Casino Royale was my first Bond movie, but I think GoldenEye is what I was expecting it to be, and that maybe explains my ongoing ambivalence towards the franchise. GoldenEye is cheesy as hell, and that’s great; I mean:
- Is there a female character with a sexual pun based name? Yes! The female villain, played by a pre X-Men Famke Janssen, is named Xenia Onatopp and her go-to move is crushing men with her thighs.
- Does the villain have some sort of deformity? Yes! The main villain1, played by a pre-LotR Sean Bean, has half of his face scarred and a ridiculously complicated backstory that allows the movie to still have Russian villains in the post-Soviet era.
- Are there any dumb spy gadgets? Well, there is a pen that is secretly a grenade, so.
- How smarmy is Bond? Oh my god, so smarmy. It’s magnificent.
Also, there are some funny office antics with Russian computer programmers, one of whom is played by Alan Cumming, and I would basically watch a whole movie of that.
So yeah, Brosnan!Bond is definitely more fun than Craig!Bond; minus some angst about his former partner turned villain, he actually seems to enjoy being a spy—you buy that he’s enough of an adrenaline junkie to justify the risks of the job. Whereas at some point in the Craig movies, you kind of start wondering why Bond’s even still working for MI6, given that he doesn’t seem especially patriotic and he definitely doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself.
Very pretty, but not super compelling. Well, I say that, but I was basically crying the whole time, so apparently I wasn’t watching it completely passively. It’s interesting to me how emotional it managed to be given how kind of low stakes it was compared to the tragic immigrant tale we’re used to seeing. The main character, Eilis (Saoirse Ronan), leaves her mother and sister in Ireland to come to America for better employment opportunities—no tragic backstory there. Once she arrives in Brooklyn, she already has a place to live and a job at a department store—again, not a great struggle. She does find herself incredibly homesick, and while that’s not on the level of, say, being homeless and starving and forced to turn to prostitution, it really hits hard. The concept of distance in a pre-Internet age is a little overwhelming, and it makes the death of Eilis’s sister in Ireland while she’s still in the US so much worse.
Saoirse Ronan’s face is a pleasure to behold, and there are a lot of close-up shots of it in various states of expression. Also, Domhnall Gleeson appears briefly and is charming, which for me is basis enough to see a movie.
I’m still not too sure why Brooklyn has received so much critical acclaim. Yes, the aesthetics are great and the performances are solid. It’s definitely a competent movie, but I don’t know, it doesn’t feel like more than that, I guess. I can’t really imagine anyone listing it among their favorite movies five years from now.
American Ultra (2015)
The premise for this was super promising—Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart as a stoner couple would be enough of a pull regardless of any other aspects, probably, but the action-comedy angle and Stewart’s specific look for this movie transported it into holy shit, must see territory. The execution is, like, not bad, but mostly not that good, either. I don’t know, just incredibly mediocre.
This is a comedy about a kind of dumb but good-natured bouncer who becomes a hockey enforcer, and yeah, that sounds like the sort of movie I would avoid at all costs, because eww bros and eww sports. But this movie:
- Kept popping up in the AV Club comments section as one of those surprisingly good comedies that no one has seen.
- Looked like it would be SUPER CANADIAN and that is something that I’m highly susceptible to.
- Was written by Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg, which: promising.
- Is a 92-minute comedy, which is sort of rare in the current cinematic landscape that seems to favor these 2+ hour Apatovian hangout comedies. And, similarly to what we said about Office Space in the previous post, Goon derives a lot of its humor from its very specific setting.
So yeah, I enjoyed this hockey comedy. I am legit excited to see all of these characters again in the sequel, but especially this dude:
This dude is a brooding French-Canadian hockey player named Xavier LaFlamme and that is fucking delightful.
Weirdly educational2 as well; I had no idea that enforcers were a thing in hockey and that they’re somehow not against the rules? What even is hockey?
Mission: Impossible (1996)
It was probably about time that I saw this, but it didn’t leave much of an impression other than the scenes that have been widely referenced/parodied over the past 20 years. The main thing that stuck with me was actually the depiction of the ’90s Internet, with Tom Cruise intensely searching Usenet groups. For someone born in ’92, it’s practically impossible to tell whether that’s a semi-realistic depiction of the technology at the time or if it’s one of the laughably unrealistic depictions of computer usage that action movies employ. It would actually be especially historically interesting if the latter is true, and that was the dumb action movie conception of badass hacking at the time, since to a viewer in the post-Google world it just comes across as a bit sad.
Sure, fine. I have nothing to say about this. Remember how awesome Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina was?
1. FYI, Alec Trevelyan is currently the most popular villain in James Bond fanfiction on AO3, with 556 works, 124 of which ship him with Bond. For comparison: there are currently 42 works featuring Le Chiffre (11 shipping him with Bond) and 471 featuring Raoul Silva (253 shipping him with Bond). ^
2. Semi-relatedly, “Hockey RPF”—that is, fanfiction featuring real hockey players—is actually a pretty huge tag on AO3, with 10,106 works at the moment, 8,519 of which feature (male/male) slash pairings. It is certainly the most popular sports fandom; there are currently 26,567 total works tagged “Sports RPF,” and the next largest fandom within that seems to be “Football RPF”—which appears to be all soccer, and not, like, NFL players banging—with 8,269 works. So, yeah, hockey fandom in the Tumblr/AO3 sense is A Thing, apparently. Please explain how this came to be. ^