Showing 1 - 10 of 11 posts found matching keyword: james bond

6/2317. Time Bomb Y2K (2023)
This documentary has no commentary or interviews, just clips of footage taken from original sources as the world marched toward a potential disaster on January 1, 2000. The clip selection (perhaps out of necessity) tends towards typically overblown media sensationalism, and the end result is like leaving a cup of history out in the sun and reviewing it later after the sane parts had evaporated out. A history reduction! Its fever pitch doesn't quite match my memories of the era, but that would admittedly make for less entertaining television.

7/2318. This Place Rules (2022)
Another documentary of a different sort as journalist Andrew Callaghan records himself traveling around the country attending Trump rallies in the weeks leading to January 6, 2021. Unlike Jordan Klepper's similar pieces for The Daily Show, Callaghan's point of view isn't as obvious, sometimes seeming more empathetic and sometimes entirely apathetic. At times, this feels a bit like an art piece, and as with all things in Trump World, it's hard to ascertain how much is truth and how much is performative. If nothing else, it's an interesting artifact of its era.

8/2319. Thriller 40 (2023)
There are plenty of interviews in this documentary celebrating the 40th anniversary of the release of Michael Jackson's Thriller album. There's a lot of talk about how Thriller and the artistic genius behind it changed the world of music and entertainment for the better but very little discussion about the controversial legacy of Jackson himself. Maybe that's the way it should be; it just felt a little hollow looking backwards at what I (and all the interviewees) know to be in Jackson's future.

9/2320. The Liquidator (1965)
This spy action/comedy, with a theme performed by my favorite James Bond theme-songstress, Shirley Bassey, features Rod Taylor as a British secret agent with a license to kill... who hires other people to kill for him, which is a smaller part of the plot than you'd expect. In fact, the story is a bit of a meandering hot mess as it struggles to exploit a niche that other James Bond rip-offs hadn't yet. Honestly, I don't know that I would have made it all the way through if it wasn't for the prominent role of given to Jill St. John, my favorite Bond Girl.

Drink Coke! (The Liquidator)

Which is not to say that the movie is entirely stupid. It's hard to read in the image above, but "Refreshes you best" was indeed Coke's international slogan in 1959. Here is also cleverly serves here as a visual double entendre for the sexual proclivities of our hero, who works in a diner called the Bird Cage where he stalks attractive (and willing) young women -- a fact that is entirely relevant to the third act twist. Oh, well. They can't all be Diamonds Are Forever.

10/2321. The Tale of Zatoichi (1962)
The Internet tells me that the blind ronin Zatoichi was an incredibly popular action hero in Japan. I don't see why (no pun intended), but the film, the first of many for the character, isn't exactly bad as it is a little slow and dull. But maybe it was better than whatever else Japanese audiences were being offered in 1962. Maybe it took some time for Dr. No to cross the Pacific. (The fifth Bond film, Japanese-set You Only Live Twice, wouldn't arrive in theaters until 1967. By then, there had already been 14 Zatoichi films!)

More to come.

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If you don't watch TCM because you don't care for "old" movies, you're watching during the wrong hours. I saw most of these during the wee hours of Monday mornings in April during the TCM Imports programming.

59. (1713.) Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (1972)
Based on the critically acclaimed manga comics, I found the live action adventures to actually be better than the source material. Beware that there's a completely gratuitous semi-consensual rape scene (oddly used to demonstrate how honorable the protagonist is), but if that's the strangest thing you've ever seen in Japanese cinema, this might be your first Japanese movie.

62. (1716.) Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972)
Gotta love that title. The first movie is the origin story, but this one sets up the formula that the others will follow: wandering, wronged protagonist (and his infant son, Daigoro!) takes up odd jobs as stepping stones on the path to vengeance. The highlight here is the the establishment of the cub as an independent character worth cheering for.

64. (1718.) Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades (1972)
The climactic fight at the end of this episode is so over the top ridiculous that it rivals anything you might see in bigger budget American action blockbuster fare. "A rip-roaring good time!"

66. (1720.) Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril (1973)
Did I mention the gratuitous nudity earlier? They finally worked it into the story in this tale of a disgraced sword-mistress who uses her feminine charms (read: tits) to distract her opponents.

73. (1727.) Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (1973)
Maybe my favorite of the bunch. For one thing, it's beautiful. For another, the themes of honor and responsibility at the core of the series resonate strongly in separate tales for both father and son.

79. (1733.) Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell (1974)
If the James Bond influence was notable back in Baby Cart to Hades, it's written on the surface of this one as the baby cart becomes a Q Branch snowmobile to fight zombies. Not that this is all exactly bad, it just doesn't live up to the bar set by its immediate predecessor.

