Friday, May 25, 2007

Dear Charlie:

I beg movie-goers not to let the "reviewers" bias them when it comes to Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. I can't see what all the fuss is about. I was highly entertained, even though the movie is really really long.

Is it the best movie I've ever seen? Nope. But did that trifling detail stop me from raving over 300 or Kung Fu Hustle, etc.? Sometimes movies are just fun, and that's all they're meant to be. Why is that such a difficult concept?

This movie...well, it kinda felt like coming home. Without giving too much detail, I caught myself saying things like, "That's why Jack said the whole 'Clearly you've never been to Singapore' thing!" and "That would be why the rum's always gone" and "Now I can see why those two couldn't end up on the same ship without a fight over who's captain!" I caught myself linking images and lines and history from the first and second movies.

In a way, it's almost like Star Wars III. I felt that sense of homecoming then, too. Everything from the starting space battle to the musical cues to the Emperial soldiers' bland grey uniforms. There's something whimsical about it. Something almost soothing. It's good to come home, and it was good to settle into this movie for the longer scenes that others will probably call "bloated" or "overdone" or just plain too long.

The trip to Davy Jones' Locker, for instance. Sure, there's a lot to it. But I wouldn't have missed the Singaporean ship sailing through a sea full of stars for anything in the world. I just leaned back in my chair and smiled softly. It was incredible.

And then there's the strangely Salvadore Dali-like scene of Jack's time in the Locker. In a way, it makes perfect sense, even though you wonder what the hell is going on. It makes sense later. Sort of. Heh. But damn if it ain't fun to watch, and damn if I didn't "get" it.

And there's always the Black Pearl. God, I love that ship. It has almost become a symbol, even to the characters in the film. I root for her almost as much as for the "heroes". I feel every cannonball that pierces her spars.

Hell, I even felt for the Kraken. How could anyone do that to an old friend??

OH! And don't forget The. Best. Wedding. EVER. I might even consider getting married if I could have a wedding like that! Woot!

Pieces of Eight. Mass hangings. Pirate honor. The Keeper of the Code. The beautiful, continual betrayals. Vows and blunderbuses. Dueling telescopes, for God's sake!

And we end where we began. I'm telling you: it's a homecoming.

It's more serious than the others, though it's still hilarious in places. It's more dark. Less Disney. I mean, they hang a child. Soooooo not Disney. But it's still swashbuckling. It's still soaked in saltwater. It's still chock full of legend and honor and the clash between Freedom and Progress, between mythology and reason.

And it's still Jack. Inarguably, adorably, rum-soakedly Jack.

What's not to like?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

My Dearest Charles:

*flails about like an electrified octopus*

I saw Pirates! I saw Pirates!

*passes out because she only ate once today and has been on the move since the buttcrack of dawn and is tiiiiiiiiiired*

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Dear Charlie:

My beloved sister didn't tag me, but this did look challenging, and I love a good challenge. Here goes!

Answer all questions using only 1 word:

1. Where is your cell phone? absent

2. Relationship? ha!

3. Your hair? ridiculous

4. Work? always

5. Your sister? beloved (copied from Sis, but it's true)

6. Your favorite thing? freedom

7. Your dream last night? Raditz

8. Your favorite drink? Coke

9. Your dream car? gasless

10. The room you’re in? cleanish

11. Your shoes? on

12. Your fears? spiders

13. What do you want to be in 10 years? un-poor

14. Who did you hang out with this weekend? lawnmower

15. What you’re not good at? feelings

16. Muffin? cookie?

17. One of your wish list items? jackpot

18. Where you grew up? country

19. The last thing you did? lunch

20. What are you wearing? jeans

21. What aren’t you wearing? nunyabidness

22. Your pet? Gabe

23. Your computer? indispensible

24. Your life? entertaining

25. Your mood? variable

26. Missing? Josh

27. What are you thinking about right now? Kakarot

28. Your car? adored

29. Your kitchen? baking-enhanced

30. Your summer? balmy

31. Your favorite color? dark

32. When is the last time you laughed? still

33. Last time you cried? Evvie

34. School? fun

35. Love? life

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Dear Charlie:

I'm having a bizarro show day. First, it was Season One of the Venture Brothers. Heh. God, I love that show. Even got my brother watching it, even if only for Brock Sampson.

Now, it's Season Three of Red vs. Blue. Hilarious free-downloadable internet content. I cannot get enough of this show. I have all five seasons on my computer, but thanks to Dave, I have Season Three saved to a disc I can watch on TV. Everything's better on a bigger screen.

This...is just one of the many reasons I love this show:


Grif: They destroyed it all, Simmons. Those damn stupid bastards. They blew it all up! Damn them! Damn them to hell! Those damn dirty apes!

Simmons: Calm down, Grif. We don't know that the whole world is like this.

G: Yes, it is. They destroyed it all. I guess the society of men just wasn't meant to survive.

S: Hey, how about this: how about we explore more than two square miles before we jump to any conclusions?

G: It was definitely nuclear weapons. That's what did it. And the explosions caused massive power outages which caused the failsafe to fail which released a super-bacteria from a secret lab--

S: Oh, come on.

G: That caused a huge plague, and as the victims died, they rose from the dead twelve hours later to roam the Earth and feast on human flesh.

S: What?

G: A handful of gritty survivors from all walks of life were able to keep the legion of the infected radioactive undead at bay using only their wits and an inexplicable comprehension of agricultural science engineering. Everything was looking good...and that's when the meteor hit.

