Saturday, May 27, 2017

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales review

After watching the bloated third Pirates of the Caribbean film , I thought I would not have the stomach for more. But hey, I'm like a lot of moviegoers. Okay, let's see the next Jack Sparrow adventure. And Disney knows this. That's why they keep pumping these movies out. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Pirates) is the fifth of the Pirates series. The movie is like a whale. It starts out in life as a baby full of promise, growing into a majestic beast but then dies and is washed ashore as a bloated, decaying mess.

There are times when you write a screenplay, you may be asked to sum up the plot in one sentence. Let's see if I can do it for Pirates. Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), the son of Will Turner, is searching for the Trident of Poseidon which will break the curse that has imprisoned his father as the Captain of the Flying Dutchman. There, I did it. If only things were so simple.

Of course, there's more to this movie than a one sentence plot summary. Henry must seek the help of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) Why? Well, he's the star of the series. Savvy? The two run into a proto-feminist Carina Smythe (Kaya Scodelario) who's charged with being a witch when she's really an astronomer. Why don't we throw in Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) because he was so much fun in the first three movies. Of course, this being a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, there's got to be some kind of fantasy thing happening. That comes with Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) who is after Sparrow for his eternal curse as a ghost pirate. You see Salazar runs around the American southwest with his pageboy haircut, killing people with a silenced shotgun. Um... sorry that's the plot to No Country for Old Men He does represent death in both. I'll bet that Bardem would like to stop being typecast as a villain.

With all those plot threads, there's some basic problems. First, I appreciate strong female characters and also some liberal metaphor. Carina is a scientist in an unscientific age. The men are dumb. Okay, so far so good. But where this metaphor goes awry is that she's seeking something that is out of fantasy and will deal with things that are not scientific. Hard to say science trumps that. Now Kaya Scodelario's performance as the heroine is smart, charming and she lights up the screen with her natural beauty. However, she can't carry this movie with all the crazy stuff happening around her. That brings us to Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. I get it that Sparrow likes to drink. But he's pretty much drunk during the entire movie. It made it hard to understand what Sparrow was saying because Depp was slurring his lines. Savvy? No.

I don't know if directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg (Kon-Tiki) story boarded this movie. Because it doesn't show up during action set pieces. Outside of the early bank robbery piece, all of the action is a jumbled mess of fast cuts. It's hard to figure what is happening. Add to hat is that this movie is badly lit. Yeah, I get it. There are night scenes and underwater scenes. Guys, this is a movie not a documentary. Those dark scenes make the action hard to see. There are a few redeeming factors. Some of the jokes work with their sexual innuendo. And okay, it's good to see Captain Jack. He'ls like your loopy, drunk uncle.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is one bloated mess of a movie. It needs to be shorter as the movie just keeps going on and on. There must also more swashbuckling and that means physical sword fights. There was way too much CGI. I would wait to rent it. Finally, there is an end credit scene hinting at a sixth movie. Yep, I've got a pirate curse. I'll probably see that one too. They'll probably call it Pirates of the Caribbean: The Search for Box Office Gold. The grade is B Minus.

The Russian Spy in the White House?

The Washington Post is reporting that Jared Kushner, White House adviser and son-in-law, to President Trump wanted to set up a secure and secret communications channel between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. This occurred in December of 2016 after Trump won the election. Washington Post.

What does it mean? Without knowing the reasons why Kushner would want a secret way to talk to the Russians, we can only surmise. You can bet it's not about exchanging a top secret borscht recipe. What we can deduct is that the Trump Campaign and the Russians wanted to avoid surveillance by the United States government.


1. Maybe Trump is so paranoid of the Obama administration that he thinks that he is spying on him. Okay, but why the secret channel with just Russia?

2. Reset the relation with Russia. But why the secrecy from America? I mean you don't want to negotiate in public. Still, there's no reason to avoid American intelligence unless you plan on doing something illegal. That leads us to the darker reasons.

3. The Russians are blackmailing Trump. Look, we know for a fact that Trump really likes Putin. Why? Does Trump owe money to Russian oligarchs who are in turn loyal to Putin? Is there really a "pee" tape? The Kremlin using such a channel could then direct its desires on Trump. Ukraine sanctions? Gone.

4. Collusion between the Russians and the Trump Administration. Maybe the Russians and the Trump campaign colluded to defeat Hillary Clinton. So now, maybe the Trump administration and the Russians can work together. Quid pro quo. Ukraine sanctions? Done for hacking of future political enemies.

The more logical and unfortunately darker reasons were underscored last night on MSNBC's program All In with Chris Hayes. Former CIA official Malcolm Nance highlighted the espionage angle.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Hilarious. Trump's NATO push as a nature documentary

Funny or Die hits a home run on this nature parody using the video of President Trump shoving another NATO leader aside so he can get his picture taken. Check it out. Riotous.

Republican Joe Scarborough blasts fellow Republicans for lying about cuts to Medicaid

Today, on Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough blasted President Trump's OMB Director Mulvaney for the lie that they "don't cut Medicaid." (Video below) Scarborough cites the Wall Street Journal that says Trump wants to cut 850 billion from Medicaid. Folks, that's not a liberal paper. I agree with Scarborough. If you want to cut Medicaid, and force costs to the sick as part of your health insurance plan, don't lie about it. The thing I disagree with Scarborough about is that Trump is a Democrat. Nope. His policies are conservative Republican. By the way, I agree with Senator Bernie Sanders. (D-Vt.) We need a single payer health insurance plan.

Stephen Colbert has some new funny lyrics for The 59th Street Bridge Song

Here's Stephen Colbert with new lyrics created for Paul Simon's "The 59th Street Bridge Song." ("Feelin' Groovy") He performs it with the man himself, Paul Simon. The new lyrics reflect our modern, angst ridden times. Hey, if we're going to die, might as well go happy. Funny stuff from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hilarious. Stephn Colbert on Trump's foreign trip

Stephen Colbert was a riot last night on The Late Show. First, the show starts out with fictional postcards from Trump. Then there was his hilarious monologue. Here they are. Enjoy.

Farewell, Sir Roger Moore

Actor and humanitarian Roger Moore passed away today. He will be always remembered as one of the actors who played James Bond. While I found his Bond performances to be on the whimsical side with a tongue in cheek, I always thought of him to be graceful, charming, classy and of course, very English. Starting with Moore's third outing as Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), his Bond movies to me were cinematic comfort food. Farewell, Roger Moore. You may have left this planet but will always be in our hearts. Here's his performance in the opening of For Your Eyes Only. (1981)