All six of these were very watchable, and I'd recommend without hesitation to fans of action movies or Tarantino films.

More to come.

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Most of the movies I've watched lately are reruns, by which I mean movies I've seen before. For example, TCM ran a month of Thursdays of James Bond movies, and I watched all of them. That's nearly two dozen movies I don't need to track here. However, I assure you that the following were indeed new to me.

160. (1599.) Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009)
Not counting Zombieland 2 (opening next weekend), I'm now just 2 movies away from seeing everything that Emma Stone has done. Not that I'm stalking her. That would be creepy. No. This is the opposite of that. Not creepy.

(How was the movie? Oh, fine enough, I guess. I didn't buy Matthew McConaughey as the lead love interest, but that's par for the course. I've never been a big McConaughey fan. Oh, the things I do for you, Miss Stone. Not creepy!)

161. (1600.) Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)
I remember the trailers for this from back in the day, especially the stained-glass knight. An offspring of its era — anyone else remember Young Indiana Jones and Young James Bond? — It's a fan-service movie for Sherlock Holmes lovers to show their kids. Not great.

162. (1601.) Shakes the Clown (1991)
Also not great, though mostly because of a lack of focus befitting the settings and characters. There is some genuine funny in this parody of a crime thriller, but not enough to justify sitting through the whole thing.

163. (1602.) A Scanner Darkly (2006)
I always say that there's no point to making an animated movie if you're not going to push the boundaries of "reality," and this film certainly does that. Too long, too much talking, too ambiguous in plot and point. I'm not disappointed that I finally saw it, but I wouldn't watch it again.

164. (1603.) The Happiest Millionaire (1967)
Walt Disney's last movie. The old man must have been slipping near the end, because this is terrible. It's like a remake of Mary Poppins with all the magic sucked out and replaced with the drudgery of wedding planning. Blech.

165. (1604.) Night People (1954)
A Cold War spy drama starring Gregory Peck. I found it engaging, but it's no James Bond. "Dry" might be the most generous description.

166. (1605.) Highly Dangerous (1950)
The unusual twist in this spy pulp fiction is that the newly recruited spy is *gasp* a woman. That's about all it has going for it. I'd say avoid if possible.

More to come.

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Spoiler warning: I like movies.

58. (1497.) Trafic (1971)
While not as charming as Tati's earlier works — a result of fewer characters and the more anonymous "modern" setting — his commentary on the transportation industry of the early 70s has plenty of well-earned chuckles.

60. (1499.) Happy Death Day (2017)
The only genre of horror film that I enjoy is the old-fashioned, gore-filled slasher flick, especially ones where the hero gets in the last licks. Happy Death Day delivers all that plus some great character development and romance (with an overt nod and wink to the classic Groundhog Day). It figures that it was written by an established comic book author. It's a lot of fun.

61. (1500.) The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
I remember reviewers panning this film for being a shallow example of style over substance. That's true. But there's plenty of room in the market for stylish spy movies in the mold of the Sean Connery James Bond films of the 60s. (Not coincidentally, Ian Fleming played a role in the creation of the original U.N.C.L.E. television series.) I liked it.

62. (1501.) It Started with a Kiss (1959)
The highlight of this silly romantic comedy is the prominence of the Lincoln Futura, the concept car that Chuck Barris would repaint into the 1966 Batmobile. Awesome to see it rolling through Europe.

63. (1502.) Sing (2016)
I thought this movie would be a crass exercise in corporate synergy, Universal using its movie arm to promote its music catalog... and I was right. It's okay, but ultimately hollow and unsatisfying bit of pop music fluff (especially because most songs are limited to short snippets).

66. (1505.) Lady Street Fighter (1981)
I watched this whole thing, and I can't tell you what it was all about. I can say that the title is very literal: some woman with a bad accent got into a lot of fights on streets. So bad it's good. Man, I love TCM Underground.

More to come.

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Movie watching has ground to a virtual halt since football season started. Only eight movies watched in September! Here are the first four.

122. (1181.) Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
This is the 21st-century equivalent of what the original 1960s James Bond films were: slick, fun, cool. There's a lot of violence and death happening here, but really no worse than watching an entire military base being gassed to death in Goldfinger. I admit I didn't care for it at first, but Colin Firth won me over with his take on a contemporary John Steed.

