Words By S.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Filed under: Film — S @ 10:27 am

Pirates movie poster

I wanted to wait until after the opening weekend to write this, but then thought, why? If you don’t want the film ruined for you, just don’t read it. Simple as that.

The third Prates installment, At World’s End is an interesting film, for sure. I saw it last night in a packed theatre. It was a good thing we fandangoed our tickets, or else we definitely would not have gotten in. We arrived at the theatre about 40 minutes early, thinking that it would help us get good seats easier, only to be greeted by a humongous line. We got decent seats (we ended up not having to sit in the very first row, thankfully) and commented on how few people dressed up like pirates, as we would have originally have thought. There were a few that wore full pirate garb, full maiden garb, eye patches, and Mickey Mouse ears with pirate bandannas on.

Interesting, to say the least.

The movie started off quite eerily. Actually, it was downright creepy. The opening is a new ordinance being read that says “anyone who is a pirate, harbors a pirate, or aids a pirate in any way will be put to immediate death, no trial.” As the ordinance is being read, the viewer watches as droves of prisoners are lead to the gallows to be hanged. The bodies are then cut down, thrown into a pile, and the next lot is up. This continues until a small boy, could be no more than ten, is lead to the gallows. He is holding a coin and starts to sing:

Yo ho, all together
Hoist the colors high.
Heave ho, thieves and beggars
Never shall we die.

It gets creepy, however, as one by one everyone at the gallows starts to sing with him, as well as the hundreds, possibly thousands of prisoners waiting to take their turn. It’s similar to the Mickey Mouse Club song being sung in Full Metal Jacket by all the soldiers in Vietnam marching among snipers, bombs and desecrated buildings and carnage.

Top of the list of “Creepiest Moments on film” for sure.

Cut to a disguised Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightly) singing the same song while rowing along a river in Singapore, where the true action begins. It is here that we meet Sao Feng (played by Chao Yun-Fat) and his Chinese crew of pirates as they face off with Swann, Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and their crew.

It is also in the opening where this installment starts feeling really bizarre, what with all the mutinies going across the board. It almost seems as though everyone has a mutiny against everyone, to the point that at some moments, it’s just confusing and we’re left wondering why it is that these people are even working together in the first place.

But, all goes well, and Swann, Barbossa and crew get Sao Feng to agree to give them a ship and crew so that the may go to Davy Jones’ Locker to rescue Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp).

As the crew is doing their death defying sail to save him, we see just how Jack Sparrow is faring in this place of death and isolation. In a scene that felt as if I was watching Secret Window all over again, we see Sparrow aboard The Pearl hallucinating and just going crazy. Envisioning himself as both the captain and crew, we witness his madness in a somewhat comical sense (we also get the pleasure of seeing numerous shirtless Depps which is a treat in itself). It was beautifully acted and funny, but it felt all too familiar.

As the story goes along and Sparrow is rescued, we find out that there are even more secret motives in this film. Elizabeth Swann has her own, private reasons for wanting to rescue Jack; Barbossa has his reasons; Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) seems to sort of just be there for the ride, as he merely wants to get to the Flying Dutchman in order to save his father. A very funny moment in the film occurs when Sparrow asks, “Did anyone want to rescue me just because they missed me?” which also seems to set a theme for the entire film.

As illustrated in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Sparrow does explain that the pirate nature is to be underhanded and dishonest, “you can always trust a dishonest man to be dishonest,” and this seems to overtake At World’s End a bit too much. There was a moment in the film when I turned to my friend and remarked, “this is like watching The Godfather“. As the movie went on, there was even more mutinying as Sparrow makes his own secret deals with all the captains for his own gains.

Though the film is set up to be that Swann, Barbossa, Turner, and Sparrow are the heroes, I found myself wondering if anyone but Barbossa is actually a hero in the film. This film had a lot of good qualities to it, but it had an outstanding number of bad qualities.

