I delight in putting together odd trilogies of film reviews. This one features one of the biggest blockbusters ever, an Australian western, and the original "chick flick."
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (dir. Gore Verbinski, 2007). As horribly disappointed as I was by the second Pirates film, I decided to go and see the third one. Not so much because I thought it would certainly be better, but because I was going with someone else, and I wanted to forgo a tussle over movie choices. It turned out to be in fact better than the second, but still managed to avoid absolutely everything that made the original so charming in the first place. As I have so kindly been reminded lately by the USA channel - who has deemed it necessary to run the first Pirates movie five nights in secession - I truly enjoy that film. It's funny, slight, and, well, enjoyable. Nothing more, nothing less. Its two sequels, however, tried to be much, much more and resulted in so much less. The emphasis on special effects and epic story-lines overwhelmed the subtle wit and creative performances they should have focused on instead.
I could describe what actually happens in the film, but I won't because a) I don't quite understand/remember what did happen, and b) I don't care. The plot had no discernible logical movement - it just seemed so many marionette strings being pulled rather haphazardly to make the people go somewhere to do something. Internal motivation? Eh, why bother exploring that. As a result, the characters were flat, and while there was the perpetual amusement of watching Johnny Depp's eccentricities, it was not much new. It's a respectable adventure-ride film, and that's it.
They were fortunate, though, to have Keith Richards wander on set and mumble a couple of lines for them, weren't they? Presumably he then wandered back off to his daily tasks, which involve just as much dissolution and eyeliner.
The Proposition (dir. John Hillcoat, 2005). A Western set in the Australian outback? Guy Pierce? Penned by Nick Cave? I can't possibly explain why it's taken me so long to see this film. Everything about it sounds great. And, in reality, it's even better. Cave's influence manifests itself in the same haunting poeticism that identifies his music. It's richly beautiful and original. I particular enjoy seeing a foreign twist on what is usually considered to be a quintessential American genre. It proves that what makes good cinema transcends both cultural and genre borders. Highly recommended, even for those who don't tend to like Westerns. Maybe especially so, since The Proposition might change their minds.
The Women (dir. George Cukor, 1939). I'm sure there are in-depth academic treatises all over the place about the feminist and post-feminist and pre-feminist overtones you can ascribe to this film. The literal, original tagline was, "It's all about MEN!" But it's not, not really. It revolves around men, but the film itself is very much about its female characters, which run the gamut from wronged wife to devious tramp to thrice-divorced old warhorse to comic society gossip. It has a hugely talented cast, and a genuinely witty script, so all in all, it comes off well. Whether its forthcoming remake will do the same is anyone's guess. Mine is no.