4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Pirates, Woody, and Keira

We sail into the Sargasso Sea of summer, where movie sequels trawl for box-office kelp. But then, off to Paris!


Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Having taken in way over two billion, even more than Donald Trump spends on hairspray, the Pirates of the Caribbean series doesn’t need (but demands) the extra loot of No. 4, On Stranger Tides. I enjoyed slabs of the last one, At World’s End. The effects-driven mania was so insanely wasteful that it was like a rich, happy moron’s rebuke to every critic with taste. Also, I figured that was the last big cruise.

But no, the party splurges on, as a bonus for loyal multitudes. Though more focused than the last two, there is again a stretching of story by vast expenditure. Again the atmosphere of congested murk helps to both display the effects and disguise their seam lines. It all pivots, of course, on Johnny Depp as Capt. Jack Sparrow. Looking about as rigged-up as any sailing ship, Depp is like a mincing jester from some private, campy version of Pirates of Penzance. He preens in the role, chews its tasty morsels, spits out lines that pass (in context) for wit and irony.

Sparrow goes looking for his lost ship and for the Fountain of Youth in Florida. His rivals are ugly Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and ugly Blackbeard (Ian McShane), whose gorgeous daughter (Penélope Cruz) is clearly a genetic wild card. The story’s best oomph is an oceanic surge of sexy, hissing mermaids, including the stunning Gemma Ward and lovely, superbly named Astrid Berges-Frisbey.

Special effects arrive like tsunamis, and there is a strained attempt to carry moral cargo with a hunky but noble missionary (Sam Claflin), lines about redemptive sacrifice, and a Spanish admiral who scorns the fountain as a pagan affront to his Catholicism. Little of that will register with the sub-18 demographic or with people who simply like to wear 3-D glasses (the realism comes not only from extra depth, but the added blur during action scenes).

Although diverting, Rob Marshall’s movie remains the bloated symptom of cultural limits. In the May 26 New York Review of Books, Nathaniel Rich looks back at the risk-loving films of the early ’70s and closes with a delicate dirge: “The blockbuster franchise is still alive, but teetering...the only players in Hollywood who are granted real freedom to experiment are the technicians. They’ve been making great strides, as anyone who has seen Avatar can attest. The images are becoming three-dimensional, the special effects are more staggering than ever, and the sound is uncannily crisp. Something is missing.”

★★


Midnight in Paris

Getting out of “his city,” New York, has been good for Woody Allen. He used Britain sharply in Match Point. Spiced by Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, Spain gave Allen’s wit a sexier charge in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Now Paris is the city of his fancy, in Midnight in Paris. The French capital puts a beautiful foundation under the soufflé pleasures of the story, an amusing sprint of pensées and frissons about nostalgia.

Gil (Owen Wilson) has come to Paris, head crammed with fantasies of being a novelist, sick of being “a Hollywood hack who never gave literature a real shot” (painter Gene Kelly was such a cliché in An American in Paris). Along with him, like pretty baggage, is fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams). She wants an A-list life in Malibu and can’t fathom Gil’s desire to walk around Paris, preferably in the rain. The cartoon element of the movie is in making Inez a shallow, shopping materialist with an arch-Republican dad who sneers at the French (don’t many Republicans love Paris?). When Inez snarks about “the mystique of this corny city,” we want to put her on a cattle car to Siberia.

Allen has contrived one of his best surrogates in Gil, using the vanilla appeal of Owen Wilson, a genial blond who is almost the Doris Day of dudes. Wilson’s charming innocence suits Gil’s addiction to Paris and what it means to art, books, movies, and lovers. In a beautifully managed conceit, much like The Purple Rose of Cairo, Allen has Gil stroll and taxi right into his preferred Paris of the 1920s. There he finds a beauty (Marion Cotillard) who responds with a mind-trip of her own.

Paris preens as the most civilized of damsels. The film opens with about 30 shots of landmarks, and Darius Khondji’s photography remains a thrilled tourist. And we get Gil’s dazzled, gawky, grateful responses to suave Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Huddleston) and his flippy Zelda (Alison Pill), and to absurdly macho Ernest Hemingway (look-alike Corey Stoll), plain-talker Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates, perfect), vain Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody), and surreal but perplexed Luis Buñuel (Adrien de Van).

These are fond snapshots of artists being pickled for lasting fame, but still accessible. The movie name-drops with a blithe bounce, and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, France’s wow First Lady, plays a museum guide irritated by a pedant. The humor, though not stuffy, is mainly for Allen’s New Yorker audience, who can chuckle at the bookish gags and savor the Cole Porter songs. The ending is romantic without dumbing-down the aura of whimsical celebration. This delectable American salute to Paris is the best since Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset (2004).

