Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Quantum of Solace

I hadn't blogged about a movie in a while, but that doesn't mean that I haven't seen any movies. In fact, I've probably watched more movies than ever. I seem to have almost stopped watching tv altogether and occupy my entire free time at night with a movies. Don't get me wrong. I'm not watching movies all night. The truth is that the kids and the wife usually go to bed around 9pm, leaving me on my own for an hour an a half or so. Rather than wasting my time watching the horrible mix of shows that the major networks dump on us, I watch movies. It usually takes me 2 nights to watch an entire movie. I enjoy it as it is mindless entertainment. I love to read, but work and kids and everything else leaves me too tired to read much at night.

So today's posting is about a movie that I didn't watch at home - Quantum of Solace. My supervisor takes my coworker and me to the movies as presents. That's fine with me. I had a supervisor who gave Starbucks giftcards. Sounds great - if you drink coffee, which I don't. I don't need crap, so the movies are the perfect gift.

So Quantum of Solace is the newest James Bond movie and it is a sequel to Casino Royale. Not many James Bond movies are sequels (I think not since the early 1970's), but this one is an exception.

If you recall, in Casino Royale, the always attractive French Eva Green (check out The Dreamers) played Vesper Lynd. She was the treasury agent assigned to watch the money that he lost in a high-stakes poker game when he was trying to get close to Le Chiffre. He ended up falling in love with her, only to find out she stole the money that was being used in the game, and then she died. However, he learned that she did what she did to spare his life and now he was out to avenger her death.

Back to Quantum of Solace. Bond ends up pursuing Dominic Greene, the quasi-evil-environmentalist along with new lady hottie, Olga Kurylenko, who is also seeking revenge. Bond, again, threatens to resign from the agency and M (Judy Dench) lays the hammer down on him to keep him at bay. But like a good Bond character he is more resourceful than they give him credit. M questions whether he is pursuing this missing from as an agent or as someone seeking revenge. We all know the answer. The long pursuit sends Bond through Bolivia cities and finally into the Bolivian desert. The movie includes many twists and double-crosses and is very similar in style (Surprise!) to Casino Royale.

I don't want to write too much about the movie because I recommend that you see it for yourself. But as a review of the movie, I would have to agree with Roger Ebert, which would parallel my opinion of the Casino Royale. Quantum of Solace, while a great action movie, is so different as a James Bond movie that I have a difficult time buying into the new style. Roger Ebert says that James Bond is not Jason Bourne. I agree. Too much of the movie was focused on fighting, running, chasing, blowing up, and shooting. In my opinion, the only opinion that matters, James Bond should be more about dialog, deception, critical thinking, and analysis, and most importantly - chasing women.

So from a ratings perspective, I'll rate this movie from a non-James Bond point-of-view. This is a GREAT action movie. Lots of excitement, suspense, and treachery. I give this movie 4 stars. It is rated PG-13 for violence, some language, and sexual innuendo.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Throttled Again

I think Netflix has to meet a quota of how many times they throttle a guy in a month. Today was my day. I returned Horton Hears A Who!, which they got today. I have 3 movies that are available NOW, but they couldn't seem to find them. Slackers! Now it says they'll try again tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Fred Claus

Every year there has to be a Christmas movie. It's the law. And usually the Christmas movie sucks. I present Deck the Halls, Christmas With the Kranks, The Santa Clause 1, 2 and 3, and Jack Frost . I dare you to challenge me on that one. I've even heard that Christmas movies are where actors and actresses go to die.

Fortunately, despite some reviews by the pundits, Fred Claus is actually not that bad. It stars Vince Vaughn as Santa Claus' brother. Fred grew up the older brother of Santa, played by John Adams, I mean Paul Giamatti. Santa is the carefree, jovial kid who has good intentions, but seems to be making life miserable for his older brother Fred, who's more down to Earth.

"Why can't you be more like your brother Nick?" This is what Fred heard all his life. Fred was never as good as Nick and resented his mother for all of the attention that Santa got. So Fred skipped town, only to struggle through life with bitterness and failure. Santa, meanwhile, went on to become the bearer of gifts on Christmas Eve.

