Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Johnny Kitties: Celebrating Johnny Depp Film #43–The Rum Diary (2011)

[What is Johnny Kitties? See Johnny Kitties: Celebrating Johnny Depp for all the details.]






The film, ultimately, is a celebration of Hunter and his language and his discovery of his voice. It's before Hunter became Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. I think he'd be very proud.  Johnny Depp on The Rum Diary






This one's for Hunter.
The Rum Diary, which is based on Hunter S. Thompson's only novel, follows Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp), a young American journalist who is in San Juan, Puerto Rico, having accepted a position at the local newspaper, the San Juan Star, for which he is assigned to write the horoscopes and report on the bowling alley beat. New in town, and with lots of drinks and other questionable substances on the side, Paul observes the locals, from the privileged and untouchable, like expatriate Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart), to the struggling anonymous and poverty-stricken. With the help of his newspaper comrades, Sala (Michael Rispoli) and Moberg (Giovanni Ribisi), Paul uncovers the darker side of Sanderson's wealth and finds purpose and direction for his career. A project close to Johnny's heart, The Rum Diary pays tribute and fulfills a promise made to his friend, offering a rare glimpse into Hunter Thompson's world before he became the great doctor of Gonzo journalism.

It was the start of something good.
With Hunter Thompson
in the '90s
Johnny was thrilled to meet Hunter S. Thompson, one of his favorite writers, in the '90s when he was slated to play the author's alter ego in Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. To prepare for the role, Johnny lived in the writer's basement on Owl Creek Farm for a few months, absorbing like a sponge everything he could about the man. The two discovered that they had plenty in common, from their Southern roots and habit of questioning everything to their love of language and books. "Hunter was, prior to even meeting him, he was somebody that I greatly admired–his whole way of life, his whole sort of way of moving forward in this kind of strange little soup bowl of existence," Johnny explains. "When I met him, there was an instant click between the two of us. From that second on, it never let up. We were very close until the moment of his exit." It was while researching for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas that Johnny discovered The Rum Diary manuscript, written in 1959, stored in an old box in the basement. When they dusted it off, the writer wanted to turn it into a movie immediately. The actor suggested getting the story published first.

After The Rum Diary was published, Hunter Thompson and Johnny held informal meetings together with potential film producers and other contributors who could help get the movie made. "I had no idea what the hell to believe because Depp was charming and unfailingly polite, and then there was some dude with a camera. And, there was the great Hunter Thompson, and you absolutely could not understand a word that came out of his mouth," Producer Holly Sorenson remembers. "Just seeing their relationship, it was just very sweet. It was a very pure thing. It wasn't a business arrangement. It wasn't someone trying to do someone's book. They had real love between the two of them. I think that was obviously, as an observer, very seductive. Even if I didn't know how this book was going to turn into a movie, we had to try."



With Bruce Robinson on The Rum Diary set
They chose Bruce Robinson to write and direct the film. Best known for creating the cult classic Withnail and I, one of Johnny's favorite movies, Bruce Robinson hadn't made a movie in more than 20 years. Johnny worked his magic to lure him out of retirement for The Rum Diary. "Adapting the book, you have to absorb what the book is, throw it away, and then rewrite it," Bruce Robinson says. "Hopefully, we did the vernacular of Hunter but not copy what he's written." He and Johnny scouted locations in Puerto Rico for the movie, and during one trip, their little plane stopped running mid-air. Just before panic struck, the engine perked up again. They both cracked up laughing and didn't talk about what happened until they were safely on the ground. I think the bond between these two goes well beyond mutual admiration.

Hunter Thompson's big exit
Then something awful happened.
Hunter Thompson committed suicide in February 2005. Per his wishes, Johnny contracted the construction of a Gonzo monument (featuring the Gonzo double fist) to hold a cannon, from which the writer's ashes would blast out and over his farm. "All I'm doing is trying to make sure his last wish comes true," Johnny says of the plans. "I want to send my pal out the way he wants to go out." The private ceremony was a moving, celebratory one attended by Hunter Thompson's close friends and family, with readings of his work, his favorite music playing, and plenty of fireworks. From a height of 153 feet, the cannon sent him off in Hunter style.

