From Russia With Love, the second film adaptation of Ian Fleming’s work to depict MI6 agent James Bond, cold opens on a cat and mouse chase at night. Bond (Sean Connery) steps out of the shadows and moves silently across the grassy landscape, knowing that he is being tailed. The assailant (Robert Shaw), stalks Bond, then retreats to the cover of a nearby bush to wait for the perfect moment to strike. Surprisingly, he gets that perfect moment. Bond goes down, choked by wire at the hands of the assassin. The super spy is bested.
Or is he.
Lights go up, and an army of men are revealed. The event was a training exercise and Bond: a grunt in a Connery mask. Someone is out to get Bond. Someone very powerful.
Continue reading From Russia With Love (1963) Movie Review
1962’s Dr. No is the first adaptation of Ian Fleming’s work, bringing to the screen his iconic super spy character James Bond. The first time we see Bond (Sean Connery) in this film, the stage is already set for Connery to set the precedent for how the spy is meant to look and act on screen. He puffs casually at a cigarette as he gambles and flirts with his female competitor (Eunice Gayson). His look is suave, his mannerisms subtle and laid back. Connery immediately embodies Fleming’s sharp-witted and womanizing Bond.
The film is littered with retrospective moments in which we can see precedents being set for the franchise. The iconic score blares in right off the bat, as we stare down the barrel of a gun. This theme repeats itself many times throughout the film. Bond and M (Bernard Lee) discuss Continue reading Dr. No (1962) Movie Review
Scott Cooper’s Black Mass is the story of crime lord James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp) told from the eyes of his criminal underlings as they speak out against him to the FBI.
Bulger, after serving a nine-year stint in Alcatraz prison, straddles together a working crime business in southern Boston in the 1970s. FBI agent and childhood friend of Bulger John Connelly (Joel Edgerton) approaches Bulger with an offer to Continue reading Black Mass (2015) Movie Review
A divorced mother of two (Kathryn Hahn) hasn’t seen or talked to her parents in 15 years. After all this time, they contact her online asking to see their grandchildren (Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould), whom they have never met. She reluctantly agrees on her children’s insistence.
Her children are a cute sibling pair, natural and appropriately childish. Tyler is charismatic and naive, free style rapping with a train conductor and purporting to “sext” with classmates. He desperately wants to live up to a masculine stereotype that he does not truly embody.
Becca is verbose and dramatic with her words as she narrates her way through exposition like a quick knife-stroke through butter. She has recently armed herself with cameras, hoping to tape their week-long visit in a style as close to a professional documentary as she can muster.
Shymalan channels an inexperienced auteur in Becca. Early interactions are light and bubbly as she sets the scene for her “documentary.” It also serves a meta purpose in its intended humor. She explains that with a camera you need to build tension and make people want to imagine what is lingering just beyond the frame. It sounds very much like Shymalan is Continue reading The Visit (2015) Movie Review
In Queen of Earth, old friends Catherine (Elisabeth Moss) and Ginny (Katherine Waterston) escape to a vacation home for a second year in a row to relax and strip away the taxing nature of urban life. Catherine, having recently suffered a loss, is distraught and distracted. She goes on walks that last for miles and lays in bed for hours, complaining that her face is hurting. Depression looms over her head, and it seeps into the world around her. Behind that depression hangs a patiently waiting fury.
Alex Ross Perry makes what we would expect to see–wide open natural spaces and the tranquility of the rural world–anything but Continue reading Queen of Earth (2015) Movie Review
Alex Gibney’s Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine opens on a young, uncharacteristically nervous Steve Jobs being prepped for a television interview. There is an inherent humanism to his uneasy laughter as he explains that he might be sick.
We are then transported to a different world. A more familiar world. Swarms of people are mourning, weeping for Jobs, holding up iPads with candles on their screens. This is the setup for Continue reading Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine (2015) Movie Review
We Are Still Here begins atmospheric. Vacant. Long takes focus on empty sets. A homey living room. A snowy, rural yard. A stone-walled and dirt-floor basement. The house in the woods where a middle-aged married couple has just moved in following the tragic death of their son. A lonely picture of the boy rests on a table near the staircase. Some unnatural presence, or perhaps just an innocent rush of wind, knocks the picture face-down with a loud clap, and the ghost story begins.
The first thing that is noticeable in this film is its hyper-apparent score that come on strong in the early scenes. It meanders or drones, almost whirring a mechanical hiss at us. It implores us to Continue reading We Are Still Here (2015) Movie Review