movies: pirates of the caribbean - dead men tell no tales

pirates of the caribbean - dead men tell no tales aka salazar's revenge
Just when you think it's safe to go back to the Caribbean, here comes Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales... or as I like to think of it, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Next Generation.

And I'll dig into the why later, but even for this series, this movie seems lacking in both plot and character motivations. And maybe that's because the guy who wrote the screenplay also wrote the Indiana Jones Crystal Skulls movie... so do with that information what you will.

Series regulars Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Kevin McNally (as well as a few of the other background pirates) and even Orlando Bloom are back, although Bloom only shows up at the start and *I guess maybe it could be a spoiler, but it's kind of obvious* end of the movie.

The main reason I think of this as "The Next Generation" is that taking over Bloom's role in the story is the son of his Will Turner and Keira Knightley's Elizabeth Swan is the very pretty Brenton Thwaites (and the fact that he's actually 27 has blown my mind a little... he still looks like a teenager) as their son Henry. Although I did think more than once that there appears to be more of his asskicking mother in him the few times we see him in action.

And taking Swan's role is the lovely Kaya Scodelario (of Skins and Maze Runner fame), playing a very enlightened 18th Century woman (not to mention astronomer and horologist), Carina Smyth.

David Wenham fills in the Commodore Norrington role from the first movie... but without much real motivation beyond duty or maybe revenge... I mean Norrington was trying to rescue Swan initially and just got mixed up in all the rest of the plot... and Beckett from the sequels was looking for power. I'm not really sure what drives Wenham's Scarfield. In fact I couldn't even have told you his name, as I don't remember anybody actually saying it.

Also, I think I can now put Javier Bardem on the list of actors I just don't like... part of the problem here is that he just doesn't stand up when compared to the other villains in the franchise (he doesn't really seem to WANT anything... I mean he does, but it seems like reversing his curse isn't high on that list), the other is that between his very thick accent and the combination of whispering and shouting that he does throughout the movie, I'm pretty sure I only understood about half of his lines.

And the reason that he and his crew are undead/ghosts or whatever they are... it's never explained. In the first three movies, you know... Barbossa and his crew stole the cursed gold, Jones and his crew didn't do what they promised to do and were punished with fish parts. This time, there's some establishing backstory and then some moving red light, and that's it.

On the plus side, the visual effects in this movie, particularly on Bardem's Salazar and his crew is outstanding. They've taken the "replace all the actors in mo-cap suits with CG characters" thing from the second and third movie and ramped it up to about 100.

And the costumes and makeup are, as always with these movies, amazing. The level of weathering and detailing that they do on both faces and clothes always impresses me. Especially on a character like Rush's Barbossa... but also Wenham has a level of detailing on his face that's subtle but incredible.

The story/plot is where this one really falls on it's face. Most specifically in the character of Jack Sparrow.

In the previous movies Jack feels like an active character, he's got some plan up his sleeve even if you never know what it is until it happens, he's actively searching for something (to find the Black Pearl, to rid himself of Jones's curse, to find the Fountain of Youth), but here it really doesn't feel like there's a reason why he's along for the ride. Yes, Salazar is "hunting" him, but it feels like a bit of a hollow threat that doesn't really go anywhere (compared with what feels like the same story from Dead Man's Chest).

He's not the one who's looking. Henry is (he wants the McGuffin to remove the curse on his father), Carina is (she's looking for the McGuffin to connect with her lost father), but Jack not so much. And he doesn't have a plan... there's no cross, double cross, triple cross... no wheels within wheels within wheels that on the surface seem like pure fluke but by the end of the movie seem like he'd somehow planned it all along. There's no moment of him putting the clues together, no crazy like a fox moment.

And I think the movie suffers for it. Whether that had anything to do Depp and his behaviour during the making of this movie, I don't know, but this is not the Captain Jack Sparrow we know of old.

