Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bonding with my dvds

I have so many dvds that I've bought and haven't watched, it's incredible. I made a conscious effort to dig into my backlog, starting with the Bond movies.
I have all of them, the first 20 in the Ultimate Edition box sets, and Casino Royale separately. First, let me tell you about the Ultimate Edition Bond box sets. Next to the extended edition Lord of the Rings box sets, these Bond ones are the most fantastic dvd productions I've seen. From packaging to booklets to the in-movie menus, everything is incredible. The picture quality for all the films has been cleaned up to the point that they look new. It's such an amazing job that they did. Let's not forget about the exhaustive extra features for every movie, as well. I was spending maybe 4-5 hours per movie (that's the film and the extras combined).
Anyway, I'm finally done watching them and I will render judgment. Since there are 21 Bond movies, I'll split it into thirds.

Top 007

  1. Casino Royale (best)

  2. Goldfinger

  3. GoldenEye

  4. From Russia with Love

  5. The Spy Who Loved Me

  6. On Her Majesty's Secret Service

  7. For Your Eyes Only


Bottom 007

  1. Moonraker

  2. You Only Live Twice

  3. A View to a Kill

  4. The Man with the Golden Gun

  5. The World Is Not Enough

  6. Diamonds Are Forever

  7. Licence to Kill (worst)


Now I'm all ready for Quantum of Solace, coming out October 31st. Bring it on!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Naked gold statues

I know you're all waiting with bated breath on my opinion on recent movies. This is the first year in which I've seen all 5 Best Picture nominees. Last year, I caught 4 of them, yet in 2005, I saw none...go figure.

Anyway, having seen all 5, I feel as an informed movie goer and part-time critic, I am qualified to give my opinions on them. Here they are, short and sweet, albeit a week late:

Atonement:
Yes, I know, most guys reading this will think it's not the type of movie they'd see. They probably think it's some romantic period piece...which it kinda is. But not really. It's about a girl in WW2-era England who makes a tragic mistake that pretty much screws over her sister's boyfriend and she tries to work the rest of her life to fix the problem. It was a pretty solid movie but I don't know if it should be Best Picture quality. The character of the girl was infuriating, though. It was purposeful but still. I didn't see the ending coming and what happens makes it all the more maddening.
Oscar-worthy moment: The long, sweeping, unbroken sequence when the soldiers arrive on the beach waiting for evacuation. That was really something.

Juno:
Juno is the little movie that could. Of the 5 nominees, it has made the most money of them all, which is something. This flick got crazy word of mouth and people falling over themselves loving it but if you really look at it, there are a bunch of faults. The "too hip for the room" dialogue is way over the top, at least for the first third of the movie. It's like nobody reviewed the script to space out all the catchphrases, resulting in a movie front-heavy with things people will never say anywhere ever. Not even fictional characters. "Honest to blog"? Really? "This is one diddle that can't be undone, Homeskillet."? Cmon...The opening scene with The Office's Rainn "Dwight Schrute" Wilson is almost unbearable. But the movie does get better and becomes enjoyable. Next, the music was trying way too hard to be quirky and indie. It's screaming "look at me! I'm hip! I'm with it!" and was highly manipulative in that way. Sure I liked the tunes but I still think it's too calculated for its own good. The supporting actors are really good, too. "George"-Michael Cera can do no wrong!
Oscar-worthy moment: Hmmm...I really can't pick a moment right now. Nothing is jumping out at me. I guess the final scene when they're playing guitar and the camera pulls back.

...Speaking of Michaels...

Michael Clayton:
George Clooney is always great (except for that movie there...with superheroes...Batman and something...ugh). This is a movie about a lawyer whose firm is defending a pharmaceutical company that is most likely in the wrong. The performances were pretty good all around (especially Tom Wilkinson) but I'm not sure that Tilda Swinton lady was deserving of her Oscar. She's really good in it but I didn't detect anything exceptionally special. The movie gets slow at times but if otherwise satisfying.
Oscar-worthy moment: The next to last scene when the lady's lip is quivering. That was great. In your face!

No Country For Old Men:
This is a tough movie. On the surface, it's about a guy who finds $2M and the other guy who is trying to kill him for it. But then, when the movie ends super abruptly, you're like what? You then realize that what you saw wasn't nearly as straight forward as it seemed. It's not a movie for casual audiences, who will undoubtedly hate the movie for its ending. I mean, Tommy Lee Jones opens that motel room door and the guy isn't there? What the hell was that? NCFOM is something that you'll think about for a while. The dialogue is really great, it's often bloody and has a whacked out ending but I was rapt with attention in every scene. Really good.
Oscar-worthy moment: When the killer is at the gas station and makes the guy call the coin flip. They both know they're deciding the guy's fate but neither of them overtly say it. It makes for a great, tense scene.

There Will Be Blood:
This is as close to an epic as we got this year. It follows the life of Daniel Plainview, a guy who strikes it rich in the oil biz and as his fortunes increase, his mental togetherness goes south. It's also the story of an equally ambition and greedy priest who's trying to leech onto Plainview and ride him for power and money. In the end. The titular blood refers to oil, ie the blood of the earth, however conventional blood does make an appearance in this 158 minute long movie. Daniel Day-Lewis is amazing in anything he does. It's a shame he doesn't make more movies. This movie also has a controversial ending, with many people saying it's not a satisfying cap to everything that came before it. I can understand that argument but I still loved this flick. There's something about the direction/cinematography/whatever that really captured my imagination. The music was also unconventional, reminding me of the awesome discordant score to tv's Lost. Is there a message to the movie? I'm not sure. It could just be a chronicle of this character's ups and downs. Regardless, I think it's great film that doesn't quite reach masterpiece. It would have been my pick for Best Picture. Food for thought, are Paul and Eli the same person? Discuss...
Oscar-worthy moment: Take your pick. Either the baptism scene ("I abandoned my boy!") or the final scene ("I drink your milkshake").

There you have it, folks. I'll hope to do the same this time next year, provided I see all of 2008's best movies. I hope you appreciated this.