Sunday, December 28, 2003

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN

The movie industry never ceases to amaze me and that's probably part of the reason I'm so drawn to it and repulsed by it. The variations keep me attentive.
I think I can say that this is the first work on any kind of film produced by Jerry Bruckheimer that I've enjoyed. Usually he's the WalMart of film.
Director Gore Verbinski is good though. He's a proved himself to be really good director thus far. I've heard nothing but good things about The Ring (I'm still terrified of seeing it.) Personally, I'm a big fan of Mouse Hunt. I feel it was under rated. Part of what I love about it is that the whole film wraps up as a metaphor for enlightenment. Verbinski seems to have the good sense to work on movies with good writers.
And the writers are having a lot of fun with this movie. Almost too much fun. I was interested in the form this movie took. I can see that they looked long and hard at the ride and picked out elements that they felt they needed to include in the movie. I suspect that they formed the rest of the plot around these points.
I'm imagining that the fun script and the cool director is what got Johnny Depp on this project. I've also heard people speculate that he did it because he has kids now and he can't exactly set his toddler in front of the tv with a video of "Ninth Gate." I can't tell you why Depp decided to do Pirates except for one thing. I feel I can make one claim about his motivation based on his history for certain. Undoubtedly Johnny Depp did this movie because he damn well felt like it. Long may he wave.
Then there's crazy old Geoffrey Rush, great B character actors like Lee Arenberg, and Orlando Bloom who's in terrible peril of having happen to him what the studios have been wanting to do to Johnny Depp for twenty years. It's a movie with a bunch of hammy character actors doing a good job, sure, but mainly just goofing off.
It was a shallow well done movie. Notice I don't say good movie. And notice I don't say film. I had fun watching it but I also used to have fun eating Fun Dip. I used to like to eat the stick of sugar first and then just pour the colored powdered sugar into my mouth.
Now, anyone with half a brain should be able to tell you that this movie's function is entirely on the side of entertainment. And they'd be right.
I mean, it's a very guilty pleasure for me. I know what film as an artform has the potential for. It can change lives. It can cause people to look at things differently, look within themselves in ways they wouldn't have on their own. It has the power to change the world. And it doesn't always have to be all heady My Dinner With Andre (although I love that as well.) It can bring great change and be as much fun and entertainment as anything. It can work on people without them even realizing it. My example is Kevin Smith. His films are full of dick and fart jokes and, if you're not careful, will get you thinking about religion, relationships, and one's sense of self.
On the flip side, in my opinion, pure entertainment that is totally socially irresponsible isn't nessicarily always a bad thing (unless it's ubiquitous within a culture and unless profitmongering studios gut quality for the sake of a safe box office draw. In my experience, both are usually the case in the "blockbuster"genre.) I like to escape. In fact, I believe that creating an escape to a grim reality is often the best and most effective way of attacking that grim reality. Like in Brazil.
The Grateful Dead is a good example. Rather than protesting the evil war in Vietnam like all of their contemporaries, they created a functional, lucrative, and self sufficient society based on love, mutual respect, expanded conciousness and groovy music.
I'm going to frustrate some people out there in Bloggerland by saying right out that I'm not saying any absolute with this review. Here I've begun arguments for using films for changing the world and for a little pure entertainment being just as efficacious. Now I'm walking away from both arguments. I'm just using Pirates as an introduction to some conflicting ideas I have about entertainment and art. I may work these out eventually or I may not. I liked Pirates, but I also realize that it takes forty bowls of Pirates to equal the nutrition of one bowl of My Dinner With Andre. I guess my point is that I know this and I'm not going to die from malnutrition from Pirates, but I am going to enjoy some jazzy mind numb every once and a while for kicks. But I ain't going to live there and I sure as hell ain't going to write something like Pirates myself.

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