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YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE has the unstoppable combination of Ken Adam and Freddie Young. Whatever else one might think, it's one of the most gorgeous Bond films.
A tangentially related story: I have a co-worker in her early 20s whose enjoyment of INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS was greatly heightened due to her not knowing how Hitler actually died.
I try to get outside myself a lot more when I watch a film like DRIVE, which is difficult since it pretty much pushes all of my buttons. I adored it, the thing set my little head on fire. But I agree with you, Glenn, that it's been somewhat overhyped. I don't really think it takes many significant steps beyond THE DRIVER, but on the other hand I was quite taken with the introduction of the almost primal romantic motivation for Gosling. Those emotional stakes, that fullness of feeling, that's something that I personally don't often find in films like THE DRIVER or LE SAMOURAI, which tend to work in terms of icy professionalism (this is by no means a shot at Hill or Melville). In DRIVE, this element does suffer from the somewhat rote characterization of Mulligan's character, but without going into spoilers I can't really discuss what mitigated that flaw for me. A friend of mine recently started getting into Michael Mann, partly at my insistence, and he told me that after loving THIEF, he found THE DRIVER coming up short, that it was too pretentious. I'm not sure he's wrong, but I'm also not sure that it bothers me. I think both DRIVE and THE DRIVER are after the sort of broad mythmaking gestures you might find in, say, THE ROAD WARRIOR, and that the stuff that seems pretentious is simply sincere enthusiasm. I'm also not sure I'm making any sense. Sorry for all that rambling.
Long time listener, first time caller. I'm surprised nobody's yet brought up Winner's previous film to DEATH WISH, THE STONE KILLER, also starring Bronson. It's a bit funkier than usual, and even features Chuck being thoroughly creeped out by a hippie party in one of its more amusing scenes. The most telling bit comes at the tail end, however, with Bronson quietly lamenting the state of society these days before turning directly to the camera and intoning "You've got five minutes, Christians." Credits. Personally, as a "fan" of Winner, I find him to be an exceptional panderer and therefore perfectly suited for exploitation filmmaking. As Edgar Wright (I think) is fond of saying (and I'm paraphrasing): "You can accuse his films of being in poor taste, and you can accuse them of being poorly made, but you can rarely accuse them of being boring." That's Ed, I think DEATH WISH is his most "thoughtful" film, even though, as has already been pointed out, it seems designed more to provoke than anything else. Winner indulged in his fair share of sleaze during his career; if you find DEATH WISH repellent and/or politically dubious, I suggest you check out one of Winner's last features, DIRTY WEEKEND, which is a similar story with a "feminist" bent to it, and certainly one of the silliest and most hilariously unpleasant entries in the revenge subgenre.
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Jan 28, 2011