Welcome back gang on this glorious football Sunday. Week 3 baby. Hopefully the money I put down comes back to me. But until that fateful decision is made from up high, let’s look at some more earthly matters. Such as my semi narcissistic need to review the movies I see and send out to the world. But hey, I somehow get views and that’s fine enough for me. If you don’t like this, fuck off and die. Yeah. It’s a good week for movies overall, despite lacking any classics. It’s solid overall with a big ole heap of mediocrity coming in at the end. Take a look and see what’s what! I also saw a new release, something y’all can see on the big screen at the moment. So give it a go and enjoy the day.
Never Say Never Again (September 20th, 2015)
Director: Irvin Kershner
Starring: Sean Connery, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Kim Basinger, and Max Von Sydow
This film is one of the most fascinating little parts of cinema history. Forever known as the “unofficial” Bond movie, it is the result of a years long legal battle that allowed producer Kevin McClory the rights to the story Thunderball and the rights to SPECTRE and Blofeld. So in 1983, a big budget production was greenlit to essentially remake that story. The big catch? Sean Connery returning to the role he vacated 12 years prior. And just as an icing on the cake, it was released the same year as “official” Bond movie, Octopussy. It didn’t get as much love as one would hope from Connery returning to the role, but it was a step up from the ghastly Roger Moore shit piece that came out. Yet as time has gone on, the rep for the movie has grown a bit in the years since. There’s even those in the Bond fan camps that place it over the original Thunderball. That in and of itself isn’t hardened proof. Some people think Roger Moore is the best Bond. But I kinda have to say, I might have to agree. As a movie, it is better paced and structured than that original flick. But the original has a charm and style that was inherent in the 60s Bond flicks that this new one lacks. So it really just depends on what you want. Connery’s return is actually pretty good, showing more energy as an old man than he did in the last two he did in the official canon. And the movie wisely works Bonds age into it and, in a meta move, that Bond has been retired but is begged back for one final mission. And in the wisest decision to separate it from the original, it cut the massive amounts of time spent on underwater action which slowed things down immensely. The villain is largely the same in conception but with a better performer to make it more intriguing. The girl in the role is Kim Basinger so not really that great but shes semi decent to look at which is all these roles really require. There’s a bit of a been there done that quality to the movie with a little bit of 80s cheese thrown in, but overall it’s a really good flick. It’ll be interesting to rewatch Thunderball and compare the two.
Goldeneye (September 22nd, 2015)
Director: Martin Campbell
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Famke Jannsen, and Judi Dench
I’ve got a weird relationship with Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. The man is a damn fine actor and I enjoy him in many performances. But his James Bond just does not do it for me. Maybe as a kid I enjoyed him because I had no other examples to work from, being Bond illiterate for awhile. But moving into the Craig era and looking back, Brosnan really stands out as a particularly weak Bond, bested only by Roger Moore as the worst. Yet even with his particular weakness, I can still watch his Bond movies (except for Die Another Day, a true abortion). And the best of his flicks is undoubtedly Goldeneye, the movie most fondly remembered by 90s kids from an aggressively dated video game. As one of those kids, I always watch this movie with a weird sense of Deja Vu of a movie I saw before really seeing, yet having seen it now I’ve fallen into an black hole of inception level mind fuckery. But when I have to get into the thing itself, it’s a good movie. Brosnan is closer to Bond than he’d ever be, so he doesn’t completely sink the movie. And visually the movie is pretty good, bringing the series into the more grounded fantasy of the Connery movies. It’s not as extravagant as License To Kill and the action is done very well. The best thing though is the villain, played by Sean Bean. He has a great motivation, a great plan and an ability to really go toe to toe with Bond. And Bean knocks it out of the park. In the Bond girl front, 1/2 of them is good. Jannsen is great as the femme fatale villain, a masochist who enjoys doling out some of the ultraviolence. But the other girl is a just bland and does not stick out at all. I’m honestly blanking on her face and it’s a shame, but in the Brosnan series that could be much worse since Denise Richards and Halle Berry are imminent. Now, the movie is a little too long. That’s a completely typical thing in the Bond series but it still rankles a bit. But not as typical is that the music in the movie is for the most part pretty shit. It’s horribly dated and seems really chintzy. The title track isn’t good either. But I could live with some shitty music when the rest of the movie is back to basics goodness. A rewatch may not make me love Brosnan more, but it somehow makes me respect this movie a little more. Although it makes me wonder what the movie would have been like if they had gotten to it quicker than 5 years after License To Kill and Timothy Dalton got to do it. I honestly think it might have been better, since it has a tone more suited to his movies.
