Saturday, November 17, 2012

Movie Guy: The Quantum of Soreness

Hey, time for some more movies!

Nobody’s Fool (1994)
". . . and that was when McQueen suggested we'd stay warmer
if we huddled under the same blanket between takes. . ."
This is one of those movies that I just never seem to get tired of watching. Paul Newman as the hard luck ne’er do well Sully Sullivan is perfect. Perfect. This was far from Newman’s last movie, but I often look upon it as a sort of a capstone piece for his career. Twilight (1998) while certainly better than the sparkly vampire book and film series of the same name that would follow is just not on par with this film. Cars (2006) was Newman’s last film and one of my favorites, but we only get to enjoy his voice in that. Much of the rest of the feature films near the end of his career either wasn’t great material or didn’t feature Newman enough. Nobody’s Fool also includes Bruce Willis, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Dylan Walsh, and Jessica Tandy in her final film role. See it. You’ll like it.

21 Jump Street (2012)
". . . so the guy says, 'I call it The Aristocrats!'
Get it?. . . Okay, I'll tell it again. . ."
I never watched the original Fox TV series. We couldn’t get Fox where I grew up. For a while, we couldn’t even get CBS. It was weird. Anyway, I do know that it wasn’t a comedy, while the big screen “remake/sequel” most definitely is. I have mentioned previously (my review of Dark Shadows) how I think it’s a bad sign when the producers of a film do not trust in the source material enough not to feel the need to spoof it. I maintain my position on that, but I will acknowledge that this movie may be the exception to that rule.
I laughed my butt off, and – in a role-reversal that parallels some twists in the film – I believe that Channing Tatum may be the funniest part of this movie, and not unintentionally so.

Swinging With the Finkels (2011)
And other stuff.
I like Mandy Moore. I really do. Every time I see her in an interview I think she seems like such a charming, intelligent, and creative woman. It pains me, then, to watch her act on film because I can always tell she’s acting. She never fully inhabits the character and her line delivery always suggests that she’s saying the line the way that she thinks her character would say it rather than simply pretending to be the character and saying the line. It seems like a subtle distinction, but it shows. It particularly shows when she is surrounded by actors like Martin Freeman, Melissa George, and Jonathan Silverman. This script needed as much help as it could get, frankly, and Mandy – while I do really like her – just isn’t up to the task.

Biutiful (2010)
"De profundis clamo ad te domine." (This one's tricky, kids.)
If you’ve seen this film, then I don’t need to tell you why people should see this film. If you haven’t seen this film, then I am actually afraid to tell you anything about it, because I risk spoiling the experience of this film for you. I would say that you should take everything you know about wealth and poverty, life and death, beauty and ugliness, and love and hate, put them into a jar and just set them aside for 148 minutes. Let Javier Bardem and director Alejandro González Iñárritu take you on a journey, and – at its end – see if you even want the jar back anymore.
"We gonna rock down to Electric
Avenue, and then we take it higher."

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
I’ve heard people say that Wes Anderson movies are “an acquired taste.” Well, I’m not sure that I agree with that, but – if it is – acquire it. However, I wouldn’t start with this tale of two young misfits running away from their small New England town in the sixties. I’d start with The Royal Tenenbaums or Rushmore. Then I’d end with this one, because it’s just that good.

Skyfall (2012)
"I'm too old for this sh-"
Okay this one is the biggie on this entry. I’m a Bond fanatic, or I was. I lost my taste for the films after Pierce Brosnan was unceremoniously fired from the franchise after revitalizing it for a new generation. (He found out from a magazine reporter.) When it was announced that the series would be re-launched with a younger Bond taking over the role and the stories pre-dating Dr. No in continuity, I was still annoyed at the studio’s treatment of Brosnan, but I got a little excited. A mid-to-late twenties Bond learning the ropes and developing his unique style of espionage sounded intriguing. Would they set the films in the late 50s? Would they cast at-the-time Hollywood favorite Orlando Bloom or go with an unknown? Who would play M?
Then the news came. Daniel Craig would play Bond. Cool! Layer Cake was awesome, wait – how old is he? Isn’t he much older than Sean Connery was in Dr. No? Judi Dench is playing M? Again? But, how can she be M for the later James Bond and the M for the first James Bond? You guys must be abandoning the prequel idea. You’re not? What the actual f&%#?
Once I got past my continuity issues with the new films (okay, I never got past my continuity issues and I never will), I really quite enjoyed both Casino Royale and The Quantum of Solace. I did, however, scrunch up my nose and utter the phrase “It’s not really Bond,” any time the films came up in conversation.
When MGM floundered, and it looked like there would be no more Daniel Craig Bond films, I hoped that we might see the re-launch I had envisioned earlier, but EON studios rallied and Skyfall went into production.
And it’s dull. The opening sequence – the “grabber” scene – features a car chase, a motorcycle rooftop chase, and a slugfest atop a moving train as it goes into tunnels and under bridges. Where was the runaway stagecoach, guys? Nothing very new, innovative or "grabby" here.
The underwhelming opening sets us up for lots of talk about how Bond is getting too old for this kind of work and how he’s just so tired of it all. (Wait. Aren’t these the prequels?)
"I asked my stylist for the Christopher Walken circa
A View To a Kill. Do you like it?"
Really, the movie doesn’t get very interesting until Javier Bardem shows up, which is, sadly, not for quite a while. Then, also sadly, after a brilliant entrance, Bardem’s villain devolves into a clichéd 80s movie psychopath.
Now, I’ll admit that in the Bond films of the past the villains have always been over-the-top. Well, that’s because the movies are a bit cheesy. That’s why we love them. If you’re going to re-vamp the films and give them a more serious, gritty feel, then a typical Bond villain is going to stick out like a sore thumb.
One character shows up late in the film, and I thought, “They wrote this role for Connery. Thank God he didn’t take it.” Turns out I was right, but it was the producers who wanted Connery. Director Mendes thought it would take us out of the film to have Sean Connery show up in a Bond movie playing someone other than Bond. I agree, and I’m glad that the producers didn’t get their way.
Overall, Skyfall isn’t a terrible film, but, and I’m sorry to have to say this again, “It’s not really Bond.”

As always: feel free to disagree with me in the comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment