Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Casino Royale

"The name's Bond, James Bond."

Daniel Craig, as the sixth Bond in the 21st movie, you get my full approval. I will admit I, as many others, had quite a few reservations about this movie solely based on the fact that Daniel Craig was the first "blonde bond" to hit the silver screen as the famous "00" agent. He was chastised for his physical appearance by myself and others when what we should have been doing is readying ourselves for a gritty two and a half hour thrill seeking ride.

With director Martin Campbell at the helm (Vertical Limit & Zorro) there was no doubt this would be a swash buckling... er, martini drinking spy fest. There was just enough action and just enough girls to make the somewhat lengthy bond film a hit in my book. Daniel Craig and his lady love affair Eva Green were a fantastic couple on screen, bringing the Bond character we all know and love to life.

With my skepticism about the new Bond all but washed away in the very first scene, I was able to enjoy the movie from start to climactic finish. I wont give away any details about the movie in this review as many people are waiting until the holidays to see it, but I will say you wont be disappointed.

With the latest "first" Bond of a new Bond era there are, as many other have pointed out, a loss of gadgetry and car chases. This is because Casino Royale is based on Ian Flemming's first novel. Note: Ian Flemming was Bond's creator, he died in 1964 after writing 13 Bond novels. The book, and now the movie, establishes James Bond. You see him make "00" status, obtain his license to kill and begin his reign as king of super spies. We are supposed to think of Casino Royale as the first James Bond movie we've ever seen. It is darker and grittier than past movies because it is the beginning of Bond. You see him make mistakes, get hurt and generally let his ego make his decisions rather than his mind.

I thought I would be upset not seeing Bond's toymaster "Q" dishing out witty lines and creative crime fighting gadgets, but with the incredible performance, and pleasing screen presence of Daniel Craig, I barely noticed.

With the next two movies, as Bond's character develops into what we know of him today, rest assured the gadgets and fast cars will reappear. Daniel Craig has signed on for the next two movies, for a total of three. Hopefully, for our sake and the franchise, he will continue to develop the character as well as he did in Casino Royale. A fantastic interview with Daniel Craig about the movie, his performance and the impact of Bond can be found here. It is posted on a dedicated James Bond website for all things Bond. The interview shows just how important it is for Craig to do well with the character and make Bond even more attractive to everyone's imagination and fantasies.

As per my new 1-5 rating system: 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest, I give this movie a full 5 "Mitch Heads." For showing us something new, revitalizing the franchise and proving that what you think the outcome may be is nearly never the case, Casino Royale deserves of the full 5. Nice work Bond.

- Mitch G

Saturday, November 18, 2006

UW Wins 99th Apple Cup!

After many years of depressing results the Huskies (my alma mater), have won the Apple Cup to beat our cross-state rivals the WSU Cougars! 35-32 was the final score of the game with a plethora of incredible plays and enough lead reversals to make anyones stomache churn. With a 77-yard touchdown the Huskies in the 4th we put up an amazing fight. In the last two minutes of the game there was enough tension and anticipation you could slice it with a blunt knife.

I'm not a major football fan, especially on the college level, but I do have to say that the Huskies new coach, Tyrone Willingham, is doing a fantastic job bringing the program back from the dark depths where it sat for the few years. I look forward to more improving seasons and am sad I am not still at UW attending the games as a student.

Congratulations Huskies. It is a a long time coming and well deserved win!

- Mitch G

Friday, November 10, 2006

Frat Boys Sue Borat

Well it looks as if the Associated Press is reporting that the frat boys in the movie "Borat: Cultural Learnings for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" are suing the studio claiming they were "duped." Let me just say first, I hope they lose.

CNN.com - (Associated Press) Article

The students said they wouldn't have normally said the racist and sexist things they did in the movie, had they known it was as spoof.

I can't believe this. It is so very typical of most people, when caught in a bind and realizing embarrassment to try and backstep. Our society as a whole is highly based on finding a scapegoat (a person or group made to bear the blame for others and suffer in their place), that individuals do it far too often. I believe the students claim has no merit and I certainly hope they are denied in court. They should not be allowed monetary compensation for their actions, they knew full well what they were saying and that they were being taped for a movie. It was up to them to decide what they felt and if they were going to express it. This is a cheap ploy to backstep and financially gain from it.

