July 12th, 2003


Pirates of the Caribbean

Saw "Pirates of the Caribbean" last night. It's so good that it's unsettling -- given that it's Disney, given that it's a movie based on a theme park ride. Somehow the tone is perfect throughout; humorous in a way that manages to be both broad and tossed off.

Depp is brilliant; much has been made in the 'real' movie reviews of how he's somehow captured that swashbuckle that's been missing in movies, but that's not it exactly. His whole physical presence is goofily apropos -- his walk is equal parts neuro-damage Ozzy Osborne and girly-butch John Wayne; and his arms wave around him, limp-wristed, in a way that suggests both effeminacy and a desparate attempt to maintain balance. He conveys convincingly someone who is completely in the moment at all times, as though everything that happens to him is a complete surprise and a great cosmic joke. He spends the whole movie trying to regain his stolen ship, but at the same time he seems not to really care one way or another, so long as he stays alive to crack another joke and escape the noose.

Kiera Knightly is easy on the eyes, and can do an awful lot with just her left eyebrow. She is potentially quite a star, in that there's a constant appealing persona that's consistent from role to role. Orlando Bloom as the 'good guy' lead does his best in what's always the least interesting part in any Disney movie -- the hero. The movie could have only been improved by letting him in on the joke.

Visually it's a beautiful movie as well, great sets, costumes, photography. I wish they wouldn't edit the action scenes like a music video, because it takes away from really seeing what is happening, and draw attention to the stage-combat artifice by seeking to distract from it.

Geoffrey Rush is, as always, an arresting presence in the movie, and probably gets more good lines than Depp. He really sells the business about the pirate's curse in a way that's almost too naturalistic for all the camp business that goes on.

Most fun I've had at a movie this summer; worth seeing twice.

The grand debate about how Democrats can lose the election


They say basically what I've been saying, is that you can only win by turning independents and undecided voters, but the article seems not to know what to do, really. I think Dean is probably better than anyone gives him credit for; he talks progressive now but is really more of a moderate; if he, in the post-primary campaign, manages to couple his populism with a centrist message that actually sells through to independents he might have something.

How this all plays out is going to be interesting, and probably a bit horrifying. Bush is on track to have $200 million to spend during the primaries, when he'll be running unopposed! Part of the reason the Republicans have move the convention to September is to give them more time to burn thru all that cash. They get ANOTHER fat pile of cash after the convention. They have enough fucking money to basically buy prime time blocks several times a week on the network. It will be like 1984 -- Bush's monkey face will be on screen instead of Big Brother, telling us black is white, war is peace, and ignorance is strength.