Meanwhile, Fred gets into a bit of a bind and needs money, which Santa agrees to give him if Fred agrees to come to the North Pole and work for it and help him get through the Christmas season. Fred agrees and the drama ensures.

To add to the fun, Kevin Spacey plays the mischievious accountant that works for the government who's inspecting the North Pole operations, which Santa must prove is in working order so that he can maintain control over this domain.

The movie is full of laughs, lots of site gags and slapstick humor. Vince Vaughn plays the best character that he knows - Vince Vaughn without the potty mouth. Fred Claus is rated PG for some mild language and some rude humor, per Netflix. It was decent enough that I didn't feel bad allowing my 6 year-old son to watch it.

The movie also stars Kathy Bates as the Claus' mother, Ludacris (who was hysterically midgetized), and Elizabeth Banks as Fred's girlfriend.

Overall I give this movie 4 stars. This is a great movie to watch with your family, which is important to do at the holidays.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Operation Petticoat

I have been trying to see the classics for a couple of years now. I'm not so sure that Operation Petticoat is considered a classic, but it does star Tony Curtiss (father of Jamie Lee) and Cary Grant, who is a classic actor. The movie was directed by Blake Edwards, director of the infamous Pink Panther movies and Breakfast at Tiffany's. The movie even casts minor roles for Marion Ross (Happy Days) and Dick Sargent (I Dream of Jeanie).

Operation Petticoat is a comedy about the U.S.S. Sea Tiger, a U.S. submarine during World War II. The movie follows the zany adventures of the sub and it's eclectic and often times dysfunctional crew members.

The movie starts off with an attack on the naval base and the Sea Tiger is sunk. Cary Grant (Lt. Commander Sherman) is given permission to raise and repair his ship, but only with a skeleton crew. Furthermore, he is given Naval dandy supply officer Lt. JG Nicholas Holden (Curtiss). Holden's naval experience does not exceed organizing some social activities for the Officers' Ladies Club.

Because of the shortage of supplies, Cmd Sherman cannot repair his ship. Holden, however, uses ingenuity and comes up with the supplies through some creative acquisitions.

Once off at sea, they attack a ship near an island, only to learn that some American nurses are trying to escape. The rest of the movie deals with interactions between the men and the women and Captain Sherman trying to maintain some sort of normalcy on their voyage. Things are only complicated when the ship needs to be primed and painted because of the recent repairs. The paint situations causes them to paint the ship pink.

This movie is clever and classical funny from the days of yore, not the in-your-face kind of funny of today's movies. Operation Petticoat was made in 1959, the same year that Grant starred in the critically acclaimed North By Northwest. Had it been rated by today's standards, it probably would have been rated PG-13 for theatrical violence and some sexual undertones.

I give this movie 4 stars. I enjoyed it, but remember that I have a bias towards older movies. But this one is in color, so don't be too afraid to watch it.


Another "talkie" as my wife puts it. Brigadoon is the classic musical from 1954 starring Gene Kelley and Cyd Charrise.

Set in Scotland, Tommy Albright (Kelley) and Jeff Douglass (Van Johnson) are in Scotland hunting when they come across this hamlet set in the hills. This hamlet, however, is not on the map. They decide to explore the area and discover a town that seems to be stuck in the past. Everyone is dressed as if it were 200 years ago. The town they have found is Brigadoon.

Also during this day a wedding is planned for Jean Campbell, the sister of Fiona Campbell (Charrise). Albright and Kelley meet and they fall in love and sing lots of songs. Albright learns that the town was put under a spell. It is to sleep for 100 years and awaken for only 1 day. So to the people of Brigadoon, only 2 days have passed over the last 200 years. The problem is that if anyone leaves Brigadoon then the spell will be broken, but everyone will disappear and be gone forever.

Oh, the conundrum. True love is found, but cannot be held. Is their love strong enough to find an answer to their problem?

Brigadoon was directed by Vincente Minnelli, the same director of An American in Paris, another Gene Kelley movie, Meet Me in St. Louis, and Father of the Bride.

The movie predates the MPAA rating system, but would probably deserve the PG rating since people are smoking and drinking. The movie is 108 minutes long and about 100 minutes of that is singing. So if you like singing, this movie is for you. I give this movie 3 stars. It has a compelling storyline, but just a bit too much song and dance for me.
My Zimbio