This week at my new Radio New Zealand (sorry, RNZ) gig, we started posting some actual content.
First up we started our “Best of the web” feature, featuring links to interesting online articles about “what ‘cinematic’ means in relation to TV”, an essay about Spielberg and ‘fathers and sons’, and the origins of Del Toro’s Crimson Peak.
Then on Tuesday we posted our first video review: Cary Fukunaga’s new feature (made for Netflix), Beasts of No Nation.
It’s worth going to the actual page at RNZ because I add some extra links there but the video plays bigger here (at least until the RNZ redesign arrives).
On Wednesday, we learned of the death of critic Philip French and assembled links to some of the best articles about one of the greatest film critics ever.
On Friday, we posted our second video review: Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, starring Tom Hanks.
Again, there are some links to extras on the page itself.
And this afternoon, I put up our “Best of the week” featuring a couple of articles about Daniel Craig as Bond, Andrew Todd on Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession, just in time for Halloween, and a fascinating article on how to get silent film frame rates right in the digital age.
Sometimes this job can really suck all the enjoyment of the movies right out of you. After an extremely agreeable afternoon watching the new Bond film, Skyfall — and making plans to see it again quick-smart — I remembered that before the weekend was out I was going to have to pick holes in it for your entertainment.
And to be honest, I don’t really feel like it. Partly because it’s an extremely entertaining blockbuster popcorn movie, also because it walks the fine line between honouring and reinventing Bond’s 22 film mythology, but mainly because it often becomes a really good proper film with characters and drama and acting and that.
I really enjoyed Alexander Payne’s The Descendants — at least while I was watching it. Some films will do that to you, though. They push all sorts of groovy buttons while you are in the room but they diminish as you re-examine them. Connections that you thought were there turn out to be illusory, a series of satisfying emotional moments don’t cohere into something complete and you realise that you were enjoying it so much you wished it into something profound.
I blame Clooney. He’s such a watchable presence, always combining that Cary Grant movie star-ness with an underlying emotional frailty. His characters carry that square-jawed aspirational male solidity but rarely do they actually know what is going on or what to do. He specialises in people who are making it up as they go along and that has tremendous appeal — if George Clooney doesn’t know what he’s doing then none of us do.
Due to a parade of wonderful Film Festival screenings your correspondent was only able to get to one of this week’s new releases (and, thanks to the Empire’s failure to open on Sunday morning nearly didn’t make that one) so Glee: the 3D Concert Movie and rom-com Something Borrowed will have to wait until next week’s column. I’m sure you are breathless with anticipation. But this means that Cowboys & Aliens — Jon Favreau’s third comic book adaptation in a row after Iron Man 1 and 2 — gets the full review treatment. Does it deserve it? We shall see.
The scene is frontier New Mexico between the end of the Civil War and the arrival of the railroad. A tiny little town, built for a gold rush that never materialised, is only kept alive because of grumpy Harrison Ford’s cattle business. In the desert outskirts Daniel Craig wakes up with amnesia, a strange metal bracelet and an ability with unarmed combat that soon scores him a horse, a gun and a dog.
While filling in for Graeme Tuckett on Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon film slot last Thursday, I casually mentioned that Daniel Craig had been cast as journalist Mikael Blomkvist in David Fincher’s forthcoming remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. With the collapse of Sam Mendes’ new Bond picture, Mr Craig has a franchise-sized gap in his schedule and I think he’s ideal casting to play the craggy crusader (originated by Michael Nyqvist in the Swedish films and a six part television series).
Harry Sloan, a media entrepreneur who once made $200m when a Scandinavian broadcasting business he was managing was taken public, was brought in as chairman of the studio. Sloan set about the substance of his work with enthusiasm, but he was also noted for his quirky habits. He arranged his office in the MGM building according to feng-shui principles and kept a selection of crystals in the screening room to improve energy flows – he even had his office telephone number changed, replacing all the fours with eights, a lucky number in China.