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THEATRICAL REVIEW: Spectre (2015)

November 20, 2015 1 comment
Spectre (2015)Directed by: Sam Mendes
Produced by: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
Screenplay by: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth
Story by: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
Edited by: Lee Smith
Cinematography by: Hoyte van Hoytema
Music by: Thomas Newman, Sam Smith (theme)
Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen, Alessandro Cremona, Judi Dench
Based on characters created by Ian Fleming
Year: 2015

 

It’s been three years since the release of the last James Bond film, Skyfall, but it seems as though a mere matter months have passed by the time Spectre begins, with Bond tracking down an assassin named Marco Sciarra, who is suspected of having ties to a larger organization that has been causing headaches for MI6 and, more generally, the world at large. Fans of the series, particularly those who have either read the books or seen the older films, will by no means have any trouble quickly knowing exactly what organization Sciarra is working for (hint: it’s in the title) as well as what this will likely mean for the Bond franchise going forward. Your enthusiasm for the film and the implications of this organization’s presence from here on out will largely depend upon one’s devotion to the series and whether you’re willing to accept that the more serious, grounded, and gritty Bond films that began with the Daniel Craig era of films were pretty much always going to build up to this from the very beginning. And even if you’re willing to accept this inevitable return to a refreshed but familiar form, what few surprises Spectre does have in store for audiences will actually be a far greater point of contention than the choice to continue moving these films “backward” in terms of tone and grandiosity. Read more…

2012 IN REVIEW: The Best Films of the Year

February 16, 2013 Leave a comment

At last, we come to the climax of my review of the films of 2012. To those of you who continue to keep up with me, I one again apologize for the slow updates — I saw so many movies this past year and have been doing so much this past month that it’s been hard to keep up with a regular update schedule!

This is how I felt ALL WEEK!

This is how I felt ALL WEEK!

I’m currently in the process of moving, with my best friend / roommate moving back to his hometown to be closer to family, so it’s been tough keeping up with the blog, hanging out with him a few more times after seven awesome years of being roommates, while also just figuring stuff out for the next period of my life living as a single person for the first time. It’s tough, but thankfully he lives where my family lives, and it’s only 100 miles away. Lucky for any fans I may have (Hello!…?), it’ll likely result in me doing more reviews, though the higher amount of rent I’ll be paying will undoubtedly impact my ability to go to the theatre as often as I have been.

On that note, before I get to the meat of this final entry, I want to thank everyone who has been reading this blog, regularly or even sporadically. I may not know you, but I appreciate you! This may be a hobby of mine, but it’s meaningful to me and keeps me sharp. I started The Viewer’s Commentary in September of 2011, after lots of personal setbacks and a good long while of feeling stupid and even being made to feel stupid for wanting to start a blog about movies, and by the time I finally decided to just go for it and not listen to the negativity, I still didn’t really know whether I was going to still be writing in even a few months’ time. So to already be in the middle of my second year and still be having a blast getting my thoughts and opinions out there about one of my favorite subjects has truly been a great experience. To those of you who have read, continue to read, and even to those of you I know personally who encouraged me and maybe don’t even share my passion and probably aren’t even reading this now but you supported me all the same, thank you again for being there! I’m definitely looking forward to what 2013 promises to bring! (STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS! FINALLY!)

The film's villain amongst a bunch of red shirts. This isn't going to end well...

The film’s villain amongst a bunch of red shirts. This isn’t going to end well…

Anyway, enough self-reflection! You’re here for the rundown of the best films of 2012, aren’t you? I assume so, since you are continuing to read this. I’ll let you get to that, but first, let me explain how this list is working, as I’ve changed it up a bit from last year and from most other “Best Of” lists.

First off, last year I did it in multiple parts (here, here, and, finally, here – in order). None of that this time. You’re getting this all in one big wave!

Secondly, and this is related to the third alteration, there are no longer just 10 films on this list, but rather a whopping 17. Why?

Well, that’s because the third alteration I made is that I’ve decided that a lot of the best films of the year weren’t necessarily my favorites, but I wanted to recognize their greatness by putting them on this list anyway, rather than lump them in with the films that were just average. (I did something similar with the “Films I Liked” this year after realizing I didn’t necessary love nor despise a lot of films enough to put them on the worst or best of lists.)

Honestly, what the hell?!

This did not make the list. This shouldn’t make any listsBECAUSE IT SHOULDN’T EXIST!

So, while the films below are all fantastic films and deserve to be considered among the best of the year, their order has everything to do with favoritism over quality. After all, lists like these are highly subjective, and while it’s certainly possible to objectively call a film “one of the best,” ultimately by ranking such diverse works against one another, you just have to acknowledge the fact that you’re playing favorites.

