Musical Sequence of the Day: “Notorious” from Donnie Darko (dir by Richard Kelly)

For today’s musical sequence of the day (which is a temporary feature that I’m doing until Val’s internet is working again and she can return to doing her music videos of the day), we have the “Notorious” scene from 2001’s Donnie Darko.

In this scene, Sparkle Motion performs onstage while, miles away, Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) burns down the house of creepy motivational speaker, Jim Cunningham (Patrick Swayze).  Playing throughout this scene: Duran Duran’s “Notorious.”

Why does Drew Barrymore hate Sparkle Motion?

This is the second scene from Donnie Darko to have been featured in this series.  Check out the “Head Over Heels” scene here.

(And yes, one reason why I love this scene is because I very much related to it.  Sparkle Motion is perhaps the most realistic part of Donnie Darko…)

Music Video of the Day: Rio by Duran Duran (1982, dir. Russell Mulcahy)

Would you believe that until a week or so ago I didn’t know we had an Olympics coming up? I only realized it because the Diet Coke cans I pulled out of the fridge had changed and had the rings on them. This is seriously my life. So is trying to figure out how to talk about a Russell Mulcahy masterpiece that everyone has seen.

I’m going to go ahead and call it now. Russell Mulcahy is the father of the music video. They existed before he started making them sure. There were films going back to at least the 1940s that were essentially music videos hung on a clothesline plot. I’m watching this music video over and over while I write this, and I have yet to see a single shot that isn’t perfectly done. The angles, the use of iris shots, split screens, the incredible use of color, and everything I’m seeing in every frame is perfect. The music video even goes into black and white widescreen as if you have suddenly stepped into The Longest Day (1962). I love the two guys playing the sax–Nick Rhodes and John Taylor–who are paired via a split-screen. There’s also the part where we think he is going to slip on a banana peel, but he misses it only to be hit by a giant bowling ball. I can only imagine being alive in 1982, turning on MTV, and seeing this. This was probably the first exposure most people had to a truly well-made short film that happened to be built around a song. It certainly would have been for a child who was lucky enough to have cable in 1982. My first exposure was Hungry Like The Wolf, but that’s another Duran Duran/Russell Mulcahy collaboration we’ll get to eventually.

This is one of those music videos where we know more than just the director. Jackie Adams produced this music video. She seems to have worked with Mulcahy on a total of five music videos, and made an appearance in Mama by Spice Girls. Those music videos range from something surreal like Billy Joel’s Pressure that starts off with a version of The Parallax View (1974) training montage to something simple like Only The Lonely by The Motels. By the way, what the heck is it with Billy Joel music videos being some of the most interesting and well-made ones that never get enough attention? Just saying that I’m looking at Pressure right now, and it is amazing.

But back in Rio, we have to mention the band itself because Duran Duran are more than just a band that stood around and played their song in this music video. This is an embodiment of their music and style. As I’m sure you all know by now, Duran Duran are a group of guys from the UK who came over to the US bringing style over substance synthpop with very well-crafted songs. We mentioned synthpop when we spoke about Ministry. I contend that we had style over substance with Duran Duran. We then made it substantive with Depeche Mode, but it was still quite radio friendly, and hadn’t shed the legacy of groups like Duran Duran. Then we had Ministry forced to try and be like them, but then had them turn to something very much on the fringes before evolving synthpop into industrial metal. Ultimately, we had groups like Nine Inch Nails who came along and broadened it into an almost orchestral sound with industrial rock. At least that’s my excuse for the next four music videos I intend to feature after this one.

Sit back and enjoy this classic music video directed by one of the best in the business with all the style and 80s dripping off your screen while a wonderful Duran Duran song plays.

27 Days of Old School: #8 “Rio” (by Duran Duran)


“Cherry ice cream smile I suppose it’s very nice.”

Yes, I listened to Duran Duran as a wee lad and I must say that they were quite awesome then and even now. “Rio” was the song that I enjoyed listening to the most out of their whole 80’s work.

One thing that Duran Duran could never be accused of would be that they were subtle. The band was a great example of 1980’s excess. From the Miami Vice cocaine-fueled and candy-colored fashion right up to the Gordon Gecko flaunting of wealth and luxury. Whoever said new wave and synthpop was suppose to be all just about happy songs and easy on the eyes videos.

This band and their songs might sound all peppy and such, but they were just as hardcore and debauch as the next hardcore rock band. They just did it in a much different set of fashion style and attitude. No overly hairsprayed glam rocker hair or crotch-tight leather pants. They preferred their attire to be Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs style.

James Bond Film Review: A View to a Kill (dir by John Glen)

In the days leading up to the American premiere of Skyfall, the Shattered Lens has been revisiting the previous films in the James Bond franchise.  Today we take a look at 1985’s A View To A Kill.

Along with bring the 14th “official” Bond film, it was also the last to star Roger Moore in the role of 007.  On a personal note, it was also released the same year that I was born.  I have to say that I hope I’ve aged better than this film has.

Much like The Spy Who Loved Me, A View To A Kill opens with a ski chase between Bond and a bunch of Russians.  And while the chase itself isn’t all that exciting, it does lead to one of the better opening credits sequences of the Bond franchise.

Say what you will about A View To A Kill, it features the perfect theme song.  I first heard Duran Duran’s title song long before I saw the actual film.  After I graduated high school, I spent the summer in Italy and I can still remember hearing this song blaring from a loud speaker in Venice.  With it combination of exuberant music and incoherent lyrics, the song is the perfect soundtrack for both an American girl abroad and a mid-80s spy flick.

