I, Da Ca$hman's Movie Reviews

U Can't Beat Me Man!

How will reviews be organized?

Chronologically. You will see Die Hard (1988) under Gangs of New York (2002)

Requests

You can ask for them, but do keep in mind I have PLENTY to go through.

Ratings System

Ratings tend to not be the best indicators of opinions - for a better understanding read the entire review. However, ratings are also quick. So here is a quick legend of what these ratings might mean. Note that if there are multiple options, these options can merge in the hurricane that is my mentality.vAll ratings are made with both objective quality of the movie and personal opinion in mind. Reviews are made looking for all aspects of the movies, however seeking the positives as a priority over the negatives. If my rankings were chosen with a different method, this list would be entirely different.

0/5 - Nothing going for this movie. Example: A.V.P.:R.-Un:R[4.0]]{BETA}

1/5 - Barely anything going for this movie. Example: Batman & Robin

2/5 - Option A. Overrated. Example: The Amazing Spiderman. Option B. Had a lot of potential but it didn't fall through. Example: Alice in Wonderland (2010) Option C. Nothing new, nothing special, and synthetic. Example: Dolphin Tale. Option D. At least they tried. Example: Alien 3

3/5 - Option A. Cheesy and Fun, the best and worst of Popcorn Entertainment. Example: Piranaconda Option B. Good, Okay, but nothing that I even recommend by any stretch of the imagination. Just check it out if you're bored to death. Example: Highlander

3.5/5 - Very good, enjoyable. It's a fun time, and I recommend it, but don't rush out to the theaters. Something you would rent on Netflix. Example: Dracula 2000

3.8/5 Close to awesome but just great. Example: Iron Man

4/5 - Awesome but not perfect. Example: Batman Returns

5/5 - Between 90% done overtly well or 95% done well. Example: Batman Begins

5.5/5 - 95% Done overtly well or 100% done well. Example - Return of the Jedi

6/5 - Beyond Perfection. 100% done overtly well. Example: Cloverfield

All decimals represent a space in between these ratings.

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Iron Man III (2013)

What the Hell happened to AC/DC?

So, this will be an interesting review. In this movie, there were some aspects I perseverated on that I wouldn't normally. And a lot of aspects I would've normally had focus on I didn't care as much about. But first, there's a tradition with reviewing MARVEL films on this website. It's the traditional schpeel about how I am not of the typical opinion with these films. I lean towards being negative, but honestly it's just all over the place. I'll start with the first X-Men. That's one I actually share most opinions with. It's awesome. X-Men 2, however, was mediocre, and became crap in my eyes because people loved it so much. X-Men 3 was a awful. X-Men: First Class, I agreed with most people again, was a pretty good success. X-Men: Origins: Wolverine was a movie that I thought got thrown under the bus. It's not that great, but it's fun.

The original Spider-Man movie was awesome, and I think pre-2012 most people shared that opinion. Spiderman 2 was kind of a let down. Sure it still had the same awesome directing, but the acting and script was weak(er.) Spiderman 3 was bad, but not as bad as everybody says. People act like it was Jaws 3 and it really wasn't, it had it's moments, but overall was crap. Now, The Fucking Amazing Spiderman, that was the really awful movie. I haven't seen the Blade movies, the Ghost Rider movies, the Punisher movies, or any of the one-offs, and I think I'm unable to be more negative about the Fantastic Four flicks than anybody else on the internet.

Now for the Avengers-tie ins. Iron Man was okay. It was a throw away movie. Something you go to with drunk friends. And unfortunately I didn't do that. Iron Man 2 was the same but with pretty lights, so it got a little boost. I saw The Incredible Hulk when it was first released, but I don't remember my opinion from when I was 12/13. Thor was an abomination and nobody should enjoy it. Captain America: The First Avenger was the best of them thus far, but a few things kept it from being "great" and it was just "pretty good." The Avengers was the first film that I said was "great" out of this series, but not the masterpiece that everybody claimed it to be.

So I came into this movie with generally negative opinions. Which is completely stupid, since they had been gradually getting better. So for the first five to ten minutes, I was kind of forcing myself to hate it. Then I hit myself over the head and looked at it objectively. First, the pacing. The movie is very successful at keeping a healthily fast pace. It's at about 45-50 mph, as opposed to the 70 mph speeds that a cartoon counterpart would have. On the line between highway* and street. Problems with the pacing come in the form of it's concrete stability. It starts off at 50 mph and is 50 mph throughout the entire film, never stopping to have  a calm moment or speeding up to build climatic tension. The climax felt as fast as the rest of the movie. That's not good.

*That's an opportunity for some AC/DC

I'll be honest. There's a lot of characters that I didn't care for. Tony's girl I find completely forgettable, and now that I think of it she's in the other movies isn't she? Well, just proves how forgettable she is. The "double-crosser" (trying not to spoil) has a rushed and unnatural character arc. She's a pretty good actor(actress?) though. This incarnation of War Machine was lukewarm. It felt like they were trying to not conjour up any racist stereotypes while still trying to keep him "stylistically black." Shane Black (dir), Drew Pearce (wtr) or Don Cheadle (act) apparently don't know how to properly balance this.

