May 27, 2003

Down With Love

downFunny, silly, and smart, all at once! I found the ending of the film quite tedious, but I think that was part of the point. (Loews Church St, Harvard Square)

May 25, 2003

The Godfather, Parts I and II

"Now who's being naive, Kay?"
Funniest scene in Part I is when Michael sends his bodyguard to get Apollonia's father: he picks up his shotgun first...(Brattle Theater, May 23 and 25)

May 17, 2003

The Matrix Reloaded

Big sprawling sequel. Wonderful in many ways, although I got a bit of "kung-fu fatigue" by the end. The second show was on the IMAX screen at the New England Aquarium. Great sound, and a screen so big I was counting every pock on Laurence Fishburne's face...

matrix2The EKW Review: I liked Reloaded very much, even though (d'oh!) I ran out to the ladies' room during Cornel West's cameo, dang. I loved the way they make references in simultaneously subtle and obvious ways, and how they change elements of the material they allude to so it fits the story the Persephone character, for one. That "death by chocolate/chocolate orgasm" joke was was the "Freud is God" Architect character...everyone else thought the Zion-rave scene was too long and boring, but I loved it. I would've cut out the conversation between Neo and that folksy-leprechaun-counselor guy, with the George Lucas-ian wardrobe. I loved the whole long sequence on top of the truck, such a great play on the stock "battle atop a speeding train". I just liked looking at the hem of Neo's duster, frozen in time.

N: I thought the French character (Persephone's partner, whose name I missed) was amusing, but his monologue made little sense to me.
Yeah, it was hard to pay attention with that Inspector Clouseau accent...he's The Merovingian, a reference that's both historical (post-Roman, pre-Charlemagne kings of France) and mythological (there's this whole story about how the bloodline is descended from god/jesus/atlantis, that sort of thing)...more importantly, I thought, his wife is Persephone, which would make him Hades, god of the underworld, who kidnapped Persephone and tricked her into eating six pomegranate seeds, etc., in greek mythology. In the movie, he's the liar and she's the truthteller (helpfully denoted by the respective all-black and all-white outfits, right?), which really throws off the whole question of what is "truth" in the Matrix, when everything may be preordained as part of the program, etc. The Merovingian is the one who yammers on about cause and effect, but of course in a preordained universe there is no choice and the chain of cause and effect can't be altered...anyway I think he is just an obstacle, a red herring, to throw Neo off the track, and then Persephone changes things by helping them...or maybe that was part of the plan also, who knows?

matrix3N: I didn't get the orgasm-via-cake joke at all.
I am really fascinated with the sexual imagery in this second movie...when I look back, the first film was filled with images of birth, or rebirth. this one is all about sex, and the double meaning of orgasm as "the little death." I predict the third movie will be, therefore, all death all the time. ;P the film opens with Neo foreshadowing Trinity's death while they are in bed, and then that same image returns as she "dies" in his arms...then of course at the end he saves her from death by literally reaching inside her, and then of course he "dies" (goes into this coma state) himself. the Merovingian scene with the dessert is a play on that same idea of the relationship between sex and death, and of course cause and effect -- didn't you think at first that the cake he gave that woman was poisoned? that he was describing how she was going to die from its effects -- pulse racing, etc? He seemed to be saying he could poison and kill her anonymously through the matrix code, an untraceable cause and effect. but no, in fact he manipulates her by giving her an orgasm from across the room -- that animated sequence of matrix code racing up her thighs (to the "door of light" -- give me a break!) totally blew my mind! I kept thinking, nobody else must get this or else this would be rated NC-17! well, that and the lipstick joke, anyway... >>:P

N: Ditto with the Architect-- I think I understand that the history of the resistance has been repeated six times - which makes it 600 years old instead of 100- and the machines allow Zion and The One to evolve each time as a pressure release for the minds which resist the Matrix? Does that agree with what you heard?
I have to see it again to understand what the hell's going on there...I was trying to look at the little TV screens in the background, plus I was chuckling over the fact that the architect looks just like Sigmund Freud, so I wasn't at my sharpest. What I took away from that scene was that everything about Neo is just part of the Matrix after all, I.e. the myth that he is the savior of humanity is a flaw that is getting worked out of the system, albeit a little less successfully with each iteration of the program. George brought up an interesting point, though -- is The One always Thomas Anderson/Neo, or a different person? If it's not always him, or maybe even if it is, it may be that his radical choice (the righthand door) will change things up after all...who knows, it's all about reincarnation and how hard it is to change your fate...

N: Everything you just said is relevant and interesting and true, but most people who see this movie have no clue about any of that.
Oh i disagree -- sure, not everyone cares about the subtextual references, but that's all they are, subtextual. on the surface, the scene is about manipulating others, and it underscores how Neo and everyone else are being manipulated. if that is too subtle, then you can just watch Monica Bellucci and next time go see Bad Boys II instead. >:P

N: When Persephone deliberately puts on lipstick before kissing Neo, I assumed the lipstick was "written" as some kind of poison as well.
Yeah i thought that too...BUT i didn't mean that lipstick joke, i meant when P. tells hubby "It was the lipstick," not the lipstick on his mouth, though...heh. maybe they're supposed to be like the Clintons or something!! :D

N: When the Architect gives Neo the "choice" of the 2 doors out of the TV room, I forgot which door was which-- secondly, was it Neo's right or the Architect's right? thirdly, it didn't help that the room was round and identical all the way around?
Yeah, like i said, that scene remains a little impenetrable to me...

N: Speaking of Neo's dreams of Trinity which begin the film-- They felt out of place to me. I bet the Wachowskis placed those action-packed scenes at the beginning, because if they were not included, the first action sequence would not start until 10-20 minutes into the film, and everyone would be itchy for something to happen!!
I think it's helpful to think of the movie as an animated (as in brought-to-life) comic would be cool to see a flash-forward like that on a comic page, and nobody would flip ahead in the book to see what the hell it meant...movies make us impatient because they keep spelling out the story, whereas print allows you to come up with your own ideas and then slowly reveals the story. that said, while i liked the Trinity sequence in the beginning, they did NOT need to revisit it identically later on, for the idiots in the audience, "Oh I see, that's how she drops the motorcycle on the guard station! Woah!" sheeeesh...m. (May 17th, 2003; Framingham Premium Cinema (with Kevin) and June 21st, 2003; IMAX Presentation at the New England Aquarium)

May 16, 2003

The Matrix

A little preparation for the sequel tomorrow night. (Brattle Theater)

May 12, 2003

How Old Is James Bond, Anyway?

James Bond has been portrayed by six* actors since his screen debut in 1962. Take a look at this list of Bond Ages. • The actor portraying Bond has ranged in age from 30 (George Lazenby) to 58 (Roger Moore in View To A Kill). • The ages below reflect how old the actor turned in the calendar year the film came out. The time of year of the birthday and precise release date are ignored. • When Roger Moore took over the role from Sean Connery in 1973, it's hard to believe that Moore is three years older than Connery, but it's true: Connery looked bloated and lived-in as Bond in Diamonds Are Forever in 1971, but he was only 41 years old, and Moore is 46 as Bond in Live and Let Die! • Daniel Craig still looked good in SPECTRE, his fourth Bond movie, but his next Bond outing, Bond 25, won't come out until 2019, when Craig turns 51. There's rumors Craig even signed up for Bond 26, which wouldn't come out (best-case scenario) until he's 53- the same age as flabby and over-the-hill Bond from Never Say Never Again.
Dr. No (1962) • 32

From Russia With Love (1963) • 33
Goldfinger (1964) • 34
Thunderball (1965) • 35
You Only Live Twice (1966) • 36
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) • 30
Diamonds Are Forever (1971) • 41
Live And Let Die (1973) • 46
The Man With The Golden Gun (1974) • 47
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) • 50
Moonraker (1979) • 52
For Your Eyes Only (1981) • 54
Octopussy (1983) • 56
Never Say Never Again (1983) • 53
View To A Kill (1985) • 58
The Living Daylights (1987) • 41
License To Kill (1989) • 43
Goldeneye (1995) • 42
The World Is Not Enough (1997) • 44
Tomorrow Never Dies (1999) • 46
Die Another Day (2002) • 49
Casino Royale (2006) • 38
Quantum of Solace (2008) • 40
Skyfall (2012) • 44
Spectre (2015) • 47
Bond 25 (2019) • 51*
Bond 26 (2021) • 53*

James Bond Series at the Brattle

These space jumpsuits would be unflattering in any color,
But mustard was a very popular color in the 1970s.
Moonraker, May 12 • It is impossible to watch this film with a straight face, especially the scenes which inspired Dr. Evil and his lair, his henchmen, their costumes, his frickin' laser...
Jaws' allegiance is swayed by his Frankenstein-like love for a busty, blond-braided geek with glasses (and enormous boobs) that he meets in Rio, and somehow is allowed to bring with him to Drax's space ark. It's a truly odd subplot. Google "Moonraker Dolly" to see for yourself.
Despite all its flaws, the exotic location shooting is breathtaking, especially the mountaintop views of Rio de Janeiro. The Venice scenes are impressive too. I wonder how many bribes were paid to allow a big movie production to race motorboats down the canals?
From Russia With Love, May 19 • From worst to first: one of my favorite Bond films, including my favorite villain, Robert Shaw as "Red" Grant, and a tremendous fight scene in a sleeper cabin on a train.
2012 Update: I now own this movie on DVD. Here are some Facebook comments I made while rewatching:
  • Why does Bond always check his hotel room so carefully for the bugs? He never does any business in his room... Well, not that kind of business.
  • Belly dancing does nothing for me, but two Gypsy women in a "blood feud" over a man, rolling around and strangling each other? Hubba Hubba!
  • During the melee at the Gypsy camp, Bond's Turkish ally Kerim gets shot in the arm. The actor grabs his arm and smears bright red fake blood on his jacket sleeve. This is not how gunshot wounds work-- the bullet makes a hole in the jacket, then the shirt, then the arm, then the blood comes out of the arm, etc, etc. This is almost as fake as those Westerns where a cowboy gets shot and flies backwards through the saloon window like he's been launched from a trampoline.
Kerim's suit won't survive the night, but Bond will check
"threesome" off his bucket list before dawn.
  • I'm pretty sure Bond resolved the Gypsy blood feud with a threesome.
  • Back in Bond's hotel room, he hears a noise from the bedroom while drawing a bath. Bond leaves the water running, and discovers his Russian contact naked in his bed! He better hurry if he's going to avoid flooding the whole suite..
  • If the Soviet Lektor decoder is so valuable, why is it so portable? It's got a nifty carrying case. Couldn't they bolt it to the desk, or is it like those laptop docking stations that lock: why use a laptop if you can't take it with you?
"We'll have to make this quick.
I left the bathwater running."

  • Great fight scene with Bond and Red Grant in the train. Followed by mildly silly helicopter chase, then a improbable speedboat chase.
  • Despite some clumsy and antiquated special effects, the staging and camerawork in this movie is mostly clever and sharp. One scene where Bond meets his spy contact on the train station platform, while Red Grant trails behind him from inside the train, is simply inspired.

May 9, 2003

Raiders of the Lost Ark

raidersStill one of my Top Ten All-Time. (Brattle Theater)