All posts by bryansnotlyin

Bright Star

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I’ve seen most of the musicals on Broadway from this past season and ‘Bright Star’ is a shining achievement. It closes on Sunday and I, for one, will miss it as a New York theatre option. I usually don’t write things like this, as we’ll just “pour one out” for a closing show on our theatre podcast, Broadwaysted. However, for ‘Bright Star,’ I felt the urge (need?) to say something more about this beautiful show. I’ve dedicated most of my life to the art form of musical theatre—acting, writing, etc. I can get snobby sometimes, I mean, I spell theatre with an ‘re,’ but when it comes down to it, I just want to sit in a theatre and be taken away somewhere. That’s why I’m writing this piece. ‘Bright Star’ genuinely took my heart somewhere that most shows haven’t recently had the ability to do.

‘Bright Star,’ without getting into plot detail, is essentially the story of how happiness can be restored from even from the darkest of moments. How can innocence be torn away from you and yet the magic of love stays ingrained in your soul, regardless of how your life turns out? What is love in its purest form? ‘Bright Star’ tells this story in its pre and post war North Carolina folk story setting. “Love let me lift this veil of darkness,” is a lyric in the show that rings truest to what the show conveys.

It’s elegant by being simple, showcased by the ‘Our Town’ sensibility. It’s a classic, golden age type of original show and Broadway needs these shows to couple withbright-star-21 “contemporary” musicals. ‘Bright Star’ elicits an aura of nostalgia for a place you’ve never been, while reminding you where you’ve come from. The songs are top-tappingly delightful and yet full of emotional power. The sounds of the banjo, fiddle, bass, and piano are built in the fabric of the show, as the band is onstage—a part of the action. The sounds add to the sense of nostalgia. It’s lovely.  On top of that, the book is extremely funny in only the way Steve Martin knows funny. Is the show perfect? No, not at all, but it has so much heart that the lack of perfection doesn’t matter in the slightest.

The plot is based on a true event and extremely predictable, but Steve Martin and Edie Brickell have written it that way. It’s explosively uplifting and earns every tear, laugh, and smile. There’s much to take away from ‘Bright Star’—thematically and emotionally, but what sums it up perfectly is the opening song of Act II, “Sun is Gonna Shine.” We’re currently living in a very tense, scary, and powder-keg of a time and quite frankly, it’s nice to see something so beautiful and happy. Everything is going to be okay, but we have to actively be searching for answers.

We semi-joke on Twitter that Carmen Cusack is a #nationaltreasure, but she really is, as Alice Murphy in this production. I don’t know if the show works as a whole without her 81076-3caliber of talent. Carmen Cusack shifts effortlessly (and believably) from adult to child and the versatility of her voice is unlike anything out in the world now. She nails every song on multiple levels. Her plethora of songs should be sung by different voice types, but  “If You Knew My Story,” “Way Back In The Day,” “Woah, Mama,” “Please, Don’t Take Him,” “I Had a Vision,” and “At Long Last” are all delivered with technical precision and emotional power of a true professional. I mean, “Woah, Mama,” sounds like a completely person on the recording, as she’s playing a younger version of herself. It’s amazing. Other actresses wish they had one of those songs in their own show. Cusack knocks each one out of the park. There’s so much detail and layering behind her belt and top and that’s not even taking her acting into account. She’s really putting herself through the wringer at every performance. She leaves everything out there in the house. It’s special. Her on stage vulnerability and emotional life radiates into the house, enveloping and penetrating the audience. I cannot wait to see her in future performances.

That being said, the talent on the stage around her is superb. The personalities of the performers ooze into this heartfelt musical. Nobody is going through the motions or “doing a job.” From Hannah Elless’ bookshop owner, Margo to AJ Shively’s Will and Paul Alexander Nolan’s Jimmy Ray (his songs and voice are emotionally piercing), every performance is infused with love, care, and humor; layered people in a folktale setting. “Asheville” and “Always Will” maybe two of the better musical numbers of this entire Broadway season. They’re sweet, kind, and full of hope, love, sadness, and the kind of 25BRIGHTSTAR-master675magic that only memories can provide. Expertly performed by Hannah Elless and AJ Shipley, the soft touch of the “rewind staging” in “Asheville” is extraordinarily effective.