Tony Stark is a character I've had issues with from the first movie to this one. You are trying to build an anti-hero. You know how you do anti-heroes? Han Solo. More detail, you ask? A jackass who's super selfish, but every once and a while he does something small but unselfish so that the audience doesn't hate him. That doesn't happen with Stark. He doesn't "save a cat" as my film/history teacher would've said. He's a total DICK. Even when he has an opportunity to be totally cool to this little kid he finds abandoned by his parents, fuck no. Not doing it here. Sure he bribes him with shiny toys later, but if this was a Christmas TV special, that would be the actions of the neglectful father more involved with work. He's not a cool, sarcastic hero, he's a jackass. It could be that he lost a lot of will to be nice in the climax of The Avengers...but I don't buy it. They didn't dedicate enough time to that. Just a few spastic moments. 

Now, the villains is what I really want to talk about. Going into this movie, I knew they were doing The Mandarin, and that they had planned it even before The Avengers was released. However...since then, North Korea happened. And I knew it wouldn't be their fault, but an Asian villain in a series so popular, and more importantly, so attractive to children, would be destructive for society. After all, there are three reasons why movies are made: artistic purposes (Citizen Kane, House),  money (Avatar, Friday the 13th Part V) and propaganda (The Birth of a Nation, The Battleship Potemkin).

So, for most of the movie, my thoughts were this: It's not as bad as I'd thought. It's worse. We have an Asian terrorist threatening to destroy America with bombs. WOOOOOW. The guy looks like somebody from the Kashmir trinity (India, Pakistan, China) and dressed like somebody from Japan or Korea. His nose is also massive. I don't know why this bugs me. But it does. I think it conjours up images of witches. Which was originally racism against Jews. So maybe I'm just self-centered. But it also plays on the still lingering fear of Islamic terrorists. The Mandarin's organization, at least through most of the movie, is seen to be Islamic terrorists, and like I said, the guy looks like he could be from Pakistan. He even mentions "The Age of Terrorism."

Buuuuuuut....then the reveal happens. *SPOILERS.* Turns out The Mandarin is just a mouthpiece, an image, for a terrorist who...resides in America. Is completely white. In fact, white blonde. Skinny white blonde. Tall skinny white blonde. With blue eyes. He's practically a happy day for Hitler's sake. And sure I could still come up with stuff like the movie implies that "other races seem insignificant, being manipulated by the obviously superior white guy..." but I'm leaning towards a different racial connotation. This is a situation where a colored terrorist is the mouthpiece of a white guy out to expand a corporation. Could you say that the Mandarin is Adrian's "cover up?" Could you say...that this movie...is subtly implying...that 9/11...was in fact a cover up? Don't tell me you didn't think about 9/11 in scenes with the Mandarin. And if that implication is the correct one, then this movie earned so many points in my book.

*SPOILERS OVER.* Let's cover some other stuff before we wrap this up. The action is pretty great. A lot of spectacle but mixed with just the right amount of actual rage in the fighting for this type of movie. Not exactly Star Wars but it's still good in this age where we're desperate for well choreographed action. Aside from all the racial implications, The Mandarin could have been a super scary villain, but he didn't get a lot of exposure, which hurt the movie a lot. The dialogue is satisfactory. Any humor you'd expect from the previous movie is here. It's not comedy genius, but it serves up to the minimal requirement for enjoyment.

With good dialogue, good action, a couple of decent actors and villain who has a lot of potential and a lot of implications, it suffers from an ungodly sloppy script, some actors that feel overtired and out of their prime, and a pace that is very good but very flat. Oh, and the post-credits scene sucks. I'm going to give this movie a 3.7/5+. The plus is for some excellent spectacle, especially towards the end.

And I'm not signing off until I get my AC/DC.

Mud (2012)

I AM A PRINCESS GODDAMMIT!

What we have here is a coming-of-age film that takes place in Mississippi. It does a damn good job of appealing to that sort of audience, while not taking special care to appeal to any other areas of Western culture. This is both its greatest artistic strength and its biggest financial weakness. The movie is being played in select theaters, and by select theaters I mean if you don't live in the southeast chunk of the USA then you're gonna have yourself a fun time trying to see this movie. Which sucks because the production value is super high and the cast could probably sell the movie on it's own. But the only marketing that reached me was word of mouth, specifically that of Arm Leg Gamer.

...So I guess this might count as a Requestathon 2 review?

The movie has gotten universal acclaim for what it can get. Most of the praise has been centered around how "beautifully" the movie is "shot." And honestly, I can't argue too much. The movie's colors are intense. It perfectly captures this area of the country, to the sensory detail, which is a combination of the choreography and the cinematography. Camera angels consistently heightening the mood, examples being very good perspective when a character is punched, or a proper lack of stability during climatic scenes. Some moving shots, towards the beginning and end of the film, are a sign of perfect film comprehension from the director. And if you're curious about what I just said, Jeff Nichols's two previous films have even better praise than this movie's gotten. The guy knows what he's doing.

