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Charlie's Angels

Charlie’s Angels is the reboot you never knew you needed in your life.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Thumbnails 11/14/2013

The class gap caused by lack of Internet access; Andy Kaufman may be alive; Weinstein Co. wins MPAA appeal; "Carlito's Way" appreciation; Dunham and Kaling's brass tacks.

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Thumbnails 10/14/2013

Alice Walker to release her journals; Captain Phillips' real crew doesn't love the movie (or the man); Charlie Hunnam drops out of "Fifty Shades of Grey"; Graydon Carter speaks; a real-life zombie drug on the rise.

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#176 July 17, 2013

Marie writes: Last week, in response to a club member comment re: whatever happened to Ebert Club merchandize (turned out to be too costly to set up) I had promised to share a free toy instead - an amusement, really, offered to MailChimp clients; the mail service used to send out notices. Allow me to introduce you to their mascot...

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The world has changed, Mr. Bond

May contain spoilers

Sam Mendes' "Skyfall" (2012) provides us with one of the best of all the twenty-something James Bond films. It is full of toys, though a different set of toys than we might expect, placing far more focus on the heroes' stories than the villain's plotting. Is there even a real Bond-girl in this movie? And, what about the Bond car? It seems strangely familiar. Rather, whatever traditional Bond characters and trinkets this film skips or skimps on, it replaces with gigabytes of substance. Like you, I have seen all the Bond films - most of them multiple times - even though some of them are just not that good. But, they are James Bond movies, so it becomes almost a duty to the Queen keep up with them as times continue to change. This one, thankfully, is fantastic.

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Skyfall: Hey kids, let's put on a show!

"Skyfall" is a theatrical film in the same way that its director, Sam Mendes, is a theatrical filmmaker. That is, its approach to organizing space for an audience (the camera lens) is noticeably stagey. I mean that in a "value-neutral" way. I just mean the frame is frequently used as a proscenium and the images are action-tableaux deployed for a crowd -- whether it's the designated audience surrogates in the movie (bystanders or designated dramatis personae), or the viewers in the seats with the cup-holders. That's not to say it's uncinematic (it's photographed by the great Roger Deakins!), but many of the set-pieces in "Skyfall" are conceived and presented as staged performance pieces.

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Growing up with James Bond

I find it mind-boggling that something as trivial as an action film series could become such a constant presence in my life but that's been the case with the James Bond movies. It's not so much that their span happens to equal mine (to the very week, by the way) as I didn't start following them until I was 9 years old -- but ever since, they've always been around one way or another: from big theatrical openings to re-re-releases in the beat up movie houses of old; from Betamax tapings of network T.V. broadcasts (pausing the machine to edit the commercials), to the great looking discs of today. Every couple of years or so they have made their appearance and I've watched each one dozens of times regardless how good or bad they were, an odd fact for which I've had no reasonable explanation.

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A great deal of solace

I'm double-posting my review of "Skyfall" to encourage comments, which my main site can't accept.

In this 50th year of the James Bond series, with the disappointing "Quantum of Solace" (2008) still in our minds, "Skyfall" triumphantly reinvents 007 in one of the best Bonds ever made. This is a full-blooded, joyous, intelligent celebration of a beloved cultural icon, with Daniel Craig taking full possession of a role he earlier played well in "Casino Royale," not so well in "Quantum"--although it may not have been entirely his fault. I don't know what I expected in Bond #23, but certainly not an experience this invigorating.

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#141 November 7, 2012

Marie writes: "let's see what happens if I tickle him with my stick..."(Photo by Daniel Botelho. Click image to enlarge.)

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