I’ve seen it twice and I’m sad that it’s closing this Sunday. I believe ‘Bright Star’ would have had a realistic shot of winning Best Musical had this not been Hamilton’s season. Yet, in today’s Broadway musical landscape, I understand why it’s closing. ‘Bright Star’ is hard to market, other shows are flashier with bigger names, it’s not “important” like some of its great white way neighbors, and it doesn’t present that ‘wow’ factor that the average theatre goer is attracted to for their night out.  It’s quaint and lovely, but that’s all I want sometimes. We all need our heart strings plucked like the onstage banjo.

Do yourself a favor and make some time this week to see it. You can enter the lottery here before Sunday, but don’t take a chance. Go on Today Tix or the ‘Bright Star’ site and buy a $45 seat. My biggest regret, if I’m allowed to have one for a show I have no involvement in is that you probably didn’t see it at all. Bye, ‘Bright Star,’ thanks for coming to hang out, even if for just a moment.

Keep on Watchin’

-Bryan

Webseries Review: Beth and Charly

I think you all should watch ‘Beth and Charly’. No, but really. There are a ton of webseries out there, but ‘Beth and Charly’ is a well produced, excellently executed, fun six episodes.

Following the comeback attempt of former child star Charly (Shauna Goodgold) and her overwhelmed assistant/friend Beth (Elizabeth Seldin), ‘Beth and Charly’ is easy to consume at the just under 25-minute running time for all six episodes. Sure, you’ve seen this premise done before, but this series successfully dissects it on a smaller scale. And please, you know you just binge watched 13 episodes of ‘Kimmy Schmidt’ and ‘Jessica Jones’ and probably ‘SVU’ on USA, so you have time for this gem.

Goodgold and Seldin, who also wrote and produced the series, are a delight to watch. The easy chemistry and comic timing of the two quickly informs their backstory, which is so important in empathizing with characters in the limited time we spend with them. Goodgold’s quick, under her breath, quips coupled with Seldin’s seemingly apathetic reactions are a great one two punch. The guest spots from Jeremy Jordan (Supergirl/Newsies) and Andrew Chapplle (Hamilton) are a nice treat, but also don’t distract from the two girls as the main event.

Sure, all the jokes don’t land, but the charm of the stars allows for overlooking because when the humor does work, it’s belly laughingly good. It’s a great amount of fun packed into a manageable amount of binging with believable and interesting character arcs. (Sadly that’s missing from many webseries.)  When it comes to the internet, it’s the small, well done things infused with passion that can make your day. ‘Beth and Charly’ is one of them.

Above is the embedded first episode. You can find them all on BroadwayWorld.com. Take a watch. You’ll enjoy the hell out of it.

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

The Best Earth Day Movie Ever

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Happy Earth Day everybody!

I wanted to celebrate by watching one of my favorite Earth Day films: ‘Independence Day’.

“EARTH DAY MOVIE?!” you say. “You’re insane. It’s call ‘Independence Day’! It’s about independence. There’s a memorable speech!”

You’re wrong. It’s an Earth Day movie and the title is a misnomer.

Let’s break it down. Sure the movie takes place during the July 4th weekend, but it has nothing to do with alien colonization. It’s just a marketing scheme because the movie opened on July 4 weekend and made a ton of money. The movie aliens don’t want to enslave us and make us dependent on them like the movie producers wanted. Their goal is to destroy the humans and take the Earth’s natural resources. Devastate our Earth. Despite a chill inducing speech by Bill Pullman’s President about “our Independence Day,” it’s about about staving off a human holocaust and protecting the Earth. We won and celebrated. If that’s not an Earth Day movie, I don’t know what is…

And now, here’s the trailer for the sequel we don’t need and won’t be good.

Happy Earth Day! Keep On Watchin’

-Bryan

A BRYAN MOVIE HACK

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Want to see interesting movies for cheap? I have a solution. A Bryan Movie Hack, if you will.