But don't get confused. It's not Kubrick. It's well shot but it's not exceptionally shot. All the major areas (set piece?) of the film are within the same chunk of the color spectrum, all green, brown or a very bright sandy color. Which makes perfect sense for the location, but can come across as redundant in 2 hours and 10 minutes of footage. Sometimes you get tired of seeing that same motel room, or the same shore after 8+ times. None of the camera angles ring me as experimental, and if I'm wrong then I need to see it again. There's also a couple of artistic tricks used that have been for decades, such as the recurring "drive on the same street at different points of the character's life."

Another thing that's not rather exceptional, but commendable, is the script. There were a few moments I was like "man, I've seen that in SO MANY coming of age movies, couldn't you do something different?" Especially the side plot. And the end. ESPECIALLY the end. Don't see the movie for the ending, the ending is kinda stupid. I don't wanna give too many examples because they might be considered spoilers. (Says the guy who just wrote that review for Iron Man 3.) But aside from these rather cliche moves, the film has a healthy pace of about 30 mph, with humps and ditches, sometimes coming too close to 23 mph, but that might just be my 17 year old spoiled impatient mind.

The dialogue is also super strong. It can often mask the staleness of some of the plot points. It feels surprisingly natural. You have characters naturally interrupting each other. You have villains sometimes acting nicer than you'd think and heroes acting like jackasses a couple of times. But it's all done to make the characters feel human. A couple times there are some wonderfully quotable lines that are just so quirky and corny they HAVE to be from real life. See my intro line for a reference. If you're gonna see this movie, I also want you to watch for the line "FISH! WE'RE SELLING FISH!" That was just hilarious. In context, of course.

Really where I personally find this movie to be strongest is in the acting. It's a sign of a good casting director in Francine Mainsler that he chose actors and actresses coming from Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and other southern states, so that the accent wouldn't have to be trained into the actor, it would just come naturally. It's both saving the coordinators some stress and getting the best possible result of the accent. Our main characters Ellis and Neckbone act just like kids at their age, and maybe less innocent and more deviated than we'd like to remember ourselves or our friends as. Especially when Ellis gets mad at Mud, I totally connected to him.*

*(Unlike Tony Stark did. I'm still mad about that.)

Mud, the main adult character, played by Matthew McConaughey (Amistad, Contact, King of the Hill, Tropic Thunder, Killer Joe) feels like a real person in this movie. I sometimes wish we got more of him then we did. He perfectly plays a guy who's both trying to be a father figure and trying to run away from the law, both goals being misguided, and thus resulting in utter confusion for him and perfect comprehension for the audience. I feel like his character is weakened when him and his father are in the same scenes, but separated both characters do their job perfectly. 

Everybody else is really good. Ellis's dad is perfectly played, and although his mom is also really well played, sometimes she can come off as too annoying......no, wait, that's moms in general. The various antagonists are played well, seeing a face that on the outside is stable, but is a very transparent mask for complete insanity. The sideplot's main focus, Maypearl, does her job really well for the first half of her own performance, but in her second half she becomes really confusing......no, wait, that's just teenage girls. Yeah. Really long in the really short of it, really good acting.

Here feels like a decent place to end it. Mud is a film that has a ton of strengths. Near perfect acting, some very good cinematography, great casting, super strong dialogue, really good pacing, and a perfect understanding of their target audience. However, it does suffer from some cliche moments, a couple of bad dips in the pacing, and  a REALLY FREAKING STUPID ENDING....but that's a discussion for another time. I give Mud a 4.45/5

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

Gangs of New York (2002)

This review's been a long time coming.

·         THE CLASH BEHIND THE GANGS

·         The last time we visited Martin Scorsese, we were discussing Raging Bull. So you’d figure we’d be heading forward, right? Naaah. Instead we’re going to go all the way back to the 1950’s. Martin is probably a preteen about now, and the location is Little Italy, Manhattan. Wandering around, he began to notice age differences in parts of town. He found tombstones that were founded in the year 1810, and yet most of the buildings in Little Italy probably hadn’t been formed before the dawn of the twentieth century. He became intensely curious about the town’s history, and he probably got lost for a couple days while his mom panicked.

·         "I gradually realized that the Italian-Americans weren't the first ones there, that other people had been there before us. As I began to understand this, it fascinated me. I kept wondering, how did New York look? What were the people like? How did they walk, eat, work, dress?”

·         Now let’s fast forward to the 1970’s. Martin Scorsese is in his late 20’s and early 30’s, and has released two of his first films – which also happen to be two of his worst received films. Martin’s currently at the bookstore and he has found a little chronicle from the year 1928. It’s titled Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld. As the title suggests, it chronicles the criminal underworld of the nineteenth century in this very city. Martin Scorsese was allaike “Mind = Blown.” He saw the potential to make an epic historical film. Though he wouldn’t have the budget then, in fact he wouldn’t have jackshit to his name until 1976.

