Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Overrating Or Selective Viewing

So far with 2017 more than halfway over, I have seen 12 movies released this calendar year.  It turns out that half of those I gave a rating of eight stars.  Another three received seven stars.  This leaves only three films left, which earned six stars, three stars, and two stars (oh how terrible the Alien and Underworld series have become).

Having a year with six, or even 10, films rated eight stars or higher isn't abnormal.  However, I still have Oscar season to get through, which likely means that another three or four will get some high ratings.  And that doesn't include the surprise standouts or great films I've also missed the past seven months.

This revelation has led me to believe that one of two things is happening.  Either I am overrating movies that are good, but not great, or I've become extremely good at picking out the great films to see and this is going to end up being an impressive year in film.  I'm hoping it is the latter.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Bond 25 Updates

This week has been a good one in regard to the next production in the James Bond film franchise.  It was reported late yesterday that Bond 25, which is the current title for the film since an official title hasn't yet been announced, would be released into U.S. theaters on November 8, 2019, with British moviegoers getting the movie about a week earlier.  I've always wanted to see a Bond movie in Great Britain and my wife and I considered going for Spectre but it unfortunately didn't work out.  Maybe it will be Bond 25 that is the milestone film for me that I see for the first time on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Following the official announcement that Bond 25 would be released in late 2019, the New York Times is reporting that it is a done deal for Daniel Craig to return to the role for his fifth movie.  For a long time there have been rumors that Craig would return, but most of those were being reported by disreputable sources in tabloid magazines and newspapers.  Having a credible media outlet like the New York Times report Craig's return gives the long-standing rumors some validity.

Hopefully an official announcement is made soon and then we can start speculating on who the director will be, what the movie's title is, and whether they will continue the Blofeld/Spectre storyline.

Friday, July 07, 2017

A Brief Guide To The James Bond Actors

It has been more than 18 months since the release of Spectre and the speculation as to whether Daniel Craig will return to the role of James Bond has not stopped.  It seems every month about two or three new rumors emerge as to whether Craig will don the suit again or the producers have decided to move on to a new actor.  Although it's frustrating to not know one way or the other whether Craig will make a fifth 007 film (which I believe he will, and maybe even a possible sixth), I thought I would reflect on the six actors who have portrayed James Bond in the official series and what aspect of the character they brought to the silver screen.

First up is Sean Connery, who is the original Bond.  Connery was a tough spy, but also suave.  There is a story that 007 author Ian Fleming once said of Connery that he walked like a panther.

Second is George Lazenby, who is the one-film Bond.  Lazenby was a model who had never been in a movie, which the lack of experience shows a bit in the role.

Third is Roger Moore, who is the hammy Bond.  Moore didn't do his stunts, which is very obvious when you watch his movies, and he turned Bond into a silly film series.

Fourth is Timothy Dalton, who is the Shakespeare Bond.  Dalton attempted to bring the literary Bond character to the screen and make the man less of a superhero.  He was basically the Daniel Craig of the 1980s.

Fifth is Pierce Brosnan, who is the pretty-boy Bond.  Brosnan couldn't decide whether he wanted to be more of a Connery or more of a Moore.  He wanted to be serious, suave, and campy all at the same time.

Sixth is Daniel Craig, who is the gritty Bond.  Craig retconned the series in order to ground the movies and is the most physically fit of all the Bond actors.  He is basically the Daniel Craig of the 21st century.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Empire Magazine's 100 Greatest Films List Signifies A Sad State of Affairs

This month's issue of Empire includes the magazine's recent audience poll that resulted in the top 100 films of all time, and while there are certainly a few films that were placed precisely where they belong, the majority of the list is a reflection of short-term praise and recent box office success being an indicator of what is considered "greatest" by current audience members.

The highlights include The Godfather at the top of the list, The Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas, and Jaws also making the top 10, and having three Alfred Hitchcock films included (although I could make arguments that they are missing a few more).

However, there are three major issues I have with allowing "the people" to make this list.  My first matter of contention is with Citizen Kane being at 46.  I understand that today's movie-going audience doesn't really take the classics into consideration when coming up with the best movies of all time, which will be detailed a little further in my second point of frustration, but to regulate Orson Welles' masterpiece to the back of the top 50 is a crime.  It's become a cliché to say that Citizen Kane is the greatest movie of all time, and yet it truly is a seminal historical marker in the timeline of American cinema.  I get it not being a favorite, must-see movie for everyone, but its influence on modern moviemaking should still regulate it to the top 10.

