Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Memory...

I listened to the inaugural festivities on a small portable radio today in my monastic cubicle at a giant otherwise un-named insurance company.

When Pastor Rick Warren recited "The Lord's Prayer" (or as we Catholics call it "Da Our Faddah")...one of my co-workers slipped into my cubicle, piously inclined his head over my radio and forcefully repeated said prayer with preacherish intonations.
He barked out a hearty "Amen", thanked me for the use of my space in prayer and went about his business.
For once I was nonplussed, stammered "Oh...anytime, it's what I'm here for...


Monday, January 19, 2009

"Valkyrie" (2008)

I think I finally have Bryan Singer figured out.
Regardless of all the super-hero films, he very badly wants to be a latter-day Alfred Hitchcock. He has all the elements here, Nazi villains, a suspense driven caper and the usual collection of kibbitzers at the edge of the action.
And if that is Singer's ambition, then clearly Tom Cruise wants to be a sort of end-times Cary Grant a minimalist forced into the crucible of great events. Such is the plot of Valkyrie which features a stoic heroic Cruise as the real life Colonel Claud von Stauffenberg who came within an ace of assassinating Hitler in 1944.
As I said, Cruise is a minimalist and that suits the flamboyant material nicely, he seethes a bit but declines to play the crusading martyr. I think that was a good decision on his part, the story is dramatic enough in all it's particulars.
THe rest of the cast is tight and for once, a American film ends on a suitably unhappy note...right down to Stauffenberg being stood up against a wall and shot.
Being a stylistic descendant of Gary Cooper it was scene that Cruise was aching to play all his professional life and what the hell he does it justice.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Definition of an odd scene...

Sitting in the Bedford Mass Whole Foods Market eating one of their salads and reading Dr. Joseph Goebbels' diaries.
Such is a lazy Saturday for your humble narrator.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Quantum of Solace (2008)

Daniel Craig has a real future as James Bond. He is the coldest and least complicated 007 ever, in the tough-guy department he is up in Sean Connery's orbit which is an icy ruthless trajectory indeed.
he is none too handsome, but like Bruce Lee and Clint Eastwood Craig has an almighty "I-mean-it" look that was made for the movies.
Moreover, in his love-hate-relationship with M (Judy Dench the series other casting coup) you get every sort of tension right up to the doors of King Oedipus' bedroom.
But for the franchise to survive someone has to insist on more coherent scripts, I can do without the gadgetry and the labored quips but the alternately grunted and panted dialogue from "The Quantum of Solace" is a serious bring-down. The plot is more or less a direct sequel to "Casino Royale" with 007 still on the trail of Vesper Lind's employers/killers. Much is made of his quest for vengeance although that was more or less the link between "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" and "Diamonds are Forever"...so even revenge is nothing ne for 007.
Alas as far as this film is concerned, who the villains are and why they wanna corner the world's supply of fresh water is bore and a trifle. best I can determine it's a conspiracy of more evil businessmen, ho-hum.
The action set pieces are fun, but without a plot and without a real plan for the character it is all for naught.
Joseph Zamparelli Jr has idly proposed that the film-makers ought to revisit some of the less well adapted novels for inspiration..."Moonraker" perhaps or certainly "The Spy Who Loved Me" both of which were camped to death back in the daze of Roger Moore. They have the right Bond now what they lack are the right scripts.