Tag Archives: Geoffrey Rush

Lost at Sea

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

by Hope Madden

Summer is the season for amusement parks, and in that spirit Disney rolls out the closest thing cinema has to a theme park ride – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

Pros: New directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg (Kon Tiki) keep the pace tighter, the tale more seafaring and the visuals more interesting than in the last few (almost unendurable) installments.

Cons: Disney has brought the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise back.

The series began as a pretty enormous gamble, taking a popular Disneyland ride and turning it into a movie.

Brilliantly, this put the not-yet-self-indulgent talent of Gore Verbinski behind a camera, but let’s be honest, it was Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow that made the film.

All swoozy and splishy, drunk and dodgy, hilariously rock and roll, Sparrow made all of us wish for the pirate’s life. It was fun. It was ingenious, even a bit subversive. It was nearly 15 years ago.

In the meantime, Cap’s adventures have taken on the stench of bloat.

By 2017, Depp is a has-been with a terrible drinking habit. Sure he’s still cute, but there’s something a tad pathetic about him and the consistently bad choices he makes.

As Jack Sparrow, I mean.


Geoffrey Rush returns as Barbosa – intriguing as always. He’s joined by Javier Bardem, arguably one of the three or four best actors working today, wasted here in an underwritten, toothless role. He plays about 2/3 of dead sea captain Salazar, blandly bent on revenge.

What – zombie pirates? Next you’ll tell me Jack’s about to be executed in a town square, or find himself stranded with crazies on a desert island. Or that there will be a pirate cameo from a classic rock star.

Oh, Paul McCartney…

The accursed Salazar wants Sparrow. Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) – son of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) – wants Sparrow too, to help him find Poseidon’s Trident, which can break all the curses of the sea and save ol’ Dad.

Also there’s a young female love interest (Kaya Scodelario) – a woman of science mistaken by society as a witch. It’s a storyline that could have been interesting, I suppose, but Jeff Nathanson’s screenplay uses it to nod toward feminism while glimpsing a corset-pushed bosom.

Dead Men Tell No Tales (they do, by the way – tons of them) might seem to some an affectionate wrap up of a once-beloved and now tolerated family film series. Don’t believe it – Rønning and Sandberg are already tapped to direct Episode 6.

Can Poseidon’s Trident put an end to this franchise?


Building a Mystery


By George Wolf



“Emotions are like works of art…they can be forged.”

That line from writer/director Giuseppe Tornatore‘s The Best Offer strikes at the heart of an often captivating mystery that becomes hampered by contrivance.

Geoffrey Rush plays Virgil Oldman, a leading figure in the Vienna art world.  A master auctioneer, Virgil is also frequently called upon to appraise various items set for auction, and to distinguish actual treasures from clever forgeries.

From the opening scenes, Rush draws us to his character, inviting curiosity about Virgil’s fussy, fastidious nature, and his strange inability to look any female in the eye for more than a fleeting moment (“Virgil Oldman” is but one letter removed from “virgin old man,” you see).

A mystery begins when Virgil takes a call from Claire (Sylvia Hoeks), an heiress who invites him to inventory the entire contents of her family estate. Slowly, Virgil becomes obsessed with the reclusive Claire, and he turns to his young friend Robert (Jim Sturgess) for help in relating to the fairer sex.

Saying anything more may be revealing too much, though there is a good chance you’ll guess what’s going on before the final reveal.

Tornatore displays nice pacing early on, and some sublime camerawork throughout, but the film begins to unravel as events require too much suspension of disbelief.

The filmmaker again shows his penchant for metaphor, with odes to deception and authenticity that will be impossible to miss, and a dark psychological tone miles away from his wistfully nostalgic  Oscar-winner Cinema Paradiso.

There’s nothing wistful about this film, in fact it could have used more of the winking, mischievous spirit Donald Sutherland brings to his few scenes as an art collector.

Still, Rush is (surprise) a joy to watch, and The Best Offer will keep you engaged just from waiting to see how far “out there” it’s willing to go before Tornatore regains his footing for a nicely understated postscript as the gavel finally drops.