Misc + QuikReviews: No Time to Die, Oblivion

The area my parents are from has an industry based on three things: cows, chickens, and flea markets. That being said, it does pay to patiently check all the bookshelves when you browse your way through:

  • The Conquest of Mexico – Bernal Diaz del Castillo
  • The Horse and His Boy – C. S. Lewis (apparently I’m assembling a Narnia collection piecemeal)
  • Hank the Cowdog: The Case of the Double Bumblebee Sting – E. Erickson (to be delivered to the homeschool group, which will ignore it because those kids are hopeless.)

We also watched:

  • Oblivion (2013) – For a non-scifi person, The Mother of Skaith is rather surprisingly good at picking out the influences of one movie and another.
    • “They stole that from Star Trek!”
    • “This is like that other movie! The one with Sean Bean and whats-his face!”
    • “Sandpeople!”
    • “When was this made?”
  • No Time to Die (2021) – I have several thoughts about this movie.
    • The Mother of Skaith had thoughts about this movie, too, and they are:
      • “I do not like him as James Bond! He is an ugly person!”
      • “That is not Q! That little student person is Q? Q should be a distinguished figure.”
      • “What! James Bond does not have a child! That is not Bond.”
        “He probably has multiple kids, you know.”
        “James Bond does not have kids.”
    • Anyhow, this isn’t a very good James Bond movie. It’s an okayish “grizzled ex-spy gets pulled in for One Last Job” movie, but that still leaves it with some fundamental structural problems.
    • It’s aimed at a female audience. Female audiences are interested in things like feelings, emotional speeches, characters making emotional connections with each other, and families. They aren’t interested in things like: spycraft, cars, motorcycles, helicopters, gunfights (loud), tactical weapony procedural stuff (boring), problem solving under pressure (scary!), or stuff blowing up (ugh, come on). That stuff is boring, and they like to skip past it as quickly as possible to get back to the good stuff.
      • Mind, having emotional connections and character growth in your movie is good stuff, don’t mistake. Fights do get boring when there aren’t any personal stakes involved–such as people that we care about being endangered….and we have to legitimately care about them. My personal favorite action scene in the movie is where Bond attempts to draw off pursuit from his love interest and daughter. Bond legitimately cares about these people, and so, consequently, do we.
      • Bond and Paloma taking a moment for drinks in the middle of a gunfight was also a nice classic-film-Bondish moment.
    • The fundamental structural problem with skipping to the good stuff is that the conflicts are set to “easy mode.” The climax of the movie is Bond trying to a) stop the bad guy, b) rescue his family. a) is pretty simple. b) should require some effort, as both love interest and kid are in separate places under guard. But easy mode kicks in and all three manage to wander into each other without having to think, plan, ask questions, or work towards it as a goal.
    • It does not integrate the required male-audience interest stuff well enough to make it a truly unisex viewing experience. If it had it would have been….quite a lot better. And it is possible, at least in my opinion.
      • Seven Swords (2005) is a wuxia movie that is extremely female-audience-oriented. It’s got handsome guys with long flowing hair; shirtless scenes; elaborate costumes; at least two love triangles, one of which is a not-too-bad-looking villain obsessively in love with one of the main characters and the other of which is star-crossed; the action scenes are pretty much all filmed from the POV of the female characters as per the director’s commentary; not to mention that there are multiple well-written, female characters to begin (and end) with. And there’s oodles of wuxia violence, sword fights, fist fights, sword fights with weird swords, fights with weird weapons, fights on horseback, fights upside down between walls, fights where everything is on fire….and so on. So it is possible. (Is a very good movie.)

I also watched:

  • Two Weeks Notice (2002) because I’m still recovering from sickness, OKAY
    • Hugh Grant is actually really good here, making his upper class twit character a charming, intelligent upper class twit. Sandra Bullock is also good; her part is rather obnoxiously written but she makes herself completely likable. Unfortunately, after the first fifteen minutes or so, the script loses headway and never really makes it back up.
    • Although
      “Do you know what other games I like?”
      “Strip chess.”
      “….that is also a good game.”
      was pretty funny.

Cattleman’s Gun Watchlist

the-violent-men-1955The Violent Men – 1955 – Glenn Ford, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson. Also starring: Oh, that was Brian Keith? Ha, wow.

Glenn Ford plays a reluctant warrior hero–reluctant probably because he’s really damned efficient at killing. Edward G. Robinson (ironically, since he is quite short) plays the Big Cattleman who wants More Land and whom everybody hates, but who is actually a somewhat honorable and kind of likeable guy in the end. Brian Keith plays his no-good brother. Barbara Stanwyck plays his wife, playing her noir-type femme fatale in a Western setting, and boy is she one bad customer to go up against. Richard Jaekel is the Rakish Punk Gunman who gets what’s coming to him in one of the most satisfying scenes of the movie.

So I actually quite liked Robinson’s character, partly because it’s clear that he’s somewhat of an ineffectual villain to begin with–he got stopped cold at his expansionistic efforts twelve years before and lost both his legs–and because he’s also, in his own way, an honest man. He’s a bully and he likes to throw his weight around, but he’ll respect the man who does stand up to him; and he also has no part in outright murders–that’s Stanwyck & Keith’s doing, who are also running rings around him. It’s the critical consensus that Robinson was miscast, but I think he brings the right amount of ham and pathos to the role. There’s a scene with his daughter after the nearly-fatal house fire that is genuinely heartwrenching.

Ford is also really damn good in the role, and the slow reveal of the real reason he’s so wary of getting pulled into a(nother) war is really well done. And the final duel-in-the-sun with Brian Keith–the soldier versus the gunslinger–is unlike any other I’ve seen.
That said, the ending was kind of abrupt and the peacenik daughter’s moralizing speeches were unconvincing.

Rated: I’m going to show it to my mother.

Stranger on the Run – 1967
This is a solid, if late-era, Western. A man comes into town…and gets into a load of trouble just by trying to find his friend’s sister and give her a hand. See, the railroad town is run by the railroad and the railroad runs the law as well. If you can call it “law”–it’s mostly just a collection of gunmen with nothing better to do. And bored gunmen tend to get into trouble. So their leader, in order to give them something to do, gives the stranger a running head start….
It’s okay, but not quite up to telling both of the stories it’s trying to. Dan Duryea’s old-timer who acts as mentor to the young fella and senior advisor to the leader, is the best role in the movie; none of the other roles are really bulked out enough to feel worth it. Meanwhile, Fonda’s character just flat-out isn’t all that interesting. Anne Baxter gives her all–and Anne Baxter has always been one of my favorite heroines, even with a ’60s hairdo and pancake makeup–but she, well, also isn’t all that compelling as a character. And the leader, who descends into killin’ madness and then barely manages to haul himself back out of it by the end, is neither charismatically portrayed nor compellingly written. So–there was an idea, and there was potential; it just all came to much less than ideally.

Rated: I’m not going to show it to my mother.

Live and Let Die – Waitaminute, this isn’t a western….
“Mister Leiter warned me there’d be times like this,” breathes the nubile young agent Bond is trying to seduce.
“Mmm?” murmurs Bond, seductively.
“When in doubt…cyanide pills.”
Also, the virgin priestess finding out that sex is in her future (Bond. James Bond. Hello?) and getting freaked out was kind of funny.
Otherwise, it’s a Bond flick.

Rated: This one’s got crocodiles in it, Mom….