For the thrid time, I watched Quantam of Solace, the second of the James Bond refresh movies. It isn’t nearly as highly reviewed as Casino Royale and it is my least favorite of the new Bond films and the heavy-handed editing (quick cuts and shots) during the action scenes make them almost unwatchable, but it *is* James Bond and Daniel Craig as James Bond and good enough to watch. It is a forgettable film though – twice before I’ve forgotten the plot. With that in mind, here is my quick summary:
A few moments after Bond shoots Mr. White in Casino Royale, Bond takes White back to M for interrogation. We learn that White’s org is everywhere, including M’s assistant from the first Bond film who starts shooting (whoa!) and allows White to escape. Bond goes after White and ends up in Haiti, where he learns that a Mr. Green is leading another shadow organization within the larger organization that ostensibly is an environmental nonprofit but is actually taking ownership of all the water and utilizities under a corrupt Bolivian dictator. Bond kills Mr. Green and brings down this organization, and also tracks down Vesper (Casino Royale) faux-boyfriend who is actually a mole for Mr. White’s org. In the meantime, we see a couple of Bond girls (including one who dies in oil like the girl died in Goldfinger), a couple of chase scenes in a boat and a plane, two gatherings in tuxes, and a taste of the rugged Bolivian townslife. I love Bond/M’s sardonic humorous exchange when they find Green: “We found his body in the desert… He had a quart of motor oil in his stomach, do you know anything about that?”
For me, the the movie needed to be more patient. Casino Royale and later Skyfall have a lot of patience, letting scenes develop without a lot of cuts. THere are so many cuts, and so many quick scenes, it is hard to observe things unfolding naturally – it is like the director is constantly forcing us to look somewhere. Still, it is JaMes Bond and – again — Daniel Craig as James Bond (Craig is my favorite Bond, kind of a perfect combo of Connery and Moore).
For some reason, Wife M and I like horror movies more in the summer than the winter, perhaps because the winter is so gloomy and gray it is hard to escape it with a gloomy movie… Switching gears a little bit, I had high hopes for Annabelle creation, having liked The Conjuring and Annabelle so much. We bought tickets for opening day And counted down the days. It was not a perfect movie (some cliches such as isolated farmhouses, scarecrows, etc.), but very enjoyable and entertaining, and certainly met my expectations and was a worthwhile investment of time and money. The fact that so much of the scares took place at night after everyone went to bed was on my mind that night when I got up to get a drink of water 🙂
Wife M and I watched “Hell or High Water.” I loved it.
On its own, it was an attention-holding story. I worried about the two boys (whether they’d get caught when they were trying to take care of their family), the two rangers (when the one was just a few months from retiring I had a suspicious there would be a potentially-tragic showdown) and the people along the way. I was rooting for the boys to pull themselves out of debt, but also for the likable police officers (who reminded me of the two DEA agents in “Breaking Bad” and/or the two Sheriffs in “No Country For Old Men”).
It also had many great social comments. It mentions poverty (“like a disease”) and small towns dying and humans being controlled by the bank. There was definitely a point that a bank could take advantage of an impoverished old woman and that is legal, but two men robbing that same bank to protect the old woman’s land was not. Or that it was humorous for the Ranger that the waitress was upset she’d lost her $200 tip to evidence, even after she’d made the comment she was trying to keep a roof over her family’s heads. Also, in old Westerns you got the sense that American towns were on the path towards growth and prosperity, but in this “modern western” you got the sense that American towns were decrepit and dying.
We live in an age where exploding wage inequality will mean the vast majority of Americans will not have the money to cover illness and old age, and so will do things like take reverse mortgages for pennies on the dollar to cover those costs, which means the wealthy (who give the money for these reverse mortgages) will continue to take a larger share of the pie (e.g. houses for pennies on the dollar) all the while justifying this. (This was actually one of the root causes of The French Revolution – the wealthy were foreclosing on the poor, who were struggling to cover the rising costs). It’s not fair and is a huge flaw in the system, and the movie points all this out very well.
I’d love to watch this movie again. I was too busy enjoying the story and noticing the social commentary to look for other things (symbols, etc.).