Three years after arguably his first big hit, Taxi Driver, Scorsese acquired rights to that book that he found years ago. Fast forwarding twenty years, production actually starts to get moving. Wonderful job. But seriously, there were good reasons for this delay. Scorsese wanted a full physical recreation of New York in the 1800’s. Not only would this require a FUCKING MASSIVE SET but you would also need to do extensive research on the subject, considering the architecture was most likely extremely different from the architecture today. Seriously, think about it.

It also was a hassle trying to find a distributor. But in 1999 Martin met up with Harvey Weinstein. That name should sound familiar to movie goers. If The Weinstein Company and Miramax ring a bell, you’re spot on. Harvey gave the set a home in the form of the Cinecitta Studio in Rome. The set ended up spanning over a mile. Let me type that again. OVER A MILE. It pretty much had half of everything. In localizing the movie, Scorsese wanted particularly good attention paid to the accents, for that could reveal their loyalties. Tim Monich resisted teaching the cast members stereotypical voices and instead taught them traditional dialects from Ireland and Great Brittan.  With the exception of DiCaprio, who was more localized to fit the character.

But forget about randomly mentioning Leonardo DiCaprio without proper precedent, now we’re going to talk about getting some Yankee accents. We’re talking about the long-lost Yankee “Nativists” accents. We’re talking about Tim Monich studying old poems, ballads, and cartoons/newspaper articles that recreated dialect for humor. He also studied the Rouge’s Lexicon, which noted a bunch of underworld idioms complied by the New York police. The original purpose of the book was so that police could understand what in the blue megafuck criminals were talking about.

One of the most important pieces of Tim Monich’s journey to completely comprehend what in the blue megafuck criminals were talking about was a wax cylinder recording of Walt Whitman from 1892. In it, Walt recited four lines of a poem. A lot of words were pronounced differently than we would have expected it. He pronounced “world” as “woild,” and “an” as “ayan.” Monich came to the conclusion that this 1800’s accent would come to influence the “proverbial Brooklyn cabbie” of the mid-twentieth century.

"The country was up for grabs, and New York was a powder keg. This was the America not the West with its wide open spaces, but of claustrophobia, where everyone was crushed together. On one hand, you had the first great wave of immigration, the Irish, who were Catholic, spoke Gaelic, and owed allegiance to the Vatican. On the other hand, there were the Nativists, who felt that they were the ones who had fought and bled, and died for the nation. They looked at the Irish coming off the boats and said, ‘What are you doing here?’ It was chaos, tribal chaos. Gradually, there was a street by street, block by block, working out of democracy as people learned somehow to live together. If democracy didn't happen in New York, it wasn't going to happen anywhere."

Scorsese may not have been just talking about New York in the 1800’s, but also the adaptation of this time into film. The production lasted three years and is referred to as “a story within itself.” Weinstein wanted the film to be streamlined and commercialized, coming to a less tasteful story and a shorter one at that. (Little did he know how much Lord of the Rings was making at that time…) Actors like Robert DeNiro and William DaFoe had to temporarily leave production due to conflicts with other movies they were doing. Costs overshot the budget 25%, bringing it from $80 Million to $100 Million. (In modern dollars, a $25,312,412.35 difference.)

At this point Weinstein was having a seizure like a one-eyed one-horned purple people eater. This movie was going to be successful or everybody would pretty much die. Didn’t help when the film was finished, only to be delayed a year. It’s the end of the year and 9/11 just happened. You know. It’s New York. And The Twin Towers are included in one shot of the movie. Scorsese later stated that this actually wasn’t the case, talking about how a shot of the finished twin towers would be offensive in any timeframe past 9/11, and that pickup shots continued all the way into October of 2002.

Weinstein continued to force cuts into the movie, and some of these were eventually made after much persistence. A work print was transferred to a reviewer working for Kevin Smith’s official website during post-production. He noted that the film did not have narration and was about twenty minutes longer. He said although it "different than the [theatrical] version... scene after scene after scene play[s] exactly the same in both.” The reviewer found the workprint to be richer and more satisfying than the theatrical version.

"[I] passed along [the] three-hour-plus [work print] version of Gangs on tape [to friends] and confided, 'Putting aside my contractual obligation to deliver a shorter, two-hour-and-forty-minute version to Miramax, this is the version I'm happiest with,' or words to that effect." Later he went to interview with Roger Ebert and negate these statements. Ebert reported that "His [conflicts] with Weinstein, he said, were always about finding the length where the picture worked. When that got to the press, it was translated into fights. The movie is currently 168 minutes long, he said, and that is the right length, and that's why there won't be any director's cut — because this is the director's cut.”

Well let’s just see how good the director’s cut is, shall we?