The show must go on.
"The idea of The Rum Diary as a film was something that was cooked up between Hunter and myself," Johnny says. "One of my last efforts to salute the man was to continue on in our venture and force him, even in death, to be a producer. We just wanted Hunter there, and he was there every day, every second, every moment." Johnny had a producer's chair made with Hunter Thompson's name on it, which was placed on set every day. The chair held a script cover and was paired with a glass of whiskey, which the cast ritualistically dipped their fingers into like holy water at the start of each day's work. "Everyone chose to do this movie because of Johnny, because of the material," Executive Producer Patrick McCormick says. "Of all the Hunter Thompson projects that he might consider, this would be the most critical one, and there was never a question that this movie was going to get made one way or another. It just allows you to keep pushing forward with great confidence, no matter what the obstacles are."

It only took nearly 15 years.
Before the movie came out, I read The Rum Diary and really liked the story. I was excited to see the movie but disappointed by the previews. I felt they were marketing it as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Part 2, which I hoped would not be the case.


I was happy to discover that the few minutes of mayhem shown in these commercials do not represent all that happens in this movie. Despite its suggestive title, The Rum Diary shows a calmer, quieter side of Hunter Thompson. While this story is fictional, Hunter Thompson did freelance in Puerto Rico, reporting on horoscopes and bowling alleys for that paper. "Looking back, I wasn't aware then what a special place it was or a special time," he said. It's difficult to watch this movie and not hear Hunter Thompson's voice and make the connection between fiction and history. The crew used the writer's books and photographs to capture that place and time as authentically as they could. Even the cameras lean toward a documentary-style point of view. "My approach was to be so minimalistic," Director of Photography Dariusz Wolski says. "The camera doesn't exist. It's an observer of what the story's about."


One of the best parts of this movie is recognizing the parallels between Hunter Thompson's and Paul Kemp's journeys and the authenticity that the crew created to honor them. While all the drinking and Giovanni Ribisi's over-the-top performance as the incessantly drunk Moberg are a bit much for me at times, I love the feel of this movie. With Bruce Robinson's great script and atmospheric direction, you experience Paul Kemp's time in Puerto Rico. "The thing that I connected with with Hunter's work was his brutal honesty and imagination," Johnny says. "When you read about these amazing experiences, you think, 'That's fake. He wrote that. That's his imagination.' But when you really spend time with him, which I have, you realize it's all true." Antics aside, I love The Rum Diary's portrayal of Paul Kemp's struggle to discover the writer he wants to be. By the end of the movie, I feel a sweet sense of nostalgia for a time I'd never experienced and satisfaction in knowing that Hunter Thompson is on his way to becoming the writer we all know.

From what I could tell, critics were mixed about The Rum Diary. You either loved it because you love Hunter Thompson, Bruce Robinson, or Johnny Depp, or you didn't get it and were annoyed by it. I witnessed the latter for myself: After seeing The Rum Diary in the theater, I shuffled toward the exit behind two older ladies and heard one complain to the other about the movie's lack of eye candy. (Yes, she actually used the words "eye candy.") With the drunkenness, drugs,  and cock fighting, I see her point. I, too, wished for more of the love story between Paul and Chanault (Amber Heard). I liked that storyline best in the book, but there are only two hours to work with for a movie.

I came out of the theater feeling better than those ladies did about The Rum Diary. I'm not sure if the ordinary moviegoer–who didn't know all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into making this movie or who isn't a fan of Hunter Thompson–will fully appreciate The Rum Diary for what it is. I agreed fully with what Ignaty Vishnevetsky said about it on Roger Ebert's At the Movies: "Bruce Robinson writes rich, punchy dialogue and really knows how to direct actors and create a subtle hungover atmosphere. This very funny, keenly observed movie meanders in the best way possible, moving from one misadventure to another while constantly developing its many eccentric characters." With this movie, you're just along for the ride.

Shooting on location was essential to achieving that feeling. "With the brilliance of these set designers, we could've built it all in the studio, but it wouldn't have had that intense heat. It wouldn't have had the smell of rot coming through the floor," Bruce Robinson explains. "It was impossible not to be there emotionally, physically, and in every way, and if we'd been on an air-conditioned sound stage, it wouldn't have been the same narrative."

