Talking Movies

November 30, 2021

Miscellaneous Movie Musings: Part XLII

As the title suggests, so forth.

Why must Eon always burn the other cheek?

I was initially hostile to complaints about the new Bond film featuring ‘yet another’ scarred villain, until I realised the defence was complete nonsense. Facially scarred villains have not been nearly such a Bond staple as Eon would make out. Dr No has no hands certainly, but it is not until we meet Largo in the fourth film that we meet a character with a maimed visage. Blofeld is scarred in You Only Live Twice, but then he is not scarred in the next two movies. Hook hands, third nipples, megalomania, all these are present and correct, but scarred villains really cease to be a thing with Bond … until Goldeneye. And thereafter the quotient of scarred villains gets completely out of control: Sean Bean, Robert Carlyle, Rick Yune, Mads Mikkelsen, Javier Bardem, Christoph Waltz, Rami Malek. It seems almost as if the new generation at Eon was so worried about living up to the legacy that they became fixated on one element of the past and magnified it out of all proportion as some way of proving their rights to the property.

Wes Anderson, you are locked in a prison of your own devise

It was dispiriting but unsurprising to read an interview with Robert Yeoman in which he talked about how a warehouse had to be used to shoot both The Grand Budapest Hotel and The French Dispatch because Wes Anderson’s camera movements had become so outre that real locations could no longer accommodate them. For years Paul Fennessy and I have had a flight of fancy which finds Wes and Jason Schwartzman or Roman Coppola or Owen Wilson seated at a diner in Austin; furiously scribbling dialogue and scene ideas in yellow legal pads, and beaming at each other happily, until a shadow crosses Wes’ face, and he asks in horror and disappointment, “But wait, can we do that as a tracking shot or a series of whip-pans?” Because if not, well, there’s no place for it in the cathedral of conventions that Wes Anderson has imprisoned himself within. Now it seems the reality of physical space itself has to be shot down in order to shoot the Wes Anderson way. I think this may be why since The Darjeeling Limited I have responded more positively to his animations (Fantastic Mr Fox, Isle of Dogs) than to his live-action efforts (Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The French Dispatch). The necessity for artificiality to achieve the necessary artificial camera moves grates less when all concerned are made of felt. In his own demented way you could say the presence of live human beings not to mention the built human environment is now getting in the way of the Wes Anderson aesthetic.

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