Thursday, November 15, 2012

Review: Skyfall

Did manage to get over the pass, dealing with our first snowfall of the season and see SKYFALL. Daughter #1 and Boyfriend came home from college for the weekend so there were five of us and arriving at the theater the line was out the door.
We had ordered advanced tickets, but still needed to wait in line to get them and so we divided and conquered, I stood in the long line for popcorn, cause you got to have popcorn, some kids held the line to get into the theater and Jon got the tickets.
I was still waiting for concessions when the theater line started to move and by the time we got into the theater, five seats were only to be had in  the second row, which I have learned is not so bad, if you are on one end or the other. My neck does feel a little bit croocked.
To say this movie had a whole lot of hype going into it would be an understatement, I am even guilty of adding to it. SEE HERE, But looking at the reviews this morning, the movie is consistently favored amongst the critics.
So......I tread lightly.
Do I think SKYFALL is the best Bond movie ever?
Personally, no, CASINO ROYALE will always be one of my favorite movies, But knowing the Bond Franchise well, I now know why SKYFALL is getting such rave review.....It is Bond at it's purest form, because other than CASINO ROYLE, all the Bond movie's follow a formula and SKYFALL follows it well...
Exciting chase scene
Opulent opening credits
International Exotic locals
Quippy comments
More interesting way to kill the bad guys
and at least two Bond girls, one good and plain, one bad and exotic, both cave to being ravished by Bond, and one ends up dead with little remorse from the man himself.
Aston Martins and PPKs
Oh, and a few martinis, shaken not stirred.

Many Bond lovers come to the theater with a mental list ready to be checked off, as the above are reveled, and SKYFALL does not disappoint, Bond even using a giant lizard to take out one of the henchmen, before he climbs out of the pit and dusts off his tuxedo and says something quippy

SKYFALL does go the other way too, trying to give us more of 007 inner turmoil with much interaction with M and even a look into where he came from, though it is quickly blown to bits, not much of a "spoiler" for a Bond movie, I think.

The "Bond Bad Guy" this time is played by Javier Bardem...

Who is very good at playing bad guys...

Money, Power and well Ruling the World, have always been a part of a good Bond movie and one criticism I do have with SKYFALL, is there was only Revenge behind the evil powers hurdled at MI6 this time. The "why" for me had to be a little bit more convincing.

There certainly was a little bit of everything in SKYFALL...

a little bit of previous classic Bond
                                                         a little bit of Bourne Identity

                                                   Even a little bit of McGyver...

and  Wuthering Heights, see it and see if you don't think Bond is
channeling  Heathcliff a little bit in the end...
So, yes, SKYFALL definitely delivers a good Bond Movie, oh and the last of the Iconic characters are back, Q and Miss Moneypenny, so why am I not as thrilled as I was hoping to be?
I think the answer lies with my love of CASINO ROYALE, that movie had a lot action, beautiful locals but it also lead with a lot of heart and it was raw, not polished, dare we say it was "character driven?
What should Bond movies "lead" with, pure testosterone and they have ever since 007 rough handled or took advantage of the first Bond girl to get information out of her and didn't even shed a tear when she became "collateral damage".
So yes, Bond is definitely back, a formulaic, guaranteed good ride of action, suspense and all that has been Bond for the last fifty years.
Huh, guess there is a part of me, a girly part, that wants something different. I only know so much about Bond because my older brother controlled the TV channels on Saturdays, since he could sit on me, but like I've said, I'll watch about any thing to watch a movie, so 007 got under my skin.
Reality is Bond IS a Bad Boy, as he explained, in Casino Royale, laying on top of Dimitrios' girlfriend when she lamentates on her opertunity to be with someone good, a day before she became colliteral damage, and reality is- in Film or real life, us girls too often are just that in what is still a man's world.
That is why I think we gravite to that little glimmer of a hero when we see it, since it comes all too infrequently. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review: Chasing Mavrick

Took daughter #2 and a friend over to Durango to "do lunch" and see a movie, all with gift cards from the past year. Kind of a fun adventure, to try and go see some entertainment and not have to pay for it. The movie passes were from the grandmother of one of my Navajo/Ute students, who must like me as a teacher, so that was an honor!
The girls went to see Hotel Transylvania, but I picked CHASING MAVERICKS, starring Gerald Butler...
Who has had kind of a hit or miss film career, with hits like...