Five Easy Pieces (September 22nd, 2015)
Director: Bob Rafelson
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, Susan Anspach, and Billy Green Bush
Even as a young man, Jack just had charisma for days. In this early entry into his filmography, he does really good work and helps out in the burgeoning indie scene. This wasn’t the first time for him, having done two indie westerns for Monte Hellman and showing up for Easy Rider. But this was a major showcase for him, a movie that rests completely on him. And he nails it with a role that is anything but clean cut Hollywood leading man shit. This guy is a real shit bird. A highly talented man who comes from money but is just unable to fit in anywhere, he chooses to live the life of a drifter. Even then, he looks down upon everyone he comes across there too. He comes across very manic, shifting from joy to anger in a split second constantly. It’s a shock to find out anyone can be around him for more than a minute, but he has a poor dumb woman (Black) following him around. But despite his shitbird tendencies making it very possible to be hard to watch, Jack makes him immensely watchable. That’s just Jack man. The movie is kinda split into two halves. One half of him living the blue collar life and seeing what a prick he is even before finding out about his life. The second half is him at home, showing us that he’s always been this ornery. Joy is impossible for him and he is doomed to live a solitary life on the road. And boy does the ending not give us a warm and fuzzy feeling. Sometimes a man just can’t change and chooses the easiest way of life. You can tell this is an indie as it has a very low key visual aesthetic and a roughness around the edges that coulda been smoothed out in a bigger budgeted piece. But it gives it a bit of character. What doesn’t give it character is some weak acting from those surrounding Jack. The worst has to be Black, coming off more like a cartoon than a real woman. The family members fare a little better if only because they don’t get too much time. The hopeful love interest is a little too bland, leaving almost no impression on me. This is fine though, since this is all about Jack and he works it. Some pacing issues in the back half don’t help matters. Yet, it’s still a watchable movie and an important movie. It helped pave the way for 70s change and allowed Jack to make a run for stardom.
A Most Wanted Man (September 24th, 2015)
Director: Anton Corbin
Starring: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel MacAdams, Willem Dafoe, and Robin Wright
Well if you couldn’t take a guess from the entries earlier in the week, I’m in a bit of a spy kick. It’s mainly Bond centric this little kick of mine, but I was open to watching a different kind of spy movie. And the most popular spy author that does spies differently than the more adrenaline pumping series kicked off by Ian Fleming is John Le Care. His stories are much more slowly paced, atmospheric, tense and morally grey. There’s more of a sense of realism in the books he writes, focusing on the minutiae and bureaucracy of the spy craft. For some of the more simple minded consumers of media, this mans work is too boring for them. But for those who won’t vote for Donald Trump, there is a big appreciation of the tone and whip smart plotting and the slow burn tension with a heaping of moral ambiguity. Having mightily enjoyed the Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy movie from a few years back, I decided to jump into this new adaptation of the mans work. And it is very similar in tone and feel to that movie. It’s definitely of a piece from an author with a definite voice. But what’s different here is this is no period piece like that other flick. This is in the current terror phobic world that always throws some side eye at Muslims. It’s a modern day movie that take a hard look at the way any good work can be undercut by some sniveling little shits subverting hard work to make themselves look better. It’s a movie that manages to wring some tension the entire time despite not exploding into violence at all. The most violent act is a punch thrown in a bar. Yet Corbijn conveys the tone from the book perfectly to hint at the danger around every corner. It’s very dense and it is slow. There’s no doubt about that. But it’s deliberate, putting you into these peoples heads. You get to know these people through their actions, not through grand speeches. The cast is all pretty damn good. Hoffman is of course on fire, just perfectly inhabiting this man who has seen alot in his days and has been burnt, who is simultaneously cynical but hopeful he can make some change. Dafoe is good as a banker caught in the middle of a potentially dangerous situation. MacAdams is ok as an idealistic lawyer who fights for muslims rights, despite having some real trouble with the German accent she’s putting on. And Wright does that thing she does when she’s in a crown on House of Cards. The writing is crisp, is a little lacking in some character shading. I said before it does the work in the character stuff, but it could have spent more time making MacAdams interesting or giving us some more time with Dafoe. And it lacks the punch that Tinker Tailor had. It’s a bit of a well worn resolution for a story like this. But overall, this is a really good flick that is sadly one of the final pieces of evidence of what an immense talent Hoffman was. A well crafted piece of spy fiction that always keeps you guessing about anyones motivations, this is some good shit.