 

So, yeah, anyway to review and summarize: These are, in my opinion, THE BEST FILMS OF 2012, but they are ORDERED ACCORDING TO FAVORITISM. Make sense? I hope so! If not, then just keep reading on, ’cause I think you’ll get it, anyway! Read more…

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Theatrical Review: “Skyfall”

November 13, 2012 1 comment
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Produced by: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
Written by: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan
Cinematography by: Roger Deakins
Music by: Thomas Newman (score), Adele (title song)
Editing by: Stuard Baird, Kate Baird
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Bérénice Lim Marlohe, Ben Whishaw, Albert Finney
Based on the characters created by Ian Fleming
Year: 2012

 

One of the best things about Skyfall, Bond movie #23, is that, being released on the 50th anniversary of the film franchise means that it gets a bit of leeway for being a bit reverential towards its series legacy. Fans of the series from any era will find a few bits here and there to point at and go, “Hey, look!” A lot of franchises do this on their anniversaries, and the Bond franchise even went and did this ten years ago, when Die Another Day was released as not only the 20th Bond movie, but also on the somewhat less glamorous 40th anniversary of the film franchise.

Whereas that film felt more like an exploitation of the series history through a poorly assembled “Greatest Hits” compilation, however, Skyfall feels more like a reverential tribute that smartly takes these well known and celebrated elements (ridiculous stunts, expensive gadgetry, eccentric villains, and sweeping theme songs) and reworks them to fit into the new tone set in place by the reboot films, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. From the opening gambit onward, director Sam Mendes establishes this tone with a great mix of the old and new, as Bond is faced with not just physical struggles, but also emotional and personal struggles.

(Very mild spoilers ahead.) Read more…

Trailer: “Skyfall” Teaser

Hey, everyone! So I’ve got a new review coming which I will be working on tonight:K-Pax. It’s kind of an odd film starring Kevin Spacey that came out quite a while ago, and, while, it was on my radar at the time, I mostly ignored it when the reviews started coming in denouncing its quality. It currently holds a 41% on Rotten Tomatoes, and, really, since then, I’d kinda forgotten it existed up until I decided to outsource my viewing habits to a friend who doesn’t really watch movies. Oddly enough, that was his suggestion. How did I like it? Well, you’ll just have to read the review. How’s that for a tease?

Anyway, speaking of teasers (How do you like that segue?), Kevin Spacey’s friend Sam Mendes (I assume they’re friends since Spacey was in Mendes’ big break, American Beauty, but that may be me being naive about how Hollywood platonic relationships work) has a new teaser trailer out, and it’s for a film that looks much better than K-Pax — at least from an aesthetic perspective. The teaser trailer, of course, is for the next James Bond film, Skyfall:

So, what does this tell us about the next Bond film? Well… not much, really. Starts out with a few word associations as Bond is debriefed/interrogated(?) as onlookers M (Dame Judi Dench), Agent Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), and I believe MI6 Chief of Staff Bill Tanner (Rory Kinnear, whose work I’m not too familiar with) look on with concern. Bond seems to keep his cool, even sort of reveling in his clever association with the word “murder” and “employment,” but when they come to the word “Skyfall,” it all suddenly turns grim as Bond flashes back to the mission and ends the session.

Obviously, this being a teaser trailer and all, very little plot is given away, but we do know that the plot deals with an attack on MI6 and Bond’s loyalty to M and the agency. This jibes with the images of coffins draped with the Union Jack and Bond stating in the end, “Some men are coming to kill us. We’re going to kill them first.” Much of what comes in between is standard fare for teasers, banging music and all. New locales, a few brief, ambiguous explosions and scenes of Bond either staring intently in exotic locales or engaging in daring acts of violence and destruction, and, of course, a few brief glimpses at the Bond girls, Naomi Harris and Bérénice Marlohe.

That all being said, this does look to be one of the prettiest Bond films. I think the imagery is very strong in this film. It’s dark with accents of neon color, but, at least from what I can tell from the trailer, not in a sense that the film looks tacky like, say, Mission: Impossible II did (and that was an ugly action film). Sam Mendes has an eye for visuals, and so I’m expecting this to at least be a great-looking film.

What don’t we see in this trailer? Aside from more plot, we still don’t have any glimpses of Javier Bardem as the film’s villain, nor do we see the return of the long absent gadget-supplier Q, who is making his re-debut in this film with the much younger Ben Winshaw taking the place once filled by Desmond Llewelyn and briefly by Peter Burton (Dr. No) and John Cleese (Die Another Day).

Altogether, it’s a serviceable teaser, but not much else. It got me excited, however, but then again, that’s what it’s supposed to do and the film could still turn out crap despite any number of trailers. We’ll just have to wait for more meaty trailers to come out in the meantime before we pass judgment on whether this looks worthy enough to satiate our desires for another Casino Royale. In the meantime (shameless plug alert, why not go speculate about who will do the theme song for this film by checking out my overview of all the Bond themes up to this point?

Here are your convenient links:

James Bond: The Themes – Part 1

James Bond: The Themes – Part 2

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