and some misses, but lets move on.
I first noticed Butler as the five minute love interest of  Lara Croft sequel CRADLE OF LIFE.
BTW, if you want to see a young Daniel Craig, check out Croft's five minute love interest in the first Croft movie...
There might be "Bond girls" but Craig and Butler are "Croft boys"
Back to CHASING MAVERICK'S. Relatively new comer Jonny Weston portrays  Jay Moriarity, who gained world fame at 16, surfing one of Central California's most dangerous waves. Butler plays "Frosty", a hippie-esque surfer who literally teaches him "the waves" and becomes a father figure to the young boy.
If you are really into surfing, you'll probably like the movie, though there are few  exciting surf scenes, it is more about the building the story of Frosty and Moriarity's relationship.
Come to think of it, building a story is much like waiting for a wave to build, to ride it to the shore. A story should build and build slowly, through Act 1 and Act 2 and then at it's peak, or climax provide an exciting ride to the shoreline.......CHASING MAVERICKS was more like still waters for 2/3 of the movie and then a fast crash to the end.
And I am sorry, but I just don't get it, IT. That thing that makes certain males go and surfing monster waves,  climbing dangerous mountains, or extreme skiing for the hell of it.  
There is a name for that, "counting coup"
explained HERE at the Encyclopedia of the Great Plains site, but basically it is getting close enough to your enemy to touch them, but not kill them and getting away so they don't kill you.
We don't usual "count coup" anymore, but I honestly think that is the motivation in these extreme sports, that eventual all to often do claim the life of the young men who we idolize. Such the case, sadly, with Moriarity in his early twenties, deep sea diving.
I think it is something ingrained in boys DNA, something I discussed in my review of 127 HOURS.
I know there are stories out there of heroes who were not "counting coup" but had to face the enemy and dangerous obstacles in the course of saving themselves or others, one of my favorites...
oh yeah, a great movie starring one of those "Croft Boys".

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

This I am Looking Forward To...

and I love the UK version of the movie poster which I found on COLLIDER.COM , a little bit of London in the background?
Here in the US poster, we will have to wait until November 9th to see the film....

 I always find it interesting how the same film, or book for that matter, gets a different cover for advertising in different countries. Guess the powers that be think the UK market is a little bit more classy and the US, well we just like guns! is saying the film is getting really good reviews, so that makes me extra happy. Wow, a good movie coming out this fall, who thunk it!  
It is also Bond's 50th anniversary, he doesn't look it! Big feature in last month's Vanity Fair...
Love Craig's interview...for the shear fact you can tell how much he hates to give interviews!
There is also a good spread of all those who have uttered the words, "Bond, James Bond."- can you name them all? I can- Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Bronson and that one that made just one movie- On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

This post is more a report from one of those funny Samsung Galaxy phone commercials knocking the people waiting outside the Apple Store for the new iPhone release...

Have you noticed, as of late, be it movies, TV shows, phones that we are actually getting less then we use to but the powers that be are very good in making us believe we are actually getting more?

Movies for one have been regurgitated and regurgitated to the point where they do not have anymore nutritional value in them what so ever. How many remakes and sequels have we had pushed down our throats and half thrown together high end "effects" but low end stories have we paid good money to go see, just like the confused souls I often see in line in front of Apple stores- really?

But what do we do at the movie theaters?

About the same thing, get excited that Spiderman this time will be in 3D!!

Thus why I am salivating to see Skyfall- something new- even if it is from a fifty year old franchise.

I often tease my kids- that texting is really about the same as sending a Western Union telegram- you know...

"That form of communication STOP that you often say in old black and white movies STOP" 140 characters was about what you could get on a telegram.

but now it is cool again- to wait five minutes between sentences.

And I love the whole, lets watch a movie on a 4 inch by 6 inch screen together or alone, instead of a big screen, comfy couch and a bowl of popcorn. 

