Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'm Bi. Curious?, Dept.

Missed Skyfall in its blow-your-face-off IMAX incarnation, unfortunately.  But saw it.

I was influenced by surprisingly good press.  Usually, the 23rd film in a series isn't very good...oh wait, I can't generalize to all those other 20+-film megahit franchises that don't exist in the global market.

Daniel Craig is the anointed successor to Sean Connery.  The others may have their adherents.  I do not number myself amongst them.  And very much not of panto spy Roger Moore, whom I can no longer imagine going through his shtick without hearing "Yakety Sax" for soundtrack.

Skyfall hit all the marks.  Action.  Love.  Loss.  Locales.  Humor.  Molten love interest in the form of Bérénice Marlohe.  It moves the Big Story forward.  The Mission: Impossible series tries to do that too, but as I don't relate to Tom Cruise's characters as any more or less real than his public persona, it all takes on a kind of flatness for me.  His character (what's his surname? Falcon? Neutrino? Thrust?) had a wife or someone who died or lived but thinks he's dead? or knows he's alive?  I don't care.  At all.  I didn't even remember he was married or engaged or petting above the waist.  So, I'll consider his films not to have met their half of our brief contractual relationship.  At the end of The Empire Strikes Back, I pretty much carried away that Han was encased in carbonite, to offer one particular benchmark for mainstream film series to hit.

So, Skyfall.  I neglected to mention (on purpose!) the Villain.  And gratefully it's not Sociopathic Eurotrash or Ethnic Megalomaniac.  But a proper, unhinged bad guy with a backstory that folds neatly into the theology and none of the "threatens to flambé Canada with a laser scalpel from space" Mooreiana.  I know...the co(s)mic scale of the mid-period Bonds gave them a sort of Barbarella camp, but I like martini Bond rather than drink-that-looks-naked-without-at-least-one-paper-umbrella Bond.  Javier Bardem, blonde and fey (or as Entertainment Weekly had it, "sexually ambiguous,") is restrainedly over the top, moving the Bond Villain closer to a Heath Ledger Joker.  I do wonder what motivated the decision to have the character exhibit a bit more polymorphous perversity.  Bardem's character range is popularly defined by the gamut of macho running from Vicky Cristina Barcelona's irresistible lover to the brutality of his hired killer in No Country for Old Men.  By contrast, he appears to play on both teams here, melding the omnivorous lover and stone killer, in his critically and popularly well-received interpretation of Raoul Silva.

Shanghai has a dazzling turn in the film's mid-section.  It's so interesting to see it portrayed as this glittering exemplar of exotic modernity.  Your sobsister was there in the early-mid '90s, when it was just just beginning to shed its Mao-era skin and lay down the foundations for the transformation east of the city across the Huangpu River.  It was the summer that sunglasses and sidewalk ice cream shops seemed to be every where.  In Skyfall, it takes on a Blade Runner-ish LED gloss reflected on new buildings, new windows, new walls.

So, go.  Run like the wind if you've not seen it yet.  Escapist fare with some chew to it.  And a finale not in space or astride a volcano but in raw Northern countryside familiar to Bond.

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