I think The Rum Diary turned out just as Hunter Thompson would have wanted it. From the spontaneous idea between two friends in a basement to the polished finished product in theaters, he created an unforgettable experience for everyone involved. "This is really something that's come from the heart for everybody," Actor Giovanni Ribisi says. "It's really rare when something like this happens."

The Kitties advise not to do this at home.
Despite my aversion to excessive drug and alcohol use, I love those scenes in The Rum Diary. I credit the brilliance of the director and actors for putting me under the influence. One of my favorite scenes is after Paul (Gordon) and Sala (B.J.) acquire and use some potent eye drops from Moberg. They sit in their stuffy apartment, waiting for something to happen. When something does happen, it terrifies them both so much that they have to get out. They try to calm down during a nighttime walk with some rum in hand.

43. The Rum Diary (2011) [January 15, 2014]

But the walk is not calming; it's frantic and without direction. As Sala walks straight on methodically, Paul appears behind him. Walking a faster pace, he crossing diagonally right to left and out of the shot. When Paul reappears by Sala's side, he snatches the rum bottle from Sala's hand and takes a swig without losing sight of whatever they're both seeing in the distance. The performances in this sequence are pretty priceless. Johnny's really good at playing a drugged up drunk guy.

I also love Puerto Rico's murky nighttime atmosphere in this scene: the solitude of the empty street and quiet sounds of the surrounding sea are completely different from the colorful vibrancy Puerto Rico emanates in daylight.

Johnny honors Hunter Thompson here too.
Aside from The Rum Diary and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Johnny's adoration of Hunter Thompson comes through in several other projects. Among them are:
  • Breakfast with Hunter. Johnny shows up in Wayne Ewing's 2003 documentary about Hunter Thompson, which gives a glimpse of the every-day life of the man behind the larger-than-life persona.  
  • When I Die.  Wayne Ewing's 2005 documentary shows how the Gonzo monument was constructed for Hunter Thompson's one-of-a-kind sendoff. While Johnny is mentioned a few times in this documentary because he's overseeing the task, he's not actually in it. But it's interesting to watch this massive 153-foot structure being built so meticulously. 
  • Rolling Stone. After Hunter Thompson's death, Rolling Stone ran a tribute issue (March 24, 2005), for which Johnny wrote a wonderful essay called "A Pair of Deviant Bookends." You can read it here
  • Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson. In 2006, Johnny penned another touching tribute, an introduction for this book by Jann Werner and Corey Seymour. You can read it here
  • Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson. Alex Gibney's 2008 documentary exposes Hunter Thompson in his element, mainly focusing on a 10-year period, 1965 to 1975. Johnny lends his voice here, reading passages from the writer's work.
  • Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson–Music from the Film. This collection includes music and recordings of Johnny's readings from the documentary. Johnny also wrote the extensive liner notes for this CD with his friend, author Douglas Brinkley. They did such a good job that they were nominated for a Grammy! (Do you think Johnny was as excited about that as I was?) 

What's next?
Johnny rises from the dead and tries to adapt to living in the '70s with his dysfunctional descendants in Dark Shadows.

Copyright credits: All images from The Rum Diary © Film District and GK Films; Johnny Depp and Hunter Thompson candid © Kevin Mazur/Wire Images; Breakfast with Hunter DVD image © Wayne Ewing Films, Inc. and Gonzo International; Gonzo CD jacket image: Ralph Steadman; Johnny Kitties illustration: Melissa Connolly. 

Monday, April 07, 2014

Survival

We were all shocked to learn that, before Tyrone came to us, he and his siblings were found in the sewer. Luckily, they were resourceful until they found better homes.


Survival (April 6, 2014)
(Illustration Friday: April 5, 2014)

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Welcome, Spring!

Hi everyone,

I can't remember the last time I felt so sick of Winter. Since we've had two days in a row of Spring weather, I hope it's here to stay. To celebrate, I stuffed my heavy coats in the closet and made a new blog banner. Let me know what you think of it...

Spring (April 1, 2014)

The Kitties have been working the garden ever since the last bit of snow melted; I'm impressed!

