About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Knight who Played with Day

On the evening of Sunday July 10 I made my way to the AMC Empire and saw Knight and Day (aud #25) and The Girl Who Played With Fire (aud #18). And enjoyed both.

Knight and Day took a critical reaming, but it seems to be getting some decent word of mouth and holding pretty decently at the box office, and deservedly so. No, it's not great art, but it's a lot of fun and a perfectly pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. There's totally nothing wrong with that. I've generally been happy as a clam the past 25 years to spend a little bit of time with Tom Cruise, and here he's on Cruise Control. Nothing serious about this, no Magnolia thing or Born on the 4th of July thing, totally Cocktail Tom here. He has me at "hello." And there's good chemistry between him and Cameron Diaz. A lot of the critics have made out as if this was some cheapo thing like The Bucket List where you could tell in every shot that Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson weren't travelling the world to make the movie. Did they see the same movie I did? Did some flack in the marketing office totally schmuck up the press kit and say something about the effects there that nobody would have noticed otherwise? To me, this looked like James Bond lite on the location side. I didn't actually believe that Tom and Cameron were filmed live in the middle of a bullfight but I did believe they were actually in Europe, there were some stunts that from the camera angles really did look like Cruise doing his own. On balance, the effects in this seemed a lot more real to me than some of the much more lavish and expensive things we've seen in the 2nd Narnia movie or in King Kong or in Transformers. Good, fun stuff here. See it, rent it, enjoy it. Totally one of those movies which makes me wonder if I'd become a film reviewer if I'd still review the movie the way I'm reviewing it or I'd have taken the Kool Aid with all the other critics and dumped on this.

The critical reception to The Girl Who Played With Fire has been good, but generally saying this second in the trilogy isn't as good as the film version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, based on the trilogy by Stieg Larsson and the film version of Hornet's Nest already out in Sweden and coming here soon. I liked the second movie at least as much as the first, maybe even more, and perhaps for the very reason that some of the critics have been going the other way. Both are mysteries, but the lines of this one were a little more classical. Some computer stuff, hard not to have a mystery these days that doesn't have some of that, but also some more old-fashioned legwork. The villain in the first movie was a little Hannibal Lecter/serial killer-ish, while the story in this one has some more classical revenge motives. The bad guys aren't nice, but they're monstrous in a way where they aren't so much monsters in the what and why of things. The two lead characters don't get much together time in this movie. The girl is on the run from the police because she's been framed for a murder so she has to communicate remotely with the crusading journalist who is co-lead in the series. But, hey, people, why is this a problem? You might remember in Empire Strikes Back that Han and Luke spend most of the movie away from one another. And it's still very thoroughly the best of the Star Wars movies. We find ourselves wanting them to get back together, wishing hoping and thinking and chewing our nails on the edges of our collective seats. I haven't read the underlying books, but if they're as good as the movies I can understand why so many people have. I can promise you I'll be making tracks for the third movie immediately upon its release.

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