James Bond returns in the No Time to Die Trailer


Daniel Craig’s final outing as James Bond is almost upon us. With True Detective’s Cary Fukunaga taking over the direction this time, No Time to Die brings a mix of new faces and returning favorites. Though not much is truly known of the story, it looks like Bond’s relationship with Madeleine (Lea Seydoux) may be on a rocky road, enough to bring him back into service.

Rami Malek is also on board as the villain, which I’m personally excited for, and Ana de Armas (Knives Out) teams up again with Craig, though we’re not exactly sure who’s side she’s on. Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel) looks to be a new member of the Double O ranking. Coming back are Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, and Naomie Harris.

No Time to Die opens in cinemas in April 2020.  Enjoy!

James Bond Film Review: SPECTRE (dir by Sam Mendes)


Spectre_poster

(SPOILERS)

Three years ago, Arleigh, Leonard, Chris Mead, and I reviewed every single James Bond films up to Skyfall.  Leonard often refers to this as being our Avengers moment and it remains one of my fondest memories of my time here at the Shattered Lens.  It really doesn’t matter who is playing the role or what the villain’s evil plan may be, or whether the individual film was made in the 60s or just last year, the Bond films are a lot of fun.  Some of them are better than others.  Sometimes, you get lucky and you get something like For Your Eyes Only and sometimes you have to settle for Die Another Day.  Ultimately, every Bond film is an event and, in many ways, they are critic proof.  As long we hear the iconic music, as long as Bond gets a few good quips, as long as the villain chuckles while explaining his evil plan, as long as there’s an exciting chase and a big explosion, and as long as there’s a lot of gorgeous clothes to look at and at least one tastefully lit sex scene, most viewers will be happy.

If it’s not broken…

Most viewers will probably be happy with SPECTRE, the latest Bond film.  I saw the film yesterday and, even if it won’t ever make my list of top ten Bond films, I enjoyed it.  Daniel Craig is back as Bond, Christoph Waltz fulfills his destiny by becoming the 9th actor to play the iconic villain Blofeld, Dave Bautista is a properly intimidating henchman, and Lea Seydoux is the strongest Bond girl since Eva Green.  One thing that I especially appreciated about the film is that, in the roles of M, Miss Moneypenny, and Q, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, and Ben Whishaw are actually given an opportunity to get involved in the film’s action and all three of them are a lot of fun to watch.  The film has an absolutely brilliant opening, featuring Bond assassinating a man in Mexico City and destroying a city block in the process.  There’s an exciting chase scene, there’s a few moments of genuine wit, and there’s even one of those patented Bond train journeys, where sex and violence are mixed with intoxicating results.  And yes, the clothes are to die for…

To Die For

To Die For

It’s good and undeniably enjoyable in so many ways and yet somehow, SPECTRE still left me feeling slightly disappointed.  Some of that is because SPECTRE exists in the shadow of Skyfall.  After Skyfall (which I feel should have been one of the films nominated for best picture of 2012), expectation were sky high for SPECTRE.  Those expectations were so high that there was no way that SPECTRE could have hoped to meet them.  (You could argue that Quantum of Solace faced the same problem when it had to follow Casino Royale.)  SPECTRE is no Skyfall but, then again, few films are.

Speaking of high expectations, I think we were all expecting Christoph Waltz to be one of the best Bond villains.  After all, Waltz is a legitimately great actor and he specializes in the type of cheerful arrogance that has epitomized some of Bond’s greatest antagonists.  (One can easily imagine Waltz playing Auric Goldfinger.)  Add to that, Waltz is playing Blofeld, the ultimate Bond bad guy.  As it is, Waltz gives a good performance but SPECTRE‘s Blofeld just isn’t that interesting.  He has a lot more in common with the generic baddie from Quantum of Solace than with Goldfinger or the fascinated Raoul Silva of Skyfall.