You will? Great.

Recently, I’ve been catching movies that I might not have hunted out after missing them in theatres. It’s because of the iTunes ‘Movie of the Week’.

Each week, iTunes features a 99 cent, 30-day rental. You have 30 days to keep in in your queue, but only 24 hours when you activate it. It’s perfect, as the rental doesn’t break the bank, allows for viewing flexibility, and provides an eclectic selection from week to week.

The titles have been consistently interesting. I’ve enjoyed everything from ‘Mr. Holmes’, ‘Z Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 10.00.02 PMfor Zachariah’, and ‘The Walk’ to ‘Bone Tomahawk’ and ‘Attack the Block’. This week’s is ‘American Ultra’, which I plan to watch this weekend.

As much as I live to go to the theatre, I frequently miss some of the smaller gems. Thankfully, iTunes uses this feature to get these movies in front of us. (They also get me to transact on a regular basis, but that’s a whole different story.)

You can also purchase a ton of great movies for decent prices, but for the ‘Movie of the Week’ feature, you can take a chance on a smaller film for cheap.

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

‘Spider-Man Homecoming’ is official!

 

Marvel's Captain America: Civil War Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Tom Holland) Photo Credit: Film Frame © Marvel 2016

 

Yesterday at Cinemacon 2016, Sony and Marvel made their stand alone Spider-Man movie’s title, ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming,’ official. The title references Peter Parker’s high school age, as well as a meta-reference to Spidey, slinging his way into the MCU. I mean, he is their most universally loved property. (It also references ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ issue #252 for all you nerds like me out there.)

As of now, the film is supposed to be in theaters on July 7, 2017. Jon Watts is directing, Tom Holland is Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and Marisa Tomei is Aunt May. You can see your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man on May 6th in Captain America: Civil War. (And apparently they showed some Aunt May/Tony Stark footage at CinemaCon too.)

Can’t wait for this one!

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

My 2015-16 Oscar Predictions

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It’s that time again. This Sunday are the OSCARS!!!!!  That trivial, self serving, over-bloated telecast that I’m obsessed with and can’t get enough of every year.  Regardless of the whirlwind of controversy, I still need to make my picks! A few years ago I had my best ballot which was two wrong. Will this be the year I get them all right?

Remember, I am picking who will win, as opposed to who I want to win. Below, you’ll see the word ‘WINNER’ next to the film I believe will take home the award.

And don’t forget to follow along as I (and the rest of America) live tweet the Oscars. @nuttyplofessor

So, without further ado, my picks:

Best Picture

The Big Short – WINNERthe-big-short-movie

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

Thoughts: The PGA hasn’t been wrong since 2006 and The Big Short won this year, so I’m betting on the house.

Possible Upset: Spotlight

Best Actor

Bryan Cranston, Trumboleonardo-dicaprio-revenant-trailer-buried-alive-092915

Matt Damon, The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant – WINNER

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Thoughts: He won’t lose. He’s won all the awards and it won’t stop here.

Possible Upset: Anybody else because it would just be Leo’s luck.

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett, Carol room_1

Brie Larson, Room -WINNER

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Thoughts: She won’t lose. She’s won all the awards and it won’t stop here.

Possible Upset: I don’t even think there’s a chance of anybody else winning.

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale, The Big Short creed-critic-jumbo

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Sylvester Stallone, Creed – WINNER

Thoughts: He’s the perfect winner. Veteran actor getting his due for a part he first played in the 70s? An Oscar moment to live on forever.

Possible Upset: Mark Rylance.

Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight alicia.vikander

Rooney Mara, Carol

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl – WINNER

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Thoughts: Alicia Vikander won the SAG and overall they match the Oscars about 80%.

Possible Upset: Kate Winslet.

Best Directing

Adam McKay, The Big Short TheRevenantInterview

George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant – WINNER

Lenny Abrahamson, Room

Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

Thoughts: Iñárritu won the DGA, so once again, I’m going with statistics.

Possible Upset: George Miller.

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Big Short – WINNER maxresdefault

Brooklyn

Carol

The Martian

Room

Thoughts: I think it’s going to win best picture, so I’m taking the chance it wins this too.

Upset: The Martian

Best Original Screenplay

Bridge of Spies Spotlight-Image-1

Ex Machina

Inside Out

Spotlight – WINNER

Straight Outta Compton

Thoughts: Despite the fact that Inside Out will win it’s award, Spotlight is the only legit best picture nominee here that has a shot.

Upset: Inside OutMV5BMTUyMTE0ODcxNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODE4NDQzNTE@._V1_SX640_SY720_

Best Film Editing

The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road – WINNER

The Revenant

Spotlight

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Foreign Language Film

Colombia, Embrace of the Serpent30842_43_Son_of_Saul01_Sony

France, Mustang

Hungary, Son of Saul – WINNER

Jordan, Theeb

Denmark, A War

Best Original Score

Thomas Newman, Bridge of Spieshateful-iimage-7-30.0

Carter Burwell, Carol

Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight – WINNER

Jóhann Jóhannsson, Sicario

John Williams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Production Design

Bridge of Spiesmaxresdefault

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road – WINNER

The Martian

The Revenant

Best Visual Effects

Ex MachinaMad-Max-Chase

Mad Max: Fury Road – WINNER

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Animated Feature Film

Anomalisa 107279-full

Boy and the World

Inside Out – WINNER

Shaun the Sheep Movie

When Marnie Was There

Best Cinematography

Caroltom-hardy-the-revenant

The Hateful Eight

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant – WINNER

Sicario

Best Costume Design

Carol – WINNERcarol-image-rooney-mara-cate-blanchett

Cinderella

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Best Documentary – Feature

Amy – WINNER amy_winehouse_poster

Cartel Land

The Look of Silence

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Best Documentary – Short Subject305167-a-girl-in-the-river-the-price-of-forgiveness-0-230-0-345-crop

Body Team 12

Chau, Beyond the Lines

Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness – WINNER

Last Day of Freedom

Best Makeup and Hairstyling 

Mad Max: Fury Road – WINNER MadMaxFuryRoadImmortan

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

The Revenant

Best Original Song

“Earned It,” Fifty Shades of GreyTil_It_Happens_to_You_by_Lady_Gaga

“Manta Ray,” Racing Extinction

“Simple Song #3,” Youth

“‘Til It Happens to You,” The Haunting Ground – WINNER

“Writings on the Wall,” Spectre

Best Animated Short Film4edc1645760f5d20edf79dfa367d9b3f0cf21a14320ea3801cac4c529a67ab6a-1024x576

Bear Story

Prologue

Sanjay’s Super Team

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos

World of Tomorrow – WINNER

Best Live Action Short Film69d1686a857d030df21f4560ec12cd7a87123fd2a4b27aebee20b27926f3a0c9-724x1024

Ave Maria

Day One

Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)

Shok – WINNER

Stutterer

Best Sound Editing

Mad Max: Fury Road – WINNERmaxresdefault-1

The Martian

The Revenant

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Mixing

Bridge of Spies
mad-max-6

Mad Max: Fury Road – WINNER

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

The Ultimate James Bond Movie Ranking

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You may or may not know this about me, but I am addicted to the James Bond movie series. My dad had a VHS of ‘Dr. No’ in the base of our TV stand and one weekend I found it and watched it. Then I watched it again. I was probably 9 at the time? Then I asked him about it and watched it a third time with him. Every weekend we would go to the local Blockbuster and rent the next movie in the series. At that point we only had to make it to ‘A View To A Kill’, so while Sean Connery was a my first Bond, Pierce Brosnan was my first movie Bond. When a new Bond movie comes out it’s a big deal for us.

Oh, it doesn’t end there. My bar mitzvah theme? You guessed it, James Bond. Every table was named after a different movie and the kid’s table was the Thunderball dias. I currently 209x209own every movie on VHS, DVD, and iTunes, have seen them each over 5 or 6 times (including ‘Spectre’), and yet still watch the holiday Bond marathons on TV. My craziness doesn’t end there. As I kid I read through every single Bond encyclopedia I could get my hands on and memorized every fact possible. So, while the blurbs below are short, I could easily go on and on and on in an obnoxious manner about each movie.