123. (1182.) Dead Man's Island (1996)
William Shatner calls his old flame Barbara Eden to his island retreat to solve his own murder! Which of the television-star studded cast is guilty? Was it Roddy McDowell? Or David Faustino? Or Potsy from Happy Days? Maybe I've read too many mystery novels, but I had this one solved quickly, giving me plenty of time to just enjoy how bad an actress Traci Lords was with her clothes on.

124. (1183.) Phantom Lady (1944)
Great noir. Really, really great. Ella Raines sparkles as the determined Girl Friday, and I will absolutely have to track down more of her movies.

125. (1184.) Of Unknown Origin (1983)
This is Peter Weller's first lead role in a film. It's terrible, but everyone has to start somewhere. Weller isn't the only rookie here. His wife is played by Shannon Tweed in her first film. And yes, she appears topless. That's how I knew it was Shannon Tweed.

More to come.

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Ok, so I've had a lot of time to watch movies in December. This batch is the second five (of fifteenish), and I'll have at least one more wrap up to go.

110. (1048.) The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)
Apparently, this weird romance/crime noir hybrid is best known as Kirk Douglas' first movie role. He plays a sniveling leech, not the sort of role he would become known for. I have to say, he was pretty damn good, even at the beginning of his career.

111. (1049.) Funeral in Berlin (1966)
This is the second of the Harry Palmer spy movies featuring Michael Caine. (Palmer is far more believable than James Bond. When the woman comes on to him, he realizes she has to be a plant. Because who would come on to him?) Of the three made in the 60s, I think this one is the best of the bunch, though it does make "British Intelligence" an oxymoron. (The Soviet plan is obvious almost as soon as Colonel Stok is introduced.)

112. (1050.) Billion Dollar Brain (1967)
The third and final theatrical Harry Palmer movie (there were two more made for television in the 1990s) is the weakest I've seen by far. It strays too far into James Bond territory with a ridiculous villain in his own army and hidden lair. With everyone behaving so bizarrely, I often found myself cheering for Colonel Stok, the loyal Soviet returning from Funeral in Berlin. (It wasn't his funeral.) This was not the right direction for this franchise.

113. (1051.) Quintet (1979)
I admit that I watched this because it was a Robert Altman sci-fi movie, and I wanted to see how his near religious devotion to film realism (and Paul Newman) would translate to a dystopian environment. Surprisingly, it was that realism that elevated this material above its Buck Rogers-style plot whose moral is "life sucks, don't play." Wow. Thanks for that.

114. (1052.) Head (1968)
I was charmed by this, the only feature film starring The Monkees. It's incredibly endearing to see them try so damn hard to bite the hands that created them. There's a lot of fun and insightful stuff here (proudly penned in part by Jack Nicholson (yes, that Jack Nicholson)), including great use of Coca-Cola product placement in a metaphor for the market forces that created The Monkees for mass market consumption. Sadly, because it's not paced well, long stretches of this film can be a bit of a dull watch. I recommend liberal use of the fast forward button.

Drink Coke! (Head)
Drink Coke; get Head.

More to come.

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Finishing out the list of movies from September:

82. (1020.) The Kremlin Letter (1970)
I really enjoyed this suspenseful spy thriller. It's far more le Carre than Ludlum. I have my doubts that real spying was ever like this, but it's still more believable than a Tom Clancy movie.

83. (1021.) The Million Dollar Duck (2016)
No matter what that title makes you think, this is a documentary about painting and stamp collecting. With ducks. It's shallow and won't teach you anything about craftsmanship or art appreciation, but I still enjoyed it.

84. (1022.) Skin Game (1971)
Let me sum up: con man James Garner travels through the American frontier selling escape artist Lou Gossett Jr. to gullible slave owners, a plan that works great until Ed Asner shows up and drags LGJr to a plantation in Texas. It obviously owes a debt to Garner's Maverick, though the archaic sexual politics and flippant treatment of slavery tends to drag this comedy of errors down.

85. (1023.) The Silencers (1966)
The only person who thought it would be a good idea to cast Dean Martin as James Bond must have been Dean Martin. He's too old for the action and doesn't play it serious enough to sell the jokey dialog. I'm sure the director was aiming for camp, a la television's Batman. It doesn't get there. (And if I thought the sexual politics of 1971 were bad... ugh.)

That's all the "new to me" movies I watched in September, but there's one more movie that deserves a mention.

The Player (1992)

I first saw The Player when it was released on video in 1992, and I loved it. But I haven't seen it in years, so I recorded it off TCM to see how it held up over time. (Some movies you once loved just aren't that great two decades later. I'm looking at you, Masters of the Universe.) Turns out it was even better than I remembered. Noir crime meets behind-the-scenes Hollywood meets meta-text, all with a stellar cast. Still a great film.