Are we really this stupid to think that these are advancement in our society- interacting by facebook in 149 characters or less instead of real face time together? Now being able to watch movies by ourselves on tiny screens instead of with someone else or seeing it as it was meant to be on a screen the size of a building. Listening to music feed directly into our brains through our earphones, instead of filling a house with music, as part of a evening around the table with good food and company.

Now I here that they are in talks to make a fourth, or would that be a seventh Star Wars...

 one going forward, with Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker segwaying a new cast of characters, the fact that someone like Harrison Ford is even considering such a thing really speaks to the "Nothing New in Hollywood", concern of the general public.

Or could it be that every story that is interesting has actually been told on the big screen....let's hope not!

BTW, the original Star Wars poster above is listed on the Internet for $12,000 and the poster from the first Bond Movie, Dr. No....
$12,000 again. So when you go to see Skyfall, or already snatched one from Casino Royale, we won't mention the other movie, roll it up and stick it under your bed for your grandchildren!


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Review: Lawless

Went up to see Daughter #1 at college and one night the "gang" went out to the movies. There, we divided and went separate ways, the younger ones going to see FINDING NEMO 3D, which I felt would be sheer torture to see again, even if was now in 3D, (look for a forthcoming rant on the "regurgitation" of old movies coming back through the theater, new and improved in 3D) So all of us over the age of eighteen, Daughter #1, Boyfriend, Jon and I, went to see the new release LAWLESS, which is Not a remake and is Not a sequel, for that the movie already has a couple gold stars!

LAWLESS is based Matt Bondurant's 2008 novel "The Wettest County in the World", which highlights his grandfather and great uncles adventures in bootlegging in the hills and hallows of Virginia during Prohibition.

The oldest, toughest and funniest brother, Forrest Bondurant, is plated by Tom Hardy  reviewed HERE  in ....
and most recently known for being the bad guy in the new Batman....
Which I confess I have no desire to see, even before the horrid shooting in Aurora, Colorado. I thought the first DARK KNIGHT was "darker than it needed to be" and unfortunately the sad loss of Heath Ledger, wasn't enough to reconsider just how dark films needed to be, but I digress again! I did enjoy Hardy in WARRIOR and I forgot he was also in Reese Witherspoon most recent movie, which also starred Chris Pine....
A so, so movie, haven't really enjoyed Witherspoon as of late, but Hardy and Pine are funny in it.
In Lawless, the youngest brother is played by Shia Beouf...
known for the Transforming franchise....
But pretty funny in his younger days in a great family film....

In LAWLESS, Beouf and his buddy beginning "souping up" their vehicles to race the bootleg to the next county, highlight the history between the Southern history of Nascar...
The "girls", there are barely two and they barely talk and they don't talk to each other, about anything, so the movie fails the "girl test" greatly- see here
Beouf's love interest is played by Mia Wasikowska, who the whole movie I could not place and had to her- She was Alice!

The other "girl", a dancer trying to get away from the mob is played by Jessica Chastain, who traded covers with the Duchess for the August 2012 Vanity Fair cover and had an interesting photo spread and article inside.
Chastain is relatively new, she was the Southern wife who got cooking lessons from her maid in THE HELP.
 I was prepared for LAWLESS to be overtly bloody and violent and was pleasantly surprised that the "dark side" of the movie was blended in to the story and did not feel like it was inserted to full fill a "gore" quota.
Don't get me wrong, LAWLESS was disturbing, for the time and place in history was disturbing and I wondered how accurate the movie portrayed the hillbillies and corrupt lawmen, the mob and the women isolated and with little restriction on their morality. What I know about the history of that time, it was probably right on, the feel much like the popular and hopefully soon to be back FX T.V. series...
Stories set in the hallows and hills of the South seem to be  always on the dark side- I can relate- living in the Four Corners, where deep wide canyons and deserts make hiding away an easy thing to do and are a host for some interesting characters.

Friday, September 14, 2012

It really is a "Kick in the Head"!