As well, it wasn’t just enough for Blofeld to be the leader of a secret organization bent on world domination.  It wasn’t enough that Blofeld was secretly responsible for everything that happened in Casino Royale, Quantum, and Skyfall (which, as much as some critics have complained about this particular plot twist, is actually a clever reference to Blofeld’s shadowy presence in all of Sean Connery’s Bond films).  For some reason, the film’s writers decided it would be a good idea to make him Bond’s jealous stepbrother.  Blofeld’s past relationship to Bond feels incredibly superfluous.  I like to think that I’m pretty good at suspending my disbelief (especially when it comes to a Bond film) but I have to admit that I found myself rolling my eyes while Blofeld talked about how jealous he was when Bond came to live with his family.

We all know it's you, Christoph...

We all know it’s you, Christoph…

(As well, Blofeld’s jealousy was a bit too reminiscent of Raoul Silva’s jealousy of Bond.  It worked in Skyfall because we weren’t expecting a Bond villain to have a vulnerable side and Javier Bardem’s perversely charismatic performance caught the viewers off guard.  In SPECTRE, it just feels like something that should have been eliminated during a rewrite.)

Daniel Craig, of course, is the sixth actor to officially play the role of James Bond.  It’s always interesting to see how each actor interprets the role.  The most successful Bond films are always built around the actor’s individual interpretation.  For instance, it would be difficult to imagine Roger Moore in any of Sean Connery’s Bond films and, at the same time, it would be hard to imagine Sean Connery in The Spy Who Loved Me.  Sean Connery was the Ruthless Bond.  George Lazenby was the Insecure Bond.  Roger Moore was the Bemused Bond.  Timothy Dalton was the Boring Bond.  Pierce Brosnan was the Suave Bond.  Depending on which one of his films you see, Daniel Craig is either the Professional Bond or the Whiny Bond.  SPECTRE continues the pattern that we’ve seen in the previous Craig films of presenting a James Bond who is struggling to balance his humanity with his job.  When it works, like in Skyfall, it’s riveting.  When it doesn’t work, like in Quantum of Solace, it runs the risk of getting rather tedious.  SPECTRE finds Craig in between those two extremes.  It’s an uneven performance.  Craig and Seydoux have great chemistry and the scenes where Craig interacts with Fiennes, Harris, and Whishaw are fun to watch.  But there are other scenes where Daniel Craig just comes across like he’s bored with the whole thing.  Craig’s Bond has spent four films trying to figure out how he feels about his job.  If Craig returns for a fifth film (and, as of right now, that seems to be a big if), he will hopefully have finally gotten over it.

(That said, SPECTRE was definitely written for Craig’s bond.  At the end of the film — SPOILER, obviously — Bond has the choice between executing a man in cold blood or allowing the authorities to arrest him.  Craig allows the man to be arrested.  Connery would have put a bullet in his head and then smirked about it.)

He totally would...

He totally would…

And if it seems that I’m being critical of SPECTRE — well, I am.  It’s one of the more uneven films in the Bond franchise, one that especially suffers when compared to some of the other spy films (Kingsman, MI: Rogue Nation) released this year.  But, at the same time, SPECTRE does deliver the basics of what we expect from a Bond film.  It’s entertaining and it has its fun moments.  It’s no Skyfall but at least it’s better than Quantum of Solace.

Incidentally, I want to be Lea Seydoux when I grow up...

Incidentally, I want to be Lea Seydoux when I grow up…

Other Bond Reviews on TSL:

  1. Casino Royale (TV version)
  2. Dr. No
  3. From Russia With Love
  4. Goldfinger
  5. Thunderball
  6. You Only Live Twice
  7. Casino Royale (excessive version)
  8. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
  9. Diamonds Are Forever
  10. Lisa’s Review of Live and Let Die
  11. Arleigh’s Review of Live and Let Die
  12. The Man With The Golden Gun
  13. The Spy Who Loved Me
  14. Moonraker
  15. For Your Eyes Only
  16. Octopussy
  17. Never Say Never Again
  18. A View To A Kill
  19. The Living Daylights
  20. Licence to Kill
  21. Goldeneye
  22. Tomorrow Never Dies
  23. The World Is Not Enough
  24. Die Another Day
  25. Casino Royale (Craig version)
  26. Quantum of Solace
  27. Skyfall

Quick Peek: The 2nd Spectre Trailer (and Featurette)


images-2Sometime around 8am in London, the 2nd trailer for Sam Mendes “Spectre” was released. The 24th film in the Bond Franchise, this one is a little similar to the Skyfall trailer in that Bond (Daniel Craig) is perhaps on the run again or is at least trying to cover his tracks. So far, it’s looking good.