S: I think you just quoted every crappy Hollywood apocalypse movie ever.

Tucker: Nah. Hollywood doesn't understand apocolypse. They think that just one thing in everyday life goes away and that changes everything. Like in Road Warrior, it was gas, and in Waterworld, it was land.

S: What went away in The Matrix?

T: Sunlight.

G: I thought the missing element was plot.

T: I'm talking about Matrix I.

S: Oh, right.

G: Face it, Simmons. The Age of Man is done.

S: If all of that happened, where are the zombies? Why aren't they still around?

G: The meteor killed 'em.

S: And what about the super-bacteria?

G: It was infected by alien bacteria brought by the meteor and was wiped out in a massive bacteria-on-bacteria plague. Very ironic.

S: Okay. Then why haven't we been infected by the new alien bacteria?

G: It only infects other bacteria. Are you even listening to me?

T: Do you guys ever get anything done? Or do you just stand around and talk all day?

G: We don't get paid enough to do stuff.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Dear Charlie:

So. Jet Li's Fearless.

I admire Jet Li. I admire his movies. I admire his professionalism. His dedication to his art. His belief is his art.

Don't get me wrong. He's not the only martial artist/film maker that I admire. Bruce Lee. Jackie Chan. Ken Watanabi. Donnie Yen. Tony Leung Chiu Wai. Andy Lau. Takeshi Kaneshiro. Stephen Chow. I could go on, but I won't. You get the idea.

But a Jet Li movie? Sign me up. I don't even need to know what it's about. Unleashed. The One. Once Upon a Time in China. Fist of Legend.

Even Cradle 2 the Grave, in which he played a boy named Su. What, you think I watched it for the other guy?

But Fearless. Jet Li's last martial arts epic -- though he'll still act, thank everything good. I had to watch it. I wanted to watch it in the theater, but circumstances prevented that. That is my only regret in this film.

I should've seen it on the Big Screen.

Huo Yuanjia did not start his life as a hero. In fact, he's a bit of a jerk. Prideful. Obsessed. Wrong-headed about such concepts as honor and discipline and friendship and loyalty. He knows them, but he doesn't understand them.

And yet, the first scenes of the movie show him fighting with honor, with discipline, smiling with friendship, loyal to his country. How'd that happen? I mean, you go from this confident warrior in the beginning...to the past, to this asthmatic child whose martial arts master father won't allow him to fight...to this headstrong, cocky youth who has cured his asthma with wushu but gained a head about the size of China...to this obsessed-to-be-the-best young man who doesn't understand that there won't always be someone to fight and that there must be a life behind the martial arts to make the martial arts make sense, to give them place.

This is about the point where the life he has ignored takes over. Announces itself with a vengeance. Deals more damage than his own fists could ever inflict.

I think the reason this flick speaks so loudly is because the tragedy destroys him. He allows it to swallow him whole, to eat his identity, to leave him hollow and empty and useless. Then, friendship saves him. Loyalty gives him back a purpose. Peace -- the lack of any need to fight -- shows him what he should have been fighting for in the first place.

In losing himself, he gained everything his mother and father tried to teach him. Yes, he learns humility, but it doesn't weaken him. It doesn't stop his fighting. It gives his fighting purpose. It lends him perspective, objectivity, and a terrible, sad dignity.

When he returns to his old life, he sees it for the shambles it was. He discovers his true friends and remembers what they were to him before he ruined himself. He makes peace with the mistakes of his past, acknowledges them, swallows them, and gets past them to the life he missed.

And this is where the beginning finds him. This is where his confidence and loyalty during those first three competitions came from. And this is where the fourth fight comes in.

The fourth fight is with the Japanese fighter, Tanaka. The fourth fight is the end of the movie for many reasons, but mostly because it shows everything Huo Yuanjia has learned about himself and his art and his country. It shows his honor -- the honor he has earned both by himself and with his competitor. Tanaka is imminently honorable. Huo Yuanjia is imminently honorable.

That fourth fight is a treat. Not because it's astounding --although it is, and for many reason -- but because it is honor in motion. Two men at the peak of their game show the entire world what honor truly means. Yes, they would beat each other nigh to death if they could, but they would respect each other as they did so. Respect each other's skill and dedication. Admire each other even in loss.

It is that respect, that honor, that ends the movie, no matter what happens to the fighters themselves. No matter who wins or loses. No matter what worldly events hinge on the contest itself.

Respect. Honor. What else is there?

And then I watched the featurette on Jet Li himself, and it only made the movie that much more poignant. Not because it's his last, though that does put a somewhat melancholy spin on it, but because it mirrors his own beliefs, what he's learned throughout his own formidible training and dedication to his art. Watching him talk about how he wanted to make this movie to show what wushu is truly about -- mind, body, and spirit insead of violence, peace instead of killing -- all I could do was nod.

See, he worries that people have the wrong idea about the martial arts because of some of the movies made with them. A martial artist knows that violence is not the goal. Control...that's the goal. That's the key. Form, function, movement. Strength. Discipline. Honor.

These concepts are why I love the martial arts. Why I love martial arts movies. Why I'm so fascinated with Japanese and Chinese culture and art, etc. These concepts aren't foreign to my native land, of course, but...but dedication to them sometimes is. I want that. I want that purpose, that meaning.

One of these days, if I search hard enough, if I dedicate myself to it...maybe I'll find it, too.

And if anyone tells you I was this serious for this long, I'll deny it and delete this post. Heh.