The Green Inferno (September 25th, 2015)
Director: Eli Roth
Starring: Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Kirby Bliss Blanton, and Daryl Sabarra
To read an in depth review on this, click here.
Pompeii (September 26th, 2015)
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Kit Harrington, Emily Browning, Adewale Akinnuoye Agbaje and Kiefer Sutherland
I don’t know why anyone even tries with this freaking guy. It’s almost like a cosmic joke that we were given this significantly inferior Paul Anderson that directs shit ass cinema while there’s another Paul Anderson that delivers almost consistently knockouts. That inferior is Paul W.S. Anderson and his only good movie is Mortal Kombat, a videogame adaptation that is a shameless ripoff of Enter The Dragon. Everything else he’s done has been personality lite shlock fests with bland action and even blander visuals with nonsense stories. Year after year this man somehow manages to make movies and even has a massively successful franchise that I’m not really sure exists outside of the promises people make me that it really does in the Resident Evil movies. Somehow there’s 5 of those things and they are huge, yet I’m sure no one can tell you specific things about them. That’s this guy to a tee. He can make a movie people will go to see but slide right off the brain the second they leave the theater. And in 2014 he delivered another instantly forgettable piece of cinematic teflon in Pompeii, a movie that is essentially just Gladiator with no nuance or visual acumen or a significant lack of acting. It’s an immensely stupid movie with no interesting things going on at all, despite cribbing nonstop from better movies. There are no interesting characters outside of Agbaje’s role, but that may just be that the man is seemingly always interesting on screen. Harrington just proves yet again that he is a bland puppy dog with no range whose only convincing performance is when he swings a sword. Browning hasn’t met a big budget movie she couldn’t completely disappear in, being a non entity at all. And Sutherland isn’t really giving a good performance but chews up the scenery like he’s preparing to go on a massive bender and doesn’t wanna have an empty stomach, so he’s at least interesting and makes choices. The visuals are competent if uninteresting and shows us why Zack Snyder is a unique talent when these shit ass imitations lack the nuance and capability of bringing some immense visuals to the screen. It’s really just odd how pedestrian the directing is here and lacks any sort of personality. And really the story ends with the destruction of Pompeii from that asshole volcano, rendering the stories we had just spent too much time watching all meaningless. But it’s not trying to make a point about the meaningless of existence. This isn’t some nihilistic take on a gladiator movie. No, it want’s to come off like a beautiful tragedy with these two dumb shits spending eternity together in ash form. But the movie is so robotic and inept at a fundamental storytelling level, it doesn’t land. They don’t come off as living people and the handling of their love is so short handed as to be insulting. So the movie just ends with a shrug, and you feel even more irritated with the whole thing. There’s somehow gonna be fans of this shit, as does every W.S. Anderson movie. It’s competently made and looks like a movie for the most part. The action is at least visible and not chopped apart with shaky cam editing crap. But it’s somehow a movie that tries to be hardcore with some blood, but it’s so safe a movie that it all comes off with no weight and nothing lands. Yet it’ll work for some people because it’s action and that’s enough. It’s not landmark bad, just so absolutely mediocre that I’m gonna struggle to remember this tomorrow.