Here are some of the things I’ve noticed:

1.) It’s a Snow Movie – With the exception of The World is Not Enough, most of the Bond films that take place in cold climates seem to fair better than the desert ones. As long as none of the girls aren’t named after a Holiday, this might work. Of course, that’s just my opinion there, others may of course disagree.

2.) Bond and M (Ralph Fiennes) already have issues – From the start Bond and M are at odds. That was quick. Nice to get it all out of the way.

3.) The Return of Mr. White. – One of the men responsible for the death of Vesper Lynd and member of Quantum (whatever that was), Mr. White (Jesper Christiansen) makes another appearance here. Maybe he has something important to share?

4.) Use of the theme from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – that was great to hear. Hope it’s incorporated into the film somehow. I believe that Thomas Newman (Mendes’ long time musical companion) is on board here, so maybe it’ll be used?

5.) Dave Bautista as an evil henchman. Not sure what Mr. Hinx will be doing, but there seems to be a close quarters fight in a train, reminiscent of From Russia With Love.

6.) That sweet, curvy and shiny Aston Martin DB10. Just look at it. In this movie, it goes head to head with a Jaguar CX75. As just about everyone knows, Jaguar is the Official Vehicle of Villains everywhere. Should be interesting to see how that turns out.

7.) Q finally gets a Q Branch worthy of the title. It looks like there a few things he’s working on in the background on some of the shots. One of which appears to be a flamethrower maybe, for the new car.

Enjoy! Spectre is set to release on November 5th (which as a side note of no particular importance nor relation, was the day Marty McFly arrived in Hill Valley, back in 1955). Additionally, here’s a featurette on the cars in the film.

A Few Very Late Thoughts On Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel


grand-budapest-hotel

It took me a while to come around to appreciating The Grand Budapest Hotel.

When I first saw Wes Anderson’s latest film, way back in March, I have to admit that I was somehow both impressed and disappointed.  The film’s virtues were obvious.  Ralph Fiennes gave a brilliant lead performance as Gustave, the courtly and womanizing concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel.  As played by Fiennes, Gustave came to represent a certain type of old world elegance that, I’m assuming, died out long before I was born.  As is typical of Anderson’s film, The Grand Budapest Hotel was visual delight.  Even when the film’s convoluted storyline occasionally grew self-indulgent, The Grand Budapest Hotel was always interesting and fun to watch.

At the same time, I had some issues with The Grand Budapest Hotel.

One of the major ones — and I will admit right now that this will seem minor to some of you — is that halfway through the film, a cat is killed.  The evil Dimitri Desgoffe von Taxis (Adrien Brody) is attempting to intimidate a nervous lawyer, Kovacs (Jeff Goldblum).  Kovacs’s owns a cat and, at one point, Dimitri’s henchman, Jopling (Willem DaFoe), tosses the cat out of a window.  Kovacs runs to window and sees his dead cat splattered on the sidewalk below…

And this is when the audience in the theater laughed and I got very angry.

To me, there was nothing funny about killing that man’s cat.  But the more I’ve thought about it, the more that I’ve come to realize that my reaction had more to do with the audience than the film.  The film was not saying that the cat’s death was funny.  The film was saying that Dimitri and Jopling were evil and dangerous, as their actions throughout the film would demonstrate.  It was the audience that decided, since Grand Budapest Hotel is full of funny moments and has the off-center style that one has come to expect from Wes Anderson, that meant every scene in the film was meant to be played strictly for laughs.  The fact of the matter is that a typical Wes Anderson film will always attract a certain type of hipster douchebag.  They were the ones who loudly laughed, mostly because they had spent the entire movie laughing loudly in order to make sure that everyone around them understood that they were in on the joke.

