Skyfall is the perfect film to accompany the 50th Anniversary of the first big screen Bond movie Dr. No. The movie is a crossroads for 007; the spy is an old soul with unconventional archaic methods struggling to exist in a high-tech world with enemies who swap laser beams and nukes for Internet viruses and data infiltration. This conflict is the core of Skyfall — perfect for director Sam Mendes (American Beauty Revolutionary Road) — and the human drama gives every moment of the espionage thriller additional weight. Sure there are the grandiose set pieces we've come to expect from the series. But like the older films Mendes keeps most of the action contained the focus always on star Daniel Craig as he evades and confronts danger. He even pushes further allowing the evildoers into MI-6's home and through the magic of performance the audience into the mind of Bond.
After a botched mission sends him off the grid James Bond returns to his homebase in London to discover the MI-6 in disarray. The target of system attacks seemingly designed to screw with M (Judi Dench) MI-6 calls upon a noticeably shaken (not stirred) Bond to get back on his feet and track down the nefarious face behind the online terrorism. While politico Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) would prefer to use the magic of computers and drones to dig up the bad guy M knows even Bond at 50% is unlike any machine in the world. A few training sessions and a weapon upgrade from Q (Ben Whishaw) later Bond hits the road.
In pure Bond fashion Skyfall traverses some beautiful landscapes. From China's glowing waterside gambling epicenter Macau to the remains of a South Pacific isle to the foggy country side of Scotland. Departing from action movie aesthetics and embracing shadows atmosphere and imperfection Bond's journey feels even more tangible than the "realistic" approach of Casino Royale. The haunting locations reflect his deeply personal mission. It helps too that Bond is faced by one of his best villains yet: Javier Bardem as the charming psychopathic Raul Silva. Silva acts as another mirror for Bond albeit a version completely off the rails. Like a mix of Hannibal Lecter and Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight Silva is determined to burn his opponents in any fashion possible. Bardem plays it all with a sinister smirk — a twist on the maniacally-laughing Bond villains of yesteryear.
Skyfall's concentration is on the dramatic but continuously delivers in the action department. Mendes finds innovative new ways to stage classic Bond moments; a one-shot fist fight in the windows of skyscraper bubbles over with intensity while another in the Chinese casino tips its hat to the campier side of the franchise. And the movie goes big with an opening sequence on par with any of Bond's past outings and a foot chase through London's Tube that tests Craig's limits as a physical performer. He never misses a beat.
Impressively Skyfall is a movie pulled from this moment in history while encompassing everything that made James Bond a long-lasting character. It's one of the best Bond entries of all time a heart-pounding action flick from start to finish (with a rousing conclusion evoking everything from Terence Young to Sam Peckinpah) and one of the best movies of the year.
Gunman James Holmes, 24, walked into a packed Aurora cinema shortly after the beginning of the venue's first screening of blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises and opened fire, killing 12 film fans and injuring 59 others.
Celebrities across the world have taken to blogs and websites to comment on the killing spree and now Captain America Evans, Motley Crue's Sixx and Kings of Leon star Followill have offered their thoughts.
Followill writes, "My thoughts & prayers go out to those affected... Such a senseless & cowardly act," while Sixx adds, "Breaks my heart hearing the news about the shooting's (sic) in Aurora, Colorado. My prayers and thoughts go out to the families and victims."
And actor Evans is still trying to understand why someone would want to kill innocent people watching a movie: "what the hell is happening?? my heart is completely shattered. all of my thoughts and prayers are with the people of aurora."
Meanwhile, The Roots star Questlove takes aim at the parents of the baby caught up in the tragedy, tweeting, "Why was a 3 month old at a midnight premiere?"
Tributes to the victims have also been tweeted from Nicole 'Snooki' Polizzi, rockers Chris Daughtry and Hayley Williams, Janelle Monae, Russell Simmons and dance music star Moby, who asks, "what is wrong with us? too tragic and heartbreaking."
Actor-director-mogul Tyler Perry didn’t come to preside over a vast media empire by paying much heed to the tastes of critics. His 10 feature-film releases to date – churned out over an eight-year span – have drawn mostly jeers from reviewers with his Madea comedies starring Perry in drag as a tough-talking southern matriarch singled out for special scorn. His latest effort the romantic drama Good Deeds isn’t likely to change many minds but it’s not for lack of effort from co-star Thandie Newton whose performance a struggling single mother stands out amidst the film’s otherwise crudely wrought melodrama.
Trading his Madea getup for the less-familiar guise of a leading man Perry stars as Wesley Deeds the scion of a wealthy family and whose lofty expectations have begun to wear on him. Beneath his sheen of polished affluence exists a man who draws little satisfaction from running Deeds Inc. the software giant his father built and who tires of shouldering the demands of his overbearing mother (Phylicia Rashad) the burden of his bellicose and oft-intoxicated bother (Brian White) and the monotony of his loveless engagement to his similarly well-bred fiancé Natalie (Gabrielle Union).
