November 9th: No One Wants To Mess With 007

Sure They Might Try A Limited Release Or A Straight To VOD Independent Movie, But No One Is Taking On James Bond Head On

The funniest thing I saw this week as interviewer after interviewer talked to the cast of Skyfall about Bond turning 50 was when one young interviewer (I think from G4TV) did the whole “you look great for such and old guy” to Daniel Craig and he just stared so she felt like she needed to explain her joke by saying  “you know, since the Bond franchise just turned 50 that would make James Bond 84 years old.” Daniel Craig returned a fake and faint smile and just said “right” trying to act like he hasn’t heard that joke 1000 times over the course of this press tour. But that is the trick about James Bond, what’s left to say? Sure, we need to know if it is a good Bond or a goofy Bond or a bad Bond or a great Bond or a forgettable yet enjoyable Bond, but beyond the one sentence it takes to convey that message what else can be said that hasn’t been said 1000 times over the last 50 years? 
One thing that I guess can be said is that, at this moment, the Bond franchise is strong enough that when they choose a weekend to release the latest 007 adventure all other studios know to stay away. There is no real counter programming to Bond because the franchise appeals to everyone. With Wreck-It RalphFlight and Argo still holding strong apparently the other studios knew that the erstwhile British spy would burry any other competitor, so they have no competitors. Lincoln is technically being released this weekend but that is little more than a preview in how limited the release is (it goes wide next weekend). All the other movies released this week will be in 100 or fewer theaters and almost all have been available On Demand for a little while already. That is the power Bond wields today.

Skyfall
Interest Level: 9
Casino Royale or Quantum of Solace: Closer to Casino Royale, thankfully
I have had a lot of fun this week looking back at all of the past Bond films, it was like looking through a scrapbook. My entire week became a series of internal conversations like “I remember when my older brother Chuck took me to see The Spy Who Loved Me When I was 11 and wasn’t quite sure why I liked the opening credits so much” or “I remember watching Dr. No with my brother Wes when it was one of ABC’s afternoon movies”.  That’s Bond, we all have memories of all of them. What will my Skyfall memory be? Maybe it will be the first Bond movie I bring my son to (he’s 8 so I haven’t quite decided yet). Maybe Skyfall will be the Bond that moves Daniel Craig into the #2 spot of actors who have played 007 (Connery, Niven, Sellers, Brosnan and Craig are my top 5 now, in that order). Maybe Javier Bardem will have created an all time classic villain. I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that it will be a fun two hours in the theater and that I will see this movie several times over the course of my life and never complain once about seeing it. In other words it is a James Bond movie, and a good one.
Lincoln
Interest Level: 9
Spielberg Historical Drama Can’t Miss Right: No, He Can Miss
What was the last truly great movie Spielberg made? Not War Horse or The Adventures of Tin Tin, certainly not Indianan Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullMunichWar of the WorldsThe Terminal, are any of those great? I mean really great? I really enjoy Catch Me If You Can and Minority Report but I think you have to go all the way back to Saving Private Ryan in 1998 to find a GREAT Spielberg movie. What’s my point? Simply that Lincoln is not a can’t miss, no brainer, instant classic. The reviews will all say that it is a classic and important because of the director and the cast but that does not make it so. Having said that look at that Spielberg list of movies again. They may not be great but they are all really good, fun, interesting and more than worth the price of admission (well, except that last Indiana Jones movie, if you were older than 10 when it came out it was hard to watch). In other words, the basement for this movie is a really enjoyable and interesting exploration into the time of the civil war and the ceiling is an absolutely unforgettable movie going experience that will change your perception of the people who have shaped our past and by extension our present. That is about as safe a bet as there is.
The Comedy
Interest Level: 6
Did You Watch Much Tim & Eric: Only Glimpses and Barely That
The Comedy is not a comedy. This movie, about a spoiled hipster who has inherited everything he has and provides nothing positive to society, is made with the intent that people who watch it will hate it. The entire point is that we see who messed up the “entitled” are by following one around who you are supposed to progressively dislike more throughout the film. If you don’t hate the guy and by extension the movie than the point is lost (and if you like the guy the point of the entire film is destroyed, hence not a comedy). A handful of people will find this movie to be a revelation, some others will appreciate its ambition and most people will turn it off at about the 20 min mark (nothing specifically happens there, that is just about the time most will realize that it wont be changing into a comedy).
Dangerous Liaisons
Interest Level: 5
Did You Enjoy The Original: Sure, I Guess
How many times have we all seen this movie? Four? Five maybe? This one is in Chinese. It is well made with talented actors and if a change in location and language is enough of something new for you than you might enjoy this (or if you just love this story and can watch it again and again). If I see it on TV I might watch a few moments to see Zhang Ziyi again (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon), but that is about all the interest I can muster.
A Royal Affair
Interest Level: 6
So You’ll Watch It If You Stumble Upon It: Basically, Yeah
A young princess is married off to a king for political purposes. Turns out the king is crazy. Young queen has an affair with the king’s doctor all of which eventually leads to a revolution. Mads Mikkelsen is supposed to be great as the doctor in this flick from Denmark that has beautiful costumes and sets and is a really well done period movie.
Nature Calls
Interest Level: 5
It’s Only That High Because Patton Oswalt Is In It, Right: Yup
Think Meatballs with raunchier language and somehow a sappier plot line. It is filled with a lot of funny people but even they can’t overcome the material (but I love Patton Oswalt so I refuse to go lower than a 5, even though I should).
p.s. the trailer is a Red Band trailer so if you don’t want to hear the profanity don’t watch it.
In Their Skin
Interest Level: 4
Only Because Of Selma Blair, Right: Yup
Violent identity thieves invade the vacation home of a young family and a bunch of psychological stuff happens. I like Selma Blair and this movie is no doubt “what it is” but unless we have all seen this movie before, a bunch of times. Do we need to see it again? Do we want to see it again?
Starlet
Interest Level: 0
It Doesn’t Have An Actor You Like Enough To Inflate Your Interest: Nope
21 year old Jane becomes friends with an older lady after she finds a bunch of money at the ladies yard sale and there is apparently a fair amount of sex that the 21 year old has with people other than the older lady. Let me know how you like it.
Conclusion
We’ll all enjoy watching James Bond this weekend and we’ll all catch Lincoln sometime over the next month. As for the rest, maybe late at night on cable if we are bored and in the mood for what they are selling.
But hey, what do I know? I’m fat.