But that’s not the fault of the film.  Despite what you may have heard and what the Golden Globes would have you believe, The Grand Budapest Hotel is not a comedy.  For all the deliberately funny and quirky moments, The Grand Budapest Hotel is actually a very serious film.  For all of the slapstick and for all of Ralph Fiennes’s snarky line readings, The Grand Budapest Hotel ultimately ends on a note of deep melancholy.

When I first saw The Grand Budapest Hotel, it seemed like it was almost too quirky for its own good.  And, to be honest, I could still have done without some of Anderson’s more self-indulgent touches.  The sequence at the end, where Gustave, who has been framed for murder, gets help from a series of his fellow hotel concierges started out funny but, as everyone from Bill Murray to Owen Wilson put in an appearance, it started to feel less like the story of Gustave and more like the story of all of Wes Anderson’s famous friends.

However, the more I’ve thought about it (and The Grand Budapest Hotel is a film that I’ve thought about a lot over the past year), the more I’ve realized that the quirkiness is only a problem if you made the mistake of thinking that the film is meant to be taken literally.

The more I thought about it, the more obvious it became that the most important scenes in The Grand Budapest Hotel were to be found at the beginning and the end of the film.

The film opens with a teenage girl sitting in front of the grave of a great author.  She opens a book and starts to read.

As soon as the girl starts to read, we flashback 29 years to 1985 where the author (Tom Wilkinson) sits behind his office desk and starts to talk about the time that he visited the Grand Budapest Hotel.  

We flashback again to 1969, where we see how the author (now played by Jude Law) met the owner of the Grand Budapest Hotel, a man named Zero (played by F. Murray Abraham).  Over dinner, Zero tells the author the story of how he first came to the Grand Budapest and how he eventually came to own the hotel.

And again, we go back in time, this time to 1932.  We see how the young Zero (Tony Revolori) first met and came to be the protegé of Gustave (Ralph Fiennes).  We see how Gustave taught Zero how to be the perfect concierge.  Eventually, Gustave would be framed for murdering a guest, Zero would meet and fall in love with Agatha (Saoirse Ronan), and then Zubrowska (the fictional Eastern European country in which this all takes place) would be taken over by fascists who would eventually claim the hotel as their own.

After the story of Gustave, Zero, and Agatha has been told, we suddenly flash forward to the author talking to Zero and then to the old author telling the story to his grandson and then finally back to the teenage reader sitting in the cemetery.

In other words, the Grand Budapest Hotel may be the story of Zero but we’re experiencing it through the memories of the author as visualized by the reader.  Gustave, Zero, and the entire Grand Budapest Hotel are not just parts of a story.  Instead, they become symbols of an old way of life that, though it may have been lost, still exists in the memories of old travelers like the author and the imaginations of young readers like the girl in the cemetery.

As I said at the start of this, I was vaguely disappointed with The Grand Budapest Hotel when I first saw it but, perhaps more than any other movie that I saw last year, this has been a film that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind.  Having recently rewatched the film on HBO, I can also attest that both The Grand Budapest Hotel and Ralph Fiennes’s performance not only hold up on a second viewing but improve as well.

I still stand by some of my original criticisms of The Grand Budapest Hotel.  I still wish that cat had not been thrown out the window, even though I now understand that Anderson’s main intent was to show the evil of Dimitri and Jopling.  And I still find some of the cameos to be jarring, precisely because they take us out of the world of the film.

But you know what?

Despite those flaws, The Grand Budapest Hotel is still a unique and intriguing film.  When I sat down tonight and made out my list of my top 26 films of 2014, I was not surprised that Grand Budapest Hotel made the list.  But I was a little bit surprised at how high I ended up ranking it.

But then I thought about it and it all made sense.

The-Grand-Budapest-Hotel-580

 

 

Bond 24 Officially Named “Spectre” in Announcement.