There are a lot of funny moments in the film – not least is the addition of Keith Richards as Sparrow’s father. There are also a number of supernatural themes running throughout the film, not limited to the Calypso storyline. The most annoying storyline, however, is the William Turner/Elizabeth Swann love story. The one moment of true heroism, and the largest fight scene in the entire film, is completely ruined by the marriage of Turner and Swann. The absurdness of having the two of them share a newly wedded kiss in the middle of an all out war on the sea was unbelievable and disappointing.

It was said that At World’s End would be the final installment in the Pirates series, however the left the ending wide open for more to be included. My only hope is that, having resolved the Turner/Swann story, should they decide to make more, that the two of them will be left out.

In all, I didn’t hate this film, but I most certainly didn’t love it. Perhaps giving it another viewing or giving more than 12 hours for it to sink in would give birth to a final opinion of the film rather than uncertainty. However, I have most definitely seen much much worse.

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Saturday, 19 May 2007

I Hate You = I Like You… A Lot.

Filed under: Relationships — S @ 10:24 pm

A question I feel the need to pose is, do we ever develop beyond childhood when it comes to expressing our interest in the opposite sex?

When you are under the age of ten, typical boy/girl relationships consisted of teasing, hair pulling, name calling and taunts. The more one of those “cootie ridden” boys picked on you meant the more he liked you. He especially liked you if he shoved you so that you fell in the mud and scraped your knee in the process.

When you reach your adolescent years, there’s The Game. You all know it – you stare at the person you like and look away if they look in your direction as if they would never notice. And vice versa. Lather, rinse, repeat as needed.

What about when you’ve reached adulthood? Do we instantaneously revert back to our old childhood tactics?

We still tease, pick with those we like by doing the things our counterparts dislike the most, and there’s the occasional name calling and taunting, and as outlined in the previous entry, we still play the staring game. So when is it that we start to move beyond the old, childhood tactics and develop more adult ones?

Do we ever develop adult methods when it comes to showing our affection for the opposite sex?

Is this behavior so ingrained in us that we are devoid of an inner, adult voice that tells us to act like normal human beings around those we are attracted to?

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Confessions of a Budding Feminist.

Filed under: Bitch magazine,Feminism,Personal realizations — S @ 7:13 am

Allow me to paint a pretty little picture for you: One blistering cold winter day, two female friends decide that they have gone far too long apart from each other, and decide to enjoy each others’ company. The two women talk of life, future prospects, foreign travel, vegetarianism, interior decorating, graduating, work, political matters, and… women’s issues.

One woman says to the other that she has been reading this fantastic feminist magazine that is so completely different from other feminist publications and is so completely well-written and compelling that the other young lady absolutely must read it.

One of these women embraces the feminist culture and is proud to proclaim to the world that, “Yes, world, I AM A FEMINIST!” The other woman, not so much.

The other woman, without realizing it, is a proclaimed feminist waiting to happen. This soon-to-be-realized feminist has all the makings of one. She’s rational, opinionated about the treatment of women in today’s society, has somewhat progressive ideas. She fully embraces and understands the plight of women, historically. She has taken full advantage of the work done for women’s suffrage, having been registered to vote since the day she turned 18. But something in her is apprehensive about embracing all things feminist.

You see, for her, the “feminists” she has known have always been the type to not only embrace the notion that they are victims, products of living in a patriarchy; but also have done nothing but complain about the glass ceiling and have attempted to push their false ideals and agendas onto others. For her, these pseudo-feminists have been angry, militant, professors, friends that can’t seem to take even the simplest joke (hey, sometimes that blonde joke is funny), and, well…downright bitches.

This woman, her experience with today’s feminist has been largely negative. From receiving penalties in grades for not conforming to the deeply flawed ideals of a feminist professor to ridicule for shrugging at a “chauvinistic” remark someone may have said, by a feminist friend. She has read the “SCUM Manifesto” and felt her stomach turn from disgust.

The young lady has not only been shunned by the feminists she knows, but has shunned feminists in return. She is not the type to allow herself be pushed around or to let anyone attempt to shove their idealisms down her throat. She has said (more often than not), “Take your ‘oppressive patriarchal society’ and shove it. I’m not a victim and I refuse to act as though I can’t make it in this society. I’m strong, goddamnit, and you’re not going to change me!”

