What We’re Watching – 5/26/2011
Looking over some of the films I’ve recently seen, I’ve noticed that my taste in movies ranges dramatically. From a 1950s Italian comedy to a 1980s tense thriller to a 2011 movie with pirates and mermaids, it seems that there really isn’t a place in film that I won’t at least try (except, of course, snuff films and things like that—thanks but no thanks). It’s hard to limit my taste, because to disregard a certain kind of movie means dismissing a film that you may potentially love if you gave it a shot. Sometimes, I wish I were only interested in one specific genre of film, but alas, that is not the case, and when thinking about it, knowing that I’m drawn to all kinds of genres has led me to only one absolute: I need to watch more movies.
The White Sheik (1952)
I mentioned in my last entry that I rewatched Federico Fellini’s Amarcord (1973) and changed my mind about it. There is no secret that I am an admirer of his work. He has a way of telling his stories with a flare and type of bounce that only he can, which made me look forward to this film, which is credited for being one of his early, straight comedies. The story involves newlyweds: Ivan Cavelli (Leopoldo Trieste) and his virginal wife, Vanda (Brunello Bovo). They have come to Rome while on honeymoon so that she can meet his family and visit the Pope. What Ivan doesn’t realize is that Vanda has a deep love for the actor Fernando Rivoli (Alberto Sordi), better known as “The White Sheik” from the soap opera by the same name. Vanda sneaks out of their hotel room and visits The White Sheik while on location filming, in hopes of meeting him. The rest of the film follows, amusingly, Vanda meeting the real man and Ivan desperately trying to hide her disappearance from his family. While I did enjoy the movie, I can see that this was an early entry for Fellini, and the film didn’t quite have the insight and emotional impact that his later work would incorporate. Look out for Giulietta Masina, Fellini’s wife, playing the role she would eventually return to in Nights of Cabiria (1957).
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
Well, here we are once again, mateys! Good old Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), the lovably drunk-looking pirate captain, is back, and this time he’s in search of the legendary Fountain of Youth! While I very much enjoyed the first film in this franchise, and was surprised to enjoy the second just as much, the third, with all of its silliness and incomprehensible story threads, left much to be desired. Here, director Rob Marshall (who takes the reigns from Gore Verbinski) crafts a film that feels more stripped down, a little less overblown than the last one. Jack Sparrow takes center stage, as we learn about his long-lost love Angelica (Penelope Cruz), and her desire to find the fountain as well. The menacing pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane) is the villain this time, wielding a magical sword that can control all the elements of his ship. There are a number of returning faces, including Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), who now leads the British expedition hot on the heels of Sparrow and his crew. While I think that the movie is definitely a step up from the third entry of the series, I do think that it falls well below what it could have been. Sparrow has always been a fun and eccentric person, but I’m not sure if he’s the right character to be the lead of the film. There never seemed to be any kind of tension, no real urgency for everyone to find the fountain. Blackbeard was not nearly ruthless or dangerous enough to be a memorable villain, and the ending felt like a letdown. Many scenes took place at night which, combined with the horrible 3D, led to certain shots that just looked too dark. While I didn’t hate the movie, I sure hope the next one (which obviously is going to happen) will fix the issues that this one has.