Daughter #2, who is all of 14 years old, had discovered Dean Martin! His music and now all the films of the 50's. How you might say? Well, it stated with taking her to see...
A cute, if you can say that about a movie focusing on the last two week of life on earth before everything is obliterated by a comet. Carell, is his usual geeky guy, his wife, literally running away from him as the terrible news comes over the radio. Knightly plays a quirky girl with quirky problems and the movies is about the love affair that blossoms between the two in a time when nothing else really matters other than being with someone you love.
SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD is the kind of movie, you stare at the screen as the credits roll, debating how you should feel or say about it, "yeah, that was a great movie, really enjoyed imagining the end of the world!" But it was a good movie and how does my daughter's new found interest in Dean Martin fit in, you ask?
Knightley's quirky character is in love with vinyl records, as in if you only had fifteen seconds to take what is important to you out of your house, what would you take? The answer for her, as much of her record collection as she can carry.
So a few days later, Daughter #2 comes home with a load of vinyl records just like Knightly has in her arms on the movie poster. Do we have a fully functioning record That is okay, she likes the look of the covers and plasters her room with them, searches Itunes and the internet for 50's music and so now, as she is getting ready for school, Dean is wafting up through the floor boards from her room to mine and I am constantly thinking I left a movie on somewhere, because I didn't realize how many movies still to this day are using his songs ( according to

"Ain't that a Kick in the Head"
is in 
We did a trip to Grandmother's house and I come by my love of movies naturally,both parents are avid movie watcher, though both like the old stuff and in the comfort of their own home.
Before the luggage was in the house, Daughter #2 was scouring my mom's movie collection and with some suggestions we watched.....
Traveling over the mountains we had stopped by chance at a 50's retro cafe, it's walls covered in posters of Elvis, I Love Lucy and there Daughter #2 discovered James Dean....
Can't say I was ever crazy about James Dean, never could get past his mumbling...

Seen a bit more films of Rock Hudson, but can't say he is on of the actors I love to watch and....
Elizabeth Taylor is usually just too much for me, which I know is part of the era from which she came. But as a whole I have always enjoyed the movie GIANT, it ponders a pretty heavy question, racial equality, even if it does it in a 1950's kind of way.
That is why I love movie and it is so fun to watch another generation get into them. They give connection, one era to another- a kid in the new millennium digging back over 50 years ago to find something interesting, a connection from one generation to the next and what I love the most, the universal truths about our lives, happiness, loves, fears never change whatever decade the story if from!

Friday, September 7, 2012

And Here It Is...

Yes, the powers that be are starting to "titillate" us with Jeremy Renner's, who I just reviewed in the Bourne Legacy, new movie. A retelling of a classic fairy tale involving a witch, two little children and a cottage in the woods made of gingerbread. But now apparently, the siblings are all grown up and well....bad ass!
Oh, how I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when they were trying to pitch playing a little boy who gets stuck in an oven to all the big tough action stars in Hollywood.
Gretal is played by Gemma Arterton, whose last action flick she played a pretty "bad ass" princess...
The English actress first was a "Bond Girl"....
She plays Strawberry Fields, an ill prepared  MI6agent that is sent to retrieve Bond form Bolivia and get him back on a plane. That doesn't happen and she dies, painted in tar.
I saw one of Arterton's films up at the film festival in Telluride, a few years ago....
and reviewed it HERE.
Watching the trailer for Hansel and Gretal, I was amazed at how close it looked at some other attempt to "mash up" a fairytale with a hard core action flick. My thoughts went to....
Look at Beckinsale's get up on the poster and then look back at the garb Arterton is wearing in the trailer. Apparently tight black pants, high heeled boots and leather works well in fighting evil.

There are a few other Steampunk, that Victorian era, steam powered inspired alter universe, movies similar to Hansel and Gretal....


And the funny thing is, none of them did that well? How will Hansel and Gretal be different? Well, apparently, according to COLLIDER.COM, they created an R version. More gore and blood the better and the funnier, so Hansel and Gretal will be a "gore fest".......yeah. Guess that is one way to get the young crowd in the theater, could it be a good story as well, I have my doubts.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review: The Bourne Legacy

To celebrate the end of summer, school started today, yesterday I took daughter #2 to town for lunch and a movie. Okay, she became my date, because I wanted to review this movie and her dad wasn’t available. But I bribed her with shopping for a first day of high school outfit afterwards. There are a lot of things I like about the Bourne Legacy, but many things I wish were better, but let’s start with the positives…
and the biggest  positive is definitely Jeremy Renner, who plays Aaron Cross, a second generation Tredstone agent ( I talked a lot about him and my expectation for Bourne Legacy in this post So James Bond's wife is running away with Jason Bourne?), so wont say it again, but he is a pleasure to watch! I am very glad Renner is getting more leads, his next movie is  a remake of Hansel and Gretal...apparently he is a bad ass Hansel)
Of course, always enjoy Rachel Weisz, since she was the pretty, "bad ass" damsel along side Brenden Frazier in the Mummy Franchise...