This girl, this woman, did not realize that in refusing to conform and to succumb and to refuse to act as a victim and her determination to make something of herself, in fact, makes her a feminist. It was not until this conversation with the friend of hers in which she read this amazing feminist magazine, that she realized that she just may be a (gasp!) feminist!

The woman in the pretty little picture, that’s me. The magazine, that’s Bitch.

Bitch magazine has compelling, thought provoking, poignant articles about feminism and how women are portrayed and treated in popular culture. It does not attempt to sway with an agenda, it doesn’t expect the reader to embrace every article, and it certainly has a sense of humour. But, most importantly – it’s written by real women telling their stories.

It’s so good, in fact, that I have started a subscription to it.

I received my very first copy of the magazine yesterday. I arrived home to see it waiting for me on my coffee table, and I eagerly curled up on the couch and devoured as much of it as I could.

Of all the articles written in this issue, I think that one of the best is an opinion article entitled: “This is What a Feminist Should Look Like”. And yes, I am going to reproduce it for you, right here (it’s short, so fear not).

This is What A Feminist Should Look Like

By Samhita Mukhopadhyay and Jessica Valenti of Feministing.com

One of the great things about the blogosphere is that it allows for all kinds of feminist voices to be heard – and that those voices don’t always agree. After all, what fun would feminism be if it was all sisterhood and perpetual consensus? (Er, don’t answer that.)

But as important as discourse is in the online feminist world, sometimes a kerfuffle arises that goes above and beyond. The most recent? Feminist policing – bloggers fighting over what makes an “appropriate” feminist.

Jill Filipovic of Feministe got the ball rolling when she did something that – while pretty par for the course in third-wave circles – set the blogosphere aflame. She admitted to the oh-so-terrible sin of being “one of those feminists:” “Yes, I am a ‘fun feminist.’ I wear high heels and I spend too much money on lip gloss and I get Brazilian bikini waxes and I secretly liked Sex and the City, even though I swore I would never, ever admit that on a feminist blog.”

And the floodgates opened. One blog, Molly Saves the Day, argues that by waxing and wearing heels, Jill was “going along with the patriarchy” and being a crappy feminist role model. All of a sudden, the feminist blogosphere was arguing over what a feminist should look like. And that’s not pretty. But to the credit of feminist bloggers, what started as a feminist-policing series of posts transformed into a real discussion of the feminist aesthetic – namely, the question of whether one exists.

Popular blogger Shakespeare’s Sister noted that while “a woman who makes a conscious decision to wear make-up and high heels and remove body hair specifically to be attractive to men is about as antithetical to my personal aesthetic as it gets…the problem is not that there are women who conform to a cultural expectation of ‘perfect womanhood’ imposed on women, but that a cultural expectation of ‘perfect womanhood’ exists in the first place, rendering other expressions of womanhood ‘less than’. ”

Amanda Marcotte from Pandagon wrote, “That our society exploits women’s desire to be attractive to the opposite sex is not the fault of the women that are thus exploited… Criticize the standards, sure. More importantly, criticize the power imbalances that make women have to act for men much more than vice versa. But the purity rituals are stupid.”

And at Feministing, we cursed our way through an analysis: “I am so fucking sick and tired of people telling me how to be an appropriate feminist – or what a feminist looks like. I suppose that all of my feminist work over the past ten years is shit because I shave my underarms?”

Some feminists go for “feminist trappings.” Some don’t. But isn’t the whole point that women should be able to decide for ourselves what our appearance means to our feminism – and if it means anything at all? When we start trying to enforce a strict code of conduct – especially one that includes a dress code! – for “real” feminists, we’re in serious trouble.

As with every bit of literature and information received, take it with a grain of salt. That said, this is one hell of a poignant article, particularly for a woman grappling with her inner-feminist. Though, on some level, everyone knows that it matters fuck all what you look like when it comes to embracing an ideal or life within a sub-culture, but to have the validation and the personal testimonials of, “hey, I’m a feminist and I’m not afraid to embrace my womanhood and looks. And yes, I like to be pampered and look pretty. Got a problem with that?” means a lot, particularly in a forum such as Bitch.

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