Monday, March 25, 2013

Two to Watch

Often, the focus of TV19's Meet Me at the Movies is new releases - not always, as Barry and I like to mix things up sometimes and talk about genre films, or particular actors or directors, or whatever else grabs our attention.  And since we're not big-time critics, but are instead trying to work with the TV19 staff to put together an interesting, entertaining show while also doing our "day jobs," we don't see every new release when it is a new release - there's just not enough time.

Therefore, this post is about two films - both very good ones, although for different reasons - that slipped past my radar when they were big-screen releases.  It's hard to believe, but I missed both of these at the time.

First up, the third appearance of Daniel Craig as the iconic British Secret Service agent 007 - Skyfall.  I must admit, I like Bond, but I'm not an obsessive fan and (in fact) I haven't seen all of the 23 films (I think my count's right, but that leaves off the laughably bad Double 007, which starred [no kidding] Sean's little brother Neil.  Don't seek it out - it's awful, although the MST3K boys have fun with it).  In Skyfall, we get a far more nuanced Bond than we've seen in the past - this James is older, tireder, and subject to the faults and follies of all aging flesh.  It's not a perfect movie - and the treatment of women is still problematic - but it's the Bond that's most captured my attention and it provides a nice bridge from one version of MI6 to the one that Bond viewers are more familiar with.  Javier Bardem (who apparently has a clause in his contracts that says if he's playing a villain, he must have snickeringly-bad hair to take the edge off the menace that he exudes) is a terrific psychopathic bad guy, as well as being the personification of chickens coming home to roost.  Dame Judi Dench is magnificent as the tough-as-nails M and I enjoyed the comic relief (Skyfall's pretty psychologically grim for a Bond tale) provided by Ben Whishaw as a young, hip Q.  (Whishaw was also wonderful in multiple roles in the criminally-underrated Cloud Atlas.)  Rent soon!

Second, the Denzel Washington drama Flight.  It's hard for me to recommend this movie enough.  It's a tough watch in places - Washington's character, "Whip" Whitaker, is a commercial airline pilot with a bucketload of problems.  He's also a really good pilot, which has gotten him through.  Int his one, it's the always-reliable John Goodman who provides the comic relief - and you need it.  I don't want to give too much away, but Flight is one of the most honest, devastating portrayals of the demons of addiction I've ever seen.  Ever wonder why addicts behave the way they do?  Well, the answer is "because they're addicts," but watching Flight shows the desperation-turned-to-anger of loved ones as well as the sheer selfishness displayed by the full-on addict.  I was especially touched by tiny details in this film - a heroin addict who calls her dealer, while muttering, "Please don't answer" and the trigger provided by sounds that most people don't even notice - like a refrigerator compressor kicking in.  Rent now!

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