If you’re a long time reader of Through the Shattered Lens, you’re probably aware that we’re all fans of the Bond franchise in some way. Around the release of Skyfall, we collectively reviewed every single Bond film. The project – spearheaded by our own Lisa Marie Bowman – was quite the success with each writer taking a film and showcasing their love (or displeasure for it). To date, I consider that our best  “Avengers” moment.

Today, the Announcement for the next film in the series was made at the legendary Pinewood Studios. Director Sam Mendes introduced audiences to the 24th film, “Spectre”, which already seems interesting given the history of the evil group in Bond canon. I guess this means Quantum is no more, was a small piece of a larger puzzle, or perhaps it’s grown into something bigger? We’ll have to wait and see, but it’s up to speculation. Lee and I were actually talking about that yesterday. We do know that the production will take 007 from London to Mexico City, among other locations.

All of the actors were on hand, including new members Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained, Inglorious Basterds), Monica Bellucci (Malena, The Matrix Reloaded), and Lea Seydoux (Mission: Impossible -Ghost Protocol, Blue is the Warmest Color). Returning are Daniel Craig as James Bond, Ralph Finnes as M, Penny Dreadful’s Rory  Kinnear as Tanner, Ben Whishaw (Layer Cake, Cloud Atlas) and Naomie Harris (Ninja Assassin, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom) as Moneypenny.

Although Roger Deakins won’t be on hand for the Cinematography, its okay (though he’ll be missed). Hoyt Van Hoytema is taking over the reigns. Between Spike Jonze “Her”,  “Interstellar” and “Birdman”, Hoytema knows what he’s doing.

Even Aston Martin threw their keys into the ring with the new DB10, to celebrate their 50 year relationship with Bond. 10 copies were made exclusively for the film and we hope Mendes leaves them in better condition than 007 usually does.

Production starts next Monday and the film is on track for release next November.

What If Lisa Marie Picked The Oscar Nominees…


With the Oscar nominations due to be announced this week, now is the time that the Shattered Lens indulges in a little something called, “What if Lisa had all the power.” Listed below are my personal Oscar nominations.  Please note that these are not the films that I necessarily think will be nominated.  The fact of the matter is that the many of them will not.  Instead, these are the films that would be nominated if I was solely responsible for deciding the nominees this year.  Winners are listed in bold.

You can check out my picks for 2010 by clicking here.

My picks for 2011 can be found here.

And, finally, here are my picks for 2012.

Best Picture

Best Picture

12 Years A Slave

American Hustle

Before Midnight

Blue Is The Warmest Color

Frances Ha

Fruitvale Station

Her

Inside Llewyn Davis

Spring Breakers

Upstream Color

Shane+Carruth+Upstream+Color+Portraits+2013+DRHrpQS3Qacx

Best Director

Noah Baumbach for Frances Ha

Shane Carruth for Upstream Color

Spike Jonze for Her

Harmony Korine for Spring Breakers

David O. Russell for American Hustle

new-wolf-of-wall-street-trailer-leonardo-dicaprio-is-the-wealthiest-stockbroker-in-the-world

Best Actor

Bruce Dern in Nebraska

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf Of Wall Street

Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club

Joaquin Phoenix in Her

Dennis Quaid in At Any Price

This-one-is-good

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine

Julie Delpy in Before Midnight

Adèle Exarchopoulos in Blue Is The Warmest Color

Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha

Amy Seimetz in Upstream Color

00290065-0000-0000-0000-000000000000_00000065-06d3-0000-0000-000000000000_20130903202205_Chandler

