Friday’s Flicks

We have a new Bond film, yet another Richard Linklater effort (following this summer’s under-seen, deliciously obtuse A Scanner Darkly), a well-received animated feature and an under-the-radar comedy.

Opening films (click on grade to read review):

Casino Royale: B+

Fast Food Nation: C+

Happy Feet: B+

Let’s Go to Prison: Not screened for review

Flick of the Week: Casino Royale

I’ve never been much of Bond buff. The Connery films appeared before I was born. Roger Moore reminded me of a waiter. Timothy Dalton? I can’t even remember his contributions. Was he in the one with the Duran Duran song?

And Pierce Brosnan? He was a wuss. C’mon, I’m supposed to believe he can take out Michael Madsen? I bet pretty-boy Pierce couldn’t even beat me in an arm-wrestling match.

Don’t get me wrong: I like gadgets and girls as much as the next guy. Yet for some reason I’ve never been able to get geeked about the arrival of each new Bond film. (Well, besides the one with Famke Janssen.)

My knowledge of the early stuff is spotty at best, usually the result of my stumbling across one of those cable-TV Bond marathons. And the late-era efforts have done even less to perk my interest. (I didn’t even bother to see Die Another Day after they tried to sell me Denise Richards as scientist in 1999’s The World is Not Enough. Yeah, I know, they’re supposed to be cheeky. But a scientist!)

My first Bond memory is still my favorite: giggling on the playground with my grade-school friends at the title of 1983’s Octopussy, still one of cinema’s all-time ludicrous titles.

Well, it’s a new day — Daniel Craig’s Bond is a badass. Fresh off his Bond-esque warm-up in 2004’s Layer Cake, Craig brings a brooding intensity and a vulnerability that is all but absent in previous 007s. Yes, as Cole Smithey states in his review above, he’s the best Bond of the bunch.

And while Royale isn’t a complete success — its action sequences are a mixed bag, technically impressive but aesthetically disjointed from the rest of the film’s laconic nature — one thing has changed: I’m actually looking forward to the next installment.

— Jason Gargano

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