Also, the plot does feel a little like a shake and bake remix of the plots from the previous movies combined. Take one part Barbossa and his undead pirates, one part Davy Jones can't walk on land, but there's a McGuffin that must be found, mix liberally...

There's also a couple of points where the plot feels like it derails itself with minor details for fans of the series... they introduce a whole new personality trait for Jack, only to pay it off as something that relates to his past, but we've never seen him do it before... and there's a character who's very existence depends on the internal chronology of the movies that may just work depending on how well you do your maths. And the last section of the movie leaves you asking "well, what about that plot point you haven't mentioned yet, because if this is happening, that HAS to happen"... and it does, they just get there well after the rest of the audience.

It's also interesting that they've clearly set this movie up with the potential for more, given that the McGuffin (slight spoilers) wipes out "all the curses of the ocean"... so either that allows them to say "no more movies, we have no more curses" or "lots more movies, because all of these things that were held back by curses are now free".

I'll also admit that I was kind of disappointed with the action scenes in this movie... there's a initially ridiculous but overall fun sequence that starts the movie, but I'm kind of drawing a blank at anything else... yes there is the penultimate sequence which has a lot going on, but it doesn't feel like a proper action scene (like for example, having two ships locked together on opposite sides of a whirlpool while characters swing between them and fight in the middle of a rainstorm). I think part of that feels like it comes from the lack of real confrontation between the heroes and the villain... it just feels a little limp.

For fans of the series and fans of nitpicking, this article from The Verge is an interesting read.

yani's rating: 2 ghost sharks out of 5

photo saturday: orange and blue

mermaid bardorange rainbow healing party

orange album cover chickb. r. i... maybe
It's been a couple of weeks... last weekend Ma and I had decided that there really wasn't any point in me going down, there wasn't anything we needed to do, so I just did the shopping thing, came home and that was that.

We kind of made up for it today though... but more on that later.

The Sunday after my last Saturday post was when I was due to go and pose as an artists model for the gay men's art group... which I did. And I say "group", but once again there was only two artists... but weirdly I'm pretty certain that it was exactly the same date, which coincided with Mother's Day.

It was a lot of fun though. The guy who contacted me about coming in to pose was really sweet and was very enthusiastic about having me as a model (partly because I had ideas about posing that he liked... which isn't really surprising given my history with art directing models for when I used to photograph guys). He was also an amazing artist... and I love the three quick pastel sketches he did (especially the first one). I'm pretty sure the other guy was also there the last time as well, the style of the artwork is very similar.

The coordinator guy was interested in working with me again, both with the group and just with him. But last time I posed it took four years before they contacted me again, so we'll see what happens this time. The nudity part was again a non-issue, I basically stayed naked during the whole session and I didn't feel weird about it... which is interesting.

But I'm glad I went and did it again... it would just be nice to do it when there's more than a couple of artists though.... hehe.

Last week was also Haircut Night... and there's not much to report on that front. We did the same old, same old with my hair. The only thing of note from that night was that they're moving to Stirling up in the hills before the end of the year. Which is... problematic. I don't enjoy driving into the hills, so that'll be fun. They were originally going to build somewhere closer to the city, but her partner suddenly got a bee in his bonnet about just buying a place in the hills. Don't really know why. But that's what they're doing now. The only upside is that given where I am now and where they're living at the moment, it should take roughly the same length of time to get there as it does now.

Whether I keep doing it or I try and find a new hairdresser, I don't know... training a new hairdresser is always a pain, and it won't be anywhere near as cheap as it is now.

Change, man... I fucking hate it.

Nothing of any real interest happened this week... I need to get better with my daily walks... I still haven't managed to do a whole week. Also the questionable beard continues... I did give it a fairly severe trim after I came back from the modelling gig as it was just getting on my nerves, but yeah, it's still there.

Now, on to today.

I'm out of practice of really getting my shit together on a Saturday morning, since I don't really have to right now... so while I got to the supermarket slightly earlier than I have done recently, I still wasn't as early as "the old days".