THE END OF AN ERA

The opening sequence to this film is one of the most famous clips from this movie, if not the famous. And like many great films that are circular in their emotional build, it is the most quintessential to the following film, foreshadowing numerous events and images that are crucial to the plot in later points. Firstly the opening introduces a high caliber of casting. Right off the bat we get to see Liam Neeson and Daniel-Day Lewis in opposing roles, and it’s only a few scenes distant from the introduction of Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz. This would help bring in a less hardcore fan who may not be attending for the drama or historical context, while not directly removing from the quality of the film, in fact mostly adding to it.

It then introduces a symbol that represents a multitude of things highly important to the film in the form of a blade that Liam Neeson uses to shave. Finally, what the opening sequence is most known for, it gives us an epically gory fight between the immigrated Irish and the “Natives.” The scene would be confined to the two armies and set in bright lighting during nationwide peacetime, which directly parallels the climax of this film. The fighting is intense, choreographed to match how gangs would actually combat. Pretty gruesomely. The scene ends with a resolution that carries our main protagonist throughout his character arc.

Sorry for rambling on about a ten minute sequence, but the opening fascinates me. I mentioned bright lighting. This is certainly present in the film. New York in the daylight is a perfectly executed aesthetic. However possibly the most prevalent color scheme in this film is a dark mixture of blacks, yellows and browns. I believe this to be more symbolic. The gross mixture of these colors is similar to swimming through quicksand upstream, but it also represents the overall journey in attempting to survival and revenge. Long, hard, torturous, mind-grating, morally questioning…poisonous…near fatal…most likely fatal.

Tim Monich did a great job with the accents. Again, referring to the opening sequence, being able to simultaneously hear Liam Neeson immediately and being able to hear a strong Irish scent immediately is a feat that not many coordinators can claim as their own. It’s a similar situation with each and every actor/actress. Though I notice that their accents will fluctuate when events are separated by extended periods of time. I could ascertain that these changes were intentional as this is an occurrence that could actually come to be, however I fail to see the purpose of these changes. Maybe I need to watch it over again. Or maybe there were filming difficulties.

The pacing is an interesting subject. The film was originally planned to be around three hours and is still at over two hours and forty-five minutes. So much that DVDs of this film had to cut the film in half. (Side note: my DVD chose a wonderful time to cut the film in half. The sex scene.) The story is long and no single event is rushed, but some of the fights feel cut and fades often cleverly remove time. As a result, the film is not especially fast, nor is it slow, nor is it at the expected pacing. It’s about ten or fifteen miles above the speed limit. Which may be the most jackshit analogy since I haven’t actually driven.

The soundtrack is also an interesting subject. It’s composed Howard Shore, who also conducted soundtracks for The Brood, The Fly, The Silence of the Lambs, Mrs. Doubtfire, Ed Wood, The Game, Dogma, High Fidelity, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Aviator, A History of Violence, Hugo, and yeah a lot of good shit. Like, a lot. The soundtrack here is mostly a mixture of orchestral music traditionally featured in films and Irish bagpipe music, and at certain points including musical inspirations from other countries in Eurasia. For the most part it fits and properly portrays the atmosphere but sometimes it leans a little too close to a mainstream rock song that would get somebody pumped up for a mosh pit, not a song that portrays violence and terror. Granted this problem only occurs once or twice.

 

Also, the U2 song sucks.

There are other problems with the film. Like the two problems I’ve mentioned earlier, they seem to be sandwiched in between parallel well executed aspects. However I must address the relationship between Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Amsterdam Vallon and Cameron Diaz’s character Jenny Everdeane. It’s supposed to be one of those relationships where they start off really rough, almost enemies, and then grow to admire each other. But they do that first part so damn well that by the time where they need to make things happen or make like a tree and leave, you’d believe that if Leonardo shouldn’t have raging hate for Jenny then Cameron should surely be wanting to dip Amsterdam into a volcano. They then sort of force the relationship to happen and it becomes unnatural, almost smelling of Mr. Weinstein.

I think one of the shining stars of this movie is Daniel Day-Lewis, and most tend to agree. The dramatic irony in his character is that he commits dozens of acts of murder and is completely demented in his view of the human race, yet he acts with complete confidence, humor and stability. You sometimes forget that the man is insane, and other times you find yourself wanting to grab him by the throat and thrust his head off of his body. Bill Cutting is not portrayed as a butcher who loves the monster he has become; he is portrayed as a madman who has no comprehension of his transformation but is aware of it and adores it regardless, for it is his new identity. It shows how easily one can be drawn into hatred and destruction.

This feels like what I might call a “line movie.” A movie with engaging dialogue, but in terms of what is spoken, the movie shines with specific quotes from the film. Such examples include Boss Tweed’s “The appearance of law must be upheld, especially when it's being broken.” Or when Boss Tweed looks at a pile of dead bodies and calls them “votes” being buried. Or maybe when Bill is giving his sort of monologue about fear. “I'm forty-seven. Forty-seven years old. You know how I stayed alive this long? All these years? Fear. The spectacle of fearsome acts. Somebody steals from me, I cut off his hands. He offends me, I cut out his tongue. He rises against me, I cut off his head, stick it on a pike, raise it high up so all on the streets can see. That's what preserves the order of things. Fear.”

