Sunday, November 26, 2006

Now Playing

This past weekend, the lovely and talented Malibu Stacy and I had a chance to catch up on some recent new releases.

First up, Casino Royale. I know there was a whole lot of grumbling about Daniel Craig taking over the helm of the Bond franchise, but I've been rooting for him from the start. I loved his work in Road to Perdition and Munich, and especially his absolutely brilliant turn in Layer Cake. Not surprisingly, I thought Craig did a tremendous job here, bringing the rough tones needed for the origins story. (He'll bring the more polished appeal of Layer Cake to the next installments, so no worries there.) The real surprise, for me, was how they rebooted the whole franchise, dialing down the over-the-top gadgetry of the last couple films -- invisible cars? orbiting heat rays? -- and paring it down to the hard-edged, hard-nosed spy thriller at the heart of the Fleming novels. There's some terrific action -- including a phenomenal parkour fight scene -- and some actually decent acting as well. I'd have to say it's the best Bond film since Goldfinger.

Second, we had a chance last night to see Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. I'd been a little wary about this one, since I wasn't sure how they could maintain the premise for an hour and a half without running out of steam. It did wind up getting a little old by the end, but that might have just been physical exhaustion I felt from laughing so hard for so long. I don't want to spoil any of the jokes here -- in the comments, maybe -- but I will say that there's a bit with former Republican Rep. Bob Barr that had me crying, and a piece with Alan Keyes that wasn't far behind. This one's going to involve multiple viewings, I think, and I doubt they'll disappoint.

Finally, I've got to join the growing blogospheric chorus in raving about this season of The Wire on HBO. I've been a tremendous fan of this show from the very first episode, largely because I saw it as a reincarnation of my all-time favorite cop show, Homicide: Life on the Streets. But The Wire is, in truth, even better. Not only is it a fantastic drama that includes a wide array of richly-drawn characters and some terrific acting; it's the only piece of entertainment I've seen that also carries a political message subtly and strongly. Each season has been a study in the deterioration of urban institutions -- the law, the unions, the political process, and now the schools. If you haven't been watching this show, do yourself a tremendous favor and start lining up Season One in your rental queue. You won't be sorry.

Feel free to drop your own thoughts on any of these in the comments below, or throw out your own recommendations for new shows in the motion picture theaters or coming out on that there teevee.


Tokyo Joe said...

Anyone else seen "Dexter" on showtime? It's got that guy from "6 feet under" but without such a terrible haircut. It's actually pretty good and I think you should all check it out.

Mr Furious said...

"Casino Royale" -- Mrs. Furious is not going to be up for this one, I hope to catch it with my brother in law sometime soon. I was also on board with Craig early and am excited to see the great response he's gotten. He was great in "Munich" and all I could think when watching him was what a badass Bond he would be.

"Borat!" -- Pass. Not an Ali G fan, and there is NO way this movie could possibly live up to the hype.

"The Wire" -- As you know, I am with you on the Homicide" tip, so I have no doubt how good this show is. Plus, I have the added incentive of having one of the guy's from my college softball team starring in it. But I don't have HBO, and I just don't know if I can ever catch up on DVD...


Movies I've seen recently?

"Running with Scissors" -- Fantastic cast, and everyone is terrific. Be warned that the movie is more disturbing and emotional than the ads make it seem (like a light-hearted comedy). Will single-handedly bring the word "masturbatorium" to the (relative) masses.

"Cars" -- watched the DVD with my daughter today. Good stuff. Very entertaining, and I am just transfixed by the animation. Nothing short of amazing. Made me want a new tv.

"The Break-Up" -- Better than I thought it would be. I imagined more of a Jennifer Aniston vehicle, when it turned out to be more Vince Vaughn. Which is a good thing.

"Wedding Crashers" is on deck. Along with "Curious George." I am at least as excited about this as Ruby.


Truth be told, I have become simply a trailer junkie. I go to the Apple Quicktime site and watch trailers all the time, and get excited for countless movies I will likely never see...

Zodiac -- David Fincher. That's good enough for me, but it also has a powerhouse cast headed by Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., and the underappreciated Mark Ruffalo.

Spider-Man 3 -- Looks like the best one yet. All I have to do now is see the first two.

The Prestige -- Anyone seen this? I am very intrigued.

Mike said...

I have become simply a trailer junkie. I go to the Apple Quicktime site and watch trailers all the time, and get excited for countless movies I will likely never see...

If that ain't a casualty of the Internets Age, not sure what is.

Otto Man said...

I've seen those three trailers -- Zodiac and Spidey in the theater -- and they all look great.

My folks saw The Prestige and loved it. I'm a Christopher Nolan fan, and it looks great.

Otto Man said...

I haven't gotten into "Dexter" yet, TJ, but I've heard rave reviews from its fans. I think the only way that actor can outdo his current shock trend is to star as a heroic cannibal.

Dr. Milton von F├╝nkdoctorspock said...

Milty loved Stranger than Fiction. It warrants and deserves comparisons to The Truman Show.

The good doc's favorite indicator of the greatness that is The Wire is its run time: every damn ep is the full HBO 58 minutes. All of their other great shows have the occasional 52 minuter that leaves you thinking, "That's shatrageous!" This one has so much good material they need every second, and that's with the scenes that are 8 seconds long w/ no dialogue! Shatastically brilliant.

Thrillhous said...

Not a big Bond fan, especially since they dissed my man Remington. I want to see Borat, but I guess I can wait for the video. There's bound to be extra footage.

Lately I've watched a few things on our digital cable's free movie section. Saw the 1989 remake of Night of the Living Dead, which was pretty good. Lame changed ending, but otherwise a lot of fun.

Another fun movie I saw was Dr. Phibes Rises Again, an incredibly hokey Vincent Price horror movie. Had the required cameo from Peter Cushing.

Pete said...

growing blogospheric chorus

"Growing?" Dude, I've been pimping The Wire for three years, at least.

Otto Man said...

You've definitely been out front on the proselytizing, but other folks (Jesus' General, etc.) have converted to the cause recently.

Me? I'm just now taking off the black armband for Stringer Bell.