★★★


Last Night

How swell it must be to act opposite Keira Knightley, except that she makes the other actors seem expendable. Those eyes, that skin, those lips, that pearly briskness of Brit-ness! Dominic Cooper was swamped by Keira in The Duchess. She broke Matthew Macfadyen’s snooty crust in Pride & Prejudice. James McAvoy held his own in Atonement, mainly because he had a terrific war sequence.

Her star again sparkles in Last Night as Joanna, Manhattan freelance writer and mildly bored wife of Michael, who cooks construction deals. Poor Sam Worthington is stuck playing Michael. Minus the blue skin of Avatar, he is blue in another way: manly, smart, handsome, but dull. He flips into a hotel fling with his associate Laura (Eva Mendes, who has boudoir lips but is no Keira). Suspicious Joanna frets into some side-action involving alcohol, Manhattan restaurants, a sweet dog, and prolonged toying with the potential for sex.

Massy Tadjedin wrote and directed Last Night on the soberly nuanced side of chick-flickness. Though no Anita Loos, she relishes the nuances of flirtatious intrigue, and she uses Knightley like a stellar candelabra. But the film only comes to erratic life when Joanna is pondering whether to reignite her past flame with sensitive French stud Alex (Guillaume Canet), who is like a muscle truffle on a buff baguette. They dither through many tempting moods. The “story,” loyal to Basic Screenwriting parallels, keeps ducking off to the Mendes-Worthington affair, which is mendacious and not worthy. No man, it seems, is quite worthy of Keira.


L’amour fou

Pierre Bergé is a Parisian of taste, dignity, and deep loyalty to the memory of Yves Saint Laurent, whom he served as lover, enabler, and business brain during most of the couturier’s long career. Pierre Thoretton’s documentary shows us major YSL designs on fabulous models, tours the couple’s lavish homes, and drools over their many expensive possessions. It offers only winks of the personal life, the fashion craft, the reasons for YSL’s mystique. Interviews, mostly with Bergé, are seldom insightful (invoking Marcel Proust doesn’t make you Proustian). Saint Laurent’s alcoholism and neurotic depression cast flickering shadows, but L’amour fou is short on crazy love — no rival at all to the disturbing American documentary Crazy Love.


Newly reviewed in the capsules: Skateland.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

The Marksman: Liam Neeson season

Relax. It’s a movie.
Next Article

Why was OB Pier report held back?

Popular site doomed by a sag, cracked pilings, corrosion, spalling

We sail into the Sargasso Sea of summer, where movie sequels trawl for box-office kelp. But then, off to Paris!


Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Having taken in way over two billion, even more than Donald Trump spends on hairspray, the Pirates of the Caribbean series doesn’t need (but demands) the extra loot of No. 4, On Stranger Tides. I enjoyed slabs of the last one, At World’s End. The effects-driven mania was so insanely wasteful that it was like a rich, happy moron’s rebuke to every critic with taste. Also, I figured that was the last big cruise.

But no, the party splurges on, as a bonus for loyal multitudes. Though more focused than the last two, there is again a stretching of story by vast expenditure. Again the atmosphere of congested murk helps to both display the effects and disguise their seam lines. It all pivots, of course, on Johnny Depp as Capt. Jack Sparrow. Looking about as rigged-up as any sailing ship, Depp is like a mincing jester from some private, campy version of Pirates of Penzance. He preens in the role, chews its tasty morsels, spits out lines that pass (in context) for wit and irony.

Sparrow goes looking for his lost ship and for the Fountain of Youth in Florida. His rivals are ugly Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and ugly Blackbeard (Ian McShane), whose gorgeous daughter (Penélope Cruz) is clearly a genetic wild card. The story’s best oomph is an oceanic surge of sexy, hissing mermaids, including the stunning Gemma Ward and lovely, superbly named Astrid Berges-Frisbey.

Special effects arrive like tsunamis, and there is a strained attempt to carry moral cargo with a hunky but noble missionary (Sam Claflin), lines about redemptive sacrifice, and a Spanish admiral who scorns the fountain as a pagan affront to his Catholicism. Little of that will register with the sub-18 demographic or with people who simply like to wear 3-D glasses (the realism comes not only from extra depth, but the added blur during action scenes).

Although diverting, Rob Marshall’s movie remains the bloated symptom of cultural limits. In the May 26 New York Review of Books, Nathaniel Rich looks back at the risk-loving films of the early ’70s and closes with a delicate dirge: “The blockbuster franchise is still alive, but teetering...the only players in Hollywood who are granted real freedom to experiment are the technicians. They’ve been making great strides, as anyone who has seen Avatar can attest. The images are becoming three-dimensional, the special effects are more staggering than ever, and the sound is uncannily crisp. Something is missing.”

