The new Bond flick is 3 parts Awesome, 2 parts Senseless, 1 part Dumb. I liked it a lot.
Quantum of Solace owes more to the Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible movies than earlier Bond incarnations. It’s got chase scenes that’ll make your perineum tingle, and minimal dialogue for its star. It's also an unabashed sequel that picks up right where its predecessor ended.
And you’ll have to ignore some powerful stupidity to enjoy it. For example, here’s the implied backstory for an important, climactic setting:
Engineer: “Solar, duh!”
Hotelier: “Yeeeeah… I was thinking about something more luxurious, like explosive hydrogen canisters in every room.”
Engineer: “Ah. That makes more sense.”
Jon from the indispensible Adam Riff’s promotes this backstory: “Naw, it's cool if you abandon my corpse in a Bolivian dumpster. I don't care.”
Three questions that George Stephanopolous forgot to ask at Wednesday night's debate:
I spotted this multimedia collage across the street from the Mint. I call it 1944.
Christ, what was Pacino's last good movie? The Insider? I keep expecting Pacino and DeNiro to reunite for a movie adaptation of Falcon Crest or some Laser Cats thing.
John Edwards was phenomenal on Colbert last night. Jet skis for everyone!
"It's the incorrect context, stupid."
OK, let's fix this once and for all. From Reuters this morning:
In 1992, Bill Clinton used the phrase "it's the economy, stupid" to win the White House amid a recession. Sixteen years later, his wife Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are fighting for the Democratic presidential nomination by promising relief from more hard times.
No no no no no. I'm going to kill myself if I ever read this again.
"It's the economy, stupid" was not a Clinton campaign slogan. The phrase was one of James Carville's tenets for keeping the campaign on message, as seen in the documentary The War Room. Pinned to the wall was:
Change vs. more of the same
It's the economy, stupid
Don't forget healthcare
Here's how Carville would write those for the Hillary '08 campaign:
More of the same vs. more of the other same
It's my turn, assholes
Please forget Hillarycare
And for McCain:
Sunnis vs. Al Qaeda (what?)
Five years in captivity, stupid
Don't forget Bush hates me
Punks and Rockabillies vs. Emos. With violence. Mexico-style.
A picture of a package on the package? That's the Droste Effect, my friend.
And praise to you. Have a happy matzo-filled weekend.
Good Friday, to my Christian people. This is day when the Romans crucified Jesus, which is why Christians call it Good Friday. You know, like calling a bald guy "Curly" or a giant guy "Tiny." It's ironic fun.
That was today's religious lesson from a guy who's been to about eight Christian services in his lifetime.
One of those religious services was an Episcopalian Sunday in West-by-God Virginia, circa 1994. And my hosts to that service was a Republican family -- mom was running for Congress, while daughter (my college buddy) had been proudly flying the GOP flag on a sick-in-the-head campus that made Berkeley look like BYU. In some sense, I didn't blame this family for its Republicanism. In W.V., after all, the Democratic party is dominated by reformed KKKers, carpetbaggers, and corrupt mining barons. Hell, I'd be a Republican there.
But I raise this story, not just because the aforementioned college buddy has recently had the good taste to relocate to the Bay Area, but because she has decided to swallow the Bay experience whole and endorse Barack Obama, much to her own disbelief. Go, Rox, go.
If you get BBC America, thou shalt Tivo the Season 2 premiere of That Mitchell & Webb Look tonight. America's best TV critic profiled the show this morning, and I couldn't agree more. It's the cleverest sketch program since Mr. Show.
While not as brilliant an observation as, say, AdamRiff's official font of shitty comedies, you gotta love the Hollywood protocol of listing actors' names in contractual order, no matter how the promos or posters are designed.
Who knew Ellen Page could grow such an impressive mustache at her age?
Speaking of Ellen Page, people keep asking me what I thought of Juno. Well, I haven't wanted to see it. Because I saw Hard Candy. When you're grinding up a guy's nuts in the garbage disposal one minute, you don't just leap to heart-warming hipster ha-has the next.
And a happy Easter to everyone! This is the day when Christians commemorate Jesus coming back from the dead by... shit, something with a bunny and pink eggs and yellow marshmallows. I don't know. Hey, March Madness!
I'm sure I'm not the first person to notice this, but isn't Live Free or Die Hard a stupid title? I know it's a riff on New Hampshire's license plate, but:
1. As near as I can tell, the movie doesn't take place in New Hampshire -- although that would be pretty awesome. Yes, how about a terrorism movie that's not in NY, DC, Vegas, or California? Eh? Charlotte and Houston are looking pretty soft these days, for example. Just saying.