Now that ‘Spectre’ was released a few weeks back, I’ve watched it a few times and realized that I’ve never actually sat down and listed out how I rank the Bond movies. Below is that list. I took all 24 Bond movies, ranked them by actor, then meshed together those six lists. So, I give you, the definitive Bryan’s Not Lyin’ Bond Movie Rankings.

  1. Die Another Day (2002)

It’s a mess of a movie. Brosnan’s final film went so far over the top that it felt like an actual Austin Powers movie. The action sequences are filled with poor GCI and the plot twists aredie-another-day-poster too much, even for a James Bond movie. It also doesn’t help that Madonna’s song and appearance in the film are completely forgettable and that Halle Berry’s Jinx is one of the worst Bond girls to grace the screen. This series needed a true makeover after this dud. MVP: Diamonds in the face and Rosamund Pike as Miranda Frost.

  1. Moonraker (1979)

It’s just–stupid. Granted there are some decent action set pieces and the title song is performed by the great Shirley Moonraker_(UK_cinema_poster)Bassey, but Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale) isn’t a worthy bad guy and a it’s a whole lot of absurdity with only hints of tongue in cheekiness. A dirty bond girl name, Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles) isn’t going to save your whole, extremely slow and stupid, movie. MVP: I mean, I guess Holly Goodhead and Jaw finding love?

  1. The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)

I have a soft spot in my heart for this movie, despite listing it at 22. Maybe because it’s Bond mano a mano with a three nippled villain or I remember the golden gun fondly from the Goldeneye video game, but regardless of that nostalgia, it’s not the best of theseThe-Man-With-The-Golden-Gun-DI movies. It’s pretty slow all around and the solar panels plot never lands, but it includes a ton of stand out actors (Christopher Lee and Hervé Villechaize), characters (Scaramanga, Nick Nack, J.W. Pepper), and moments (the end duel with a mannequin). Then again, it also features the dumbest, most frustrating bond girl of all time, Britt Ekland as Mary Goodnight. MVP: If it’s not J.W. Pepper’s outlandish racism, it’s probably Lulu’s terrible theme song with the lyric, “Love is required/Whenever he’s hired/It comes just before the kill.”

  1. The World Is Not Enough (1999)

The fact that this isn’t a low point in the Brosnan years says more about how bad ‘Die maxresdefaultAnother Day’ is than anything else. The Renard/Elektra King stockholm syndrome situation is a solid baddie duo, the oil pipeline a decent plot base, and another appearance by Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Zukovsky is always welcome. However, there’s Denise Richards as a nuclear weapons expert named Dr. Christmas Jones. Even though there’s some fun action set pieces it’s hard to get over the overt silliness that starts to make fun of James Bond movies. However, the Garbage theme song isn’t garbage. MVP: It pains me to say it, but the last line of the movie needs some sort of shout out. “I thought Christmas only came once a year.” Thanks, James.

  1. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Considering how relatively recent it is, this movie feels incredibly outdated. Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) is trying to have his newspaper conglomerate create a world war three? maxresdefaultHe’s in the wrong business. He doesn’t even pretend to not be a bad guy, yet his performance stands out as one of the better parts of the movie. His henchman, Stamper, is pretty ‘blah’, as is the movie’s third act, but the action sequences early on are fantastic. The handcuffed helicopter chase is a highlight. I also have never liked the Sheryl Crow theme and the lame use of Teri Hatcher. MVP: Michelle Yeoh as Chinese secret agent Wai Lin.

  1. License To Kill (1989)

The Timothy Dalton years are never ranked that high for most people, but I think that they licence-to-kill-posterdeserve more credit. This is my least favorite of the two. Robert Davi’s Franz Sanchez, a cameo by Wayne Newton as Professor Joe Butcher, and a young Benicio del Toro (Dario) make fun trio of bad guys, but after the Felix Leiter (David Hedison) shark attack and the Gladys Knight theme opening it’s all forgettable. MVP: Carey Lowell as the kick ass Pam Bouvier and maybe the decompression chamber head explosion.

  1. Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Sean Connery’s return (and final stint) as James Bond isn’t his best. It’s clear he’s only doing it for the paycheck because his performance is beyond phoned-in. He’s lucky that diamonds-are-forever-postereverybody else came to play. Jill St. John as Tiffany Case, Charles Gray as Blofeld, and Jimmy Dean as Willard Whyte all play memorable character parts. The Las Vegas setting is fun, the one liners are sharp(ish), and the downtown car chase is great, even if the movie’s diamond plot line loses steam halfway through. MVPs: The gay henchmen Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd and the second greatest Bond girl name, Plenty O’Toole (Lana Wood).

  1. Quantum of Solace (2008)

You know, this gets a bad rap because it followed such a great movie in ‘Casino Royale’. It UK Final Quadalso takes on a Jason Bourne handheld camera feel during action sequences, which doesn’t play as very Bond. The plot also revolves around stealing water, which isn’t that sexy. However, if you watch it directly after after ‘Casino Royale’ it’s a fantastic companion piece and tracks Daniel Craig’s Bond’s emotional journey extremely well. M’s also got some great one liners, Strawberry Fields’ (Gemma Arterton) death is a unique throwback, and Olga Kurylenko is a strong Bond girl.  So, as a stand alone movie, it’s okay, but works on whole another level when looked at on a macro level. Oh, the theme song by Alicia Keys and Jack White straight up sucks. MVP: The Quantum opera sequence.

  1. Octopussy (1983)

This one is just fun. It’s not great, but fun enough. Truly over the top Bond. It also taught me what a faberge egg is! Maude Adams is unstoppable as the Bond girl and part timeoctopussy villain and the Russian circus portion is quintessential Moore. The scenes in India are beautiful and Louis Jourdan as Kamal Khan is as smooth as a bad guy you’ll ever see. However, it’s a really long movie with more convoluted plot than most and is quite boring throughout. Great theme with ‘All Time High’. MVP: Did I mention that Russian circus?

  1. A View To A Kill (1985)

Roger Moore’s last outing as Bond is actually pretty bad, but so incredibly memorable–A_View_to_a_Kill_-_UK_cinema_posterexcept for the plot. It’s pretty similar to ‘Goldfinger’, but with Silicon Valley as the stand in for Fort Knox and with way less stakes. However, Christopher Walken as the charismatic Max Zorin and Grace Jones as the tough as nails Mayday? That’s one of the better Bond duos. Tanya Roberts as Stacey Sutton? Yeah, try again.  MVP: Bad guy casting and the finale atop the Golden Gate Bridge in a blimp.

  1. The Living Daylights (1987)

Of the two Timothy Dalton movies, this is the better one. The action set pieces are killer, especially the viola case chase sequence, but what really works here is Dalton’s no the-living-daylights-1-1024x768nonsense Bond. While it has its lighter moments, Dalton’s darker Bond feels more at home in this outing than in ‘License to Kill’. KGB, arms dealers, and the defection cold open are made for his type of character. However, in the spectrum of Bond films this one is quite forgettable, albeit a solid movie. MVP: Bond getting help from Al Qaeda and the super 80s ‘A-ha’ theme song.

  1. Thunderball (1965)

I know a few avid James Bond fans that that rank this movie very high on their own lists. I find it a bit boring and uneven. The funeral cold open with the jetpack sets the tempo for a IFfun, fast moving film that never comes to fruition. Domino (Claudine Auger) is a dull female lead and despite the sweet eye patch, Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi) is a lackluster terrorist. It contains a ton of Bond tropes that would become mockeries staples, like Spectre, a one-eyed bad guy, shark attacks, and holding the world hostage with nuclear warheads, so in hindsight this movie may not read well anymore. Still, it just never comes together as cohesive film. MVP: I think the cold open. It’s so fun!

