Category Archives: sam mendes

Skyfall

Skyfall ~ This twenty-third official James Bond film, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the movie franchise, seems to be at odds with itself in my opinion. There is a passion by the filmmakers to acknowledge the past here even as they backburner and mock it. To quote the new Q as he hands Bond simply a gun and radio, “What did you expect, an exploding pen? We don’t really go in for that sort of thing anymore.” Much of the dialogue and the plot is dedicated toward saying the Bond way is passé, over with in this day and age, while simultaneously saying it’s needed. It is a nice balance.

I was not a fan of the first two Daniel Craig Bond films, not because of Craig’s humorless performance, or that they were rebooting the franchise for a new audience, mind you, but more because I resented them putting Pierce Brosnan out to pasture. I enjoyed Pierce quite a bit in the role. And actually Craig does a subtle humorous turn and smirk in this one. He’s winning me over. Daniel Craig is book perfect when it comes to James Bond, but I’ve been spoiled by the movie versions, and expect a little something extra, ya know?

What really brought this film to life for me was director Sam Mendes. His stunning and startlingly different visuals light up and dim the screen significantly and lend specific mood and atmosphere to every sequence. Most stunning are the Shanghai scenes, beautiful camera work. I recently had the chance to peruse and review Greg Williams’ book Bond on Set: Filming Skyfall over at Biff Bam Pop!, and while an amazing picture book, it doesn’t hold a candle to the actual film in vibrancy and spectacle.

Craig is flawless, as is Judi Dench as M, and new girl Naomie Harris, and Ralph Fiennes is a pleasant surprise. I absolutely loved Ben Whishaw as the new Q, but that was easy because I love him in everything he’s in, especially “The Hour.” A major complaint however comes in the form of Javier Bardem as the villain Raoul Silva. Not just over the top evil like most Bond villains, but he’s also a bit creepy in a stereotype homosexual pedophile kind of way, so creepy in fact, that he comes off like a bad joke. He is as out of place in a Bond flick as say… Jaws and his girlfriend in Moonraker. For a franchise trying to upscale itself in the audience’s eyes, Bardem was a mistake.

The opening action sequence is perhaps one of the best I’ve seen in a while (Tomorrow Never Dies is still my favorite). The title theme song by Adele better than average and appropriate. What makes me sad is that for a movie that embraces its heritage, gives nods to its history, and celebrates its characters, even adding to their origins – it seems to back step into a simple vengeance storyline rather than a clever spy thriller – which is what it should be. I mean, let’s face it, the last sequences of this film could have easily been a Denzel action flick or perhaps another Die Hard. Revenge is the easy way out. I want to see Bond save the world, for Queen and for Country.

All that said, I really enjoyed this movie, from the fantastic visuals of director Mendes to the titanic score by Thomas Newman, Skyfall was a terrific Bond film. Recommended.

Advertisements

That Time of Year Again

The last few weeks of the year are here and it’s time for Hollywood to roll out their finest stuff in hopes the Academy will take notice and bestow an Oscar on these films. There are a lot of them out there.

Doubt is getting a lot of hype. Milk and Gran Torino promise career performances from Sean Penn and Clint Eastwood respectively. The much talked about reverse-aging epic The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is out there as well. There’s also Will Smith in Seven Pounds, Tom Cruise in Valkyrie, the animated Waltz with Bashir from Ari Folman and Revolutionary Road from Sam Mendes.

Like I said, there are a lot of them, and this is the way it’s been at the end of the year for the last couple decades. The studios want their Oscar hopefuls in the Academy’s faces right before nomination time, and for the most part, this simple ploy usually works. Mark my words, most of the above flicks will make up the majority of the noms this year.

This is bullshit in my opinion. Time of year shouldn’t matter. A good movie, an Oscar-worthy movie, is Oscar-worthy no matter what time of year it is released. If these studios had any reall balls they would release all of these in January. If a flick is really that good, the Academy will remember it come December. And if not, if the Academy is that dim-witted and memory-handicapped, why are they allowed to vote?