Trapped in a stultifying routine seemingly mapped out for him at birth Wesley longs to escape his gilded prison and trek across Africa on a Harley digging wells with his college buddies. Seriously that’s his dream: digging wells on a Harley.
Situated firmly on the opposite end of the socio-economic spectrum is Lindsey (Newton). Left alone to provide for her daughter after the death of her soldier husband in Iraq she has little time for fanciful visions of Harley-riding and well-digging. She’s too busy trying in vain to make ends meet as a janitor at … you guessed it: Deeds Inc. Despite her lowly status Lindsey clings fiercely to her independence which places her in stark contrast to Wesley.
Fate all but demands that Wesley and Lindsey make a match but not before their respective plights are established – and re-established – over a prolonged and laborious set-up that drowns in tedious exposition. (The majority of the dialogue in Good Deeds is devoted to affirming the obvious.) The desperate nature of Lindsey’s situation in particular is driven home with wearisome repetition in scene after scene depicting her various indignities suffered at the hands of the System. Newton an actress of impressive range and dexterity brings dignity and pathos to a role that probably asks too much of her.
A more efficient filmmaker might have trimmed a half-hour from Good Deeds’ first half without compromising its story one iota but then again that would only hasten the descent into soap-opera hysterics that marks the film’s second half.
The potential exists in Good Deeds for a thoughtful examination of class divisions within the African-American community – a topic that Perry who rose from poverty to become Hollywood’s highest-paid entertainer is uniquely equipped to explore – but what we get instead is an overwrought hybrid of aristocratic melodrama and How Wesley Got His Groove Back.
An artless aesthetic and narrative inconsistencies attest to the hastiness of the film’s assembly. In one scene Natalie’s flamboyantly effeminate male friend (played inexplicably by comedian Jamie Kennedy) complains that she’s never even mentioned her fiancé let alone introduced them. Yet when he encounters Wesley in quite literally the next scene they appear as if longtime acquaintances. It’s a problem that could have been easily fixed by a quick re-shoot or two but I suspect Perry was already too preoccupied with work on The Marriage Counselor – arriving in theaters less than six months from now – to bother with them if he worried about the issue at all. And if he doesn’t care then why should we?
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Days ago, the worldwide search for an actress to play Lisbeth Salander, the punky protagonist at the center of Columbia Pictures adaptation of Steig Larsson's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (and two more films to follow) ended. Rooney Mara, a relatively unknown 24-year-old landed the coveted role and will undoubtedly be shot to fame quicker than a reality TV star. But what of Noomi Rapace, the relatively unknown 30-year-old Swedish actress who masterfully led the original adaptations of The Millennium Trilogy (The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest round out the series)?
Industry insiders are already dubbing Rapace as the next big thing in Hollywood, a town that loves to find talent abroad and bring them to mainstream American films. I liken her soon-to-be meteoric rise to the cases of Sam Worthington and Marion Cotillard. The Aussie could barely grab a decent gig in the States before James Cameron cast him as the lead in Avatar and now he's got enough work to keep him busy for the next few years. Cotillard, the French actress who became an over-night sensation with La Vie En Rose, went on to star in blockbuster films like Public Enemies and Inception. If these earlier examples prove anything, it's that a single role can can change the course of one's career and given Deadline's recent report, it looks like Rapace may be next in line to become an honored Hollywood Import.
Sources close to the actress claim that she has been pursued by nearly every studio in town to make her big Tinsel Town debut. Warner Brothers has approached her about working on Sherlock Holmes 2 and Paramount Pictures and director Brad Bird are actively pursuing her for Mission: Impossible IV. With offers like those coming in, I can't wait to see what kind of leading roles she's going to be offered in the near future.
But the love Rapace is feeling doesn't end with studio executives, she's got taste makers eating out of her hand as well. Director/producer Brett Ratner jumped at the chance just to meet her, while McG wants her to play the villain in his new action-comedy This Means War at 20th Century Fox. She also met with Brad Fischer for the Phoenix Pictures project The Last Voyage Of The Demeter, Jon Amiel on his latest (believed to be titled Masterwork), James McTeigue on The Raven and Tommy Wirkola on Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters.
Most significant though is the talk of Noomi getting an Oscar nomination for her work on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. The foreign film was a huge success overseas and has thrilled select American audiences who came out to see what all the fuss was about. Deadline's Nikki Finke has confirmed that Rapace does qualify for an Academy Award, as Music Box Films released director Niels Arden Oplev's Dragon Tattoo in a Los Angeles County theater for an awards run this past March, thus making Rapace's performance eligible. The company has also hired an Oscar publicist to promote Noomi for a Best Actress nomination.
Whether or not Noomi Rapace takes the stage at The Kodak Theater this February is anyone's guess, but what is a sure thing is that she has left her mark on both global cinema as the most authentic embodiment of Larsson's beloved character and on Hollywood's most powerful players as a talented and strong actress. I hope that she gets the chance to show American audiences what everyone is show business already sees: a hard worker capable of complete transformation and wonderful performances.