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Bardem Mayhem

A few weeks before Skyfall was released I bought the complete James Bond series on Blu Ray, which is by far one of the coolest packaged box sets yet – sleek and slim, with handsome slipcases for each individual disc laid in chronological order corresponding with a picture of each movie’s associated Bond Girl. With a space cleverly left empty for this upcoming movie, I noticed that there was no accompanying picture alongside the slot which made me wonder…only to soon realize after seeing Skyfall that the Bond Girl this time around is not the usual sexy, no name actress, but the frumpy lame dame Judi Dench! Of course Bond didn’t shag her, but who would’ve guessed he had a mommy complex?

Then again, there was a lot of Bond’s character and childhood revealed, along with introductions to Miss. Moneypenny and Q, that set this movie apart from the majority of others – and in turn makes it uniquely better. Of course it helps to have top-notch director Sam Mendes, and an artist like Roger Deakins as the DP to shoot stunning silhouettes in Shanghai and combat scenes through ice, water, and fire – unlike the usual hacks that they hire.

While Daniel Craig stunts are impressive the most outlandish feat is how he runs so fast in those flat shoes – jumping atop from one train car to the next.

But it’s the cat and mouse game between Bond and the villainous and flirtatious Javier Bardem that is really impressive – combining his charm from Vicky Christina Barcelona with a hair cut that rivals his No Country for Old Men, with the worst bite since Jaws.

Though with the technology and foresight to hack, relocate, and destroy British Secret Service I was hoping to see a subterranean lair made up in Lex Luthor fashion too.

Other than the minor foible of a weak opening credit montage and a 143-minute running time that put 2nd place Nobel Peace Blogging Award winner James Franco to sleep, I was wide awake in this long days journey into night that fits the puzzle of the innocence lost like what Rosebud was for Kane as Skyfall is for Bond.

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Wicked Wit of the Grit

Usually I count the days in anticipation for the release of the latest Coen Bros’ film but since their first remake, Ladykillers, didn’t kill, this time around I was a bit dubious after seeing True Grit‘s too revealing trailer and cliche “wanted” font poster. But as it began I was immediately drawn in by the precocious 14yr old girl, Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) and her no nonsense determination to catch her Father’s killer to see him hang. But I felt like hanging myself when seeing how the Coen’s staged the typical western town without a speck of grime anywhere, (almost rivaling the Boardwalk Empire set) and DP Deakin’s clean, streaming pools of light.

(Fort Smith, Ark 1878)

The only redeeming aspect of the town scenes was Mattie’s bargaining with town businessman (the scene also read for their open auditions) and her witnessing a brutal yet comical hanging of three men – though local P.C. film critic, J. Hoberman, begs to differ.

“The Coens are still themselves. As one colleague remarked—unprompted—upon leaving the screening where True Grit was previewed for New York critics, “They always do something to make you hate them.” (In my case, the moment happened early on with a gag based on the hanging of a—dare one say—Native American.)”

Hey J, most of John Wayne’s movies portray Indians like shit and far worse, that’s one of the reasons why I’m not a fan of The Searchers. Though he does redeem himself in his review by citing the influence of Night Of The Hunter and it’s fable qualities he’s still more of a pompous douche than I am, I mean just look at his top ten list! From the likes of Alice in Wonderland to Little Red Riding these fables and fairy tales capture the innocence and fears of a young girl’s coming of age and so does Coen Bros. treatment and approach to their western. The Coen’s foray into this genre is not exactly groundbreaking (unlike No Country for Old Men) but they do infuse it with their usual eccentric brand of humor while being faithful more to the novel than Wayne’s version.

The casts’ delivery of dialogue are perfectly paced, Bridges as a drunk washed up sheriff, with insight from The Dude’s, and Matt Damon an overly confident Texas Ranger, like Space Ranger, Buzz Lightyear. The only fault in the film’s casting is the 40 year old Mattie Ross, who appears to look like a 60 year old Agnes Moorehead rather than the young Hailee. I know the western frontier and a snake bite will age you but talk about a country bumpkin!

