Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean 4

Thin plot, great action and an excellent Johnny Depp. That pretty much sums up ”Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”, the fourth instalment in Disney’s adventure series about Captain Jack Sparrow.

The movie is directed by Rob Marshall and in many ways it marks a new beginning to the series. The old plot from the first three movies, where the love affair between Will (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) played a central part, has been replaced by a flimsier plot with the relationship between Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and Angelica (Penélope Cruz) as the turning point. In “Pirates of the Caribbean 4”, Jack is forced by his former lover Angelica to join Blackbeard's crew and to lead them to the Fountain of Youth. Both the Spanish King Ferdinand VI (Sebastian Armesto) and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) are after the Fountain, too, and on the way they have to encounter deathly mermaids and retrieve a couple of silver chalices from a grounded ship.

The plot as such is not very interesting and neither are the characters apart from Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow and Geoffrey Rush’s Barbossa. Barbossa is really hilarious this time, serving as a smarmy privateer to the British Navy. It is a pleasant surprise, too, that Keith Richards is repeating his part as Jack’s father Captain Teague and Kevin McNally is back as well as Gibbs, Jack’s former First Mate. I suppose Stephen Graham does an okay job too as Jack’s new funny sidekick Scrum, but here the fun ends for me. Yes, Ian McShane fills the part as Blackbeard, but to be honest I had a hard time telling him apart from both Barbossa and Captain Teague and the love affair between the missionary Philip (Sam Clafin) and the mermaid Syrena (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) is no match to the old Will/Elizabeth love story. That brings us to the other love story of “Pirates of the Caribbean 4”, the one between Jack and Angelica, which just doesn’t ring true. Penélope Cruz is not convincing as Angelica and I don’t know what seems most unlikely; that Angelica grew up in a convent or that she is the true love of Captain Sparrow. She is boring and her thick accent is more than annoying.

When that is said, I must admit that I enjoyed “Pirates of the Caribbean 4”. It is tighter and funnier than part 2 and 3 and I loved the action scenes, the mermaids and Johnny Depp’s acting. Too bad that the 3D effects weren’t used for much, though. You could as well have seen the movie without.

The way “Pirates of the Caribbean 4” ends, I’m sure there’ll be a part 5 in the future. Hopefully without Penélope Cruz. Please, bring back Keira Knightley. Elizabeth ruled!

Three out of five stars: ***

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

J. K. Rowling press conference in Odense, Denmark, October 19, 2010

On October 19, 2010 J. K. Rowling received the first “H. C. Andersen Literature Award” in Odense Concert Hall, Denmark. In that connection she gave a press conference where she answered questions from the Danish and foreign press. Here is the transcript:

Q: What do you see as your greatest achievement?
Rowling: It’s a pleasure to put money for example towards medical research. Multiple sclerosis is an area that I’m interested in. That was the disease that killed my mother. To be able to do things like that is a real privilege. I never imagined that I would be able to do that in such a scale. I think I’ve always tried to do something, but it increases your power when you have the resources. I’m proud of that.

Q: What inspires you?
Rowling: Everything, to be honest with you. I really need to write and I needed to write from a very early age. Harry Potter was far from the first thing I had written and I need to write now. It hasn’t gone away. After the publication of the seventh Harry Potter book - which could have been a very, very difficult time for me – for a few days I felt berefted, I thought it was over. The thing that shocked me, the thing that moved me so much and upset me so much, was that I can’t write it anymore: How awful. Getting past that there was only one solution and that was to keep writing. So it’s very difficult for a writer to say what inspires them. It’s a mysterious process, but I remain inspired.

Q: Are you used to adults screaming and shouting when you enter a room like it happened today in the concert hall?
Rowling: It has happened before. I must be honest with you. I did an event in Carnegie Hall in New York which was the closest I’ll ever get to know how it felt to be a Beatle. It was an extraordinary thing and it was very similar today to walk into a room and have a reception like that. I can’t imagine who wouldn’t enjoy that. It was amazing, just fantastic.

Q: The entire Harry Potter story is soon finished in both books and films, so what would you say to all the Harry Potter fans who want more?
Rowling: I would say…oh, goodness, me…I would say, it’s not over in the sense that you can always go back and read them. I think I have probably written my last Harry Potter book, but I’m not going to say never. Always through all these years I’ve always said that I don’t want to rule out the possibility of another book, because I might want to do it. When I’ve had a ten year break – and I say ten years for some reason, but maybe it won’t take that long for me to feel the need again - then it is possible. So don’t be too sad.

Q: What does it mean to you personally to be connected with Hans Christian Andersen and what are you writing on now?
Rowling: He’s the Shakespeare of children’s literature, that’s who he is, that’s how great he was. The standard of his works was so consistently high. What is extraordinary about Andersen is, and I’m aware that like Shakespeare he didn’t invent all of his plots, yet it’s his stories that have become the definitive form. We all know Andersen’s versions from his fairy tales. So it is a massive honour. He was an extraordinary writer. My favourite of his stories is the one with the tin soldier and the paper ballerina, which I think is a beautiful, beautiful story and of course he invented that. That wasn’t a copy story. Yes, it’s an immense honour. What am I writing now? I’m writing several different things now. After the Harry Potter finish, it was as though I had the reverse of writer’s block. All those ideas I’d had to put in notebooks and put aside over the years that I was doing the Harry Potter books, I’m now going to explore. It’s sort of an explosion and it has been fun.