Fear. Terror. Horror. That is what I felt at the climax. There are examples of proper portrayals of mass violence and this should be listed as one of them. It does its absolute best to communicate the tragedy of New York in the 1800’s, resulting in the four-day massacre. The ending to the film is a powerful one, possibly streamlined, but not lacking in statement. It tells that though New York has prospered since, “we” were those who fought and died in the days of gang-ruled, boss-ruled anarchy so that the city could reform and prosper as you see it now. No tower stands without a titan who died gruesomely at the hands of another.

Gangs of New York is simply awesome. You have an excellent cast. A good soundtrack. Good dialogue, lots of memorable quotes. Very good pacing. Stunning coordinating.  Awesome aesthetics. And most of all, the absolutely terrifying portrayal of the violence and the tragedy that leaves a lasting mark on the audience. Though it has several very apparent flaws, I must award this movie 5.25/5

 

AFTERMATH

After the film was officially delayed one year due to over-production, a 20 minute “extended preview” was exhibited at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, which was a star-studded event involving the cast and crew. Weinstein then wanted the film to open Christmas of 2002, however another film featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, Catch Me if you Can, was being released the same weekend by Dreamworks. Between DiCaprio wish not to promote two competing films and Weinstein wanting to cash in on his name first, the opening was moved to earlier. In retrospective, it probably wouldn’t have been a great idea to feature an R-Rated historical film with blood and sex to be released on Christmas Day.

Five days earlier, the film was unleashed to the public on the day of December 20th. The film was released on a $97 Million ($122,765,199.90 2013). Due to the film’s budget doubling in production, Weinstein found the success of the film crucial. But oh, it was successful. It made about…$193,772,504. ($245,242,476.18 2013.) Close to twice its highly inflated budget. The film has since been released on DVD and Blu-Ray, new fans being created all the time. Though many have questioned and pestered Martin about a director’s cut or an extended cut, Martin and his colleagues have repeated that he “doesn’t believe in that. He only believes in releasing the finished film.”

The critics were well receiving. A TON of them praised Daniel-Day Lewis’s performance. Though many reviews are positive, enough are disappointed that there is a credible amount of people who believe the film to be overrated. Rotten Tomatoes and Metascore have the film filed in the low-to-mid 70 percents. Roger Ebert liked the film but felt it fell short of Scorsese’s earlier works. Meanwhile Richard Roeper called it a masterpiece and a leading contender for Best Picture. Paul Clinton called it a “grand American epic.” Todd McCarthy wrote that it "falls somewhat short of great film status, but is still a richly impressive and densely realized work that bracingly opens the eye and mind to untaught aspects of American history."

But whether some like it or not, the film has received great film statues, for if not on its own merits, it is similar to Raging Bull and Goodfellas in its loving and simultaneous receptions by the mass audience and film enthusiasts. And sadly, it would turn out to be the last of those types of Scorsese movies for nearly a decade. But it’s 2013. Scorsese has made a comeback. And so have I, baby! Welcome to Phase 2. 2013 rages on.

I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.

Heh heh. Maybe it’s ironic this is uploaded on Memorial Day.

The Undertaker's Wind (1973)

Also known as Live and Let Die.

      COL. JAMES JR.

·         The year is 1967. The previous year saw the concluding publication of an Ian Fleming James Bond novel. Immediately Jonathon Cape starts the selling out process...eh, screw that, he just leaps into the deep end and makes a spin-off series aimed at kids 8-14. Or so he wants. An author, under the pseudonym R.D. Mascott, whose real name has still not been revealed, wrote a book called The Adventures of James Bond Junior: 003 ½. The novel was based around a character who is James Bond’s nephew…although this makes no sense considering James Bond was an orphan and an only child…

·         Although it completely broke canon and was more an attempt to make dollar bills fall out of the sky than actually advancing the mythos, Harry Sandman, Mr. Eon Productions himself, thought that there was some money in this concept. He was actually in talks with R.D. Mascott and Jonathon Cape about making a spin-off TV show before the book was even released. He intended to have a series about a ten year old who fights SPECTRE, and of course this was in between the releases of Thunderball and You Only Live Twice. Nothing came of it, fortunately.

·         The book got surprisingly good reaction. The Library Journal said "This imported British spin-off from the adult series doesn't exude literary quality but is a notch above what might be expected. After a sluggish beginning in which Bond family relationships and the basis for the story's intrigue are explained, the adventures of the youthful 003 1/2 (James Bond's nephew) gain momentum as he ferrets out the mystery of a heavily"guarded estate and runs up against gold robbers and guard dogs. The crooks are finally apprehended in a satisfying, albeit predictable manner. Flashes of irony and some humor enliven this otherwise ordinary adventure story.”

