Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
2011 USA. Director: Rob Marshall. Starring: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Ian McShane, Geoffrey Rush.
The best since the original, the two in between were well-directed in need of scripts, here is a film that has a script in need of a director. Rob Marshall is serviceable, and visually there are some great moments (the mermaid attack for example), but you can instantly tell despite the same visual palette and same general actors and characters, something is off, something is not quite right in how they are playing out. It is not the script, it is just as funny and adventure-heavy as the original, but Marshall is no Verbinski, say what you will about the quality of the franchise under his direction, he did give some life to the proceedings, made all the more apparent from his absence here. Despite this deficit, because there is an actual story capable of being followed and because it feels at times like a Allan Quatermain romp in search of the Fountain of Youth, I will gladly take On Stranger Tides over the previous sequels, flaws and all. [Originally published on Letterboxd]
1939 USA. Director: George Cukor. Starring: Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard, Mary Boland, Joan Fontaine, Virginia Weidler, Marjorie Main, Lucile Watson.
Don’t ask me to count how many times I’ve seen this movie. I couldn’t do it, and yet every time I’m just as delighted (probably more) than if I were seeing it for the first time. It’s gimmick film to a degree, with its no-men-on-screen conceit, but it hardly depends on that gimmick, relying rather on an incredibly sharp script by Anita Loos (from the play by Clare Booth Luce) and some of the cattiest, most entertaining performances by some of the biggest stars of the era. The dialogue and delivery is enough to praise on its own, but I also love the way it brings so many different perspectives on relationships and marriage into the spotlight. I wouldn’t call it a particularly deep look at marriage, but pretty much everything is represented here, from the woman who loves her husband almost unconditionally, to the young wife who’s still figuring out how to make decisions jointly to the hopeless romantic who’s been married six times to the one who’s just after what she can get to the mother of eight to the matron with decades of experience to the young child who can’t understand why her parents don’t just “do something” to save their marriage. It’s got everything, and everyone has surprises up their sleeves without ever breaking character. Can’t get enough of it. [Originally published on The Frame]