Sunday, November 23, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I have been immersing myself in the books of prolific Georgian writer Boris Akunin. His Fandorin series is an exciting, dangerous and original ride through 19th century Russia. But there are only five of the novels translated into english. A tiny bit of Akunin's large library of titles.
Three Russian based movies have been produced, with the Turkish Gambit scoring huge box office. I have finally found a subtitled version of the latest film, "The State Counselor". Variety says, "Opulent Russian thriller "The State Counsellor" marks the latest film outing for novelist Boris Akunin's Fandorin character after local smash "Turkish Gambit."
And, "Pic's more-than-able ensemble go at the material with gusto, with extra plaudits due to a soulful Khabensky and a serpent-sleek Mikhalkov, whose respective characters rep contrasting alter egos for the hero".
Director Paul Verhoeven is in preproduction to start a big budget english version of Azazel
Posted by JN at 1:12 AM
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
We went to the midnight screening of "Quantum of Solace" last night. The movie is engaging, rapid paced and unusually small for a Bond film. No grand set pieces or secret liars to destroy. The plot to control Bolivia's water supply seems lacking in scope for a typical Bond villian.
The action is brisk but contained. Melees erupt in confined spaces: car tunnels, underground grottos, low ceilinged hotel lobbies, back stage of an otherwise expansive opera, even an arial dog fight plays out mostly in cockpits while long lensed angles visually compress space between the aircraft.
Unfortunately the film makers have opted for the shaky cam when delivering high octane chases. But instead of parroting the "Bourne Supremacy"'s superior editing style, "Quantum" has opted for the "let's disorient the audience" approach to action scenes. What is great about that one Bourne movie is that the audience's stomach is never turned. For every four or five tight shots, there is a brief wider angle so the the viewer can keep the geography of the fight intact. A long action sequence in most films can create an intellectual malaise while the eyes glaze over with one dizzying shot after another.
"Quantum" does have a superior Bond villain in Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric). Diminutive but deadly. He seems to be a real menace to society. So it's unfortunate that the film's desert ending does not give Bond and Greene more dramatic tension. On the whole, this same scene is played out to more effect in Clint Eastwood's "The Eiger Sanction".
The emotion depth of the film comes from Judy Dench as M and her scenes with Bond. The director shows us aspects of M's life we never see. Interrupted in her nightly routine, she washes away cold cream while discussing state traitors. Her presence on screen always adds dramatic tension. The other female characters pale in comparison to "Casino"'s Vesper Lynd.
Director Marc Forster delivers the local color shots in a superior way to other Bond films although having spent some time in Haiti, it's amazing that the art department did not recreate the Tap Tap taxis that are ubiquitous in Port au Prince .
A good film but a bridge film to wrap up "Casino Royale"'s loose ends.
Posted by JN at 10:05 AM
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The sixth annual Chinese Peasant Games have begun in Quanzhou.
"Peasants compete in the "60-metre snatch the grain and get it into storage" event in which contestants load a "harvest" of sandbags on to tricycles and sprint for the tape.
There is also the tyre pushing race and the "water carrying contest to protect the seedlings amid drought"
Posted by JN at 9:59 AM
Last Saturday night MR and I went to a great new bar on Broome Street called the Ten Bells. It has a really nice, low key atmosphere. Super friendly, knowledgeable staff that steered us towards a great Morrocan red, Syrocco.
"Ten Bells, a nautical term, happens to be the name of the pub in London where Jack the Ripper met his victims. It’s a morbid moniker for an all-natural, organic wine bar, but that’s exactly what Yassine Bentaleb and Fabrice Vautrin named their Lower East Side venture. In addition to wines procured by partner Philippe Essonne from small producers in Europe, Oregon, and Morocco, the 30-seat spot serves cheese from Essex Market, cold cuts such as wild-boar sausage and venison carpaccio, and small dishes such as duck-breast tartare with hazelnuts. — Daniel Maurer"
Posted by JN at 12:52 AM
Monday, November 10, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
Thursday, November 06, 2008
I got to meet and listen to some election year gems from F Lebowitz yesterday. I rank her along with Gore Vidal as the most keen of American observers.
It was an afternoon where celebrities were referred to in first names, and Harvey Wienstein's noisy renovation across the street laughingly caused no end of sound problems.
We will be taping her @ a venerable old West Village eatery this weekend for an up coming special being directed by Marty S. He was great, she was funny, and it'll be a great job.
Posted by JN at 12:30 AM