A View To A Kill finds James Bond investigating the mysterious industrialist Max Zorin (Christopher Walken).  Though Zorin is one of the world’s richest men, MI6 is suspicious of him.  Microchips manufactured by Zorin Industries are turning up in Russian submarines.  Perhaps even worse, it’s become apparent that, much like Auric Goldfinger, Zorin is a cheater.  He owns a champion racehorse but it’s rumored that the horse is somehow being given steroids.  MI6 sends Bond and racehorse trainer Sir Godfrey Tibbets (played, quite wonderfully, by Patrick Macnee) to investigate.

These scenes, in which an undercover Bond sneaks around Zorin’s estate in France, are my favorites of the film.  Moore and Macnee make for a likable team and it’s fun to watch the two veteran actors play off each other.  As well, since these scenes are more about detection than action, it’s easier to ignore the fact that Moore was 58 years old when he made A View To A Kill.

Unfortunately, the rest of the film doesn’t work as well and that’s unfortunate because A View To A Kill starts to get seriously weird as things progress.  It turns out that Zorin isn’t just a shady businessman.  No, he’s actually the product of Nazi genetic experimentation and, as a result, he’s both a genius and a complete sociopath.  What this means is that, opposed to previous Bond antagonists, Zorin spends a lot more time giggling and smiling as if even he can’t believe how evil he is.

Bond ends up following Zorin and his aide, May Day (Grace Jones), to San Francisco.  It’s there that Bond discovers that Zorin is planning on setting off a massive underground explosion, in hopes of causing an Earthquake that will totally destroy California.  This will allow Zorin to corner the world microchip market and make a lot of money but, for the most part, Zorin just seems to want to do it so that he’ll have something to talk about the next time he gets together with his fellow megalomaniacs.

Once everyone arrives in San Francisco, James Bond ends up teaming up with geologist Stacy Sutton (played by Tanya Roberts, better known as Donna’s mother on That 70s Show).  As for Zorin, he divides his time between holding business meetings on his blimp and laughing like a maniac while gunning down random people.

Seriously, it’s an odd film.

Whenever film critics are looking over the Bond films, A View to  A Kill seems to be the Bond film that’s destined to get the least amount of respect and admittedly, this is an uneven entry in the Bond franchise.  In Sinclair McKay’s excellent look at the oo7 films, The Man With The Golden Touch, Roger Moore is quoted as having been uncomfortable with just how violent A View To A Kill eventually turned out to be and, watching the film, he definitely had a point.  It’s odd to see Moore’s light-hearted approach coupled with scenes in which Zorin gleefully kills a thousand people in a thousand seconds.  It also didn’t help that, in this film, Roger Moore looked every bit of his 58 years.  Never have I been as aware of stuntmen then when I watched A View To A Kill.  Finally, Moore and Tanya Roberts have next to no chemistry together.

With all that in mind, A View To A Kill is something of a guilty pleasure and that’s largely because of the bad guys.

If anyone was born to play a Bond villain, it’s Christopher Walken and Max Zorin is an enjoyably over-the-top villain.  Whereas previous Bond villains were motivated primarily by greed, Zorin is the first Bond sociopath and Walken seems to be having a blast playing bad.  As opposed to the grim bad guys of the past, Zorin laughs and grins through the whole movie and Walken is a lot of fun to watch.  Regardless of whatever other flaws that the film may have, Max Zorin is rightly regarded as one of the best of the cinematic Bond villains.

As played by Grace Jones, May Day is one of the franchise’s most memorable and flamboyant villainous lackeys.   Much like Richard Kiel in The Spy Who Loved Me, Jones is such a physical presence that she dominates every scene that she’s in.  In their scenes together, Walken and Jones have the type of chemistry that’s so noticeably lacking between Moore and Roberts.

As I previously stated, A View To A Kill was Roger Moore’s final appearance as James Bond.  Before we started our look at the Bond films, I spent some time researching the history of both the franchise and the men who have played 007.  One thing that quickly became apparent was that nearly everyone agreed that Roger Moore is a nice, likable guy but that he didn’t bring much more than likability to the role of James Bond.  Having now rewatched the Bond films, I can say that Roger Moore’s performance as James Bond was and is seriously underrated.  Yes, Moore may have brought a light touch to the role but his interpretation of Bond was perfect for the films that he was starring in.  Much as it’s difficult to imagine Roger Moore in From Russia With Love, it’s just as difficult to visualize Sean Connery in The Spy Who Loved Me.  Moore’s greatest talent may have been likability but that likability kept the Bond franchise alive and Moore’s interpretation of the role deserves better than to be continually dismissed.  

With Roger Moore leaving the franchise, the role of James Bond would next be played by an actor named Timothy Dalton.  If Moore was the likable, fun Bond, Dalton was, in many ways, the complete opposite.  We’ll be taking a look at The Living Daylights tomorrow.

Sorry Sockmonkey, But This Is The Best Commercial Ever!

My fellow resident writer Lisa Marie posted that the Kia commercial which aired around the time of the Super Bowl was the brest freakin’ commercial ever but I shall disagree and nominate what has to be the best one ever. It’s a series of Old Spice commercials for their line of Body Wash products.

If you’ve already clicked the YouTube video attached above then you can see that it has action, comedy, sci-fi, nature, and Godzilla-style city destruction. All of them delivered by actor Terry Crews who can and will destroy Chuck Norris and that’s without help from his human-eyed tiger.

It was a tough call for me to pick this as the best commercial since a past Old Spice commercial with God (Bruce Campbell) shilling their product was my previous pick for best and greatest ever. But God didn’t have a tiger or city destruction in his Old Spice commercials.