Quantum of Solace

quantumPut me down as a major fan of the James Bond reboot that started with 2006’s Casino Royale — the Bourne-ification of the series, if you will. The new film, Quantum of Solace, owes even more to the Jason Bourne series than the previous one, and you’ll get no complaints from me.

Gone are the invisible cars, jet packs and watches that double as machine guns. Gone, too, are villains with dastardly plans to cut the world in half from outer space with a laser or wipe out the planet’s human population with a virus. The new villains are in it simply for the money, and Bond battles them using simply his brawn and his wits.

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Rachel Getting Married

rachelI have an excellent track record with movies I’ve watched outside of Florida. On business trips the past two years I’ve seen the excellent trio of Once, I’m Not There and Pan’s Labyrinth. And while in Chicago for a wedding in 2006, Alex and I caught a late screening of The Devil Wears Prada, a wonderful surprise.

Well, the trend continues. On a trip last week to Washington D.C. for another friend’s wedding, Alex and I caught Jonathan Demme’s latest film, Rachel Getting Married, and it’s among the best films I’ve seen this year.

(Warning: Minor spoilers follow)

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Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Shortly after this movie ended, Alex said to me “That’s the first movie I’ve seen since I was a teenager that made me want to be a teenager again.”

I know exactly what she means. The film is smart without being pretentious, funny without being absurd and touching without being overly sentimental. Mostly it’s a good time spent with two of the most endearing young actors I’ve seen in years, and ultimately that’s what makes it a real success.

Set on a wild night in New York City, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist follows Michael Cera and Kat Dennings, two high school seniors with a shared love of indie music and, eventually, each other.

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Burn After Reading

Let me say right up front that I’ve never been able to properly digest a Coen Brothers movie after just one viewing. So anything I say about this one is probably just half of what I’ll think about it once I know it a little better. And I definitely look forward to knowing it better, so that says something right there.

Following their biggest commercial and critical success, the multiple Oscar-winning, violently bleak No Country For Old Men, the Coens have returned to another of their strengths, screwball comedy. But what struck me most about Burn After Reading is that it is as pessimistic about humanity — if not more so — than No Country.

(Minor spoilers follow, so read at your own risk)

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Tropic Thunder

Date: August 23, 2008
Location: AMC Sunset Place

Is there any actor out there on a better roll than Robert Downey Jr.? In the past three years he’s turned in extraordinary comedic (and dramatic) performances in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, A Scanner Darkly, Zodiac and Iron Man — four completely different films all made even more special through his presence. He brings an electricity to his roles that I don’t see matched by many actors working today.

Now, add Tropic Thunder to the list of Downey’s triumphs. As Kirk Lazarus, an Australian method actor who has his skin darkened to play a Black soldier in a Vietnam war film, Downey delivers gut-busting laughs while impressing with his chameleonic ability. If he’s passed up for a Best Supporting Actor nomination, it’ll be a crime.

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Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

Date: August 4, 2008
Location: Regal Sawgrass

Now this was a pleasant surprise!

Took the day off to spend some time with the kids before school starts back up and after some pool time and Ikea time (ok, that was more for Alex and me than for the kids) Sophia and I went to see Kit Kittredge.

I don’t know anything about these American Girl dolls or books. We saw a store once in Chicago and it sort of creeped me out to see all these girls dressed just like the dolls they were carrying. I figured it was some sort of Stepford situation.

But if they’re all like this movie, sign me up. It’s delightful, sweet, poignant and clever with a mystery plotline that kept me guessing throughout. It has a cornball appeal and girl-power message that totally won me over.

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The X-Files: I Want to Believe

Date: July 25
Location: Muvico Boynton Beach

I have no idea why any studio greenlit or released this movie, and I say that as a die-hard X-Files fan. We’re talking about a show that went off the air six years ago and probably should have gone off the air a couple years before that. Who on earth did they think was the audience for this movie? My wife and me and about 25 other people, based on box office returns.

But setting aside the mystery of its very existence, how is the movie itself?

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