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Batch 2 of 2 for movies watched in January.

6. (944.) Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013)
The plot of this sequel dances around the moral conundrum inherent in the concept of processed food gaining sentience. Is it moral to eat a living thing? Cheeseburgers turned into spiders are our friends, but what about the cows that were slaughtered to make the cheeseburger? I don't mind moral messages in family movies — it's the American way — but I don't think you can make a movie that begs these sorts of questions without at least addressing them. This movie doesn't, and it felt like a cop out.

7. (945.) Starflight One (1983)
Network executive to Lee Majors: "We're making a movie about a super-sonic airplane that gets stuck in space: fuck science!" Whenever all of your characters have to act like idiots to progress your story, you've got a bad story.

8. (946.) Smile (1975)
This film depicts a bunch of people just trying to get through a week of life while holding a beauty contest. There's lots of comedy and drama, and most of the principals don't learn a damn thing. This is what life is really like.

9. (947.) The Ipcress File (1965)
This spy movie starring Micheal Caine uses visual style to great effect in spicing up what is otherwise a very un-glamorous spy thriller. I much prefer this sort of storytelling to what passes for spy action in the bloated corpse of the James Bond franchise.

10. (948.) A LEGO Brickumentary (2014)
LEGO didn't official produce this pro-LEGO documentary, but it might as well have. I don't mean to suggest that I'm anti-LEGO, but this felt more like a sales pitch than a celebration.

11. (949.) The Unholy Three (1925)
Three circus freaks band together to open a pet store with the intention of robbing jewelry from old men. The only problem I have with this silent film is the pacing: too many scenes of people "talking" in between cards telling us what they are saying. It was remade as a talkie a few years later, and I'd like to see if the addition of sound solved that problem.

12. (950.) The Green Berets (1968)
Wow! Let's all go fight the Viet Cong, those dirty bastards! I hadn't previously watched this because I'm opposed to war and don't really care for movies that glorify the experience, even if it is to stand up against those damn Commies. As pro-war as a movie can get, this really doesn't do real veterans any favors. I like the Duke, but I didn't like this.

More to come.

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Only 14 more movies to cover until we get through February. What can I say? The couch is comfy in the middle of winter.

29. (776.) The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)
A direct line can be drawn from this movie to a modern Adam Sandler comedy. Good comedy has to be unexpected. This is not good comedy.

30. (777.) Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
A cute movie about relationships and a tiny bit of science fiction. I liked it a lot, especially the way the ending made me think about what I had already seen. (I figured it could only end one of two ways, and it chose the "happy" path. That wasn't a bad decision.)

31. (778.) Morituri (1965)
There seem to be two Marlon Brandos. There's the brilliant actor of On the Waterfront and the scenery chewer of Mutiny on the Bounty, and it's not as quite easy to differentiate them as dividing them between early and late periods. I'm pleased to say this tense thriller and its strong anti-war message (though how many Hollywood features really glorify war, really) benefit from the good Brando.

32. (779.) The Sweet Ride (1968)
I'm not really sure why this movie was made. It's part mystery, part beach movie, part exploitation film. There's a lot of promise at its core about exploring the directionless youth half-heartedly embracing 1960s counter-culture, but it fails to deliver on any of that with weak cinematography and a general lack of focus that echoes the theme of its characters. Was that the point?

33. (780.) Hitchcock (2012)
There is no drama, artificial or otherwise, in this movie about the making of one of the best suspense thrillers ever made. Go watch Psycho instead.

34. (781.) Modesty Blaise (1966)
Wow. I dig the color and style of this attempt at a female James Bond, but I prefer my action movies to make a little more sense. (And for a movie with such a strong female lead character, how did Terence Stamp end up with all the best parts?)

35. (782.) Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
This movie seems to have a very pro-torture bias. If torture was really this effective, why did it take a decade to get Bin Laden?

More to come.

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With the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall, hitting theaters today, it seems that I'm being blasted from all sides by advertising for the film. Just last night, in addition to the expected television commercials, I saw new Bond Girl Naomie Harris on The Late Show with Craig Ferguson, a "James Bond" category on Jeopardy! in which some poor sap lost cash for calling the only George Lazenby Bond movie "In Her Majesty's Secret Service," and a discussion on Headline News about the "hottest" Bond Girl, Pussy Galore. I think that the anchors were enjoying their job way too much, as they seemed to be trying to see how many times they could say "pussy galore" on television and get away with it.

Boy, I sure will be glad when next week arrives, and we can replace all this Bond hype with Twilight hype. Sadly, I am only half kidding.

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To be continued...


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