Enjoy the warmth,

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Healthy Eating Challenge and Beyond

Hi everyone,

Do you remember that I participated in a 21-day Healthy Eating Challenge (February 15 through March 8)? I followed it well for the first two weeks and felt amazing! Then, I crashed and burned at the end when my dad visited with a box full of homemade Junior Mint brownies and Irish Bread. I've successfully completed the challenge before, but I didn't want to deny myself that weekend of such special treats or yummy meals out on the town.

During that final week, I faithfully continued to cook myself challenge-approved snacks and meals. But the new recipes I tried were unsuccessful. The Mixed Veggie Enchiladas fell apart into a soggy mush and the Strawberry Ginger Smoothie overflowed out of my little blender. I still ate and drank it all, and it was delicious! It just didn't look pretty, and the proportions weren't exactly right. I'll try both recipes again soon and will share them when I figure out what went wrong.

Despite faltering, I participated in the challenge's closing celebration, a potluck brunch for which I made Lemon Date Balls.

Lemon Date BallsLemon Date Balls 
(Makes about 18)

Tart lemon, nutty walnuts, sesame seeds, rich coconut, and sweet dates come together to make these delightfully tangy treats. 

1 cup chopped pitted dates
1 cup raw walnuts
1 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut flakes

Place dates, walnuts, sesame seeds, lemon juice, and zest in a food processor. Pulse and blend until completely mixed. The mixture will be slightly sticky. With dampened hands, roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls. Roll in coconut and chill until ready to serve. 

My experience: I don't have a food processor and use my blender for everything. For me, this mixture doesn't just get "a little sticky." It gets so thick that, sometimes, my blender stops working. When that happens, it's a pain. But all I have to do is move the mixture around with a spoon to unclog the machine. Then I just add a bit more water and pulse through it. 

Moving On...
While not the healthiest choice,
Uncle Buck's Beignets are a worthy treat! 
After the challenge was over, I got back on the wagon, at least partially, as I hope to always be. The purpose of the challenge was to reset my body, giving it a clean slate. I think I achieved that in the first two weeks. Aside from the delicious food, the best part of the challenge for me is how it changes my eating habits so quickly and easily. I learned about healthy alternatives and where to buy them, and I don't really crave what I used to eat.

In fact, most of my old favorites don't taste as good to me anymore. The challenge made me aware of the food I'm eating. Even when eating out, I now think of the consequences before I order. If I really want that lobster roll and french fries, that's okay too. I'll never stop myself from enjoying Uncle Buck's Beignets at Founding Farmers once in a while. The key is not eating those things all the time. Now that I know what to eat, how to make myself healthier meals, and how much better they make me feel, the choices are easy and plentiful.

When my sister and nephew visited last weekend, arriving too late for a meal out, I had delicious Sweet Potato and Bean Chili waiting for them.

Sweet Potato and Bean ChiliSweet Potato and Bean Chili 
(Serves 6)

1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped 
1/2 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
1 tablespoon no-salt-added chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 15-oz can aduki beans
1 15-oz can navy beans
1 14.5 can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup copped cilantro (optional)
Sliced fresh jalapeno peppers (optional)

Heat a large saucepot with lid over a medium-high flame; heat until hot. Add onion, bell pepper, sweet potato, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or until it begins to brown and stick to the pan. Stir in 1/2 cup broth and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add remaining  broth, beans, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 minutes or until vegetables and beans are tender and sauce is thickened. Stir in black pepper. Serve with cilantro and jalapenos, if using. 

My experience: This quick and easy recipe is one of my favorites. Because I'm not very tolerant of super-spicy food, I didn't use any jalapeno peppers. However, I recommend topping your chili with cilantro as suggested; a few herbs on top make a big difference in the taste. This chili, paired with a side salad, was a perfect meal for what I hope is this winter's last cold, snowy week. If it's still cold where you are, give this recipe a try. It will warm you up!

Both recipes in this post are courtesy of Ebeth Johnson, Healthy Eating Specialist at Whole Foods, P Street. She's the best, so email her to sign up for her classes, challenges, and recipes!

Enjoy!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Twisted

This winter, I could only muster enough energy to watch movies and hibernate in my most comfy pajamas while under my warmest blanket. The Kitties, on the other hand, passed every cold, snowy day doing things like this. They are twisted.

Happy Spring, everyone!

