MOVIE REVIEWS: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END (PT. 1)

Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley and their assorted pirate family members have landed again and the first wave of critics have arrived to pounce on them. Clearly the critics are no match for the pirate force -- as even they readily admit. Nathan Lee, writing in The Village Voice, commented: "Long before the third, fourth, or fifth climax in this endless, obligatory summer diversion, I slunk into my seat in a passive, inattentive stupor, fully submitting to the fact that I hadn't the slightest idea what the hell was going on." Jack Mathews in the New York Daily News warns: "Beware my hearty: It will tie your rum-soaked brain in knots." Several critics suggest that Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End should have been called At Wit's End. Carina Chocano of the Los Angeles Times is one of them. "Three hours of very high-octane confusion" is the way she describes it. But Ty Burr in the Boston Globe says that's what makes the Pirates films special -- the "damn-the-torpedoes excess, larded on by producer Jerry Bruckheimer without a care for expense or even common sense. These movies go too far -- visually, narratively, abaft and abeam -- and still the filmmakers keep going, headed for the waterfall of spectacle run amok."

DISNEY ASKS CRITICS NOT TO REVEAL PIRATES PLOT

Critics attending press screenings of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End were not permitted to bring cell phones -- if they included cameras -- into the theater with them. (Phil Villarreal of the Arizona Daily Star wrote that he was even ordered to return his Nintendo DS gaming device to his car.) Critics were also handed a notice from Disney asking them to observe the usual guidelines of film criticism: "Please do not reveal the many plot resolutions that occur throughout the film ... in your articles, on your program, online, on your blogs or in any other format. We hope you appreciate there are many Pirates fans who will enjoy their moviegoing experience so much more not knowing in advance the outcome of the many plot twists."

IGER: "WHAT I REALLY MEANT" ABOUT CLOSING WINDOWS

Disney CEO Robert Iger has backed off -- a bit -- from his earlier call for movies to be released in theaters and on DVD at the same time. Speaking to the annual meeting of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in Anaheim, Iger said, "What I really meant was I thought that we had to listen to the consumer and make content available more aggressively, which meant that I thought at the time that the window, meaning the time that movies are in theaters, would probably collapse and should collapse." However, Iger added, such a move would not necessarily result in moviegoers staying at home to see the latest release. Attracting them to the theater, he said, requires making "the product more compelling, which means everything from digital theaters, digital cinema to just a better movie-going experience." He predicted that the window between the time movies are released in theaters and on DVD will continue to shrink. "I don't think we're going to get to a point where everything is available at all times, but you will see, thanks to technology, a lot more available than ever before."

FRIEDKIN CASTS MARINA HANDS TO PLAY COCO CHANEL

French actress Marina Hands, who won the best actress award at this year's Césars ceremonies for her performance in Lady Chatterley -- the French equivalent of the Oscars -- has been cast by director William Friedkin as fashion figure Coco Chanel in his forthcoming Coco and Igor about the tempestuous affair between Chanel and composer Igor Stravinsky. Friedkin told an interviewer at the Cannes Film Festival that his film takes place in 1913, at the time that Stravinsky's ballet, "The Rite of Spring" opened as a catastrophic failure and Chanel's perfume, Chanel No. 5, had become an enormous success. Actress Audrey Tautou (The Da Vinci Code) is expected to star in another film about Chanel -- before she became famous.
Cinemark Movie Club

Brian B.