I think there is still a lot that can be done with the Bourne Franchise and they will have a better go of it, going forward with Aaron Cross stories, instead of plot in a "prequel", I think the Bond franchise got lucky with that and the Star Treck franchisde crashed and burned. It is always easier to go forward than backwards. We shall see on the Hobbit!

Now for the not so positive... and I feel like a broken record... there just wasn't a lot of "meat" for Renner and Weisz to work with,.........again, the script was weak. I know, it was a no brainer, action flick, but that doesn't mean the story can't be good, which I talked about here...."I do like summer blockbusters"

To be honest, the Bourne Legacy felt like it should be named "A Bourne Primer", such a large amount of the 2 hour and 15 minute movie was spent setting up new characters in an old trilogy and being a fly on the wall of the CIA "how to we clean up our mess" meetings that's purpose was to inform or re-inform the viewer about the Tredstone history, there was little time to have a fullfilling, action packed story unroll itself.
Worse,Bournse Legacy used a penny pinching technique I call "just after" which was the demise of a quickly forgotten blockbuster from a few years ago that I reviewed here
I hate this and it ruined The Last Airbender in my opinion and couldn't believe when I saw it sneak into Bourne Legacy, where in one big scene, Renner pours gas all over Weisz's mansion in the woods, upstairs, downstairs, all around for a long time and then hands Weisz the lighter to torch her house and hide the evidence and a few dead "bad" agents who were sent to kill her. Next  whoosh of flames, no close up of the under restoration mansion being set a blaze. None,  the next scene was the two running through the woods, where in the far, far distance you see a probably CGI imige of a house a flame through the trees. Really?
Much was focused on the pills these super agents were needing to take to keep their bodies from rejecting the genetic alterations. A very confusing and long "set up" between two agents in deep snow Alaska happened that never really was "payed off" and so I wonder why they spent so much time on what seemed unnecessary.
Also, unnecessary and not entertaining at all and too close to real, was a calculated massacre in the drug lab by a scientist, a little too close to the mass killing as of late. A quick bang, bang, bang and then Weisz being clever and running would have taken half the time.
Plus, I hate it when we are asked to suspend belief in the rules of the universe and I am not talking about the amazing stunts in action movies, no motorcycles can not do that in real life, fine, it is fun to watch. I am talking about, not to be more of a spoiler than I am, you don't "detox" from your genetic altering virous drugs,  "almost die" in the night and then in the morning, run across tin roof tops above the street of Manila, with no ill effect. Fine be a super agent, but maybe puff a little, slip a little, sweat a little, demostrate a bit of the human side, something I have complained about in other action movies....
Angelina Joli never looks bad, never a hair out of place, never is  frustrated or takes a wrong step. Brad Pit, on the other hand, is endearing, because he shows he is actual human., tripping around, almost dropping bombs on his feet, funny.
There is an adage for writers in Hollywood, "never make the actor look bad" which is such a shame because it is in the human moments, even they are sandwiched in between the action moments, that we connect.
There is more, much more "just after" scenes, but that is enough to point out. It could be in the script, it could be in the budget, where the producers thought they had to scrimp everywhere else to have their cool chase scene  through the streets of Manila.
Yeah, another "just after" clean up scene ends the movie, but won't spoil it for you. Let us hope it is in the editing  and there will be a great Directors Cut version.
I like the Bourne Franchise, I'm not surprise they are wanting to milk it some more, and hopefully the next Bourne film will come soon, to finish the story, cause it certainly had no resolution at the end of this one, more a "intermission"!
Checked the IMDB site and am not seeing Renner dubbed to be in another Bourne movie. He is working on another Mission Impossible, #5..............yeah, don't get me started!