Sad to Queue: Nov. 18, 2008

Mr. Robot has to take a sabbatical from the Add to Queue column for a while, so I’m filling in for him in my tragically incompetent way. And so we have…Sad to Queue. Fans of bloody train wrecks, read on!

Heathers: Back in high school, I grew my hair long one summer and lost a bunch of weight, and soon after people started mistaking me for a girl — not least of all an enclave of female acquaintances who suddenly became my best buddies once I looked like one of them. It was like a harem anime, except minus all the sexual tension…so I guess not like a harem anime at all. Anyway, my rite of initiation into this circle of ladies was to watch Heathers with them. They seemed to love it, and I was much too polite to say that it seemed like a lot of very silly vicarious saber-ratting for disaffected loners. But really, yeah, I don’t think I’d enjoy it any more as an adult. Though I do find it quaint to see a movie starring both Christian Slater and Winona Ryder. Is it possible to more effectively capture the zeitgeist of the year that was 1991? Ah, if only the stupidly expensive special edition came with a can of Crystal Pepsi, it would be perfect.

Tropic Thunder: I’ve heard this is an amazing parody of Hollywood. And it has Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr., so that’s good! Oh, but Ben Stiller. I was forced to watch him in some terrible Farrelly Bros. movie (like there’s any other kind) a few weeks ago. He played a despicable creep, and now I hate him forever. As if Night at the Museum hadn’t already done the trick!

WALL-E: Best Pixar movie ever? No, not quite, but that’s like saying Eva Green isn’t quite the most beautiful Bond girl. Who cares! Some hairs are too fine to be split, you know? And speaking of which….

I’ve just returned from the Sundance Kabuki, where I saw Quantum of Solace, which I’d heard was awful. Apparently I hear from a lot of crazy people these days, as I really enjoyed the movie. It was a quintessential Bond movie, which is to say messy and flawed but awfully fun. I think two factors are souring people’s perspective on the film: one, it’s the sequel to Casino Royale, which was an extremely unconventional Bond flick that largely served to reboot the franchise and start from scratch. And two, it’s the sequel to Casino Royale, which is terribly uncommon for the series. Bond movies tend to have links, but rarely do they have direct connections, and none of them that I’ve seen have been so absolutely dependent on the prior installment for clarity. If you haven’t seen Casino Royale lately and don’t pay very close attention to the dialogue, you’re likely to find yourself lost partway through the story. But hey, that’s true for even the classic Bonds. The factor that determines whether a Bond movie works or not is whether or not those tenuous links hold up after you’ve had a few hours to think on them, and in this case: yes.

Really, the worst part of the film is the terrible camera work during action sequences. Casino Royale had the audacity to use a steady hand during fights and chases to give a firm sense of geography and choreography; Quantum tends to obscure what’s happening with bad lighting and nauseating jump cuts. Since we’ve seen Daniel Craig pull off solid action scenes, there’s really no excuse not to let us see more of it aside from lazy directing. I dunno, I feel like if I had a $200 million dollar budget I’d use it to make sure the cool parts of the movie were actually good.

Fortunately, the rest of the film did a good job of continuing the series reboot. Bond seemed more Bond this time, with a few subtle references to the older movies, a small but meaty role for Felix Leiter, and a nebulous and powerful shadowy organization on par with SPECTRE that (hopefully) will continue to exist in the background for a while. And hopefully its leader will come to a better end than the pathetic way Blofeld was written out of the older series. Honestly, no matter what you thought of Quantum of Solace, it is better than every Roger Moore film put together. So quitcherbitchin, Internet.

21 thoughts on “Sad to Queue: Nov. 18, 2008

  1. Question about Sundance Kabuki – we haven’t been there in years (since well before the remodel), and were thinking of catching Twilight there Saturday evening. Is the theatre worth the extra cost?

  2. For a second, I was almost tricked into thinking that segue from Wall-E to Bond was fluid and logical. Slick ways, you have.

    Thoroughly enjoyed the additional content.

