Weekly Recap 8/5 – 8/11

A new, weekly (duh) addition to the site where I force myself to write down thoughts on my viewing habits from the past seven days. Let the great experiment begin!

8/6/12 La Haine

Fraught with tension, a fantastic Vincent Cassel performance and gorgeous black and white photography, think of La Haine as an improved version of Do The Right Thing. The film presents an objective look at the malaise of mid-90s France, but also the intricate divisions that separate us as people. Its final message, while not profound, feels organic to the story. It also helps that director Mathieu Kassovitz can distance himself from his films, a feat Spike Lee so rarely does. This steers through uneven terrain on an even keel, successfully balancing shock and humor in an experience that’s not unlike holding a number two down a mile-long hallway. With La Haine, no clenching is required.

8/8/12 Gone in Sixty Seconds

Of course “My Buddy is a Cage” selections are included here. And of course you can’t make me write about it twice.

8/8/12 Dr. No

A few summers ago at my grandparents’ house, I came across an old shoebox filled with Polaroids and marveled at how preserved they were. Also, old people loved tight short-sleeve polos in 1956 apparently. Revisiting Dr. No felt a lot like opening up that old shoe box. As dull and stupid as the titular villain makes for both a mystery and a nemesis, it takes a great deal more to thwart Connery’s charisma and charm. Its many flaws aside, Terence Young’s first Bond entry remains a classy film, and that’s coming from someone who tends to undervalue older cinema.

Regrettably very familiar with Austin Powers humor, I was surprised that Dr. No sets up so many iconic qualities the Mike Myers series would go on to lampoon. Mongoloid henchmen. Connery’s puns and horn dog attitude. Or maybe Dr. No simply showed how little Dalton and Brosnan really contributed to the franchise. I said it, Pierce. Stick to run-by fruitings.

8/9/12 Hard Boiled
 

You know what? I’m glad I watched Gone in Sixty Seconds.

Maybe it’s purely by comparison but Jolie and her stupid cocaine dread locks make John Woo’s Hong Kong action film look like a masterpiece. I suspect had I not seen Gone, Hard Boiled would still look pretty damn great. It may sound counterintuitive for this genre, but the sound design in Woo’s films always seems top notch. Action set pieces constantly one-up themselves, but the gun cocks, the shells pinging against pavement give the sequences their meat. Even the punch sound effects stand apart from the overused stock from Power Rangers episodes. You’ll have to maybe just trust me on that comparison. 

8/11/12 From Russia With Love
 

If I had a time machine, after I became a millionaire betting on the ’86 World Series, I’d slap the shit out of my thirteen year-old self that fell asleep watching From Russia With Love

Bond generally creates an expectation for new gadgets and hot babes, however those elements often drown out the potential intricacy and paranoia that a spy thriller can have. An invisible car is memorable because it’s a pretty fucking stupid idea. Here, Q’s suitcase — with its gold sovereigns, spring-loaded throwing knife, and booby traps — gets it right, as does the entirety of this film. One of the best Bond entries from the best Bond. Keep it simple, sweetheart.

NOTE: Now Playing Podcast’s latest retrospective is in fact on none other than Agent 007, and they’re doing two a week. I like to keep pace, so with multiple Bond films and the obligatory Nic Cage entry, my viewing habits have become increasingly dictated. What I mean to say is this recap might be a bumpy ride when they get to Roger Moore and I can’t put off Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance any longer. Yeesh.

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