Best Supporting Actor

Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips

Kyle Chandler in The Spectacular Now

Bradley Cooper in American Hustle

James Franco in Spring Breakers

Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club

1380134395_Lawrence

Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle

Eva Mendes in The Place Beyond The Pines

Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years A Slave

Léa Seydoux in Blue Is The Warmest Color

Octavia Spencer in Fruitvale Station

Her

Best Original Screenplay

American Hustle

Blue Jasmine

Her

Inside Llewyn Davis

Upstream Color

Before-Midnight

Best Adapted Screenplay

12 Years A Slave

Before Midnight

Blue Is The Warmest Color

The Spectacular Now

The Wolf of Wall Street

November 1st, 2013 @ 20:49:52

Best Animated Feature

The Croods

Despicable Me 2

Ernest and Celestine

Frozen

Monsters University

STORIES-WE-TELL---SP-with-Super8cam-flatsc.JPG

Best Documentary Feature

20 Feet From Stardom

The Armstrong Lie

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

Stories We Tell

Tim’s Vermeer

Blue-is-the-Warmest-Color

Best Foreign Language Film

(Please note that I do things differently for this category than the Academy.   For this award, I am nominating the best foreign language films to be released in the United States in 2013.)

Beyond the Hills

Blue Is The Warmest Color

No

Renoir

White Elephant

The Great Gatsby1

Best Production Design

12 Years A Slave

Gravity

The Great Gatsby

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Oz: The Great and Powerful

Spring Breakers

Best Cinematography

Frances Ha

Inside Llewyn Davis

Nebraska

Spring Breakers

Upstream Color

American Hustle

Best Costume Design

12 Years A Slave

American Hustle

The Copperhead

The Great Gatsby

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Upstream Color

Best Film Editing

12 Years A Slave

American Hustle

Gravity

Her

Upstream Color

American Hustle 2

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

12 Years A Slave

American Hustle

Dallas Buyers Club

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Warm Bodies

Maniac

Best Original Score

Gravity

Her

Maniac

Trance

Upstream Color

The Great Gatsby2

Best Original Song

“Let it Go” from Frozen

“A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)” from The Great Gatsby

“Young and Beautiful” from The Great Gatsby

“The Moon Song” from Her

“I See Fire” from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

“Atlas” from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

“Please Mr. Kennedy” from Inside Llewyn Davis

“So You Know What It’s Like” from Short Term 12

“Becomes The Color” from Stoker

“Here It Comes” from Trance

Iron Man 3

Best Sound Editing

All Is Lost

Iron Man 3

Pacific Rim

Rush

Upstream Color

Pacific Rim

Best Sound Mixing

All Is Lost

Iron Man 3

Pacific Rim

Rush

Upstream Color

Gravity

Best Visual Effects

Gravity

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Iron Man 3

Oz: The Great and Powerful

Pacific Rim

List of Films By Number of Nominations:

9 Nominations — Upstream Color

8 Nominations — American Hustle

7 Nominations — 12 Years A Slave, Her

5 Nominations — Blue Is The Warmest Color

4 Nominations — Frances Ha, Gravity, The Great Gatsby, Inside Llewyn Davis, Spring Breakers

3 Nominations — Before Midnight, Dallas Buyers Club, Iron Man 3, Pacific Rim

2 Nominations — All Is Lost, Blue Jasmine, Frozen, Fruitvale Station, Nebraska, Oz The Great and Powerful, Rush, The Spectacular Now, Trance, The Wolf of Wall Street

1 Nominations — 20 Feet From Stardom, The Armstrong Lie, At Any Price, Beyond The Hills, Captain Phillips, The Copperhead, The Counselor, The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Ernest and Celestine, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Maniac, Monsters University, No, The Place Beyond The Pines, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, Renoir, Short Term 12, Stoker, Stories We Tell, Tim’s Vermeer, Warm Bodies, White Elephant

List of Films By Number of Oscars Won

3 Oscars — American Hustle, Upstream Color

2 Oscars — The Great Gatsby

1 Oscar — Before Midnight, Blue is The Warmest Color, Frances Ha, Frozen, Gravity, Her, Iron Man 3, Maniac, Pacific Rim, The Spectacular Now, Spring Breakers, Stories We Tell, The Wolf of Wall Street

Blue Is The Warmest Colour and Bruce Dern Win At Cannes


Bruce Dern in Nebraksa

Here are the official winners at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival:

