Saturday, November 10, 2012

Skyfall and The Master


     Skyfall is no Casino Royale, but it's an enjoyable movie.  It pays homage to a lot of older Bond films.  One thing that I've really appreciated about the Daniel Craig Bond films is that they're trying new ways to tell the Bond story.  While Quantum of Solace with a Jason Bourne-feel didn't work too well, Skyfall does a great job incorporating and adapting classic Bond elements for a modern era.

     Craig as Bond is still as sullen, moody, and sarcastic as ever.  (It looks like our current Bond compared to the others is the best at drinking.)  He's a bit slicker in terms of his fighting compared to his brute force in Casino Royale.  This Bond is really at his best when he's exchanging quips with either M (Judi Dench) or some of his new associates.  I was afraid that for this movie, they'd revert Craig's Bond back to an extremely suave killer a la Pierce Brosnan's Bond, but Craig's Bond is still the same "rough instrument" from Casino Royale, howbeit he's feeling a bit older and outdated.

     Skyfall features a strong supporting cast.  Judi Dench as M is fantastic as always.  I've always enjoyed her relationship with Bond.  I almost wish that they had a chance to test it a bit more in this one.  Q (Ben Whishaw) and Eve (Naomie Harris) were also great new additions.  Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) is a bit stiff but he's not really given terribly much to do.  The same goes with Silva (Javier Bardem), the main villain, who has so much potential, especially after you just meet him.  Bardem does a fantastic job with Silva and I really wish they'd developed him more and made him more more prominent in the movie early on.

The Master 

     I saw this one a while ago and I'm still not quite sure what to make of this movie.  The Master is the latest from Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will be Blood).  The movie follows Naval veteran Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) as he meets Lancaster Dodd (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), a cult leader, and joins their cause.
    The best part of this movie was hands down Joaquin Phoenix.  Freddie Quell is just insane, wild, and off the rails- an id personified.  It was fascinating to watch him because you can't quite guess what crazy thing he was going to do next or what small thing will set him off.  I also liked that although this movie was known as "the cult movie," it didn't mock cults and really tried to show the movie from their perspectives.  They delve a little into cult tactics (but most of it is about the mentality) and it's engrossing and genuinely creepy, especially the eye color scene.  The cinematography is also gorgeous.  Landscapes seem to play a large role in Anderson's movies and The Master is no exception.  

    I have mixed feelings about this movie because it meanders, seemingly directionlessly.  The character development is fantastic but I'm not sure what any of it means in the end.  There are repeated words and phrases like Dodd claiming that he's sure he's met Quell before but we don't ever get a resolution on what he means.  I can see film critics getting excited about this movie and all of the Freudian implications and there are a lot in this film, but at the same time, each of the characters, especially Quell have memories grounded in reality that it's hard to reconcile that with the explanation that the three key characters in the movie (Quell, Dodd, and Dodd's wife played by Amy Adams) are supposed to be Freudian manifestations.  Anyhow, The Master is certainly an interesting movie but also extremely baffling.

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