  3. “which I’d heard was awful. Apparently I hear from a lot of crazy people these days, as I really enjoyed the movie.

    eh, maybe some shadowy organization is trying to dictate public opinion of the film because Bond is facing off against an entity that hits uncomfortably close to home. I mean look at Scientology, they do that sort of stuff all the time.

  4. I own ONLY the Moore films, but I’m sure that Parish is correct. FUN FACT: The Spy Who Loved Me, has a driving sequence that is pretty much the entire basis for Spy Hunter…

  5. Now I want a martini, and here I am at work like a sucker. I guess the same ol’ hip flask sipping will have to suffice.

  6. My best friend who is the ultimate Bond nerd said it is the second worst Bond movie ever.

  7. Thanks for restoring my faith, Parish. I’m a pretty big Bond fan myself, and I was kinda getting worried about this one. The trailers looked too Borne-esque (Not that I don’t like Bourne, but Bond is different, ya know?) And I heard stuff about less compelling villains (Or at least none of the odd deformities that made them memorable) and no gadgets, which while not relevant in today’s perspective are still part of the fun of the Bond movies. Hearing your take makes me feel a bit more at ease since one of my own put it into perspective.

  8. How does Quantum compare to the Bourne movies?

    I found that I enjoyed Casino Royale a lot on the first viewing, but that it didn’t hold up to repeat viewings. Sounds like Quantum may be the opposite: a movie that gets better on repeat viewings.

  9. There was only one part that made me consciously think of Bourne, and it involved improvisational weapons in a hotel room. I guess the rooftop chase was a bit Bourne-esque, too, but otherwise it felt much more Bond-like with big, spectacular action setpieces. Especially the dogfight, such as it was. And the opera scene was brilliantly Bond.

  10. The only thing I really dislike about the new Bond is that Jack White/Alicia Keys duet. It’s kind of an inside joke, y’see, because White once said that he wrote the bassline for “7 Nation Army” with the intention of using it if he was ever asked to do a song for a Bond movie. Unfortunately, this new song is nowhere near as cool as “7 Nation Army.”

  11. I thought Quantum was ultimately okay. I admit to not having seen Casino Royale since its release, so some of the story details are lost to my mediocre memory of movies. My real beef was parish’s beef – horrible direction of the action scenes. I found several of them confusing and unwatchable. I prefer being able to see what’s going on and where everybody is. I can watch a bunch of motorboats rev at the camera all day but if there’s no establishing wide shot I can’t tell exactly what’s going on.

  12. That’s funny – most Bond fans list the start of For Your Eyes Only as one of the all-time best Bond sequences, and that’s what ultimately wrote off Blofield.

    Anyway, I certainly like the better Moore stuff just fine – For Your Eyes Only is a damn good non-gimmicky Bond movie, and Spy Who Loved Me is basically the best of the “big action” Bond movies (it’s sure as hell better than You Only Live Twice, which is about two hours longer than it needs to be). It’s just that his bad movies (the first two and the last two – Moonraker alternates between fun and godawful) are REALLY bad.

  13. As an action setpiece, the start of For Your Eyes Only is great — cool stunts, ironic finale. As the final showdown with the ultimate criminal mastermind, it’s pathetic and unacceptable.

  14. Man, I completely forgot about the opening of For Your Eyes Only. Well, thankfully, since the series has been rebooted, I can pretend that that never happened. I’m sure that there’ll be a new Blofeld (Mr. White?) at some point anyway.

    That said, I thought Greene made a fantastic villain in QoS. One of the issues I had with Casino Royale after my first viewing was that Le Chiffre was a pretty lame villain. I eventually learned the folly of my ways, but I think Greene was better in almost every way. It was great to see Bond/Le Chiffre duel at the poker table, but I loved seeing the more traditional Bond/villain relationship Greene and Bond had. It had the all the trappings of the new Bond with the traditions of the old Bond mixed in. I hope to see more of this in the future.

    Also, say what you want about You Only Live Twice Sven, but you’ve got to admit that it has one of the best intro to any Bond movie.

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