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Have you ever wondered why some critics review films? They don't even seem to like movies that much from what they write. I LOVE movies, and think about them long after the last credits roll across the screen. My reviews are meant to inform, entertain and never have a spoiler.
Enjoy my reviews and please comment and come back frequently! Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Quantum of Solace

Quantum of Solace is the second of the James Bond films starring Daniel Craig. It picks up just after where Casino Royale left off, a crazy car chase underway. The automobiles careening around mountain curves and through tight tunnels does serve to capture the audience’s attention right from the outset, setting them on edge, but I personally found it rather boring, and a poor way to begin the film. Quantum of Solace is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sexual content. It was released in 2008.

I did some research while writing this review, and discovered there are purported to be 250 instances of violence in this film compared to just 105 in Dr. No. This is concerning, considering Quantum of Solace is the shortest of the Bond films. It was an overly violent movie, and I thought it to be without much substance in terms of a coherent story.

The action moves from Italy to England, Austria back to Italy, to Bolivia, and to Russia (although locations used for filming were Mexico, Panama, Chile, Italy, Austria and Wales). The screenplay was poorly written, the plot of the film was difficult to follow, and all in all, this film was generally disappointing.

The title Quantum of Solace refers to Bond’s seeking revenge for the killing of his lover Vesper, which occurred at the end of Casino Royale. Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko) is seeking revenge for her family who was murdered by Bolivian General Medrano (Joaquin Cosío) in order to overthrow the government and become President. Bond teams up with Camille. She is not a true Bond girl though, as they are not “romantically” involved.

In some respects, the main nefarious situation posed in this film is one that could well take place in our own times on planet Earth. The villain, Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), is scheming to hold Bolivia captive by controlling all the water to its people. I’ve heard water will be the next resource that is coveted by all nations, rationed, stolen, etc. if it hasn’t started to be already, just on a smaller scale. Greene and General Medrano are working together for their own ends, and their suspicions of each other’s motives are well placed. That part was believable. But I found Bond’s seeking revenge somewhat hollow. He cared for Vesper, even loved her, and still the emotion behind his seeking revenge seems weak, at least as for how it is acted out. Camille has more of a stake in her revenge fantasies than James does, and her motives are more transparent and real.

Save your time and skip this forgettable film. Go right to Skyfall, the next in the series and one I thoroughly enjoyed watching. My review of Skyfall will be posted next Tuesday. Did you see Quantum of Solace, and if you did, would you please leave me, as well as other readers, your opinion of the film in the comments section? Thanks for reading my review.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Casino Royale

My nephew assured me that Daniel Craig is every bit as good as Pierce Brosnan in the 007 Bond series of films. Given this recommendation, I decided to watch the four films Craig has starred in where he played the infamous secret agent.

The first, Casino Royale, was released in 2006. It is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violent action, a scene of torture, sexual content and nudity. In other words, a typical Bond film. Casino Royale was the first Bond novel published by Ian Fleming in 1952. This film thus begins at the place in the creator’s mind where the famous spy series began.

James Bond (Daniel Craig) is new to the job, and M (Judi Dench) is watching him closely, for performance issues you might say. The action takes us from Uganda to Madagascar to London to the Bahamas to Montenegro, all with the requisite unreal chase scenes and fight sequences where men take on superhuman qualities without the benefit of being superheroes. The lack of authenticity here in their not getting severely injured during their race on foot, fleeing or being chased, is really quite annoying. Such action is, however, typical for this type of film.

After leaving Madagascar, Bond ends up back in London for a tête-à-tête with M, briefly goes to the Bahamas, and then is sent to Montenegro to play poker in an attempt to win a small fortune from a banker, Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), who takes terrorists money and invests it for them. Bond’s contact for this setup is the beautiful and mysterious Vesper Lynd (Eva Green). Here is where this particular film gets boring for me. I don’t play poker and I have no interest in the game. In between playing poker, Bond is poisoned, nearly dies, fights off and kills some bad guys, and gets back to the game.

Vesper (where do they get these names?) coaches James in how to succeed at being a suave, cool guy with money to lose or win at the poker table. In the process, they fall in love. Our final travel excursion for the two is to Venice, city of water and inevitable decay. Has James met his match in Vesper? Did he save the day? And will M be impressed enough with him that he has a permanent job as a spy?

Some things have to be a mystery or you wouldn’t watch! What I liked about the film was the traveling to exotic locations. That’s part of the reason I like the Bourne films with Matt Damon. It’s kind of like a travelogue. What’s different between Bourne and Bond though is that one has a conscience and the other is a cold-blooded killer. If you’ve seen the Bourne films, the distinction should be obvious.