Palme d’OrBlue Is the Warmest Colour by Abdellatif Kechiche
Honorary Palme d’Or – Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux for Blue Is the Warmest Colour
Grand PrixInside Llewyn Davis by Joel & Ethan Coen
Best Director – Amat Escalante for Heli
Best Screenplay – Jia Zhangke for A Touch of Sin
Best Actress – Bérénice Bejo for The Past
Best Actor – Bruce Dern for Nebraska
Jury PrizeLike Father, Like Son by Hirokazu Koreeda

Both The Tree of Life and Amour were nominated for best picture after winning the Palme d’Or and, in fact, it could be argued that neither one of those films would have had the momentum necessary to score an Oscar nod if they hadn’t first won at Cannes.  It’ll be interesting to see if this trend will continue with Blue Is The Warmest Colour.

As for Bruce Dern — a Hollywood veteran who has appeared in a lot of iconic films but who has never won an Oscar — I have a feeling that he’ll be winning a lot of other awards before the Oscar season has ended.

 

Trailer: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (Official)


I’ll be honest and admit that I wasn’t overly impressed by J.J. Abrams’ Mission: Impossible 3 and when it was announced that a fourth film in the franchise was going into production my initial reaction was an emphatic “meh”. It didn’t help when Pixar veteran Brad Bird was chosen to helm this fourth film. This was a filmmaker who did a great job with Pixar animated films, but still an unknown quantity when it came to live-action projects.

As the months passed and news filtered out from the film’s production the news was positive with many who have seen some rough footage becoming convinced that Brad Bird might know what he’s doing outside the Pixar stable. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was soon being talked as being one of the most-awaited films of 2011. This newly-released first official trailer goes a long way into adding more positive buzz to a film already hyped up on it.

Also, it has Paula Patton in it, nuff said.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is set for a December 16, 2011 release.

A Few Thoughts On The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Remake


Have I mentioned how much I loved The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo?  Have I suggested that the late Stieg Larsson, in the Millenium Trilogy, did for Europe what James Ellroy did for America with the American Tabloid trilogy?  Have I gone into the fact I think Noomi Rapace’s performance as Lisbeth in both the original film and its sequels will probably be remembered as one of the greatest film performances of all time?  Have I explained that I think, even beyond Rapace’s performance, Lisbeth herself is one of the best characters in the history of film?  For that matter, have I talked about the hours that I’ve spent standing with my back to a mirror and looking over my shoulder and debating on which shoulder-blade a dragon would look most appropriate?  Personally, I think my left shoulder-blade is a bit nicer than my right but last night, my friend Jeff was telling me that…

Sorry, I’m losing focus here.  Okay, getting the ADD under control.  Anyway, the point of the matter is that I love The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. 

That’s why I feel a lot of caution about the upcoming, David Fincher-helmed remake.  First off, quite frankly, I really don’t see what can be improved on the original films.  It’s not as if the original film version of the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo failed to do justice to the book (if anything, the book fails to do justice to the film that eventually made from it).  I suppose a remake would give people who can’t handle subtitles the chance to see the story but honestly, who cares about those losers?  Speaking of the story, the rumors I hear seem to indicate that this remake is going to be an “Americanized” version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which I’m not really sure can be done as the entire book is basically meant to act as a metaphor for Swedish society.  Of course, it is possible that the remake is going to be set in Sweden as well but if that’s the case, what’s the point of the remake?

I know the usual argument to these concerns is that, as a director, Fincher will not allow the film to be Hollywoodized.  At one point that may have been true but, judging from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fincher’s got more Hollywood in him than most people want to admit.  The fact that he’s also teamed up with Aaron Sorkin (an establishment figure if there ever was one) to direct a movie about Facebook doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence but I’ll hold off on judging until the Social Network actually shows up in theaters.

