Friday, May 27, 2011

Pop Culture Roundup

Still reading The Pastor. Weird that it's still the only book I'm reading, isn't it? A review really is coming. Just be patient.

We saw Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides this past week. I am a fan of the Pirates franchise, even the second and third installments. Yes, those two were incredibly convoluted and had way too many characters and plotlines going at once, but as big silly action movies go, I enjoy them. The first, of course, is my favorite. It had the perfect balance of character and story, and also didn't take itself too seriously while also managing to have some good serious moments. Having given that long prelude, how'd number four do? We meet back up with Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow, who has been involved with trying to find the Fountain of Youth. Unfortunately for him, so are several others: his old foil Barbosa, a group of Spanish explorers, and Blackbeard (Ian McShane in classic sinister mode). The new wrinkle for Sparrow is Blackbeard's daughter Angelica, played by Penelope Cruz, for whom he seems to still care even after a bad breakup years earlier. Additional subplots are Blackbeard trying to escape a prediction about his fate, Barbosa wanting to have a crack at Blackbeard due to a grudge, and the relationship between a captured missionary and a mermaid. It may not sound like it, but this installment was much more streamlined than its two immediate predecessors, with all characters heading in the same general direction. My primary complaint is about Angelica, as at multiple points I wasn't sure whether the movie wanted me to like her or suspect her over and against Jack. By the end, are we supposed to feel sorry for her or be glad that she gets what she does? Her character wasn't very well-defined in that sense. But overall, considering expectations, the movie was pretty good.

I also watched Observe and Report this week, to my regret. Seth Rogen plays Ronnie, a mall security guard with serious violent tendencies and delusions of grandeur, exhibited by how seriously he takes a case of catching a guy who flashes mall guests. Ronnie, who must be in his late 20s or early 30s at least, still lives at home under the very protective eye of his alcoholic mother, and has little to no social skills outside of what he does at the mall. Eventually, we do learn that he has a dream of becoming a police officer, which he pursues, even excelling during the evaluation and training portion of his recruitment until it comes time for his psychological evaluation. In response, he spirals downward into a deeper self-loathing pit than he was in previously, until his final strange moment of redemption that makes sense given the rest of the movie but also didn't give me much hope for his future. I only watched this movie because Coffeewife was having a girls' night out, it was on, and I probably wouldn't have watched it otherwise. On her drive home, she asked how it was. My best answer for her then was that it's not a bad movie in the sense that the acting, plot, or characters are poor...between Rogen, Anna Faris, and Ray Liotta, they do okay in those departments. I just found the story to be sad and pathetic. I felt sorry for Ronnie, but didn't feel like cheering him on. The last 15-20 minutes of the film seriously bothered me because he never gets the help he clearly needs. Instead, he pretty much ends up right back where he was at the beginning with little growth, change, or hope. But normally, people who do some of the things that he did wouldn't even have that option. So I found this movie irritating and sad, but not really entertaining.

A friend on Facebook linked to a website called White Whine: A Collection of First-World Problems this week. It's a blog that posts screen captures of Facebook statuses featuring the complaints of the overly privileged, clueless and selfish. The front page, for instance, features a lot of complaints about Iceland's volcanic ash screwing up plans for cruises and European tours. Another person complains about his Porsche covered in dust. Woe is us.

As one would have expected, they had a tribute to "Macho Man" Randy Savage this past week on Monday Night RAW. Here it is:

And it was Bob Dylan's 70th birthday this past week, so here's "Obviously Five Believers" from Blonde on Blonde: