Layer Cake is one of those films that everybody seems to have heard about after the fact. It was a modest, but largely underground hit when it was released in 2004. But producer Barbara Broccoli was among the people who saw it, and it gave her the idea for who could be the next James Bond. And so now it seems like everybody has heard of Layer Cake as “the film that got Daniel Craig the role of Bond.” Naturally, I had to check it out.
Layer Cake is a seedy little crime film with a fairly realistic tone. Daniel Craig plays the main character and narrator, a drug supplier who doesn’t think of himself as a dealer, but rather a businessman whose business is simply cocaine. It’s a testament to Craig’s performance that it didn’t even occur to me until the end of the film that we are never told his character’s name; he is simply identified as XXXX in the credits, but he has such a strength of presence that it never seems odd that nobody ever addresses him by name. XXXX has his business down to a science. He never deals with the end user, he only deals with parties who come highly recommended, and he doesn’t deal with irregular situations. He’s got a retirement plan already worked out, and is planning on taking it soon. But things are never that simple, and his boss, Jimmy Price (Kenneth Cranham), tasks him to find the missing daughter of his boss at the same time that XXXX has to deal with a particularly irregular deal, again at Price’s insistence. Continue reading →
It’s Friday morning, time for the Weekly Weblinks. Things kind of got away from me this week, and I’m considering some changes here, but that’s a discussion for another day. Today, we’ve got another batch of blog posts and a slew of news to read up on. There aren’t any new movie reviews in this week’s blog posts — I’m not even sure there are new movies out that people have had a chance to review yet — but there’s some great discussion on some classics. And in the news, the 1980s are being pillaged again for Hollywood’s idea machine. Or lack-of-ideas machine. So read on to see what it’s all about! Continue reading →
When I first saw the trailers for Batman Begins, I felt a mixture of anticipation and apprehension. I wanted a new Batman movie, one that would be true to the character as well as being a good movie overall. But there was a risk that a relaunch of the franchise would pander to the worst excesses of Tim Burton’s take on the character; it’s very easy to go overboard on the darkness and grimness with Batman, and the trailers for Batman Begins gave the impression it could happen again. And then the movie came out, and I loved it; it’s one of my favorite films.
When the trailers for The Dark Knight hit, I again felt that same mixture of emotions. Christopher Nolan had delivered a greater movie than I had anticipated before, but I knew from experience that sequels seldom held up to the original. And Heath Ledger didn’t look like what I think of when think of the Joker; in fact, his appearance would have fit in with the macabre and wretched appearance of the Penguin in Batman Returns. I had a legitimate concern that the sophomore effort for the franchise relaunch would fumble the ball. But Ledger turned out to be a fantastic Joker, and the movie was exceptionally good. It also would become one of my favorite films.
Four years later, and it’s 2012; trailers come out for The Dark Knight Rises. And again, the trailers seem a bit off, and don’t seem to generate excitement. (I know people were excited about The Dark Knight Rises, but my honest assessment is that the excitement existed independently of the trailers.) I had learned enough to not lose faith in Nolan, but I also knew it was still possible to flub the third act. And Bane has never been my favorite Bat-villain. But I shouldn’t have worried. Nolan has done it again. Continue reading →
Given the title of the film, it may be a bit ironic that I’ve been having a bit of trouble figuring out where to begin with my review of Inception. There’s a lot I feel like I want to cover, and yet at the same time, I don’t want to spoil anything for people who haven’t seen it. Director Christopher Nolan is known for producing some very cerebral films, and his 2010 effort is no exception. Just keeping track of everything that’s going on in Inception requires your brain to constantly be whirring along, taking note of everything and trying to figure out what’s coming next. Some films suffer when this happens, others aim for it and it can be a virtue; Inception falls into the second group.
Fortunately, it’s possible to discuss the basic premise without spoiling anything significant. Anybody who has seen any of the promotional materials, from posters to trailers, will have at least the notion that it has to do with entering dreams. The plot may be intricate, but the premise itself is fairly straightforward. Continue reading →