But I did the shopping, came back here, did the usual thing and then headed off to Ma's place.

The plan was to go to the movies in the morning, then go to Princess T's daughter's (or Princess P) first birthday. Yeah, about as fun as it sounds.

So that was pretty much what happened.

The movie we'll talk about later... I will say that while I was a little annoyed that they screw up our order at the place we went for lunch, it did mean that we had a legitimate excuse for getting to the party fairly late, but it did mean we were there for cutting the cake.

Also, going to a first birthday party in the Northern suburbs where you only know the people you're related to and their associated partners... it's... well it's a thing that happened. It wasn't hideous, and it was nice to be there for Princess T and La Cousina. Although I don't know who made the cake, because while it looked pretty on the outside, on the inside it was essentially four doormats stacked on top of each other and covered with pink glitter icing.

Yeah, not good.

And that was pretty much it, we came, we saw, we ate bad cake, we left... I dropped Ma at her place and came home.

Ma goes into the hospital on Tuesday for her surgery to fix her shoulder... so if you could think good thoughts at some point during the day, that would be good.

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lego: the lego batman movie - the joker notorious lowrider

the lego batman movie - the joker notorious lowrider - awkward box and background framingthe lego batman movie - the joker notorious lowrider - pimp that ride mr j
The Joker's Notorious Lowrider set from The Lego Batman Movie has been sitting on the floor by my bookcase and vaguely mocking me since the middle of March (ie my birthday)... I've intended to put it together a couple of times, but ran out of day.

Turns out that yesterday may not have been the smartest option, as the weather turned dark and dreary and I ended up with some less than stellar photos (annoyingly, if I'd done it today it would have been much better).

It's was a fun build though, and the finished piece is pretty cool looking.

the lego batman movie - the joker notorious lowrider - one, two, three, gothe lego batman movie - the joker notorious lowrider - babs, harley and j
The set contains three bags of parts, with a minifigure per bag, a two volume instruction book and a small set of stickers. And there's a LOT of Joker purple in this set, unsurprisingly (which oddly enough also ends up being the same purple as Batgirl, they match each other fairly well to be honest).

Speaking of the minifigures... The Joker in his short sleeves and Harley in her rollergirl outfit are part of why I love this set so much. I will say that Harley's hair could drive me to distraction because of the ease with which it seems to be dislodged from her head. And the fact that the Joker's flag gun doesn't make a lot of sense since a) it's a megaphone, not a gun and b) they decided that the sticker should be orientated so the text isn't horizontal when it's in the correct position. I almost changed it, but decided against it at the last second... kind of wish I had changed it now as it looks a little stupid.

Also, there's nowhere to put the gun when Joker is in the car, and Harley won't sit in the passenger seat with her rollerskates on. It's the little things, I know, but they do make a difference.

the lego batman movie - the joker notorious lowrider - knolling the firstthe lego batman movie - the joker notorious lowrider - chassis time
The first bag is the understructure of the Lowrider, along with Batgirl. the majority of this part of the build is tones of grey with some Technic pieces under the vehicle that will hold the wheels and allow the car to "bounce" (more on that later).

It ended up being a little longer than I was expecting... or thinner... but the little details like the zebra print seat covers are a nice touch.

the lego batman movie - the joker notorious lowrider - knolling the secondthe lego batman movie - the joker notorious lowrider - so much purple
The second bag contains SO! MUCH! PURPLE! And also the Joker minifig.

I'll be honest, this section was the most fun, especially the front and back bumpers and the front grill section... but just the way that pieces are used in a slightly unusual way (ie the bumpers and grills are both SNOT (studs not on top) constructions).

There were also a few places that made no sense until the next bag... mostly the boot of the car.

