"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Two Movies. (Updated)

Right now, I'd rather talk about them than about politics.

You may have guessed that I absolutely love movies, and devour them.

Since the disaster of November 6, I haven't felt like seeing anything until I finally went out and caught Skyfall (2012) Monday evening. I'll get back to it in a bit, but if you surmise from the fact that I've even mentioned it here, that I liked it a lot, then (in Yoda speak), "Be mighty correct you would!" :-)

I don't recall what was the last thing I saw before the election, but the best thing (about three weeks before) was Argo (2012).

What's it about?  In late 1979, when Iranian militants stormed and took over the American Embassy in Tehran, six Americans (seeing what was likely to happen), slipped out of one of the back doors and made their way to the Canadian Ambassador's residence where they were given refuge.

The CIA worked up a plan to get them out of the country by giving them false identities as a Canadian film crew scouting out exotic locations for a science-fiction movie named "Argo" (actually based on a real script that was never  produced).

Not at all far fetched; a few years prior George Lucas and company spent some time in Tunisia shooting desert scenes for this little thing called "Star Wars".

CIA operative Tony Mendez, who was a specialist at getting people out of very bad places, went in with the necessary (and false) documents and handled the operation.

Ben Affleck directed this, and played Mendez.

Sometime back, I posted Presence in which I tried to define the term with examples of what it was. In that post, I mentioned Affleck as an example of what it was not. Give it a look, Ok?. It's one I'm rather fond of.

After seeing "Argo", I updated the post, noting that it was time for me to stop picking on Affleck. He has greatly improved as an actor, and as a director he is absolutely first rate. This is his third directorial effort (after "Gone, Baby, Gone", and "The Town"). For a while this year, I considered "The Avengers" as the best movie of 2012, just for its pure entertainment value. I still love that movie, but I now consider "Argo" the best. If it's still showing in your town, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Ok, then. The title of this post is "Two Movies". So let's get on with "Skyfall".

This is the third time for Daniel Craig as James Bond, and was directed by Sam Mendes (who had worked with Craig before, in a Tom Hanks movie, Road to Perdition (2002), set during Prohibition in which Hanks is an enforcer (with a Tommy gun) working for mob boss Paul Newman. Craig played Newman's son, whose actions result in all out war between Hanks and Newman.)

In "Skyfall", MI-6, and especially M (played again by the wonderful Judi Dench) come under attack by a former MI-6 operative who feels that he was sacrificed by M, that this was a betrayal, and is just not going to get over it.

That operative is played by Javier Bardem, the killer in No Country for Old Men (2007), and he is something else as an adversary. I think I'm correct in using that term instead of villain, as his motive is vengeance, which he feels is entirely justified.

Everyone in "Skyfall" is first rate, but when Bardem shows up he makes the movie his own. Simply put, the man is mesmerizing. Should I ever expand my "Presence" post further, he would be a perfect addition.

Seeing how menacing he could be in "No Country" and "Skyfall", it's difficult to believe that, before "No Country", this Spaniard was mostly known for romantic comedies in Europe. When the script for "No Country" was submitted to him, he called the Coen brothers to say, "I can't drive. I speak bad English. And, I hate violence! Are you sure you've got the right guy?"

Maybe it was something that only the Coens could see, but they certainly had the right guy that time. As is also the case for "Skyfall".

After fifty years of 007, this latest is, if not the absolute best, is certainly damned near the top of the list.  Am I recommending it?

Do you really have to ask? :-)

Update - Thu, 13 Dec 2012 - The # 1 reason to check out "Skyfall" ...

Top photo from explore.bfi.org.uk, lower 
photo from bjjjicjalapicture.blogspot.com

Those two photos are of Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in "No Country for Old Men". Supposedly, his first reaction to the hair style he would wear for the film was, "Oh, Great! Now I wont get laid for months."

He was nominated for a best supporting actor Academy award for that role, and WON.

And now, here he is as Raoul Silva in "Skyfall" ...

The top photo of this pair is from weblogs.variety.com, and the lower 
(a behind the scenes picture of his character, obviously in disguise 
as that character is not on the side of the angels) is from ifc.com

I mentioned above his nomination and win of an Academy award for "No Country". Well, it could happen again. I've just read that he's been nominated for best supporting actor for this role. I wouldn't be terribly surprised if he wins this time too.

Update - Tue, 22 Jan 2012 - Well, HELL!!! - Don't recall just where I read of Bardem's nomination, but I've just now seen the Academy Awards list.  He has not been nominated this time.  Dammit!  He shoulda been!.  :(

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