2. Shouldn't it be Live Free and Die Hard? Those are both very admirable actions to abide. The movie title seems to demand that we choose between liberty and life. Now that Will Smith ruined the pursuit of happyness, why should we kick aside one of our last two unalienable rights.
What kicks ass about America is that we live free and we die hard. The Economist gets it:
Bad ass, isn't it?
You see, we can gluttonously gorge on foreign goods purchased with easy credit, while all our primary survival skills are exported overseas to be forgotten. Our military can be overextended in a global clusterfunk. Our public health, our carbon-burning lifestyles, our popular culture can be so stagnant that our brains and bodies reveal nothing but sweaty flab. Our big questions can consist entirely of "Is science real?" and "Is he or is he not the father"? Our minds can be sedated with bullshit**. Our leading presidential candidates can be uniformly underqualified twats who have never run any organization more complex than the Yale Law Review.
But check the papers. We're still the Dapper Don of the world, and nothing gets done without us. OK, nothing gets done with or without us, but you get the idea.
Why is this so? Why will our precious idiocracy continue to pummel the rest of the world's wannabe powers? It's not just because God loves us most. We also sport a dynamic economy with liberal labor laws, a powerful work ethic (don't laugh until you spend five minutes looking at western Europe); the closest thing to an actual meritocracy by human standards; and the prospect of new leadership in a little more than 18 months.
In other words, America dies hard by living free(ly).
** This perfect phrase is from a lovely post by Rob of Demonbaby. I like his idea: Next time somebody asks you, "Did you hear what Paris Hilton did?" respond with "Do you know who your Senators are?"
We all love spam. If it weren't for spam, how would we have achieved this utopia of 11-inch wangs and universal penny stock prosperity?
But every now and then, a spam comes that transcends the missives from Nigerian royalty in exile.
Subject: Great way to stand up for Christmas
Special message from Concerned Friends For Christmas
The secularists and the media have once again ramped up their aggressive assault on Christmas. But even worse... The media and entertainment elites are trying to ignore the one effort from Hollywood in the past 50 years to bring the Christmas story to the theatres!
Of course, you already know about the War On Christmas, the silent assault being funded by an international cabal of Jewish financiers who hate Christianity.
The Nativity Story (now playing across the nation) marks the first time in 50 years that a Christian Bible story has been turned into a major motion picture by a major movie studio -- New Line Cinema (which gave us the Lord of the Rings trilogy).
...and also The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. Devout Christians, those New Liners.
This week, take a personal stand against the secularists and the media elite -- and more importantly, FOR the Christmas story -- by taking your family to see The Nativity Story. The Nativity Story represents a dramatic departure from Hollywood's usual despicable treatment of Bible-believing Christians.
Again -- those who want to strip any sign of Christmas from our communities do not want this movie to succeed. Please take your family to see The Nativity Story this week.
Concerned Friends For Christmas
Who are Concerned Friends for Christmas? Nobody.
And in case you can't make it to the multiplex this weekend, you can always stick it to the Hollywood Homosexua-cracy by answering the U.S. Taxpayer Census. Hint: This census reveals the shocking truth about the gay-loving AARP.
Speaking of international Jewish financiers trying to destroy America, George Soros demands you worship his villainous and stunningly-rendered visage in Freedom In Peril: Guarding the 2nd Amendment in the 21st Century, a graphic novel commissioned by the heroes at the National Rifle Association.
Also righteously demonized -- Michael Moore, Rosie, and the all-powerful Ray Nagin.
Dryel allows you to clean dry-clean-only clothes in your home dryer. And who could provide a theme song for such a powerful domestic consumer product? Go the Dryel website, and listen to the ad that starts running on the homepage. Hint: Sharif won't like it.
Word up to my man Dalton for his "Hello My Name Is" project. Brooklyn never looked so good.
The most important topics in the world this week:
Last night I watched Volume 1 of The Vice Guide to Travel, which is, as the magazine is, a dim survey of global realities with a deep, dark humorous wink. In a nutshell, hipsters travel to some of the world's most dangerous locales -- a drug-lord-funded street party in Rio's favelas (slums), an arms market in Pakistan's tribal area, and what's left of Chernobyl.