Also, I think this is the worst shot of the bunch... mostly from the colour perspective.

the lego batman movie - the joker notorious lowrider - knolling the lastthe lego batman movie - the joker notorious lowrider - ready to hit the open road
The final bag was mostly finishing details, along with Ms Quinn.

I do like the golden chicken as the hood ornament detail, the very pimped out wheels (although that's twice now where I've had to turn the wheels from what looks like it should be the finished side). Also, as I mentioned before, the zebra seat covers are just perfect. As is the big clown horn and that fifth wheel on the lid of the trunk.

This is the second LBM set that had rubber bands to create the suspension of the vehicle. In this case it's designed in such a way that you can push down on any of the four corners of the car to activate that suspension independently. My only problem with that is that I don't know if the car is supposed to sit in the raised or lowered position as the default. I think it's supposed to be raised, as the smallest touch of the car makes it spring back to that position, but it's a little odd.

the lego batman movie - the joker notorious lowrider - trunk timethe lego batman movie - the joker notorious lowrider - miss quinn's pin pals
The rear of both the Lowrider and Harley's jacket.

Not seen on the Lowrider is the opening trunk with the two missile launchers controlled by what I though originally were speakers under the back window... what, there's a radio back there, and a bunch of single stud round tiles... and then as you can just see over the back of Joker's seat, the little blue button that launches the missiles.

I also love that everything on Harley alternates, and before I'd even looked at the instructions, I knew that the skates had to go on the opposing colour legs (also why I put her red baseball bat into her black clad arm).

the lego batman movie - the joker notorious lowrider - they don't give a damn 'bout their reputation
Once again, a final beauty shot... and I do love Harley on the hood of the car in this... I kind of did it by accident, but just loved the way it looked.

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photo saturday: wonderwalls 2017

wonderwalls 2017 - violet (detail), amanda lynnwonderwalls 2017 - blue woman, zedr_one
I was supposed to do stuff this week... but nothing really happened.

I do fully acknowledge that my problem is one of (and I swear there's a word that describes it, but everything I keep thinking of terms out to mean something else entirely) my default state being to continue in the current direction... when I'm working, I keep doing that, when I'm not working, I find ways to fill my days and keep doing that as well. In essence it's a lack of motivation but I feel like there's a fancier sciencey term for it.

Anyway, that's my main issue just generally in life really.

On a somewhat related note, the beard continues... it's still a fairly shitty beard, but it'll do for now.

wonderwalls 2017 - sushifish (detail), fuzeillear aka claire matthewswonderwalls 2017 - secrets of the deep (detail), j2ske
As may be obvious to anyone who follows me on Instagram, the photos in this post are from the 2017 Port Adelaide Wonderwalls street art exhibition that was on from 21-23 April this year... also known as The Weekend After I Became Unemployed... so the combination of that and the whole deal with Ma's shoulder means that we skipped it this year.

But I still wanted to go down and take photos of everything, so I headed down there on Tuesday morning, parked the car and wandered from one end of Port Adelaide to the other with the aid of the Wonderwalls map/program.

Given the quality of said map, I didn't manage to find everything, but I found a lot of pieces... none of them were quite as enormous and impressive as a couple of the really big pieces from last time, but it's nice to see that post of those old pieces are still around.

I spent a couple of hours wandering around, took a lot of decent photos and had some lunch at a so-so bakery, then headed home. It was nice to be out and about, and it was nice to be actually taking photos and seeing stuff.

wonderwalls 2017 - blocks, sgtheartistwonderwalls 2017 - octoborough (detail), masika 126 aka craig masika
The rest of the week was a little bit of nothing much really.

Oh... I made a pretty decent pea and bacon soup this week, if I remember next time I may get some ham steaks to use as the "in soup meat"... the fried bacon that I added back in after everything was blended was good, but a little tough at time.

This week I'm going with a potato and leek soup... possibly with a bunch of parmesan cheese mixed in.