On Friday we went to the movie Moonlight, and saw it at the Sundance theater, where we can have a cocktail and a pizza with our movie. I loved that movie, and here is why:
- The performances. From top to bottom, amazing. All were great, but I really loved the performance of the grown up Shyrell(?, the main character), who did a great job of being street tough and hardened one moment then seeming vulnerable and that lost little boy again the next minute, mostly in his expressions and mannerisms.
- The characters. I loved them all, including the character Blue, the best friend and even the drug addict mom and her speech at the end.
- The symbolism. There is a great line, where the drug dealer tells the boy how when he was younger an old woman started calling him “Blue” because he looked blue in the moonlight. “Do you still go by Blue?” the boy asked. “You can’t let anyone else tell you who you are,” the man said. The rest of the movie, I was noticing the spots of blue everywhere. My favorite was when the mom was bathed in red light as she yelled, then that red light turned to blue when she closed the door – wow!
- The feelings. I felt sadness when I realized the drug dealer had died. I was touched by the way he’d reached out to the boy, and so was touched when I realized he was dead. The whole movie was touching.
- The subtle way the movie was pulled together. When the drug dealer told the boy you can’t let anyone tell you who you are when the boy asked if the drug dealer went by “Blue,” then when the boy asked the drug dealer if he (the boy) was gay and the drug dealer said the boy would just know one day if he were or weren’t, then when the grown up friend came out putting on the blue sweater – I was amazed at the subtle way the director put that all together without putting it in our face. Amazing.
It was a wonderful movie. One that I continue to think about two days later.
The first show I ever watched that I couldn’t stop watching was Mad Men Seasons 1-3. Mad Men was nearing the end of Season 3 when I started watching Season 1, and I fell in love with it immediately. Within a week I was caught up, I loved that show so much (I liked Season 4 too, or at least what Season 4 was trying to accomplish, but didn’t like Mad Men so much after that – it changed from what initially drew me in). When I started watching that show, it was the Fall of 2009, and Wife M was working a *lot* during that time, so I was in the midst of a 5-year run of raising 2 school age kids, running a household and working full time, plus was unknowingly battling lung disease, so was pretty freaking tired (although I cherish the memories with the kids), but Mad Men absolutely riveted me and to be honest the kids got dinner a little late (>7 pM) a couple of nights so I could finish an episode…
Then a few years ago, when I was still recovering from prednisone, utterly exhausted and spent from battling lung disease, and spent all weekend every weekend on the couch, recoveirng. I was bored, then I discovered Breaking Bad, and over a two or three week period I watched the entire series, seasons 1-6 or 7 until the very end. The show hit home for me because I was once a very poor high school teacher and felt Walt’s pain in that I had faced a potentially fatal disease as a 40-something year old man. The show also absolutely riveted me.
I have not seen a show since those, except now Dexter comes pretty close. I am now in Season 3, and the twists and the turns and the premise and performances are wonderul. I am wear Jimmy Smits has figured out that Dexter is a true killer – astounding. Love it.
American Horror Story is one of the shows that I always *want* to like. But many years it involves homicidal maniacs, violence or is just flat out too over the top, so that really the only year I’ve truly liked is Coven, which I flat-out loved. I also like the first season pretty well, although sometimes there were just too many ghosts, which detracted from it. But this season, where it takes place in a house built in the 1700s in the remote South, seems okay so far. It has a Haunted Mansion, type feel. But there seems to be an obsession with pigs, and I am hoping that the pigs don’t get too weird (honestly, pigs? It seems strange. Yes, boars have killed people in history, but somehow “Oh my god, look out for the pig!” doesn’t seem that interesting or scary). But it has potential, so after two episodes I am hanging in there. For now. Here is hoping!
After enjoying the great Korean film The Wailing yesterday, we went rented another Korean ghost film: A Tale of Two Sisters. We loved it! A beautiful film (cinematography) that followed two sisters, their step mom and their glum father. The plot twists in it were great, and I think the review that compared it to The Turn of the Screw said it best. In short, it is a psychological horror film with a few Sixth Sense like twists. I’d love to watch it again.