Some of it is astonishing -- especially the ease with which they find an atomic detonator for sale in Bulgaria -- but most of the segments are ultimately disappointing, with their brevity precluding any depth. And punchlines seem to be missing; on the occasions when the intrepid correspondents fail their quests, they don't try to make up for it with anything. They just give up and move on, and the segment credits roll. Blah.
But do check out the extras, including David Cross enjoying the Super Bowl in Shanghai. "Awesome! Once again, America wins the world football championship! USA! USA!"
Two weeks ago, I shared my fascination with Brittanie Mountz, our mayor's fresh new girlfriend. One commenter noted the inappropriateness of a late-30s bachelor scromping a college babe, but that just demonstrates a fundamental non-appreciation for the mindset of the newly divorced dude. So Gavin fixed his hair and poached a sorority sister. Good for him. Now he just needs a new Porsche for the trifecta.
Another commenter noted that "Brittanie Mountz" has the ring of a pseudonym an adult actress might proffer, which encouraged some astonishing responses, such as:
who ever said that thats a porn star name needs to go fuck them selves because i personally know her and thats real name and shes a nice person so whoever is talking crap needs to shut up.
...and this educational gem...
Whoever said her name sounds like a porn star name, is a complete retard, have you not noticed that porn star names are easy to spot cause they're made up.
Mags, there it is: You're a complete retard. Porn stars totally make up their names. I hope you can live with that fact.
A WaPo-ABC News poll reveals that 30% of Americans believe recently falling gasoline prices are due to pre-election political manipulation, while 35% believe they're due to changes in supply and demand.
Also, Bush stopped the hurricanes this year.
Two weeks ago I predicted, based entirely on their ad positioning, that Harold Ford would defeat Bob Corker for Bill Frist's seat in the US Senate. The race still looks too close to call, with all polls coming within the margin of error.
I also predicted that Joe Lieberman would play Israel to Ned Lamont's Lebanon, and that seems to be happening, with Joe-mentum consistently leading Lamont by two digits across multiple polls.
How do I keep up with this stuff? Two sites are super-handy:
Honestly, this is the most exciting mid-term season since '94. I'm all a-twitter. Baseball playoffs? Please.
I thought I'd seen the worst of moviegoing America when that irresponsible twat brought three small kids to a late-night showing of Pirates II. In all honesty, I didn't fear for the kids, I just felt pissed for the rest of us who had to feel like we were in some mommy's living room.
But it got topped. I went to see The Departed last Friday, same theater (Daly City Century 20). Sure, a few elements of the Barney crowd were scattered around the theater, but that didn't bother me as much as it did, say, the Huffington Post. Because before the movie, as we were waiting for them open our theater, we watched the crowd making its way into The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. We watched the 16-year-old girl dragging along her 10-year-old sister. We watched the young man lugging his toddler. And we watched the obese, twin Tongan security guards post up outside the theater door for no particular reason.
Really. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
First, let's get something undeniable out there: Miami Vice was a kick-ass television show. In 1984, Vice was like a bolt of lightning that revived a moribund cop genre. It was stylish, violent, multicultural, and morally corrupt, just like the chaotic city of its title. Granted, Don Johnson's stubble and pink t-shirts and white suits and shower scenes with Sheena Easton may seem ridiculous in the Oh-Six, but when you work so hard to be of-the-moment, you're going to have to look dorky and dated until the 20-year retro-nostalgia cycle completes.
Much has changed in Miami since Miami Vice, the series, collapsed under its own weight, but more has remained the same there, and 2006 seems like as good a time as any to reimagine the show. That's exactly what the show's executive producer Michael Mann decided to do.
Good news: Mann has eschewed the remake formula of recent years, which would have featured incessant mockery of the original and obligatory cameos by Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, and instead reinvented the franchise as a credible, exciting, mostly watchable crime/action movie. He gives Miami's marvelously seedy locations a starring role, spending more time in its ports, marinas, freeways, and trailer parks than the neon-lit clubs on South Beach.
Mixed news: This ain't a McG joint. Miami Vice is a Michael Mann movie through and through. Those who've seen even pieces of Ali, The Insider, Heat, or Collateral know exactly what that means: grainy, underexposed shots, claustrophobic close-ups, muffled lines, and chaotic pacing. Does that work for this type of movie? During a kidnapping scene, hell yeah. During an extended love scene in Havana, well... that's a great time to relieve yourself of your $4 Pepsi.
For all its flaws, Miami Vice is a good time at the movies. The crowd of KMEL contest winners didn't seem too impressed, so expect a big week-two dropoff after the killer opening. In the meantime, Seamus says check it out.
Overall grade: B