Raisedonvideo's Blog

Retrospective: 1981

Posted in Movie List by raisedonvideo on October 15, 2021
  1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  2. The Road Warrior
  3. Quest for Fire
  4. Arthur
  5. Superman II
  6. Taps
  7. Stripes
  8. The Fox and the Hound
  9. An American Werewolf in London
  10. Halloween
  11. Escape from New York
  12. Chariots of Fire*
  13. Reds*
  14. On Golden Pond*
  15. Atlantic City*
  16. Mephisto*
  17. My Dinner with Andre*
  18. Gallipoli*
  19. The French Lieutenant’s Woman*
  20. Pennies from Heaven*
  21. The Postman Always Rings Twice*
  22. Absence of Malice*
  23. Heaven’s Gate*
  24. Ragtime*
  25. Sharky’s Machine*

*I’m not especially proud of this list, as there are many notable films on it that I didn’t see. Raiders of the Lost Ark is a legit #1, but I obviously have some catching up to do. However, as I previously noted, I was quite young when these movies came out.

Retrospective: 1982

Posted in Movie List by raisedonvideo on October 14, 2021
  1. Blade Runner
  2. E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  3. Tootsie
  4. The King of Comedy
  5. Die Weisse Rose
  6. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  7. Poltergeist
  8. Cannery Row
  9. Night Shift
  10. Creepshow
  11. An Officer and a Gentleman
  12. Tron
  13. First Blood
  14. Rocky III
  15. Tex
  16. Annie
  17. Das Boot*
  18. Sophie’s Choice*
  19. The Thing*
  20. Koyaanisqatsi*
  21. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan*
  22. Diner*
  23. Gandhi*
  24. Missing*
  25. My Favorite Year*
  26. The Verdict*
  27. Victor Victoria*
  28. Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean*

*I have yet to see these noteworthy films.

Retrospective: 1983

Posted in Movie List by raisedonvideo on October 13, 2021
  1. Terms of Endearment
  2. A Christmas Story
  3. The Right Stuff
  4. Tender Mercies
  5. The Big Chill
  6. Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
  7. Danton
  8. Max Dugan Returns
  9. Star 80
  10. WarGames
  11. The Outsiders
  12. Flashdance
  13. Mr. Mom
  14. The Dead Zone
  15. The Lords of Discipline
  16. Trading Places
  17. Risky Business
  18. Fanny and Alexander*
  19. Silkwood*
  20. The Dresser*
  21. Local Hero*
  22. Reuben, Reuben*
  23. Cross Creek*
  24. Yentl*
  25. The Year of Living Dangerously*
  26. To Be or Not To Be*
  27. Rumble Fish*
  28. Bad Boys*
  29. Educating Rita*
  30. Uncommon Valor*

*I’m starting to show my age here a bit. I was seven years old for most of 1983 and didn’t see many noteworthy films.

Retrospective: 1984

Posted in Movie List by raisedonvideo on October 12, 2021
  1. This Is Spinal Tap
  2. Paris, Texas
  3. Amadeus
  4. Romancing the Stone
  5. The Natural
  6. Starman
  7. The Terminator
  8. The Karate Kid
  9. Beverly Hills Cop
  10. Footloose
  11. The Pope of Greenwich Village
  12. Dreamscape
  13. The Company of Wolves
  14. 2010: The Year We Make Contact
  15. Ghostbusters
  16. All of Me
  17. Dune
  18. Stranger Than Paradise
  19. A Nightmare on Elm Street
  20. Top Secret!
  21. Against All Odds
  22. Splash
  23. The Killing Fields*
  24. A Passage to India*
  25. Places in the Heart*
  26. A Soldier’s Story*
  27. Country*
  28. The River*
  29. The Cotton Club*
  30. Once Upon a Time in America*

*I have yet to see these noteworthy films.

Retrospective: 1985

Posted in Movie List by raisedonvideo on October 8, 2021

Having done the lists for the years of 1986-2019, as a famous song from Back to the Future (one of the top movies on this list) says, time to go back in time, back to the year 1985…

Almost all other years have a clear #1 choice. Not this one. It took a lot of reflection to choose one over the other in the top two.