Q: Do your life feel empty now that Harry Potter is over?
Rowling: No, not at all because I’m still working very hard and I’m very fortunate in that I have three children and a very happy marriage. I’m not going to deny that the ending of Harry Potter was immensely difficult in some ways because I’d been writing it for seventeen years and it was seventeen quite turbulent years in my life and I was always able to return to Harry. It was a constancy in my life and I think if I hadn’t had other things in my personal life, after the books were finished it would have been very difficult for me. But no, my life is not empty. It’s the reverse of empty. I have a very busy life.

Q: Are you still in contact with the actors from the movies and are you close to them?
Rowling: Yes. Some more than others. And I can truly say that you’d have to go a long way to meet nicer, more intelligent, well-adjusted young people than those actors. I last saw most of them at the opening of the Harry Potter theme park, which was a really nice reunion. It was lovely and I write to a few of them: We have quite close relationships, which is really nice.

Q: Have you ever been in Odense – Hans Christian Andersen’s town – before and are you going to stay a few days?
Rowling: We arrived yesterday so my husband and I had a small explore yesterday which was very nice. It’s beautiful and I had no idea that Odense is so beautiful so we definitely need to come back and explore it some more.

Q: One of your colleagues in fantasy writing is Stephenie Meyer. Have you read Twilight?
Rowling: I’ve not read Twilight. I merely wrote to Stephenie when she… I don’t know how this happened because I’m not a computer expert, but it was reported in the press that one of her Twilight books had been accessed by someone who shouldn’t have had access to it, which must have been very distressing, and I merey wrote to her then and said that I could identify strongly with the difficulties of writing something that is very eagerly awaited which obviously is mostly pure pleasure, but occasionally it is a little straining. I had journalists searching my dustbins when I was writing Harry Potter and it was sometimes quite surreal. I’m quite glad to be away from that.

Q: What do you see as the future for fantasy for kids?
Rowling: I’ve always said and I maintain this, that there will always be fantasy and I think another author will be sitting here in a hundred years time and they will have written a book about magic. There is something very elemental and primitive and important to us about magic. We seem to have a need for it.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Weezer – Hurley

Weezer’s eighth studio album Hurley was released in September, 2010. Named after Hurley from Lost, it’s a quaint, up-beat pop rock album and the first one released on an idie label. It combines the elements from former Weezer albums, the intimacy, the anthems, the experimentalism and the out right great songs and you’ll detect threats back to pop and rock from the sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties. It’s entertaining, energetic and enjoyable.
There is not one track on Hurley that I don’t like, but when that is said, I have to admit that I like the first part of the album better than the second. My favourite track is probably Memories, but it’s hard to decide, as there are several contenders. Memories is a catchy, dynamic songs with great lyrics about being Weezer for the past sixteen years seen from front man River Cuomo’s perspective. Truly a hilarious hymn to the band and its past.
Ruling Me is another great track. With its chunky guitars, steadfast drums and efficient chorus, this song is a piece of extremely well-composed pop rock.
Unspoken is also favourite of mine. Don’t let the acoustic guitar and Rivers Cuomo’s sweet vocal at the start of the track fool you. It builds up, the lyrics gets darker, the drums harder and the strings and guitars aggressive. True grit.
Finally I have to mention Where’s My Sex? I really like that track. Never mind if the lyrics are about sex or socks, I like the heavy guitars and overall sound, although the middle section seems a little out of place and like a completely different song.
As for the four bonus tracks, I like them all, especially All My Friends Are Insects written by Adam Deibert and Represent (Rocked Out Mix), the unofficial theme song for the US Men's Soccer team..
In short I find Hurley a great Weezer album. There’s something for everyone, no matter what Weezer era you prefer and it’s a good introduction album if you’ve never heard Weezer before. Thumbs up!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


ABIII is the third album from Alter Bridge, released in October, 2010. Quickly fans and critics came to agree: this album is one of the best rock records of 2010 and I think they’re right. The album is darker than Alter Bridge’s previous ones and it’s not as easily digested, which is very becoming. It shows Miles Kennedy as the excellent front man that he is, Mark Tremonti gets to show off his guitar wizardry and Brian Marshall (bass) and Scott Phillips (drums) make up a tight, powerful rhythm section.
ABII consists of fourteen tracks, broody, melodic, heavy and dynamic. There are plenty of great songs to choose from like Isolation, Ghosts Of Days Gone By and I Know It Hurts, but my personal favourite is the album’s opener Slip To The Void. It sets the dark mood from the start and is completed by classic Tremonti riffs and Kennedy’s outstanding vocal performance. Epic.
Among my favourite tracks you’ll also find All Hope Is Gone, which starts of slow and broody, then picks of pace. Although it is a dark track, Tremonti’s riff adds an almost 16th century folk song atmosphere to it, completed by Kennedy’s soulful vocal.
Wonderful Life is also worth mentioning, a melancholic ballad, although uplifting in its delicacy. The album’s most beautiful song, in my opinion.
Finally I’d like to mention the sinister Coeur D'Alene, heavy and melodic at the same time with a crunching riff, great vocal and catchy chorus.
To me ABIII is Alter Bridge’s darkest and most elegant album so far with its superb vocal, riffs and harmonies. No matter if you’re an Alter Bridge fan or not, this album deserves a listen to, so give it a shot if you haven’t already. Maybe you’ll end up liking it as much as I do.


How come that I, a fifty-five year old Danish woman, is completely mad with “Hope World” by a twenty-four year old Korean guy named j-...