★★


Midnight in Paris

Getting out of “his city,” New York, has been good for Woody Allen. He used Britain sharply in Match Point. Spiced by Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, Spain gave Allen’s wit a sexier charge in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Now Paris is the city of his fancy, in Midnight in Paris. The French capital puts a beautiful foundation under the soufflé pleasures of the story, an amusing sprint of pensées and frissons about nostalgia.

Gil (Owen Wilson) has come to Paris, head crammed with fantasies of being a novelist, sick of being “a Hollywood hack who never gave literature a real shot” (painter Gene Kelly was such a cliché in An American in Paris). Along with him, like pretty baggage, is fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams). She wants an A-list life in Malibu and can’t fathom Gil’s desire to walk around Paris, preferably in the rain. The cartoon element of the movie is in making Inez a shallow, shopping materialist with an arch-Republican dad who sneers at the French (don’t many Republicans love Paris?). When Inez snarks about “the mystique of this corny city,” we want to put her on a cattle car to Siberia.

Allen has contrived one of his best surrogates in Gil, using the vanilla appeal of Owen Wilson, a genial blond who is almost the Doris Day of dudes. Wilson’s charming innocence suits Gil’s addiction to Paris and what it means to art, books, movies, and lovers. In a beautifully managed conceit, much like The Purple Rose of Cairo, Allen has Gil stroll and taxi right into his preferred Paris of the 1920s. There he finds a beauty (Marion Cotillard) who responds with a mind-trip of her own.

Paris preens as the most civilized of damsels. The film opens with about 30 shots of landmarks, and Darius Khondji’s photography remains a thrilled tourist. And we get Gil’s dazzled, gawky, grateful responses to suave Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Huddleston) and his flippy Zelda (Alison Pill), and to absurdly macho Ernest Hemingway (look-alike Corey Stoll), plain-talker Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates, perfect), vain Salvador Dali (Adrien Brody), and surreal but perplexed Luis Buñuel (Adrien de Van).

These are fond snapshots of artists being pickled for lasting fame, but still accessible. The movie name-drops with a blithe bounce, and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, France’s wow First Lady, plays a museum guide irritated by a pedant. The humor, though not stuffy, is mainly for Allen’s New Yorker audience, who can chuckle at the bookish gags and savor the Cole Porter songs. The ending is romantic without dumbing-down the aura of whimsical celebration. This delectable American salute to Paris is the best since Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset (2004).

★★★


Last Night

How swell it must be to act opposite Keira Knightley, except that she makes the other actors seem expendable. Those eyes, that skin, those lips, that pearly briskness of Brit-ness! Dominic Cooper was swamped by Keira in The Duchess. She broke Matthew Macfadyen’s snooty crust in Pride & Prejudice. James McAvoy held his own in Atonement, mainly because he had a terrific war sequence.

Her star again sparkles in Last Night as Joanna, Manhattan freelance writer and mildly bored wife of Michael, who cooks construction deals. Poor Sam Worthington is stuck playing Michael. Minus the blue skin of Avatar, he is blue in another way: manly, smart, handsome, but dull. He flips into a hotel fling with his associate Laura (Eva Mendes, who has boudoir lips but is no Keira). Suspicious Joanna frets into some side-action involving alcohol, Manhattan restaurants, a sweet dog, and prolonged toying with the potential for sex.

Massy Tadjedin wrote and directed Last Night on the soberly nuanced side of chick-flickness. Though no Anita Loos, she relishes the nuances of flirtatious intrigue, and she uses Knightley like a stellar candelabra. But the film only comes to erratic life when Joanna is pondering whether to reignite her past flame with sensitive French stud Alex (Guillaume Canet), who is like a muscle truffle on a buff baguette. They dither through many tempting moods. The “story,” loyal to Basic Screenwriting parallels, keeps ducking off to the Mendes-Worthington affair, which is mendacious and not worthy. No man, it seems, is quite worthy of Keira.


L’amour fou

Pierre Bergé is a Parisian of taste, dignity, and deep loyalty to the memory of Yves Saint Laurent, whom he served as lover, enabler, and business brain during most of the couturier’s long career. Pierre Thoretton’s documentary shows us major YSL designs on fabulous models, tours the couple’s lavish homes, and drools over their many expensive possessions. It offers only winks of the personal life, the fashion craft, the reasons for YSL’s mystique. Interviews, mostly with Bergé, are seldom insightful (invoking Marcel Proust doesn’t make you Proustian). Saint Laurent’s alcoholism and neurotic depression cast flickering shadows, but L’amour fou is short on crazy love — no rival at all to the disturbing American documentary Crazy Love.


Newly reviewed in the capsules: Skateland.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Turning down an offer to join the Grateful Dead

Jeff Berkley, Carnifex, Earthless, Julia Sage, Anthony Davis
Next Article

Disclosure-shy developers draw hand-slap ethics fine

Three-day filing deadlines stretched three weeks by pro-tax housing campaign
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close