I am sickened by how often individuals sue one another in this country. People should be responsible for their actions; there is no question that it is the foundation for a respectable and admirable existence.

- Mitch G

Monday, November 06, 2006

Borat: Cultural Learnings


Well it looks as if Sacha Baron Cohen has done it again, taking his character from "Da Ali G Show" on HBO, "Borat," to the big screen. Cohen writes and co-produces"Borat: Cultural Learnings for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakstan," giving it all of the edgy flair it needed to be a major box office opening hit. Out of the four new movies of the weekend, Borat was number one by a 25% margin or about $6.4 million dollars for a total of $26.4 million. Considering most would classify this move as a documentary/indy that is a very pleasing number for FOX studios. It even beat out the Tim Allen flick, "The Santa Clause 3," sharing the same opening weekend. The most impressive thing is that Borat was only showing in 850 theaters while Santa Clause 3 opened in 3,000. Talk about a big statement!

For anyone who has seen "Da Ali G Show" or the commercials for "Borat" they know what they were going to expect: a totally off-colored, racially charged and gut-bustingly fantastic movie experience. The movie abuses racial stereotypes beyond any silver screen film I've yet seen, but does it not to be racist, only to make current racial issues and problems public. Borat makes his way across the United States meeting with different individuals of high and low society, trying to gain knowledge for his home country of Kazakhstan on what makes the US so successful. What most movie-goers need to keep in mind is that Sacha Cohen is Jewish himself and was born and raised in Britain. He made his way up the entertainment chains as a stand-up comic and eventually landed his own TV show on HBO.

Cohen is a very gifted writer (graduating from Cambridge University); knowing how to illuminate individuals true racist views and prejudice while not agreeing with any of them himself. His character establishes a safe zone for those interviewed and in doing so makes it easy for them to divulge their deepest secrets on film. He then compiles the interviews to expose the individuals for their racist and immoral realities. Once you see the movie, his show or even the pre-views you will begin to understand the true genius of Sacha Cohen's character, his writing and improv capabilities.

Directed by Larry Charles (Seinfeld, Entourage, Curb Your Enthusiasm), this movie gets a fresh "hit and run" approach to cinematography. Rotten.com gives this movie a 95% fresh rating, one of the highest for any major motion picture of the last 5 years. Charles did a fantastic job with the movie, as he has done with all of the sitcoms he has produced over the years. I look forward to more from him in the future, and more from his HBO shows Entourage and CYE, both my favorites on TV.

All of the interviews in the movie are real, none are staged and the ending will have you rolling in the aisles. There is a small plot that keeps the movie moving in a single direction but the focus is on trip, not the destination.

I give an A+ and I believe Sacha Cohen is deserving of an Oscar for his performance. Some of the things he did took much devotion, character, guts and research. I highly recommend this movie however you prefer to watch it. It is not child-friendly but does bring up some very important social mores that are in need of serious attention in our country.

Good job Sacha; I'm waiting for number two.

*More detailed movie information can be found on IMDB's Website or at www.boratmovie.com.

- Mitch G

Friday, November 03, 2006

Catch A Fire

This is an incredible movie. For a one sentence review, that is what it comes down to. I saw this movie last night with a good friend of mine, and we both had a hard time speaking anything of intelligence for a good twenty minutes after the show. This is not an action/suspense entertainer it is an action/suspense/drama firecracker. This is a very heavy movie, so for anyone with a faint heart when it comes to apartheid and oppression I suggest you stay away, or prepare yourself. Catch a Fire is closely based on a true story that took place during the late 70s and 80s oppression stricken South Africa.

Derek Luke, representing the real life Patrick Chamusso, gives an Oscar worthy performance. The issues and factual accounts in this move are eye-opening to say the least. Tim Robbins, playing anti-terrorist investigator Nic Vos, satisfies his role with near flawless success as the protagonist-looking antagonist. Both actors are incredible on screen and work very well together. With the thoughtful direction of Phillip Noyce (Bone Collector, Patriot Games) the story comes to life on the big screen and you feel as if you are apart of the struggle.