Twisted (March 10, 2014)
(Illustration Friday: February 14, 2014)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Spark

Comet wasn't sure what to think when Ashes first moved into his house, but eventually she won him over, as she does with everyone. Nothing's better than finding a lifelong friend.

Spark (March 10, 2014)
(Illustration Friday: March 7, 2014)

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Johnny Kitties: Celebrating Johnny Depp Film #42—Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

[What is Johnny Kitties? See Johnny Kitties: Celebrating Johnny Depp for all the details.]







I always feel that with Captain Jack, you can chuck him into any situation and have a ball with it. Johnny Depp








Where do they go from here?
The idea for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides came up while Johnny Depp was shooting the franchise’s second and third films back to back. The writers, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, brought a book to producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s attention. Once he got the rights to On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, which focused on Blackbeard and the fountain of youth, they set the stage for it in the last scene in the third Pirates movie with Captain Jack on his way to find the fountain.

Right after Johnny excited everyone by showing up as Captain Jack at a Disney event, where they announced that another Pirates of the Caribbean movie was on its way, news broke that it might not happen. Disney chairman Dick Cook, who had advocated for Johnny’s inspired take on Captain Jack Sparrow from the beginning, abruptly left the company, and Johnny started talking like he was going to back out too. "There’s a fissure, a crack in my enthusiasm at the moment," he said upon hearing the news. Oh the drama! Don’t worry; after Johnny met with the film's new director Rob Marshall, the crack was sealed.

Johnny with former Disney Chairman Dick Cook
Aside from this change in Disney personnel, Johnny was also concerned about the script. "Things got very mathematical, very subplotty, on the last movie because there were lots of things that needed to be resolved with the characters," he says. "I wanted to make a film that was more like the first one, that was more character-driven." Apparently, Johnny now deserves a writing credit. "With this one, in terms of story, my involvement was a little more, just because I felt that if we were going to do a 4, that—more than anything—we owed the audience a fresh start," he explains. "I felt it was very important to eliminate as many complications as possible." Co-writer Terry Rossio confirms, "Johnny has a huge influence on the script. He’s invented characters, story lines, jokes. We had lots of creative dinners. They’d normally start at 11 p.m., the drinks would arrive around 1 a.m., and we go on to around 5 in the morning."

A fresh start calls for some fresh blood.

This new stand-alone story introduced several new characters, including new shipmates, some freaky mermaids, Jack’s old flame Angelica (Penelope Cruz) and a few historical figures like King George II (Richard Griffiths), King Ferdinand VI (Sebastian Armesto), and the dreaded pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane).


I love Ian McShane’s performance as Blackbeard so much. It wasn’t until after I saw the movie that I discovered Blackbeard was a real 18th century pirate who sailed the seas around the West Indies and Americas. "Blackbeard is pure evil," Ian McShane says. "Blackbeard’s the most infamous pirate that ever lived. He was feared by everybody, probably because he never actually killed anybody; he just looked fearsome. He’d light torches in his beard so he could impress everybody, or so the legend goes..." In this movie, he scares people just by mere presence.


Equally fantastic in this movie is Penelope Cruz as Angelica. "She’s a pirate. She’s Jack Sparrow’s equal," she explains. "They have a history. A part of her wants revenge and a part of her still cares about him, and they have this dance going on of fights and words." Although Penelope Cruz discovered she was pregnant with her first child halfway through shooting, it didn’t affect the swashbuckling adventure. She and Johnny worked together 10 years before in Blow, and their reunion was a fun experience. "The weird thing was that, when we saw each other again, it felt like we'd wrapped Blow the week before, or a few days before," Johnny remembers. "It just clicked instantly. Whatever exists in terms of chemistry was just instantly firing on all cylinders. It felt completely right." Penelope Cruz agrees, except that, "Johnny is such a funny person. The main problem is that he’s so funny, it was hard to film the dramatic scenes because I could not stop laughing."

Johnny checking things out with Rob Marshall
It was Rob Marshall who persuaded Penelope Cruz, whom he’d directed in Nine, to join the cast. Although I was sad (but understanding) about Pirates franchise director Gore Verbinski’s decision not to direct this Pirates movie, I was excited by the prospect of Rob Marshall taking over. "For me, if the movie had continued with the same cast, the same story lines, it would have been very difficult to come into the project, but I felt like it’s a new beginning in many ways," he says. Though it doesn't make much sense, I had a good feeling about Rob Marshall because of his background in directing musicals. Johnny must have felt similarly. "He has fantastic ideas and a brilliant handle on the way the story gets shaped together," Johnny says. "He’s totally open to ideas. If he likes it, it’ll get used, and that keeps everyone on their toes, keeps it fresh."

