By D.K. Holm
For The Courier 

Film Shorts: Valley Cinemas, Streaming, The Worx

 


Valley Cinemas is offering two films this week, Spectre and The Peanuts Movie.

One of the interesting phenomena surrounding the James Bond movies is that viewers, or at least one viewer, have the feeling that they had just seen one a few months ago. Now the latest Bond film, Spectre, is here and it comes as something of a surprise that its predecessor, Skyfall, was released way back in 2012, during the last Olympics and when there was a Queen Jubilee, Arab Spring, a Mars rover, and Argo was the best picture ever made. Like Beatles songs, “Bond” is all over the place all the time and so there is rarely a gap of time. The DVDs are frequently re-released; new novels are published; there are Bond marathons on TV channels; and when the new movie is announced, there is an unrelenting stream of updates on casting, story, and the singer of the Bond song. The plot of the film, or at least one plot, was even revealed in the Sony hack. The presence of an actual, new Bond film is almost a redundancy.


As is true of the previous three Daniel Craig Bonds, this one picks up right after the conclusion of the last one. In fact, in a weird way it pays to re-watch the previous Craigs to get the story straight, as it turns out that all the films are interconnected by evil plots, secret organizations, and feuds. Anyway, Bond is in Mexico following up on a tip left by the recently deceased M, which leads him on a global hunt to unearth the organization Spectre, which, it unsurprisingly turns out, was behind some of the schemes in the earlier films. But let’s get to the facts. The credit sequence is weird, almost sickening. The opening song, by Sam Smith, is ungodly caterwauling rubbish. The first action sequence is terrific, the Bond girls (Monica Bellucci, Léa Seydoux) are attractive, and some of the last sections of the film are a slog. The villain isn’t particularly scary – yet, anyway – though he does have a huge cartoon lair like most of his ancestors. But it’s hard to be more critical of the series than its own star, as Mr. Craig has been badmouthing the film, the character, and other facets of the film. Mr. Craig is a tired man, but the series isn’t yet, and Spectre is a mostly efficient, entertaining entry in the flood.

Fans of the Charles Schulz line drawing style are going to be disappointed in the look of The Peanuts Movie which comes in glossy computer generated graphics. But, as produced by Schulz’s heirs, the film and the story are in accord with the world famous TV specials and the comic strip itself, which is set in an adult free world where the ageless kids have the problems of adults. The story is two-tiered. Charlie Brown is investigating how to increase his confidence in the face of the new red-haired girl next door, and Snoopy is off “fighting” the Red Baron with his chirping brood. The film is good natured, gently comic, and in its unique way, deeper and more adult than you’d expect from a cartoon these days.


Among the new DVDs coming to Worx are Vacation and Inside Out. Vacation is an unpleasant sequel or remake to National Lampoon’s Vacation, which was itself castigated for its vulgarity before becoming a video cult classic. The update’s cavalier attitude to body waste, violent death, and sex seems unlikely to have the same hold over today’s kids. Much more successful is the charming Inside Out, in which the emotions of a young girl named Riley are personified as competing and confusing entities. The careful balance among them is disrupted when a few break free of Riley’s head. Inside Out is one of the few children’s animated films that seems to understand child psychology, which is to say all human psychology.

Meanwhile at your local library, a Harrison Ford double feature disc of Frantic and the courtroom drama Presumed Innocent. Frantic is directed by Roman Polanski and has the reputation of being a “calling card” film, proving to Hollywood that he could make a good, solid commercial film after a string of bombs after Chinatown, including Pirates. Frantic concerns a doctor in Paris whose wife vanishes from their hotel, and who is aided by a gamine in an impossibly short skirt, played by Emmanuelle Seigner, later Mrs. Polanski. It’s gripping, with good locations, while Presumed Innocent comes at a deliberate pace under the helm of Alan J. Pakula, adapting the clever bestseller by Scott Turow. The movie suffers from a few mis-castings, but the mystery survives unharmed.


 

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