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Stronger

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Pondering 'Pirates'

by Roger Ebert

Not a review of “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.” Just some idle speculation:

1. Does the word “shipshape” mean nothing in the pirate navy? Their ship, the Black Pearl, looks like it should be dipped in Easy-Off Oven Cleaner.

2. By what evolutionary pathway did nature supply Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) with a face of squirming octopus tentacles? What is the advantage? To help him win a hot-dog eating contest?

3. All of Davy’s crew members seem to have spent long years in the briny deep, their faces being colonized by lower orders of marine life. They look like the “before” in a before-and-after advertisement when the “after” is scrofula.

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4. Is Johnny Depp, that splendid actor, signed up forever? Let him take as a cautionary note that Johnny Weissmuller once ranged up and down the aisles of a flight to Cannes, uttering the Tarzan yell.

5. Discuss in 500 words or less: “There is nothing so tedious a nonstop excitement.” — Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com. 

6. There’s a cute monkey, who like many movie animals, always supplies the correct reaction shot. But with cannon to the left of him and cannon to the right of him, isn’t it miraculous that he never has an accident on a sailor’s shoulder? Or, given the state of their uniforms, would we be able to see it?

7. Somewhere on that floating sinkhole of decay, Keira Knightley has found a bathtub, a vanity table, a hairdresser and a wardrobe.

8. In a swordfight, Depp has his sword hacked in two. He thrusts the stump into his scabbard. Later, he pulls out his sword again, and is surprised to see it is only a foot long. What kind of pirate forgets that his sword is hacked in two?

9. We learn that at sundown a flash of green sometimes appears on the horizon. What French art film also depends on that phenomenon? Which French author first mentioned it?

10. The movie was inspired by the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride at Disney World. If they film “It’s a Small World,” does that mean all those cute little dolls have to die?

* * * *

ANSWERS to #9: The French art film is Eric Rohmer's 1986 "Le Rayon vert" ("The Green Ray" -- released in the U.S. as "Summer"). The French author is Jules Verne, who wrote a novel published in 1882 also called "Le Rayon vert."

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