Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Spies and Samurai

I’m bored, so you’re getting an update. See how this works?

Finally saw The Last Samurai. It’s the same old broken record of a plot. A man who’s fallen on hard times becomes a stranger in a strange land, learns to appreciate his life again through their foreign customs, and yet, he is also able to teach them how to appreciate what they already have. Yawn. Plot oversimplifications aside, the movie is laden with historical gobbledygook, which I won’t bother going into detail. That’s what Wikipedia’s for. I will say this though, while you’re watching the movie, know that all of those infantrymen in uniforms are raised up from the peasant class. Sure they may be conscripts, but they’ve been given training, a wage, and a chance at the military glory and respect that been the monopoly of the samurai class for centuries. Guys from regular families who finally have an opportunity to match their social superiors. Remember that while you root for the samurai.

Still, the movie is pretty to look at, but that alone is not good enough for a viewer with a decent enough level of intelligence. Even the fight scenes are just kind of average. And Tom Cruise doesn’t die at the end of a bloody last stand? The ONE foreigner just HAPPENS to be the sole survivor? I call bullshit on this movie and need a Kurosawa film to wash the taste out of my mouth. Where’s The Seven Samurai when I need it?

So I guess that was the bad news. Now the good news. Casino Royale is easily the best Bond film in a LOOOOOONG time. I guess it’s a franchise reboot, which, given the previous movie, is probably for the best. Anyway, it starts out with Bond becoming a Double O agent and trying to track down Le Chiffre, a sort of banker for the underworld. Double cross upon double cross fills the flick, and its nice to see a the “building” of Bond into what he is. Its refreshing. He starts driving a POS Ford and earns an Aston Martin. Two actually. And then of course, he falls in love (with the loveable Eva Green), which, as anyone who’s ever seen On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, knows can not possibly end well.

The movie gets a little outlandish here and there, but its all much more believable than space stations with death lasers, guys with metal teeth and a bleached blond Christopher Walken. All everyone’s after is a phenomenal amount of money. Again, refreshing.

And another wonderful little trick the movie does is give all of these dangerous and mysterious characters odd little characterizations. There’s a bomb maker with severe burn wounds all over and the agility of a spider monkey, Le Chiffre has a scarred eye that bleeds blood. We’re never told how he got it. Its not important. It just adds layers to the character, but isn’t important to the plot. Awesome.

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