Pirates of the Caribbean, Last Night, The Beaver and a batch of other new films (plus a few old ones)
There’s one film that outranks them all this week, in size at least. Johnny Depp is back on the shimmering seas of the Caribbean and bound to be raking in the money. And there are many other choices this week ranging from adultery, eating right, fighting depression with a puppet, studying a musical icon to visiting a washed-up porn star.
Here’s the lengthy list:
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 3 stars
Last Night 3
Forks Over Knives 3 1/2
Mighty Jerome 3
The Beaver 2 1/2
Meet Monica Velour 3
Bob Dylan series –
On the Bowery 4
Jumping the Broom –
A Beautiful Life --
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES: They’ve wisely trimmed down this fourth outing (it’s not as bloated as the last one) and yet I wish they’d gone over the script one more time. It needs still more streamlining because this movie is crowded with diversions. They’re big and colorful and entertaining but they do manage to chop the main story into pieces. Your mind might wander now and then.
Johnny Depp’s Cpt. Jack Sparrow is again as funny and mischievous as we want him to be. Geoffrey Rush’s Barbossa, who seemed to have died last time, is alive and working for the King of England. They’re given a mission to find the fountain of youth, in a race against the Spanish apparently, an angle that’s foolishly under-developed. It could have added tension. The real competition comes when Jack is shanghaied on to the crew of a pirate new to the series, Blackbeard, played with scene-stealing presence by Ian McShane, and his daughter Angelica, played with good-looks and not a lot else by Penélope Cruz. She and Jack have a history together, we learn, and the film injects a few ribald elements. (He found her in a convent which he mistook for a brothel). They banter, swordfight and do anything but display chemistry. It’s all light fun, like the fights and chases Jack gets into about every ten minutes early on. I particularly liked his escape in a London street by running across the top of carriages and briefly meeting Judy Dench inside one of them. Later things spice up with voodoo, zombies and sweet mermaids who can attack like vampires. The 3D is under-used and, as so often happens, to us it’s merely cumbersome. (The Park, Scotiabank and many suburban theatres) 3 out of 5
LAST NIGHT: Keira Knightley may not be hobnobbing with those Caribbean pirates anymore but she does some pretty good acting here as a jealous wife who encounters temptation herself. Her early scenes spouting suspicion on her husband (Sam Worthington, best known for Avatar) are so authentic, they’re almost uncomfortable. She suspects he’s got a thing going on with a sexy woman at the office (Eva Mendes).
Then coincidence strikes. He and the sexpot (plus some others) are off to a convention in Philadelphia. She, left alone in New York, runs into an old flame (Guillaume Canet) who she hasn’t seen in years. He’s from France and in town only one night. What’s more, he’s quietly hot to resume the relationship they once had. Temptation grows in two parallel strands in two cities. The rest of the film alternates rather mechanically between the two, coffee here, drinks there, one couple swims in a hotel pool, the other dances slowly on a rooftop. It’s too convenient, heavy-handed and not helped by some jerky, too-fast editing. But the dialogue is smart, there are also many subtle well-observed touches and you’ll stay with it to see if any actual cheating goes on. (5th Avenue Cinemas) 3 ½ out of 5