My second argument against Empire's fan-favorite list is that it doesn't include a single silent film.  Again, this falls under today's generation of moviegoers not wanting to watch a medium that requires reading dialogue when they could simply watch a more modern film that has the dialogue spoken audibly, but there are plenty of silent films that deserve a spot on the top 100 list of greatest films.  Even rattling off the great ones, such as Metropolis, City Lights, The General, Birth of a Nation, Battleship Potemkin, and The Passion of Joan of Arc, would be a disservice to all the others that deserve consideration.  #silentfilmsmatter

And lastly, the comic book elephant in the room.  I understand that this is the era of the comic book movie and shared universes that combine superheroes to each other's films, but to claim that The Dark Knight is the third best movie ever made and three Marvel movies deserving spots ranging from as high as 34 to as low as 79 is just asinine.  The only comic book movie that deserves to be on a top 100 list of all time is The Dark Knight, I will give you that, but to say it is third overall is ludicrous.  There are still a lot of problems with the second of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy that should set it back several spots on this list.  The reign of the geek is at an all-time high and has resulted in allowing four comic book movies to make its way onto this list, but by doing so it has done a great disservice to films of much greater quality and higher importance.

Luckily next month Empire is releasing another top 100 films list that will be put together by industry employees, so hopefully it will be a little more in line with what a top 100 greatest movies list should look like.  Obviously these lists are arbitrary and cannot be validated by a single person, but a list should have more weight behind it when it is made up by those who know what it takes to make a great film and the details lacking in a good, but not great one.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

R.I.P. Sir Roger Moore, Dead At 89

For the first time ever in the history of the official James Bond film series, all actors to have portrayed James Bond are not alive.  Although he was the third actor to portray the British super-spy, he was the oldest of all the actors.  He had three years on the original star of the series, Sean Connery.  So the odds were best that Moore would be the first to go, but you really can never be sure of these things and the timing, obviously, was a mystery to all of when this day would come.

Moore, who was my second least favorite incarnation of the character and that is only because George Lazenby quit the role after one movie so it is hard to get a really good gauge of what kind of Bond he could have become had he been given a few more films to flesh out the character, starred in his first Bond movie in 1973 with Live and Let Die.  He would end up being Bond for the most official films, with a grand total of seven.  He vacated the role after 1985’s A View to a Kill.

Moore’s take on the role was a much lighter tone than Connery, with many of his films becoming slapstick takes on the role, which would be lambasted by Connery fans and younger viewers who grew up on Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig as being campy.  I would probably be considered a part of that group and find many of Moore’s 007 movies hard to get through at times.

Since a Bond actor has never passed before I’m not sure what sort of tribute I will do, but it will likely be watching one of his Bond movies tonight after the family goes to bed.  The obvious choice is The Spy Who Loved Me, which is his best film in the series, but I might try to mix it up with Live and Let Die or Octopussy.

Anyway, this is a rambling way to say that it is a sad day to be a Bond fan.  I’m not on the verge of tears or needing to abandon all responsibilities for the day like some people are claiming on message boards across the world, but I will try to find some time to pay tribute to a man who was truly a tremendous ambassador to the Bond franchise and helped carry the torch for a fictional character I love.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Another Season, Another Marvel Movie To Rank

With the release of Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 a couple of weeks ago, I have considered its inclusion in the Marvel Cinematic Universe pantheon and with a small change to the  middle of my rankings since the premiere of Doctor Strange late last year I have come up with a new ranking of the Marvel movies.  Compared with lists across the Internet, the only real shocker for my list is my disregard for the team-up Avenger films.  I am not as high on the Joss Whedon-directed movies as most.

It will be clear that my love of the Guardians sequel likely stems from the unbridled joy I get from multiple viewings of its predecessor.  I could even tell on a second screening of the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel that its faults were a little more blatant and unforgiving than first realized.  However, even with all its burdens, and the heavy-handed messages about "family" that gives the viewer a feeling they are in the midst of one of the too-many Fast and Furious movies, it is still a thrilling, laugh-out-loud entry in the MCU worthy of a generous place on the overall rankings.

Without further ado, here is my updated list of the MCU films:

15. Iron Man 2
14. Thor: The Dark World
13. Captain America: The First Avenger
12. The Avengers
11. The Incredible Hulk
10. Iron Man 3
9. Avengers: Age of Ultron
8. Thor
7. Ant-man
6. Doctor Strange
5. Captain America: Civil War
4. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2
3. Iron Man
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
1. Guardians of the Galaxy

Thursday, May 11, 2017

(Not) Live (Not) Tweeting 'Legion' Episode 8

I don't really have a ton of things to say about this episode.  I've finally come to a point that I am comfortable with everything they are throwing at me.  Overall, the series was very solid, horrifying at times, and constantly made you question what you were viewing.

The episode ends on a cliffhanger, like 95% of television series these days.  Lucky for us a second season has already been approved.