·         Margery Fisher had an interesting position. "003 1/2 seems to be satire on three levels. First, with its bullion robbers and the indomitable amateur boy who cracks the code, as it were, the book sends up the junior thriller; young Bond with his blacked and infra-red camera and judo principles ("Don't go against the enemy, go with him") is a remote cousin of Miss Blyton's water-pistol-carrying kids. Then (and I am less certain of the author's intention here) the fast-moving events and casual cruelty of the story may be a satire on the exploits of Jimmy's notorious uncle; if so, it is a satire many readers won't see or won't want to. Mascott has given us glimpses of the sordid and a nearer approach to danger (and one brilliant female character drawn in the round). But one swallow doesn't make a summer and all Sheelagh's gibes and kisses and dirty clothes don't make this a genuinely realistic book."

·         The Observer claimed that "the story is a small perfect triumph in the hands of a master. This is probably the best bet for Christmas if you want to hand out spinal rather than moral chills." The Illustrated London News noted what should already be blatantly obvious in that "[The Adventures of James Bond Junior 003 ½ is] Very definitely for boys. It's all very exciting, but racy and rather bloody, and so not to be given to the sons of very prim parents." Finally, Majore D. Lawrie liked the pretty pictures, but otherwise went randomly punching people in the face.

·         Though 2 months later nobody really gives a damn about this book, it did pave the way for other authors to tackle the character of James Bond. We revisit The Man with the Golden Gun. Jonathon Cape is approaching Kingsley Amis, who had recently become fascinated with the series, and asking for any help. Though that didn’t go very far, this also broke ground in giving Kingsley Amis seniority in writing a James Bond novel. Thus, we come to the first official continuation novel, Colonel Sun. Weirdest cover ever.

     

      After The Man With the Golden Gun, Kingsley Amis published The James Bond Dossier, which was a critical analysis of the entire series under his name. He also published The Book of Bond, which was a tongue in cheek guide to the whole thing, and published under the pseudonym Lt.-Col. William (“Bill”) Tanner. He then wrote his own original novel, The Anti-Death League, which had a plot filled with popular fiction elements. It was more a warmup round for Colonel Sun, a book Sally Beauman would call "unusual, not to say unprecedented, for an established author to pick up the torch in this way."

·         Kingsley and his wife Jane Amis spent their September of 1965 on the island of Spetses. Amis used his experiences from the novel. It would be the first part of a pattern of following Ian’s rituals. Amis also followed using the names of his friends, colleagues, and fellow researchers, as characters in the book. He especially drew upon people he met in Greece. He also named a boat in the novel The Altair, which was a name Kingsley and Jane rode in Greece. The fictional researches Legakis and Papadogonas played the same role in Kingsley’s real life.

·         Kingsley was given permission to write a sequel not only for all of the precedent, but also because Gildrose (Ian’s copyright company) needed to establish copyright over the James Bond character. Everybody started having a freakout. Ann Fleming, Ian’s widow, did not allow any other sequels to be published, and said that Amis would create "a petit bourgeois red brick Bond." On May 21st, 1967, Amis noted that he had already finished writing the book and simply needed it to be published.

·         That happened on the day of March the 28th in 1968. It was 255 pages long and cost 21 shillings, with the US edition running eleven pages shorter. The novel sold relatively well, selling 500,000 copies in over 10 years. In the Financial Times for April and May of that year it was listed as the first and second most demanded book. The critics were mostly happy and were pleased with Kingsley’s abilities as a writer, but Goddamit if they weren’t missing their main man Ian Fleming. It just wasn’t the same.

·         Roger Baker, writing in The Times noted that from one angle Colonel Sun is a "neat, not over-inventive thriller, low on sex, high on violence and more than usually improbable"; however, he noted that once the elements of the re-incarnation of Bond and the writing of Kingsley Amis were taken into account, things were different. Baker thought that with Amis writing the story, "one might, justifiably, have expected a joyous rejuvenation or at least a devastating detour from the Fleming pattern. We get neither. It is a pale copy."

·         D.J. Enright had a different approach, saying that in literary terms, Ian’s "inheritance has been well and aptly bestowed…Colonel Sun offers apt literary pabulum for Bond's fish-and-chip culture, for his neurotics, alcoholics and suicides. Good dirty fun, once read and soon forgotten.” The Times Literary Supplement, one of our regulars, said that Kingsley Amis is "a chuckle-headed imposter whose arthritic thought processes would be a liability in a 'physical tussle' down at the pub…Colonel Sun offers the frustrated Bond addict ... a small academic problem, of swiftly passing interest."

·         The Daily Mirror considered it to be "an exciting, violent, sadistic and sexy piece of reading matter", but said although, partly because of what they perceived to be Kingsly Amis' abilities as a writer, Colonel Sun "is altogether too meticulous and well written - Fleming was a hypnotic but slapdash writer. And, at times, I sensed parody. This could be fatal.” The Guardian said that it was "a reasonable read but no more: neither vintage Fleming nor vintage Amis…it lacks a convincing rhetoric ... and the traditional Fleming frissons emerge only in muted form."