  1. Spectre (2015)

It’s a great addition to the James Bond canon, especially with a well made opening 12002410_1134539806560929_7647752797114155043_osequence that draws you in immediately. Tying all of the Craig films together, Spectre brings back more than just the evil organization. The bad guys are well cast and have some stand out scenes, especially Dave Bautista as Hinx on the train and Christoph Waltz as Blofeld towards the film’s end. The movie isn’t without fault though: it’s 20 minutes too long, the secondary story with M, Q, Moneypenny, and C is too predictable even for a Bond movie, the love story never feels justified, the Rome and Austria chase scenes are low stakes, and the Sam Smith theme song is a dud. However, with all of it’s old Bond throwbacks at it’s core, Spectre is still a fun and engaging. MVP: The train fight.

  1. You Only Live Twice (1967)

This movie takes what ‘Thunderball’ started to do and dialed it up to 10. Russians being You-Only-Live-Twice-posterpitted against the Americans to start WWIII and Bond works his way to the Sea of Japan to take down the amazing Donald Pleasance as a great Blofeld. It’s so ridiculous that it’s outrageously fun. Volcano lair? Exotic locals? Awesome Nancy Sinatra theme? Roald Dahl screenplay? Sign me up! MVP: Bond having to be disguised as a japanese man, but looks nothing like a Japanese man.

  1. Goldeneye (1995)

Back to the basics. After the Dalton films weren’t received well it took the Bond team a while to regroup, but they nailed it with this one. Pierce Brosnan’s first outing is a smashGoldenEye007box hit. The action sequences are top notch. From the dam pre-credits sequence to tank chase to the finale, they fire on all cylinders. The villains (Sean Bean’s Alec Trevelyan and Famke Janssen’s Xenia Onatopp) and side characters (Alan Cumming’s Boris and Robbie Coltrane’s Valentin) are all incredibly memorable. It’s too bad Brosnan’s movies went downhill from here. MVP: The N64 video game.

  1. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

So this one gets a lot of heat for George Lazenby stepping into the James Bond role post on-her-majestys-secret-service-2Connery, but watch it again. He’s kind of good and the movie is great. Granted the Blofeld plot sways to the mundane side (germ warfare), but it’s not the true focal point of the movie. Diana Rigg as Tracy plays an amazing foil to Bond and their emotional connection allows for the final moments at Bond’s wedding to really hit home. As good as Telly Savalas is as Blofeld, Rigg and Lazenby carry the film. Until the Craig movies, it was the only movie plot point that semi-carried through to most of the Bond films. Plus, the alps are gorgeous. MVP: How truly psychedelic 60s it feels all around.

  1. Live And Let Die (1973)

Roger Moore’s first Bond film is so out of the box for a movie in this series, that it works. With the popularity of the blacksploitation of the time, ‘Live and Let Die’ has Bond takingLive_and_Let_Die-_UK_cinema_poster on Harlem, New Orleans, and Jamaica. Jane Seymour as Solitaire is top 10 Bond girl and Gloria Hendry was the first African American Bond girl, a huge step forward at the time. Sure this movie introduced us to J.W. Pepper, but it also gave us a top five theme song by Sir Paul McCartney and Wings. MVP: Jumping on crocs? Baron Samedi? Kanaga’s exploding head? So many options.

  1. For Your Eyes Only (1981)

It’s a pretty simple Bond movie that fires on all cylinders. From the double crossing of for-your-eyes-only-main-reviewJulian Glover’s Aristotle to every well executed action scene (skiing, pulled through coral, scaling St.Cyrill), the movie moves at a brisk pace with all the twists in all the right places. Sure, there are some drawbacks, Bibi and Margaret Thatcher. But Topol as Milos Columbo, Bond’s one-movie side kick, is one of the more memorable pistachio eating characters in the whole series. MVP: Carole Bouquet’s strong Melina Havelock or Topol.

  1. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ got back to what made Bond movies so popular after its two ‘out-of-the-box’ predecessors split the difference in quality (‘Live and Let Die’ and ‘The Man Spy-who-loved-me-FilmWith The Golden Gun’). Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens) attempts to secure world domination, while James Bond (Roger Moore) and his Russian counterpart Anya Amasova aka XXX (Barbara Bach) thwart his evil plans and steel toothed henchman, Jaws (Richard Kiel). There’s a lot to love about this kitschy, extremely 70s, Bond iteration–the cars, the spectacle, and action sequences. It’s a little slow in the middle, but overall, a fundamentally great spy adventure. MVP: Jaws. It’s always Jaws.