We as 20th century Americans do not know the first thing about the type of oppression represented in the movie. Even the minority citizens in this country have never had to bear the wrath of a tyrant government looking for complete control and submission. After the movie was over I had to admit that I was all but oblivious to the brutal abuse and extreme prejudice-conflict in South Africa. In school I learned the basics about conflicts in the county and constant battles with segregation, but nothing to the extent that this story reveals.

I highly suggest this move as a must-see, either on the big screen or at home when it arrives on DVD. It is an educational and informative piece that keeps your stomach tight with anticipation the entire hour and 48 minutes. My hat is off to all involved in the production and to those real life individuals the movie and actors represent. Catch A Fire definitely gets an A.

- Mitch G

Ridiculous Car Buyers

Well, I have my 2001 BMW 740i Sport up for sale on Craigslist (listing here). Anyhow, this past Sunday morning I am awaken by a phone call by someone who had seen my listing a few weeks back, informing me they were driving an hour and a half to come see the car. There was no heads up on any level, and I was caught completely off guard, but said that would be fine.

The married couple arrived and took the car for a test drive. The husband had a $25,000 OBD tool as he was a mechanic and ran his own shop. They loved the car and the husband noted it didn't have any issues except for the light wear and tear on the outside as mentioned in my listing. He then went on to tell me that the rear tires were the wrong size on the car, of which I didn't think was true but wasn't able to counter on the spot. They offered me $17,500 which I politely declined as too low. We then parted ways without any problems.

Later that afternoon I received a call from them saying that they really wanted the car and asked if I had been able to think about their offer. I told them there was someone else interested in the car for more money and would have to wait to hear from the other buyer first. I told them I would call when I hear something.

I never heard from the other buyer regarding the car but before I got the chance to call the couple back they called me the very next morning and said they "just want the car and would pay my asking price." At this point I told them that was very gracious but I had loyalty to the other buyer who saw the car first and would have to wait to hear from him. The couple said that was alright and would wait for me. They didn't decide to wait, I got a call or email every 4-6 hours asking what the updates were.

Two days had gone by and I didn't hear from the other individual so I said to the couple I was good to go and asked when they would like to meet. The husband said it couldn't be tomorrow (this past Wednesday) but had to Thursday. Then he proceeded to say that he couldn't come over so he would have to send his wife which has no knowledge of car buying or selling. He then asked how we would go about transferring title as there is a loan on my car. I said he would have to pay me and I would pay off the bank and he would get the title. Or, he could come to the bank with me and pay off the loan, give me the balance and get a affidavit of title on the spot. He began to get irritated saying that the only way he would buy a car is if he gets the actual paper title on the spot.

I said this was not possible if the car has a loan on it, either he waits 4-6 weeks for the state to mail the title to him or he can take an affidavit of title from the bank. He then insisted that I was not making sense and that he "knew how to buy and sell cars" saying that he always walks away with the actual title. Apparently he didn't know that ANY car with a loan or lien on it would work this way. He kept freaking out and finally said he was done and didn't want to make the deal. He hung up with me right there.

This guy was an absolute moron. I later emailed him trying to explain how the bank purchasing process works in a numbered list as well as explaining that I had contacted the dealership and local shops, and the tire size was actually correct. He returned my email telling me I was a liar and then telling me there was items wrong with my car that were not wrong and work perfectly. This man was married and around 30 years old. Immature, ignorant and insulting could not even begin to describe this person.

In an unrelated incident, my step-father was selling his 2005 Acura RSX a couple of weeks ago and ran into the same problem with a younger man in his early 20s. He also thought that he should always get the actual paper title as soon as he pays for a car, even if there is a loan on the vehicle. This is just not the case with any lending institution. I am amazed how many people do not understand the basic concepts of car buying. Talk about a complete pain in my back and a waste of my time. I only hope that someone who respects the car and the deal comes along and admires my well kept BMW.

- Mitch G