But this tiny blemish is nothing compared to the sappy soundtrack. Nevertheless the Coens continue their prolific output and again leave me wanting more.

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No doubt. God loves homos.

Doubt Meryl

Finally Oscar buzz proves itself worthy as the eagerly awaited Doubt opened this weekend. John Shanley succeeds in faithfully adapting his 2005 Pulitzer winner to the big screen almost verbatim with the divine helping hand from the Coen Bros’ DP, Roger Deakins, and as always – performances by Streep, Hoffman, and Amy Adams delivered.

 

Set in the tumultuous year of 1964 as the country deals with the aftermath of the JFK assassination, the civil rights and feminist movements, the escalation of the war in Vietnam, and the race to the moon, the second coming, (who would go on to be more popular than Jesus) The Beatles, were making their debut at the Ed Sullivan theatre while just a few miles away the Bronx St. Nicholas Church School also struggles to keep up with the times by accepting there first black student (Donald Miller). Dictated by principal/gate keeper, Sister Aloysius Beauvier, (Meryl Streep) whose name itself reflects a Dark Ages ball buster, is set in her old ways of defacto disciplinarian that pits bunched granny pantied nuns vs. students. But while Sister Aloysius tries to hold the reigns by putting the fear of God into every boy and girl and scrutinizing every gesture and flirtation, in contrast, young Sister James (Amy Adams) joins the fold of old cripples, bringing her innocent and amenable teachings. However it is the new Father Brendan Flynn (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) who challenges Sister Aloysius’ seemingly wicked ways with his compassionate, amiable progressive approach towards the impressionable students by sermonizing subliminal messages of doubt and faith. But this cool Priest image is soon shattered as we discover that his real interest in relating to students may really be to show them the light where the sun don’t shine. Sister James raises suspicion as she reports to Sister Aloysius of Father Flynn’s particular interest in Donald Miller, whom he has called out of class for a personal head to head confession while sucking down wine and probably some kneeling in the pew.  Sister Aloysius with no solid proof except for her keen sense of sniffing out a perv plays mother hen as she sets out to bring down Father Flynn at all costs and to protect Donald Miller. But the real twist to this tale is that there is no doubt that Donald is a homo too! Go figure…

Doubt Streep & Adams

 Meryl adds a New Yawkish (hawkish) accent to her resume as her austere performance with a cold calculated comedic timing – keeping her the center of attention. Soft-spoken Amy Adams, who still finds enjoyment in Frosty the Snowman, plays a believable new naive teacher believing these constrained preteens’ only desire is to memorize Franklin D. quotes when really they are sneaking in ballpoint pens and suffering from self-induced bloody noses to escape. Phillip Seymour Hoffman appears to have finally showered since his last unkempt roles in Synedoche, New York, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, and The Savages, but still hasn’t found the time to trim his nails. Yet even with them clean claws to snatch up little boys he remains likeable, sympathetic, and idealistic.

Doubt Hoffman & Boys

Dirty HoffmanHoffman Dirty 2

But perhaps Doubt’s biggest surprise is the performance by Viola Davis as Donald’s mother. It would appear that all those Law & Order victims taught Davis a thing or two about crying on cue as she steals a scene from Streep with a supporting actress nom by displaying drizzling snot as she fights for her son to stay in St. Nicholas where his care under Father Flynn may be a bit too hands on but is less harmful than facing his Father’s fists at home. But for me personally, I’d rather be punched in the face than to be fist fucked. 

 Doubt Viola Davis

With the year coming to an end it looks as though Doubt will be taking home a few prizes leaving all us sinners condemned to hell for stealing some of God’s umpf by exposing his philandering Priests (and Michael Jack) and nose pickers yet again.

Hoffman Nose Picker

(Hoffman’s vice leading him to become a Priest)

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