So, what’s changed?
I was thrilled to see some returning characters, like Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and Mr. Gibbs (Kevin McNally). Be on the lookout for some surprise cameos too! And, of course, Jack is as entertaining as ever. "The one thing we couldn’t change was Jack. That would have been a mistake," co-writer Terry Rossio says. "He’s always been the trickster character, and we had to carry that through. And with Johnny, there’s no need to embellish the performance on the page because you know that he’ll do it all himself." 


From the start, everyone was wary of boring audiences with yet another Pirates movie. "He's created this iconic character for the ages," Rob Marshall says of Johnny's  Captain Jack. "But he also knew about the danger of a fourth anything, how it quickly can become a caricature. So we were very careful to make sure that Jack Sparrow [stayed] real. I mean, he's hilarious, but it all comes from a real place." In this story Angelica reveals a new side of Jacka soft one! He regrets having wronged Angelica in the past, and it’s the reason he sticks with her throughout this adventure rather than doing his typical cut and run. "What’s nice is you get a sense that Jack has a heart. He’s doing something heroic in a way. For him, for a pirate who thinks selfishly, it’s nice to see that," Rob Marshall explains. "He really has a conscience, and he’s protective, caring."


With a new director comes a new perspective, and I like Rob Marshall’s! Maybe because I know of his musical background, my vision is biased, but some of the stunts in this movie were so meticulously choreographed, they felt like dances. "Some filmmakers go into a film and it's already shot and cut in their head. I didn't get that feeling from Rob," Johnny says. "What I got from Rob was that he heard it as music, in a weird way. It was rhythmic. And, he knew tempo and a way to finesse the sound, which became visual as well. It was an incredible experience. His timing—and not just his choreographic timing, but his sense of comedic timing—is impeccable." The movie begins with Captain Jack escaping King George’s Court by swinging on chandeliers and flags and hopping from one moving carriage to another down the streets of London. Later on, Blackbeard maneuvers all the ropes on his ship to capture his crew, leaving them swinging like rag dolls from the sails. Rob Marshall even got Johnny to tango in this one for a bit. Now there’s a stunt worth the price of the movie ticket! 


Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is also the first movie of its scale to shoot in 3D on location. Although some interiors were filmed in Los Angeles, the rest was filmed around the world in Hawaii, London, and Puerto Rico. Can you imagine carrying all that equipment through the jungles of remote islands? "I couldn’t decided if we were stupid or pioneers, but there’s nothing like doing it for real and not being on a stage with a green screen, " Rob Marshall says. The results are worth it. Unlike the previous films that feature sea battles galore, most of this one takes place on land. The scenery is lavishly green and a bright change. 

It's mutiny, Captain! 
Put The Kitties on a boat with a bunch of dangling ropes, and I can't be held responsible for what happens. 


42. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) [January 5, 2014]

After discovering that his crew has declared mutiny, Blackbeard (Norman) takes control of the situation. With a wave of his sword, the ship comes to life and ties all the traitors up for a good scolding. (Among them, with Gordon, are Comet, Simon, B.J., and Tyrone.) Despite how evil Blackbeard gets in this sequence, I love his dramatic entrance and how he can make such a grand statement with a flick of his wrist. (I told Norman not to go too Method with this performance.) 

When will Captain Jack set sail again?
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides successfully refreshed the franchise for audiences, so a fifth installment, titled Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, is in the works. I’m glad because, though a stand-alone story, On Stranger Tides left some unfinished business. I don’t have any secrets to share about the film yet, but Dead Men Tell No Tales starts filming this fall and is scheduled for release in 2016. Have you marked your calendar?  

What's next?
Johnny makes good on a promise to friend Hunter S. Thompson with The Rum Diary.
 

Copyright credits: All Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides images © Walt Disney Pictures; photo of Johnny with Dick Cook © Eric Charbonneau/AP
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