  1. Skyfall (2012)

It’s so beautifully shot and intimately personal for Bond (Craig) that I can ignore the fact Skyfall-660that he loses on all fronts in the end. He can’t save M (Judi Dench), the true Bond girl of the film, he can’t recover the stolen files, and he blows up his own house, ‘Home Alone’ style. However, director Sam Mendes’ first Bond film captures the suave grit of our favorite spy. The Adele theme song alone makes me love this film. It’s an all time great. The action sequences are excellent, tense in a way that can’t compare to most of the other 23 movies in the series. It’s a haunting film that deals with what makes Bond tick, while it sets up the standard Bond/M/Moneypenny office situation. MVP: Javier Bardem as Silva, especially the one-take monologue.

  1. Dr. No (1962)

The first. The original. The ultimate Bond movie that started it all. It’s sexy and suave with some great sequences and Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman) is just ridiculous enough. Quarrel is Dr._No_-_UK_cinema_posterthe inaugural sidekick, a part that these movies usually nail (see ‘For Your Eyes Only’) and the theme song booming through every scene is core rattling. This may be the best Connery Bond performance. MVP: Ursula Andress coming out of the water or how Connery’s hair is never messed up in the finale sequence. Also, his introduction at the card table.

  1. Goldfinger (1964)

This is the one truly iconic Bond film. ‘Goldfinger’ is like Bond’s greatest hits in one movie: A scuba suit into a tux opening, a woman painted in gold, memorable henchman (Oddjob), Goldfinger (1964)an even more memorable Bond girl, and of course, the attack on Ft. Knox by an over the top bad guy. Then there’s the greatest line in maybe even spy movie history. “Do you expect me to talk Goldfinger?” “No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.” Outrageous and fun all the way around. MVP: The laser beam table or the pool table?

  1. Casino Royale (2006)

Four years after Brosnan’s lackluster run of Bond films were finished, we were surprised by this reboot. More than surprised, thrilled and reinvigorated. Directed by Martin CampbellCasino_Royale_2_-_UK_cinema_poster (Goldeneye), Daniel Craig’s first movie is injected with so much energy that it oozes off of the screen. The parkour opening sequence, the runway debacle, and the car flip, and the Venice finale act could all be placed in a best of Bond action list. The balance between these action movie staples and the emotionally charged Vesper (Eva Green) and Bond relationship is where the true success of this movie lies. Their chemistry is electric and gives this movie a layer that other films just don’t even come close to matching. MVP: The very end where Monty Norman’s Bond theme finally enters.

  1. From Russia With Love (1963)

There’s a lot that’s done right with this film. It introduces SPECTRE, Blofeld, Q, and his from-russia-with-love-postergadgets while Bond is being hunted as he tries to maneuver his way through Europe with the lovely Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) and the Lektor machine. I mean, who can forget Rosa Klebb’s poison shoe knife and the great boat chase gasoline escape? The movie is low key as compared to the eccentricities this series is known for and yet it’s always thrilling. It’s an excellent spy yarn that is capped off by the one of the best henchmen, Red Grant (Robert Shaw), and the best fight scene in Bond history. MVP: The entire train sequence.

Let me know how this may or may not compare to your favorites!

Keep On Watchin’!

-Plofsky, Bryan Plofsky.

Super Bowl Movie Spots

It may have been a boring Super Bowl and most of the commercials were subpar, but we sure did get a lot of new movie spots. Check out what aired during the Super Bowl below!

Captain America: Civil War

X-Men: Apocalypse

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Independence Day: Resurgence

The Jungle Book (Full Trailer)

10 Cloverfield Lane

Deadpool

The Secret Live of Pets

Jason Bourne

Gods of Egypt

Eddie The Eagle

Alice Through The Looking Glass

And one more for good measure…

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan