March 24, 2013

Basic Cable Weekend Notes

Random observations, viewed blurrily through a fog of DayQuil while convalescing in front of basic cable and Amazon Prime Instant Video:
  • A series of cold war movies: (The Living Daylights, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, and Spies Like Us)
  • Good-guy turned bad guy Jeroen KrabbĂ© playing a Soviet double agent (Living Daylights) and a murderous doctor (The Fugitive)
  • Four James Bonds (Connery, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan).
  • Lots of amazing and expensive stunts, with planes, trains, cars, trucks, and boats
  • Oscar winner Helen Mirren and her impeccable Russian accent (2010)
  • Alan Cumming as an adorable computer "hacker" and his adequate Russian accent (Goldeneye)
Somehow Spies Like Us, a Hope/Crosby-style road movie starring Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd, was filmed at Pinewood Studios in England, and on location in Norway and Morocco? The locations look terrific, but isn't that expensive for a comedy filled with fart and boob jokes?
  • Sean Bean with a very believable scar (Goldeneye)
  • Brent Spiner with a very unbelievable android skull (Star Trek: First Contact)
  • Joe Don Baker playing a CIA operative who is NOT Felix Leiter (Goldeneye) and a insane weapons tycoon (Living Daylights)
  • In Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), Q lists the features of Bond's new BMW 7-series "Machine guns, rockets...and a GPS tracking system." But does it have Bluetooth? Backup camera?
Roy Scheider is terrific in 2010. The movie is full of hard sci-fi, Scheider brings a touch of humanity, helps ground the movie, and makes it believable, all at once.
It must have been a nice change of pace, especially for Helen Mirren, to make a movie like 2010, where she wore the same loose-fitting jumpsuit every single day of the production. She's the captain of the spaceship and she never even puts a space suit on!
  • A completely useless Bond Girl (Maryam d'Abo, Living Daylights)
  • A useful and competent Bond Girl (Izabella Scorupco, Goldeneye)
  • A Bond Girl more useful than Bond himself (Michelle Yeoh, Tomorrow Never Dies)
Two mid-1980s movies featuring Afghan "freedom fighters":
  • In The Living Daylights, Bond uses the Afghans to overrun a Soviet airbase
  • In Spies Like Us, Chase and Aykroyd try to fool some CIA spies posing as UN doctors in an Afghan encampment...I think they became the Taliban?
And who is that serving at the radar console in the Royal Navy in 1997? It's Lord Grantham in Tomorrow Never Dies!
The Lord does not know how to dress himself, but he can operate a radar console?
I saw 2010 in the theater - at the old Liberty Tree Mall two-plex, across from the Ground Round - or was it the Northshore Mall? I was very pleased to find the futurism was not embarrassing. Some of the computer graphics on the bridge of the Leonov were a little crude-looking, but the hardware all looked good. The props are good too- in one scene, Roy Scheider's character works on a laptop computer with a flat-panel screen. They used a Apple IIc with an LCD screen. Of course, the actual Apple IIc had to plug into an outlet, but it sure looks great as a "future computer"!

A lot of the plot hinges on orbits, and flight trajectories, and fuel supplies, air braking...the kind of celestial physics that every other sci fi movie ignores completely. In 2010, this stuff is the dramatic action!