I also used some leftover taco meat on a pizza this week... it wasn't bad, but I only ate half of what I'd made and didn't bother keeping the other half as I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have reheated particularly well. Had there been less of the meat and maybe more other stuff it may have been better, but it was essentially just meat and cheese, so it was a bit much.

wonderwalls 2017 - very 80's detail, jake holmes and joshua searsonwonderwalls 2017 - knight in shining armor (detail), telmo miel
Today was essentially a cookie cutter version of most of the recent weeks.

I got up and kept to my own timetable this morning (as in I aim for a time and miss it, sometimes by a little, sometimes by a country mile)... did the usual shopping thing, actually seemed to have bought a lot of stuff, but I don't really know how or why, as it all seemed to just disappear when I got back here and unpacked everything.

Then it was off up the road to Ma's place, podcast wedged firmly in one ear. And we did the same thing as usual, heading off to the shopping centre to wander around and pick up a few bits and pieces.

The main thing we were looking for was a present for Baby P's (Princess T's daughter) birthday present. And because we like the classics, we went with a pewter money box, hippo shaped and quite cute looking.

wonderwalls 2017 - sam brooks in the style of john william godwardwonderwalls 2017 - skull, trvisualarts aka thomas readett
I don't seem to have ever blogged about it, but way back in 2013 I arranged with a local gay men's art group to go and pose for them as an artist's model... you know, all naked and whatnot.

It was something I kind of wanted to do before I turned 40 the following year, it was a pleasant afternoon spent laying around naked while people drew me. Granted only a couple of them, it was one of those "whoever turns up turns up" groups, and a little like this weekend, it was also Mother's Day, so possibly that kept the numbers down.

And last Saturday night the guy in charge of the group messaged me to see if I was perhaps available for this Sunday... I'm guessing they must have had a cancellation and he was trolling through his phone looking for any other potentials... and he found me and I said yes.

I mean it's not like I had any major plans for tomorrow afternoon... and really, why the fuck not.

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movies: guardians of the galaxy vol 2

guardians of the galaxy vol 2 - you only get one chance to save the galaxy twice
On the surface, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 should not work. I mean, c'mon... the first one shouldn't have worked either.

On paper, the concept of a dude stuck in the 80's, a green warrior chick, a massive guy who is just literal, a bioengineered trash panda and a talking, walking tree just should be a bridge too far.

But goddamn, this movie works and may even exceed the previous one. My hat goes off to writer/director James Gunn for once again putting together an incredibly watchable movie.

This movie had me essentially from the very first moment... or at least from the opening credit sequence. It was both a riff on the first movie as well as being so entertaining (and giving the people what they want... more Baby Groot!)... and the choice to focus on Groot and not the big action scene in the background just sets you up for the style of the rest of the movie. It's clear that once again, this movie will feature a strong soundtrack as well as not take itself too seriously.

And unlike last time, because this movie didn't need to tie itself in any obvious way to the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe, it let the antagonists feel more... fully formed. Don't get me wrong, like the majority of the MCU movies, the antagonists are always the place where the movies tends to fall on it's face. And this is much the case here as well.

The Sovereign are visually stunning, with their gold on gold on gold aesthetic and overwhelming desire for vengeance, however they seem a little toothless at the end of the day. The other antagonist should really be a spoiler, however if you've ever seen a movie or an episode of a TV show in your life, you KNOW as soon as he arrives that he's a rotten apple that is going to be revealed before the end of the movie, and will be the thing that the heroes need to stop.

Which is exactly what happens.

Not that it's not an interesting journey, and the movie never really tries terribly hard to convince the audience that he's actually a good guy, so you just spend the movie wondering when the shoe will drop.

Once again the cast does some great work, although with more character to service this time around and with more of the storyline really revolving around Chris Pratt's character, it does feel at times as though the other characters are given either rudimentary plot elements or slightly overlooked.

