosen over what I will describe as real love. 

 It is, without a doubt, the most offensive thing that happens to me.  And it happens- basically- every year.

Welles’ Macbeth

Posted in Theater on May 4, 2007 by ephisus

macbeth_welles.jpg Having recently finished a run of Twelfth Night as Sir Toby, and the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company gearing soon to do a production of ‘Macbeth’ in the Fall, I have ordered a number of Film Renditions of ‘Macbeth’. There are a couple of reasons.

I’m not sure if I’m going to be auditioning for Macbeth at CSC, but I’m absolutely positive that I would *like* to. Macbeth is not my favorite Shakespeare, then again, neither was Twelfth Night… it was still the highlight of my schedule for 3 months. CSC is fairly prolific though, and there will be a lot of talent at the audition– a lot more than I was tested against for Twelfth Night, and if I do go– I would like to get the role I want.

Which begs the question– Which role do I want?

So I ordered 3 renditions of Macbeth on film- one by Welles from the , one by Polanski… and one by some other british guy that no one has ever heard of. Macbeth left a bad taste in my mouth back in high school, before I dropped out, so I haven’t put a lot of study into it until now. The objective is to get intimately familiar with a variety of interpretations of the Characters, so as to be well prepared to have a fun audition, and possibly an enjoyable role.

I watched the first subject of this study yesternight; the legendary, often elitist, teh aw3$om3: Orson Welles. His Macbeth was released in 1948 by Mercury, casting himself in the title role, a very young and shrill Roddy Mcdowall as Prince Malcolm, and, fascinately: Dan O’Herlihy as Macduff, Well Known for portraying one of the most annoying Characters of science fiction film, the spiritual ancestor of Jar Jar Binks himself: Grig from The Last Starfighter. Raspy laughs abound.

So, like all Shakespeare, the plot is simple: the exposition is the art:

Macbeth is told he will be King by some witches, He kills people and becomes King after his wife insists that he pursue this prophecy, he is plagued by guilt, his wife kills herself, drunken of guilt from her own part. The rightful heir comes with an Army, and his general cuts off Macbeth’s head. The end.

I should note here for folks who don’t know: Acting is often described thus, in the school of thought that I adhere to: You are acting like yourself, in an infinite number of situations. You’re a murderer? You have to build yourself a world where you yourself would actually do such a thing, even if it’s only emotionally.

Part of the reason that Shakespeare is so enduring is that it is so open for a variety of interpretations.

Watching Welles’ Macbeth… he does not really believe himself when he is loyal to the King. When he says, “If fortunes make me King”, he is already rather broken on this statement.

I’m thinking that my Macbeth would be resolute on this: The reason for the fall is not internal conflict on what the witches said, but something else; Love.

Lady Macbeth is a flawed, flawed character, and I see Lord Macbeth realizing this fairly well. But there is a large amount of text devoted to their relationship. Most performances, including, to a degree, Welles’ seem to focus on the duality of Macbeth’s love for his wife.

For me: Macbeth’s masculinity is easy. He is a warrior of good fortune at the beginning: and he and his wife have been elevated in position very quickly. And Macbeth loves his manliness, his loyalty to the King is part of his outward manifestation of this, on top of that, people are telling him that he will be the King, eventually. High times of affirmation.

He swoops to his wife, but instead of being the loving jewel on his good fortune, she wants the crown. And she attacks his masculinity when the the idea is foul to him.

My Macbeth would be ripped to shreds, not for his own pride in his fortune, but because of utter devotion to the love of his woman. Even the prophecy would cease to be a serious concern or incentive: and the tragedy, the humanity, that would, hopefully, be observed in him, after the crown was taken for the sake of his wife, would be the main thrust of the character.

He doesn’t let his wife know about the continuing treachery in holding the crown; because he sees her as his last dying link to the life that he wanted; and when she becomes overwrought with guilt and grief, there is a brief moment when they are together in that; and she abandons him again by taking her own life; leaving him to deal with the consequences.

My Macbeth would loose the hold on his sanity. That would be the course of his woe.

We’ll see if any of the other famous performances take this kind of harsh depiction of Macbeth’s motivations; where instead of a– rosencrantz and gildenstern are dead sort of inevitability– Macbeth is plagued by his own desires, his own pursuits, and they don’t have even remotely to do with attaining the kingship.

I was thinking earlier in this process that I would like to take the role on Banquo, or Macduff, or one of these lesser, though possibly very emotional roles, because, so far as I knew it, Macbeth was a little flat– he staggers around in a guilty stupor, just facing the inevitable crash.

But now that I examine the character for myself, I think that he can be much more dynamic, much more expressive, and I want him. I want to show the audience a man of passion, loyalty, and love that has his aspirations and virtue ripped from him, and his life loosed of all meaning at the instant he attains what everyone desires, because of his unwise inclination to place his happiness above truth and good.

So maybe I will read for Macbeth. Still, Macduff is quite the bad-ass, and would be no less fun to play.