dig my own hole

Casino RoyaleDown the road at the local store, we picked up a couple of DVDs from their rather sparse rental selection. Firstly we got Casino Royale. As someone who grew up watching Bond films, I haven’t had much interest in any of the movies since Moonraker, and I hadn’t much interest in seeing this one. The James Bond films are easily my favorite film franchise, but my only experience of the films since Roger Moore left is a viewing of Goldeneye, which I didn’t find particularly exciting. It didn’t occur to me to bother with this new Bond until the new film came out and I read that it picks up immediately after the conclusion of Casino Royale (this, the 2006 Casino Royale, not the atrocious parody from 1967) and, for some reason, I then decided that I should step back to the films. I came away from this one with a generally favorable feeling, though with some mixed opinions. If it would have just been a British Espionage/Action movie, I think it would have worked better for me. As a James Bond movie? I don’t know. I didn’t mind Daniel Craig, though I didn’t really think of the character as Bond (Sean Connery will always be Bond, Craig was acceptable as a fugazi, but certainly not the real thing) as the character was somewhat lifeless, but the movie was quite exciting… Though I spent a good deal of the running time wondering if anything of substance was ever going to appear. There are some exciting chase scenes and I thought that the chase through the construction site had some great twists and turns. Sure, highly improbable, but in a very entertaining fashion. It also features a good death count and multiple Aston Martin’s (the classic Bond DB5 and seemingly the public unveiling of the new DBS) .

Aside from all of that? Casino Royale is the early story of James Bond, starting before he receives his “00”. This Bond is quite brutally violent and he gets in a bit of trouble when a killing of his is photographed. Ordered (by, um, Judi Dench) to take a vacation, he continues a crusade to follow the trail of terrorist money through a string of villains. Featuring exotic locations, car chases, explosions, double-crossings, fancy things (cars, houses, yachts, ladies) and a very high roller poker match that dominates the middle of the film… All the goodies are here. The only part that really snoozed me was that is has It has a very un-bond romance storyline which takes way too much of the film for my liking. But excepting for that, I did find it to be a nicely serious and grim film. Maybe if I watch the new one, I will become more accepting of Criag as Bond and Judi Dench as M?

State and MainWe also rented State and Main. It was a comedy about a film crew coming to Waterford Vermont to make a film. Now, as the town line of Waterford is a couple of hundred feet up the road from our house, and we just drove through the “largest” of the two villages in Waterford last week, I was very curious what they would put in, as the village is one street with about three buildings that aren’t houses. It was quite shocking to see what appeared on the screen. A full-on town! Sidewalks, streets, intersections, all sorts of businesses! Nothing at all like what Waterford is like. If they were intent on filming a movie in Massachusetts about a town in Vermont, couldn’t they have at least made up a fake town? Biddleford, Vermont? St Waterford, Vermont? I know that movies are frequently filmed places other then where they say that take place, but something that obvious to anyone who knows the town is a bit hard to swallow.

Anyway, the movie is rather forgettable, though entertaining enough. A film crew of Hollywood jerkies comes to town (after being kicked out of a town in New Hampshire) to make a film called The Old Mill. Of course, this town has no Old Mill and that’s just the beginning! We proceed to get all sorts of knee-slapping incidents with the locals, romance and even some illicit behavior! It’s pretty flat, but it has some funny moments and there is quite a cast: William H Macy (the beleaguered director), Phillip Seymour Hoffman (the screenwriter), Alec Baldwin (the pedophile movie star), Sarah Jessica Parker (the starlet with a conscience), Charles Durning (the town mayor)… Even Jonathan Katz makes an appearance. And the cast do a pretty good job. State and Main is a very light-hearted movie, but not particularly memorable… Not at all what I would expect from David Mamet, who wrote and directed it.

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