The October slate of movies this year stirs up a distinct feeling in me: Hesitation. There are plenty of films that I hope will blow me away, but, as I outline below, I have my reservations about many of them.
Note: for the sake of this series of articles, the “Fall movie season” refers to the span of time beginning with the first weekend after Labor Day weekend and ending with the last weekend in December.
Matt Damon (the Bourne films, The Departed) carrying the acting load. Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods) penning the script. Ridley Scott (Alien, for chrissake!) at the director’s chair. The credits seem to Continue reading Most Anticipated Movies of Fall 2015: October
The cold open of Goldfinger has in it seemingly every James Bond trope. Bond (Sean Connery) sneaks and fights his way into a guarded facility. He uses a gadget to blow something up (for God knows what reason). Then, he strips down to a white suit and diffuses into the social world, where he rendezvouses with another agent. There’s also an attractive woman dancing, just for good measure. A woman Bond then attempts to bed, only to be approached from behind by an armed assailant. And, as always, the altercation ends in a one-liner.
It is James Bond in a nutshell.
Following this cold open, we get one of the better Bond opening title sequences. A stark black background and projected film footage casts gold-painted women in shadows. All the while, Shirley Bassey’s voice erupts above the stagnant visuals. It isn’t hard to see Continue reading Goldfinger (1964) Movie Review
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
Young violent offender Eric Love (Jack O’Connell) is “starred up,” which is to say that he is transferred to adult prison from juvenile detention. After several violent altercations between Eric and both inmates and prison guards, he is put into rehabilitative treatment with volunteer psychologist Oliver Baumer (Rupert Friend). Serving a life sentence in the same prison is Love’s father Neville (Ben Mendelsohn), who does his best to protect the kid from Continue reading Starred Up (2013) 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
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