Monday, February 29, 2016

Movie Monday – The Hurt Locker (2008)






(Spoilers)

The movie follows Sergeant James who is a bomb disposal technician during the Iraq War.  Basically, his team shows up at a suspected improvised explosive device, James figures out how to disarm it, they go to the next one.

James is rather reckless, which causes some friction in his team.  Especially when, at James’ prodding, they go after a bomber instead of letting other troops do it.  This results in one of them being captured, and getting shot when the others rescue him. 

James finally finishes his tour and returns home to his wife and son.  But the rush of war and the need for skilled bomb technicians draws him back for another tour.

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I’ve never served in the military, but I do understand that a documentary made with actual war footage barely scratches the surface of what war is like.  And a fictional movie still needs movie elements, like a plot.  But war never goes from Plot Point A to Plot Point B and so on.  So you can either have as real as it can get war documentary, or you can have a war movie.  The Hurt Locker seems to try to go somewhere in the middle.  Because there aren’t that many plot points in it.  It’s more like a series of scenes, which kind of fits in with how in war you never know what’s going to happen day to day.  But there are also standard movie clich├ęs.  For example, at one point this officer goes with them to see how things really are.  As soon as that happens, you know he’s going to die.  Whenever he’s onscreen, you’re wondering when is it going to happen, and then you get to a point and you go, “Oh, there’s a bomb right there,” and then three seconds later, Boom. 

I know this is a Best Picture, but I’m not sure why.  I was really interested when it started, but then I got annoyed with the disjointed aspect of it.  And I know that’s supposed to fit in with “How war actually is,” but by the end I felt I would have rather watched a documentary about real bomb disposal people.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Movie Monday – Mr. Holmes (2015)



  


(Spoilers)

Mr. Holmes follows a retired, 93 year old Sherlock Holmes in 1947.  He lives in Sussex where he keeps bees.  He has a housekeeper named Mrs. Munro who has a clever son Roger who looks up to Sherlock.

Sherlock has returned from a trip to Hiroshima where he’s found a prickly ash, a plant that is supposed to help memory.  And Sherlock’s memory is failing.  There are several scenes where he has to write someone’s name on his cuff so he’ll know what to call them.  The reason he wants to help his memory, is that he saw a movie based on one of Watson’s stories of him, but Sherlock doesn’t remember the details.  It was his last case, and the reason he retired, but he can’t remember why.  He wants to get his memory working again so he can write down the real story, not Watson’s fiction.

With Roger’s prodding and perhaps some help from the prickly ash, Sherlock finally remembers the details.  A man came to him wanting to find out where his wife went all the time.  She had miscarried a couple of times and seemed rather depressed.  Sherlock follows her, and sees her taking actions that would lead one to think she is going to kill her husband.  But that isn’t the case.  Sherlock talks to her about being alone, she makes a pass, he turns her down, and she kills herself.  Sherlock is distraught at how he missed the obvious and retires.  Watson makes something up so it sounds like a normal case.

There is more to the movie than that.  There’s a story involving the guy Sherlock meets in Japan, a story about Roger and the bees, and tension with Mrs. Munro.  But the main story is Sherlock trying to remember his last case and making peace with all he’s lost.

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I am a fan of Sherlock Holmes.  On my Oneoveralpha’s Writings blog, I’m planning on writing up reviews for all the stories.  I’m writing a few of them up to give myself a good head start before starting to post them.  But they should start next month.  I also enjoy most of the TV and movie versions of the character.  So seeing a character known for mental acuity having to write names on his cuff so he remembers, is rather tough. 

An older Sherlock is something we don’t see that often, so it’s nice to see a movie with one.  However, one of the draws of Sherlock is seeing him solve many intriguing cases.  So Mr. Holmes is an interesting one-off, but I’d like to see a series with an aged Sherlock still working.  It would be fun fan fiction to see a Sherlock in his eighties hunting Nazi spies.  I’m sure something like that has been written, I may just have to look it up.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

007 Movie Rewatch – Dr. No (1962)



(This is a revised version of a Persona Paper post.)




(Spoilers)

Dr. No starts with the British Intelligence station in Jamaica going quiet. The chief and his secretary have been killed. James Bond is sent to investigate. Apparently, NASA rockets have been interfered with using radio signals that may be coming from the area and this may be connected to the killings.

Bond arrives in Jamaica and after a bit of misunderstanding, makes contact with Felix Leiter from the CIA. The station chief had been looking into a nearby island owned by the secretive Dr. No with the help of a local fisherman named Quarrel. The locals don’t like to go near the island because it’s guarded by a “dragon.”

Bond slips onto the island with Quarrel where they run into Honey Ryder, who is collecting shells. Quarrel is killed and Bond and Honey are captured. They are wined and dined by Dr. No. The reason he doesn’t just kill Bond is he thinks he might be convinced to join the evil group SPECTRE, but Bond turns him down.

Bond is locked up so that Dr. No can mess with another rocket. But Bond escapes and damages the reactor for Dr. No’s machine, and kills him. He and Honey then escape.

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In just about every video about James Bond, there is the scene of him sitting at a gaming table lighting a cigarette saying, “Bond, James Bond.” That’s his first appearance in this movie. There’s also M, and Miss Moneypenny, and Felix, and SPECTRE, so there are a lot of standard 007 things in this movie. But as someone who grew up watching the later movies – and most certainly not in the correct order – this doesn’t really feel like a Bond movie. Q shows up as “the armorer” who replaces Bond’s gun. That’s it, there are no cool gadgets. The only gadget Bond uses in the movie is a Geiger counter. It’s weird, but I like the newer Bond because it’s more realistic and less silly, but I like my classic Bond to be a tad silly. And there didn’t seem to be enough in this film.

Well, there isn’t enough of the good silly. There is one bad silly element – which is saying something when dealing with James Bond – and that’s the “dragon.” Both Quarrel and Honey talk about the dragon as if it’s real. But it’s just a tank with a flamethrower. Now, if this was set in the 1700’s, or they were from a Stone Age tribe from the Amazon, then maybe we could understand adults talking about a dragon. But for people who grew up post World War II, you would think they would recognize a tank with a flamethrower and a dragon paint job.

I’m not sure how this movie was viewed by someone in 1962. It obviously started a franchise, but to someone viewing it now it seems a tad … lackluster. Almost like they weren’t entirely sure where they were going with this Bond character. Which is odd because about ten novels were out when the movie came out, and Dr. No was the sixth one. Still, it is the first Bond movie, so I’d recommend it, just don’t expect to be overwhelmed by it.