December 6, 2006

Gazebo. Arcane Gazebo. [Open Thread]

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at December 6, 2006 3:10 PM

I meant to post this, like, a week ago. This may be the first December where my posting frequency goes up when I go on vacation. Anyway, I'm going to overuse the 4 rating again in this set of reviews.

Happy Feet: There is no truth whatsoever to the vicious rumor that I saw Happy Feet.

Casino Royale: By now, unless you've been living under a rock, you will have heard reports that this new start for the Bond franchise is really good. And I agree—not just a great Bond movie, but a great spy movie in general. It's gritty and a big step away from the excesses of the Pierce Brosnan films. Casino Royale is a sort of Bond origin-story, which begins with his earning the 007 rank, and shows how he developed into the character we're familiar with. Daniel Craig does a great job playing this unpolished Bond—later we were debating in lab the merits of the various Bond actors, and were only arguing over the #3 slot after an easy consensus on Connery and Craig as the two best. (The sentence "I like Timothy Dalton" was uttered without being intended as a Buffy reference.) Anyway, this is the best Bond film in years. My only complaint is that it is a bit too long, at nearly two and a half hours, but for most of this time it's pretty gripping. Rating: 4/5

Arrested Development - Season Three: On the other hand, my only complaint about this is that it's too short, because Fox canceled the show halfway through the season. This prompts the writers to step up the self-referential humor another notch, with embedded pleas to viewers and other networks to save the series, as well as digs at their competition (Desperate Housewives). Once again there are a few revelations that are foreshadowed in ways that make a second viewing rewarding. Although the second season is the show's peak, it ends on a very strong note. Rating: 4/5

The Decemberists: The Crane Wife: This could be the Decemberists' best album, at least the equal of Picaresque and maybe a little better. Although it doesn't have standout tracks on the level of "The Mariner's Revenge Song", it's much more coherent and has a more professional sound (maybe the result of their move to a major label). There are a couple of epic tracks: "The Island", which has some really excellent sections during its 12 minute extent, and "The Crane Wife 1 & 2", which is fairly good all the way through. I find that I prefer some of the shorter tracks, though: "O Valencia!" is especially good, as well as the final track "Sons and Daughters" which is a little brighter than the others. A stream of the former track, along with "Summersong", is available on their website. Rating: 4/5

Tags: Movies, Music, Open Thread, Television

At the risk of being overly geeky, I believe the convention is to not rank Bond actors until they have appeared in at least two movies. Otherwise how do you deal with Lazenby? Dalton still gets screwed, even so, since both of his movies were relatively bad. Since Craig is (presumably) under contract for a few more, I suppose it's fair to give him a provisional #2 slot pending future performance.

Posted by: Justin | December 6, 2006 3:40 PM

Somebody brought up Lazenby in our discussion but nobody had seen On Her Majesty's Secret Service. I agree it is somewhat problematic for to disentangle the strength of the Bond actor from the strength of the rest of the movie when N=1.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | December 6, 2006 4:29 PM

*gasp* Nobody had seen OHMSS?!?! Heresy, I tell you! Y'all have no business ranking anything Bond related until you've seen the best Bond movie of them all.

Posted by: Justin | December 6, 2006 5:08 PM

I would put Craig behind both Brosnan and Connery, and as I've mentioned, I prefer the excesses. (The new film was extremely good, but my general preference is toward less gritty.)

Happy Feet is ok but not great (though I did appreciate the reference to Mr. Mister). Flushed Away, on the other hand, is excellent!

Posted by: Mason | December 6, 2006 5:20 PM

Craig rocks. He is absolutely intense. He is the Bond for our time. That is my conclusion.

Posted by: JSpur | December 6, 2006 5:22 PM

Sorry, Justin, but no movie with a climactic bobsled chase earns the rank of best bond movie ever in my book. :-P

Posted by: Josh | December 6, 2006 5:49 PM

According to wikipedia, three movies are taken seriously as "best Bond movie"; OHMSS is one of them. From Russia With Love is a fine alternative which I would not quarrel with, and while Goldfinger is quite good the silliness is a bit much for me.

Posted by: Justin | December 6, 2006 6:23 PM

Happy Feet was a lot of fun! Laura and I both enjoyed it, and have reveled in it holding the top spot against Bond and all other comers for the last few weeks.

Go Happy Feet!

Posted by: Chris L-S | December 6, 2006 9:11 PM

The Bond movie rocked, but was too long for my bladder. I think Brosnan should get the #2 slot. He was a great Bond, but the movies had terrible writing. The writing in CR was much, much better. Characters actually developed, plots twisted, gags were funny, and there was actual suspense and emotion. My quibbles with it were that they dropped some Bond movie conventions. There were no women in the opening credits graphics! And the opening shot following the credits ALWAYS starts from the gun sight and opens up. For some reason, they did a wipe. The first fight scene was shocking in its grittiness and was almost the antithesis of what we expect from Bond.

Posted by: Jenny | December 7, 2006 9:46 AM

Yeah, they really made you feel it, didn't they?

Posted by: Lemming | December 7, 2006 11:05 AM

I missed the old-school opening credit graphics as well. Presumably, this was also dropped intentionally (and a particular incident involving a certain drink was dropped in a highly amusing manner).

Posted by: Mason | December 7, 2006 4:42 PM

I missed the old-style graphics and opening credits sequence too, but I certainly understand why they did it... Craig, and Bond as a character, hadn't really earned the right to say "Bond, James Bond" until he actually did say it, so I appreciate that they don't go though all the motions and keep with this hybrid-killer British Commander just learning his newfound identity.

Plus, the message that they're breaking the "franchised" nature of Bond and bringing back good old things like quality is a message that is loud and clear, and I think they drop many of the old Bond formulas to punctuate that as well. Daniel Craig: Bond Iconoclast.

Lemming: They really made you feel it, didn't they? "Well, don't worry. The second is easie-" *BLAM!* "Yes. Considerably."

Posted by: Josh | December 7, 2006 9:33 PM

I'm going to be contrarian here and say that I found the Casino Royale opening credits quite appealing, and didn't mind the departure from tradition.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | December 8, 2006 4:22 PM

Actually, I'm with you, AG. Though I missed the gunshot graphics, I kind of felt dirty seeing naked sillhouttes EVERY time I went into a bond movie. The style of the music video really did work for me.

I'm trying to remember how many naked girls Die Another Day had in their credits... I mainly remember torture sequences.

Posted by: Josh | December 8, 2006 5:58 PM
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