The worst of these is Gamora, Zoe Saldana's character, who does some great work with Karen Gillan, but it's mostly confined to one sequence in the latter half of the movie. For the record, I'm on record of not being a fan of Gillan, however I will say that her slightly short character arc here is actually quite moving, and actually had me on her side over Gamora's (possibly because Nebula gets all the development in that storyline and Gamora gets a single scene at the end).

I was slightly annoyed with Bradley Cooper's Rocket Racoon this time around... it makes sense at the end of the movie, but he's pretty much a dick throughout the whole movie, so it's kind of hard to really be in his corner until the very end during his scene with Michael Rooker (who actually gets some interesting character moments this time around). Vin Diesel still gets props for saying three words with different inflections and yet still somehow having his name at the top of the movie poster. It's nice work if you can get it. Baby Groot is too damn adorable throughout the whole movie, but I really think his animation team deserves all the credit for that.

Pom Klementieff does a fantastic bit of acting as empathic Mantis, she manages to pull off a wide eyed and innocent persona, and has some lovely moments with Dave Bautista... although his character feels like it was rewritten to be more for laughs than it was in the previous movie, where the humour came from him saying something blunt and that being shows as funny by one of the other characters, here it feels like they've gone a little too far the other way, making him a little too self aware somehow.

Props also have to go to Kurt Russell for managing to be both believable as a father, a living planet and a man with a plan and an agenda, all without seeming to do a massive amount of shifting between the three emotionally. There really isn't a huge tonal shift in his performance, which I think makes more sense... he's just himself (as in the character) and what other people know about him at any point shouldn't really change that. It was also nice to have that (spoiler alert) shift in his character at the end of the movie avoid all the scenery chewing and moustache twirling that sometimes comes from that situation.

I also really enjoyed Elizabeth Debicki (last seen in that kind of scenery chewing role in The Man from UNCLE) as the High Priestess of The Sovereign... Debicki does "haughty" exceptionally well, and that was brought to bear again here.

I was genuinely moved by the story a couple of times, but mostly it was a fun movie with more than a few laugh out loud moments.

yani's rating: 4 Anulax batteries out of 5

photo saturday: signs

jazz croci don't love you

puppets in the same sick playsneakers and sign
I've now been an unemployed bum for a total of two weeks... and I'm growing a beard.

Sadly, my ability to grow a decent looking beard is somewhat questionable, or else two weeks isn't enough to make it not look like a malnourished dead squirrel stuck to my face. I'll give it another week or at least until it bugs me too much.

I didn't do a post last week because there really wasn't a goddamn thing to talk about, doubly so because I didn't go up to Ma's place.

The only thing that really happened of note that week was I went into the city to get my new glasses, which showed up in record time (and unlike last time didn't take three or four tries due to lens breakage). Oh, and I went to Tink's for my haircut... but that's a regular occurrence.

Mostly I've just spent a couple of weeks reading books, watching movies and a bunch of YouTube and did a bunch of housework (including doing some sorting out of my DVDs). And tried not to panic overly about the future.

I have now decided that trying to make a giant pot of soup (or in the case of the week just gone, the mother of all pots of stew) and then having it for every meal is a giant mistake and you get bored of that shit pretty fast.

This week I only left the house twice... once for a slightly disappointing hookup and once for my chiro appointment.

Like the rest of the two weeks, today wasn't overtly exciting.

I went and did the shopping this morning... came back, unpacked, then headed up to Ma's. I had half a plan to either go and see a movie or go out to Port Adelaide to track down the Wonderwall street art pieces... Ma wanted to do a bunch of things at her shopping centre, so I figure I'll go and do that myself sometime during the week maybe.

We did the usual circuit of the shopping centre, then went to the movies... then afterwards went and had a very late lunch or possibly a very early dinner at Schnithouse... which was very nice, as always. I have a fondness for the one that comes with mashed potato and a sausage... it's just nicer than the usual fries.

Anyway, I dropped Ma home and then headed back home myself.

So, yeah... my life is pretty fucking boring right now.

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