While searching for the pickle in the tree and refusing to acknowledge any Clintons that aren’t George, Sanders that aren’t Barry and Trumps that aren’t playing cards, spare a thought to a film still struggling to validate its identity. In a recent poll, the greatest Christmas movie ever was deemed to not be a Christmas movie at all. The tragedy here is clear: it’s time to recognize the holiday overtones of the robbery at Nakatomi Plaza because Die Hard is a Christmas movieº.
Decked out in a red flannel shirt, the kind that suggests a casual work environment, Juliet Litman enthusiastically welcomed her congregation, a throng of young dudes, mostly white, with a few willing and able women scattered about. These parishioners had come to Le Poisson Rouge in Greenwich Village, site of the Madden lectures a little over a month prior, to pay final respects to the most important sports blog ever, the recently-deceased standard for longform pop journalism and the sort of offbeat topics you concoct in your dorm lounge late one night after several too many adult beverages. This was the Grantland wake.
My first James Bond movie was Die Another Day in 2002. Pierce Brosnan was James Bond. I was 10. The movie was ludicrous. I loved it.
In Die Another Day, Agent 007 and his female counterpart, Halle Berry’s Jinx, drive their invisible car all around an ice palace in order to stop Gustav Graves from melting the ice caps with his big space laser, which he built with conflict diamonds. Don’t ask how or why the car is invisible. Gustav Graves was born North Korean, but he used some sort of DNA treatment to reverse-Rachel Dolezal himself into a white blonde man as some sort of critique of Western culture, maybe? His henchman, Zao, also tried to do this, but only half-Dolezal’d, so he’s just very pale and also there are conflict diamonds stuck in his face for some reason. There is also a mean British woman who they fight at the ice palace. Her name is Miranda Frost, because her parents had the foresight to assume that she would one day be a henchwoman in an ice palace. James Bond slept with her before he knew she was mean. Eventually they all fight on a plane, and the bad guys and gal die, and James Bond saves the day.
By just about any conceivable metric for evaluating film, Die Another Day is a bad movie. Despite the countless flaws that bloated this ridiculous film, it served as my introduction to all things Bond. The lines were cheesy, but even in the worst Bond movie the cheesiest lines are at least somewhat tempered by sexy delivery and the cool tuxedos. When I saw Pierce Brosnan order his martini “shaken, not stirred” in the ice palace bar, it felt like I was suddenly part of something big, something cool(this part was jarring; I was not a cool ten year old).
It’s that time again. February. Super Bowl season. Awards season. The greatest season in America because these are some of the most live-tweeted events in the country, and NOTHING brings the people together like live-tweeting. On Sunday, February 22nd, Awards Season pretty much caps off, with the 87th Academy Awards. Which will probably be as long, but hopefully not as boring, as the Grammys were this year. I’m sure we will all be rooting for Dick Poop, because this is America and we don’t let things like that die, but who else will win? I have no idea, because I have seen close to none of the nominated pictures. BUT I’m going to make my picks anyway, because (No, I don’t need a real reason, thanks).
To say Richard Linklater’s latest film Boyhood was highly anticipated is a gross understatement. Whispers of a movie that featured a main character aging in real time – a 24 for the Roger Ebert wannabes – had been swirling for years, earning the film an almost urban legend status. Would we ever see this cinematic Bigfoot?
Yes, we would, and yes, I did. Full disclosure: I am a big fan of Linklater’s work. I saved my pennies to buy the special edition Criterion Release of Dazed and Confused, and I’m always quick to point out that he directed School of Rock (I know, right?), so I was ready to blindly adore his latest. However, I left the theater feeling hesitant, wondering if all the film really had going for it was the gimmick of time lapse. I mean, the film currently carries a 99% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I had to be wrong, right? What was wrong with me? Why didn’t I connect with Boyhood?
I exist in a perpetual state of catch-up when it comes to movies. I rarely see them in theaters and while friends are raving about today’s must see films, I’m still working through my queue of flicks from yesteryear.
You can trace this phenomenon back to my childhood, when I was convinced by friends to sit through an endless stream of raunchy comedies marketed for immature teens that recycled the same jokes about genitalia over and over again. After blowing through my weekly allowance on movies that left your feeling numb for all the wrong reasons, I resolved to no longer pay for bad movies. I vowed to only pay to see Hollywood’s very best on the silver screen and wait for the remainder to make their way to the HBO/Netflix circuit. So far, it’s been working. Here is a sample of movies I’ve seen in the past few years: Django Unchained (I’m a Quentin Tarantino fanboy), Inception (I’m a Christopher Nolan fanboy and didn’t want the ending spoiled), Hot Tub Time Machine (Hey, I never said I was perfect). It’s much like I stowed away in a bomb shelter from the movie-verse for a year, and since emerging I’ve been a year behind everyone else.
Finally, The Heroic Predictions of the 2014 Academy Awards
Well, we’ve just about made it. That Oscar talk that started back in August, when Lee Daniels made his Forrest Gump opus about a White House butler, and will finally conclude Sunday night. And Lee Daniels’ The Butler won’t even be part of the conversation. Instead, we’ll celebrate the movies it seems like we’ve been arguing about forever, or at least since last October. Read More
Onscreen, Harold Ramis was best known as Dr. Egon Spengler, the Ghostbuster with all the animation of a brick wall. While the movie was filled with the most frightening ghouls on the New York side of the Hudson, Spengler barely raised an octave. This was left to Dan Aykyord, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson. The character of Spengler, in many ways, defines Harold Ramis’ work. It was always surrounded by raucous and boisterous personalities but the protagonists were never quite one themselves.
George Clooney’s Lecturing, Sanitized Vision of WWII…and Art
Everyone looks good in The Monuments Men. I think that’s part of the perk and charm of being in a George Clooney movie. He’ll crop your crew cut just right, perfectly light your skin’s aging complexion. He’ll make you feel chummy and invincible on set. That would all be fine if his latest directorial effort weren’t a World War II film. Instead of peril and suspense, you get silly vignettes of middle-aged veterans motoring along to their own internal River Kwai March. There’s a dissonance between the movie Clooney has made and the one we expect to see. Even the bullet wounds shed little blood. Read More