  1. Ran
  2. Out of Africa
  3. Witness
  4. Back to the Future
  5. Blood Simple
  6. La Historia Oficial
  7. Jagged Edge+
  8. Agnes of God+
  9. The Color Purple
  10. The Breakfast Club
  11. Prizzi’s Honor
  12. The Sure Thing
  13. The Purple Rose of Cairo+
  14. Brazil
  15. After Hours
  16. The Goonies
  17. Twice in a Lifetime
  18. Mask
  19. Clue
  20. Ladyhawke
  21. Runaway Train
  22. Sweet Dreams
  23. The Emerald Forest
  24. Marie
  25. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
  26. Pale Rider
  27. Cocoon
  28. Vision Quest
  29. Enemy Mine
  30. D. A. R. Y. L.
  31. Explorers
  32. Silver Bullet
  33. Murphy’s Romance+
  34. Kiss of the Spider Woman+

+This indicates a film I did not see in its entirety; I saw it only partially.

Review: No Time to Die

Posted in Movie Review by raisedonvideo on October 6, 2021

Since it is his fifth and final time playing 007, No Time to Die inspires viewers and even invites them to look back at Daniel Craig’s tenure playing him. When he was announced as Pierce Brosnan’s successor in the role, the reception ranged from negative to lukewarm. Naysayers claimed he was too short, too blond, and/or too bland for the role. (Personally, I wanted the part to go to Clive Owen, and I was underwhelmed by Craig’s selection.) Then came Casino Royale, and almost everyone (myself included) changed their tunes. The film, which effectively rebooted the James Bond series from the beginning, was met with almost universal acclaim.

Before Casino Royale, parodies of the James Bond character and series, such as the Austin Powers movies, were more resonant and relevant than their sources of inspiration. James Bond had devolved into little more than an action figure. Craig, however, made Bond human and relatable because he failed as much or more often than he succeeded. His stunts and action sequences were grounded mostly in reality, subject to the laws of physics, and not augmented by gadgets. The main villain, Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), had reasonable motives that didn’t include elaborate plans for world domination. Last but certainly not least, he also had a love interest named Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) whose character was interesting, complicated, and intelligent.

With this as a jumping-off point, the future of the franchise looked bright. Unfortunately, next came the disappointing Quantum of Solace, which was hampered by script issues that couldn’t be solved because it was produced during a writers’ strike. Thankfully, things seemed like they were back on track with Skyfall. Helmed by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty), the film gave us an emotional changing of the guard from Judi Dench to Ralph Fiennes in the role of M. Mainstays Q (Ben Whishaw) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) were also brought back to the series. Craig, Mendes, Fiennes, Whishaw, and Harris returned for Spectre, and Blofeld, one of Bond’s most famous nemeses, was reintroduced. While there were some memorable scenes, such as the stunning opening sequence in Mexico City on Dia de los Muertos and a fight between Bond and a massive henchman (Dave Bautista), the film fell short of expectations.

If you’re keeping score, that’s one outstanding film, one lackluster one, one excellent one, and one that is so-so. That brings us up to date. Spectre was a serviceable entry, but hardly the right note for Craig to end on. It seemed like it might have been Craig’s last time playing Bond, given his hesitation to do another after sustaining injuries on it and the ones that came before. Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli coaxed him into playing the role one more time after giving him some time to recuperate, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Was it worth it? Is No Time to Die the right note to end on? The answer is a resounding yes.

Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation, True Detective) from a script he co-wrote, No Time to Die begins with James and Madeleine Swann (Lea Sedoux) enjoying each other’s company in the picturesque Italian countryside. Madeleine returns after first appearing in Spectre. Most female characters in Bond movies, especially so-called “Bond girls,” disappear and are never heard from again after one movie, but Madeleine and Vesper Lynd are notable exceptions. It’s one of many ways that the recent Bond movies starring Daniel Craig establish continuity.

The pair seem genuinely in love, and James says that they have all the time in the world. The audience knows better, but that doesn’t mean that the onscreen couple’s desire for it resonates any less. They, too, acknowledge their troubled pasts. Eager to move on towards a future together, she encourages him to forgive Vesper and promises to share her own secrets with him. Before she gets the chance, the past comes calling. After narrowly escaping agents of Spectre who come after them, they separate and he says that they will never see each other again.

When we catch up with Bond five years later, he is no longer on active duty. He spends his days fishing on a Jamaican island. His friend Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), an American intelligence officer, and his colleague and self-professed Bond admirer Logan Ash (Billy Magnussen) approach him about taking a mission in Cuba to capture a scientist named Vlado Orbuchev (David Dencik) who has designed a powerful biological weapon. At first, he declines, but after an encounter with the new 007 (Lashana Lynch), who tells him not to interfere, he reconsiders.

In Cuba, Bond ends up working with a tenderfoot Cuban agent named Paloma (Ana de Armas, Craig’s co-star in Knives Out). Although it’s a brief sequence, de Armas is a charming, memorable presence. Despite her claim that she lacks field experience as an agent, she dispatches Spectre agents as efficiently as Bond does.

Before the two intercept him, Orbuchev dispatches his foes with even more precision. He is whisked away before Bond can find out who he is working for and why he wants the bioweapon. In the age of the COVID pandemic, this aspect of the story takes on unintended relevance and likely will affect audiences more deeply.

To find answers, he meets Blofeld (played again by Christoph Waltz) in prison. Waltz is more memorable in the role this time around. He toys with Bond to get a rise out of him for his own personal amusement. This also brings him back into contact with Madeleine because as his psychiatrist, she is the only one who can get in to see him. 

Their fates, and that of Orbuchev, are intertwined with a ridiculously-named villain named Lyutsifer Safin (the one thing the whole series has never been is subtle), played by Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody). Safin has a pock-marked complexion and is prone to dramatic pauses when he monologues about his evil plans. His part in the story and where it leads seem all too familiar and are the film’s weakest points.

The depth of the relationship between James and Madeleine is less familiar territory, and it carries far more dramatic weight and is much more effective. The struggles between them illustrate the sacrifices Bond has to make to do his job effectively and why he has difficulty forming relationships and trusting others. Whether the makers of No Time to Die intended it or not, that’s the movie’s main point.

Despite its running time of two hours and forty-three minutes (the longest Bond film to date), No Time to Die is briskly paced. The film is beautifully shot and edited. The action sequences are thoroughly enjoyable. The ones in the second half of the film after Madeleine reenters the story up the ante in terms of danger and excitement. Last but certainly not least, No Time to Die is the most generous James Bond film to date towards its female characters (perhaps this is due at least in part to the fact that one of the screenwriters, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, is a woman.)  

Craig may have played the part fewer times than his predecessors Sean Connery and Roger Moore (who each played it seven), but he has played it for fifteen years, longer than anyone else. Another actor eventually will take over and try to win audiences over, but Craig leaves behind big shoes to fill. He has played the part better than anyone since Sean Connery, and arguably even better than him. His cycle of films also have the most satisfying finish.

That doesn’t mean that it’s the best of Craig’s Bond films; that honor still goes to the classic Casino Royale. Nonetheless, it’s probably his 2nd or 3rd best film playing the character (I’m still debating with myself about whether this or Skyfall is better, but it’s definitely better than Spectre and Quantum of Solace). It’s a bittersweet swan song, the end of an era. 

You did the unthinkable, Mr. Craig. You revived and elevated a beloved franchise and character. Take a bow.

Verdict: A-

Retrospective: 2019

Posted in Movie List by raisedonvideo on October 5, 2021

Yet another decade in the books. Because I saw so few films in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I will not be doing a list for 2020 anytime soon. Rather, I’m going to start working my way backwards, starting with the year 1985.

  1. Parasite
  2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  3. Jojo Rabbit
  4. Marriage Story
  5. Joker
  6. Little Women
  7. The Irishman
  8. Ford v. Ferrari
  9. Knives Out
  10. Shazam!
  11. Uncut Gems
  12. Us
  13. The Two Popes
  14. Ad Astra
  15. Bombshell
  16. 1917
  17. Dolemite Is My Name
  18. Judy
  19. Frozen II
  20. Toy Story 4
  21. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
  22. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  23. Captain Marvel
  24. The Dirt
  25. Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker
  26. Hustlers
  27. A Rainy Day in New York
  28. The Laundromat
  29. The Farewell*
  30. Midsommar*
  31. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood*
  32. Pain & Glory*

*I have yet to see these noteworthy films.

Retrospective: 2018

Posted in Movie List by raisedonvideo on October 4, 2021
  1. Ready Player One
  2. BlacKkKlansman
  3. They Shall Not Grow Old
  4. Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse
  5. A Star Is Born
  6. First Man
  7. The Favourite
  8. Black Panther
  9. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  10. Avengers: Infinity War
  11. Incredibles 2
  12. Mary Poppins Returns
  13. Vice
  14. Green Book
  15. Bohemian Rhapsody
  16. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
  17. Creed II
  18. Ocean’s Eight
  19. Ralph Breaks the Internet
  20. Aquaman
  21. Halloween
  22. Roma*
  23. If Beale Street Could Talk*
  24. Cold War*
  25. Can You Ever Forgive Me?*
  26. Beautiful Boy*
  27. The Hate U Give*
  28. Bird Box*
  29. Deadpool 2*
  30. A Quiet Place*
  31. RBG*
  32. The Wife*
  33. Free Solo*
  34. First Reformed*

*As you can see, there were quite a few movies of note that I didn’t see.

Retrospective: 2017

Posted in Movie List by raisedonvideo on October 3, 2021
  1. Dunkirk
  2. Coco
  3. Get Out
  4. Blade Runner 2049
  5. The Shape of Water
  6. I, Tonya
  7. The Greatest Showman
  8. Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
  9. Lady Bird
  10. Darkest Hour
  11. Baby Driver
  12. Paddington 2
  13. The Disaster Artist
  14. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  15. The Post
  16. Thor: Ragnarok
  17. Wonder Woman
  18. 1922
  19. Wonder
  20. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  21. It
  22. Logan
  23. Justice League
  24. Murder on the Orient Express
  25. Cars 3
  26. A Dog’s Purpose
  27. The Boss Baby
  28. Phantom Thread*
  29. Mudbound*
  30. Okja*
  31. The Florida Project*
  32. Loving Vincent*
  33. Mother!*
  34. Molly’s Game*
  35. War for the Planet of the Apes*
  36. All the Money in the World*
  37. The Lego Batman Movie*
  38. T2 Trainspotting*
  39. Call Me by Your Name*

*I have yet to see these noteworthy films.

Retrospective: 2016

Posted in Movie List by raisedonvideo on October 1, 2021

This is the last of the “anniversary” posts (in this case, it’s the five-year anniversary) until I work my way back to 1981.

  1. La La Land
  2. Manchester by the Sea
  3. Zootopia
  4. Doctor Strange
  5. Hacksaw Ridge
  6. Arrival
  7. The Lobster
  8. Hidden Figures
  9. Moonlight
  10. Hell or High Water
  11. Lion
  12. Moana
  13. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  14. Split
  15. Deadpool
  16. Captain America: Civil War
  17. Sing
  18. Finding Dory
  19. Batman: The Killing Joke
  20. The BFG
  21. Fences
  22. The Accountant
  23. Ghostbusters
  24. Silence*
  25. Loving*
  26. Jackie*
  27. Hail, Caesar!*
  28. I Am Not Your Negro*
  29. Kubo and the Two Strings*
  30. Agassi*
  31. Maudie*
  32. Snowden*
  33. Captain Fantastic*
  34. Elle*
  35. Florence Foster Jenkins*

*I have yet to see these noteworthy films.