Do you agree with me on that point? Or not? I will watch and review the other three Daniel Craig 007 films and let you know how I liked them over the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Book Club

I had the good fortune to view Book Club at a special screening three days prior to its release to the general public. The theater was packed, not an empty seat, and from what I could see, the audience was mostly women of all ages. There were a few men, but the film’s trailers kind of screamed chick flick, and so it drew that type of crowd.

There was so much laughter during this 1 hour and 44 minute film that at times it was difficult to hear the dialogue. But we all knew what was going on! Four intelligent female friends started their first book club in the 1970’s beginning with reading Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying. Great choice (and a book I read way back then!). Now it is many years later and the four women who have remained friends continue to maintain their book club.

It appears that they have just finished reading Wild (you never really see the book, but how they talked about their latest read led to me to believe that was the one). It hadn’t gone over so well with them, and Vivian (Jane Fonda) brings four copies of the famous Fifty Shades of Grey for them to read next. Now these are grown women, successful in life and have, at one time or another, been in love. If you’ve read this trilogy by E. L. James, you know it’s not for everyone, and has some rather shocking elements to it which awakens the women shall we say.

Diane (Diane Keaton) is a recent widow with two cloying and overprotective daughters, Jill (Alicia Silverstone) and Adrianne (Katie Aselton). Vivian is a successful hotel entrepreneur. Sharon (Candice Bergen) is a federal judge, long divorced from Tom (Ed Begley, Jr.) whom she hasn’t quite gotten over. And Carol (Mary Steenburgen) is still married to her husband Bruce (Craig T. Nelson) of 35 years. All of these roles are brilliantly cast and they deliver their often witty and sarcastic dialogue splendidly.

An old flame in the person of Arthur (Don Johnson) shows up in Vivian’s life, rattling her independent, single woman status. Some of the funniest moments are between Carol and Bruce, whose long marriage could use a little bit of freshening up. When Sharon discovers that her ex-husband Tom is getting remarried, it sets her into dating again, and there are a couple of great scenes with her, Wallace Shawn and Richard Dreyfuss.

Diane meets Mitchell (Andy Garcia) while traveling by plane, and he is quickly attracted to her quirky persona. Thus begins a courtship that provides plenty of great moments. The settings for the entire film are exquisite; from Los Angeles to Scottsdale and Sedona, Arizona, we couldn’t ask for better scenery to feast our eyes upon.

Book Club is rated PG-13 for sex-related material throughout, and for language. I enjoyed this film so much, I will watch it again when I want some good laughs about friendship, love and romance, at any age.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018


One of the reasons I went to see the independent film Gemini was that it starred Lola Kirke. I was familiar with her acting as she plays Hailey Rutledge on the Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle. The series ran four seasons, and was not renewed for a fifth, which is a shame as it was one of the best shows on streaming I have seen in a long time. No violence, and an interesting story about a conductor and his symphony in New York City. If you haven’t seen it, you should. I appreciated Lola’s talents, and wanted to see how she’d do carrying a full-length film, a mystery/thriller so different from her role in Mozart in the Jungle. Gemini is rated R for pervasive language, and a violent image.

Jill LeBeau (Lola Kirke) is the personal assistant of celebrity Heather Anderson (Zoë Kravitz). Heather is burned out by everything in her life: her work, her fans, Los Angeles, and the sameness of her day-to-day existence. Jill keeps Heather safe while she goes out with her closest friends, and keeps her out of the line of fire of her ex, business associates and overzealous fans.

After partying one night with friend Tracy (Greta Lee), Heather retires to her unwelcoming and cold home accompanied by Jill. In the morning, Jill goes to her apartment to shower and change for the coming day’s appointments. Upon returning to Heather’s mansion, Jill finds her lying on the floor dead.

Detective Edward Ahn (John Cho) labels Jill a suspect, a development she finds distressing. In order to clear her name, she sets out on her own to find the people in Heather’s life who would like to see her dead.

The film has a noir quality, which works well. I really appreciated the acting done by the two main characters played expertly by Zoë Kravitz and Lola Kirke.  Both women’s faces are so expressive. They convey their feelings and deepest thoughts just through their facial expressions. No talking necessary. The role of Detective Ahn is not given a wide enough emphasis, but it’s a good role. Too bad John Cho didn’t have more to do, but Jill, who is determined to clear herself of any suspicion of the crime, spurs all the detective work on.

The encounter Jill has with filmmaker Greg (Nelson Franklin) amused me. He said if he were writing the story, referring to Heather’s death, he’d look for someone with motive, opportunity and capacity. Jill reminds him Heather’s death is not fiction. It’s a good encounter between the two of them and moves Jill’s amateur investigation along.

The film was written, directed and edited by Aaron Katz, and I really enjoyed this quiet mystery. The idea of setting the film within the world of a young celebrity inundated with responsibilities and pressures probably never imagined as she worked to get where she is today is a good one. You might still be able to see it at your local art cinema.