However, I am encouraged by the news (announced yesterday) that Fincher has cast Daniel Craig as the male lead, Mikael Blomkvist (or whatever his name is going to be in the Hollywood version).  Craig’s name had been mentioned for the role ever since the remake was first announced but there were also reports that the role would go to Brad Pitt (who, of course, has already made 3 films with Fincher).  Nothing against Brad Pitt (who I think is a truly underrated actor) but it’s hard to think of a worst choice for the role of Mikael.  Mikael’s defining characteristic is just how ineffectual he is.  He’s the ultimate well-meaning intellectual, the type of guy who wants to fight injustice but is to insulated from the harsh realities of life to effectively do so.  (That’s why he needs Lisbeth, she represents everything he wishes he could do but can’t.)  In short, Mikael is a hero by default and casting an actor like Brad Pitt would throw the entire movie off-balance.

Mikael is not a role for a star.  Mikael is a role for a character actor and, James Bond aside, that’s exactly what Daniel Craig is.  (That’s one reason why Craig’s Bond is dull, regardless of how good a performance Craig gives in the role.)  Not only is Craig the right age, he projects just the right amount of idealistic weariness for the role.  Admittedly, it helps that Craig bears a passable physical resemblance to the original Mikael, Michael Nyqvist which, if nothing else, will make it easier for fans of the original film — like me — to accept him.

(For the record, my personal choice for Mikael would have been Tim Roth.)

Of course, the question now is who will win the role of Lisbeth and why would they want it?  For me, Noomi Rapace is Lisbeth.  She is the girl with dragon tattoo.  It’s hard to think of single mainstream actress in her 20s or early 30s who could hope to match Rapace’s performance.  (Perhaps a young Angelina Jolie could have though physically, Jolie is all wrong for the part.)  However, even beyond what Rapace did with the character, Lisbeth is one of the most vivid and memorable characters in recent literary history.  Even without having to worry about the shadow of Rapace’s previous performance, the role is not an easy one.

Originally, rumor had it that Kristen Stewart was a lock for the role.  At the risk of being burned at the stake as a heretic, I’m going to say that I think Stewart could have been an adequate (though not a great) Lisbeth except for the fact that she’s about ten years too young.  (While Lisbeth is described as looking like a teenager, she also projects a worldliness of someone much older.  Physical appearance can be faked but life experience can not.)  Carey Mulligan, star of An Education (the best film of 2009, by the way), was another actress who was frequently mentioned.

Well, according to Entertainment Weekly, neither Stewart nor Mulligan will play Lisbeth Salander.  Neither will Natalie Portman who, according to EW, was offered the role but turned it down.  The offer to Portman makes sense as she’s physcially right for the role and she’s an undeniably talented actress.  However, much as Pitt could never have been convincing as Mikael, Portman would have been miscast as Lisbeth.  Portman may be a talented actress but she’s also a rather passive one.  Even in her previous “action” roles (Leon, V For Vendetta), Portman essentially played a lost, damaged character (much like Lisbeth) who needed an older male figure to serve as her mentor (which, needless to say, is nothing like Lisbeth).

Again, according to EW, the role of Lisbeth has been narrowed down to four actresses: Rooney Mara, Lea Seydoux, Sarah Snook, and Sophie Lowe.  It’s probably a good sign that none of these actresses are household names exactly.  Competing with the shadow of Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth is going to be difficult enough without also having to deal with the shadow of their own previous performances.  (For instance, even if Stewart gave a brilliant performance as Lisbeth, it would still be impossible for me to get through the remake without making at least one Twilight joke.)

For me, the real question is not who is going to be cast as Libseth but if Fincher and his producers are going to give us the real Lisbeth — this would be the unapologetically lesbian Lisbeth who can only befriend Mikael once she’s sure that she doesn’t any sort of sexual attraction towards him — or if we’re going to get a more mainstream, Hollywood version of Lisbeth.  Are we going to get the real Lisbeth who needs no one or are we going to get another version of what Hollywood claims to be a strong woman, one who can fight up until the final 30 minutes of the film at which point she’s suddenly rendered helpless by the demands of Mainstream Filmmaking 101.

More than anything, that will be the test that Fincher’s Girl With The Dragon Tattoo will have to pass if it wants to be anything more than an unneeded imitation of the original.

(Incidentally, the perfect Lisebth Salander would be Jena Malone.  End of story.)