·         The Observer said that Colonel Sun "is vigorous, quite exciting, rather disorderly, a bit labored [book.]…Some of the action is quite well done and little more preposterous than in the later Flemings. The real trouble is the absence of spontaneous élan.” The Los Angeles times noted that it lacked “the garish, outrageous, ridiculous, symbol-witted touch of the original article.” They still enjoyed the book, claiming that it left "intact the reputations of both Messrs. Amis and Fleming." Life Magazine said that Col. Sun "is the kind of villain to make a Bondophile salivate” and that Amis kept the “Fleming effect” completely intact.” But he called Bond that of “essential swinishness is being replaced by some kind of dilute humanism.”

·         The New York Times sat back and had an epiphany: the novel isn’t filled to the brim with gadgets. But then thought that the films were the ones that had really pioneered that, the books weren’t as much focused on gadgets, and realized that the films had “overshadowed the personality of the secret agent.” In this, he wondered if Kingsley had done a favor to the audience, and soon claimed that "Mr. Amis [had] now given Bond back to the readers." He said that Bond "has become a sensitive man-of-ethics who suffers pangs of doubt and remorse over the 'senseless' violence of his profession"

·         But TNYT did admit that Amis "never quite captures the bizzare beat of a Fleming pace….the greatest flaw in Amis' conception of Bond is that he has attempted to transform the consummate spy-hero into something he was never meant to have been: a man with a job.” Taking The Times and The The out of New York, Sally Beauman believed that "Amis has all the obvious ingredients for success" including "an exotic troubled international setting, a beautiful girl, frequent imbibings, and even more frequent killings; and, most imperative, a villain. Yet the book drags and becomes a bore." Beauman complains that the story lacks suspense and that Bond is far too gloomy: he's more like Ingmar Bergman's creations than Ian Fleming's hero. Beauman attributes the novel's failure to the "differing characters of the authors."

·         Fast forward five years. Here comes another piece of controversy. It’s a book published by Gildrose but not published by Jonathon Cape. It’s a book that connects all cannon with previous works but would be contradicted later. It is The Authorized Biography of James Bond. Written by the same guy who did the authorized biography of Ian Fleming, it was more a spoof than anything, until Gildrose saw a financial opportunity. It’s the only expansion book to have shared copyright. It was published in 1973…just like the movie we’re talking about today.

·         FINDING ANOTHER JAMES BOND – AGAIN

·         So now I bring you to the early 70’s. You got hippie riots. Some becoming fatal. You got all sorts of drugs becoming popular. You got guys like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and Jimi Hendrix paving the waves of hard and drug induced music. You got movies like The Godfather, Fritz the Cat, The Poseidon Adventure, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, The Exorcist, American Graffiti and Jesus Christ Superstar becoming the new rage. You got guys like Francis Ford Coppolla and Woody Allen becoming big.

·         And you’ve also got The Civil Rights Movement.

·         I would hope that we could all be in agreement that The American Civil Rights Movement was a major success, mostly in the long-term, and that it gave us a ton of different icons of history – some of the rare icons of history who deserve their iconography. However….there’s no tree without bad apples. The Black Panthers. A group not of black equality and civil rights but of black power and violence. Attempting to gain a separate African-American nation with any means necessary. See the figures of Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad.

·         So bringing it all back to James Bond. Since you were already cashing in on the widespread fear of Communism...Tommy Mankiewicz thought that it would be “daring” to make a Bond film with a black villain. Not only were there people who feared The Black Panthers of all colors, but there was also, unfortunately, a fear of change and a fear of integration. This fear was paranoia. The idea of welcoming in outsiders is, sadly, something that humans reject furiously, to the point of murder, whether they like to admit it or not.

·         So the choice was made my Tommy Mankiewicz and Guy Hamilton to adapt Live and Let Die into a movie. Guy Hamilton was known to be a huge fan of jazz music, so they decided to film in New Orleans. Because only black people make jazz music, right?....grr. Anyways. Guy did not want to film Mardi Gras, since Thunderball already had featured  Junkanoo, something very similar. So he instead decided to focus in on filming jazz funerals and canals. There was also location scouting in Jamaica, which resulted in finding an alligator far with an amazing sign that says “TRESSPASSERS WILL BE EATEN.” This was put in the script. That was an amazing decision.

·         Broccoli and Sandman called up James Bond, and attempted to get him to come back to play Sean Connery. For the umpteenth time. James was like “No, no, ‘dere iz no Sash Comedy here” and Sandman was like “Dude that was the absolute worst-” dial tones. Depressed, Broccoli and Sandman left their apartment building for who knows what reason. They then went to the direst place in the world: Arvada, Colorado. They then saw a tumbleweed. It was then that Broccoli had an epiphany and was like “DUDE! HOLY FUCK! CLINT EASTWOOD! GENIUS!”

·         Ca$hman’s Note: Try to imagine Clint Eastwood as James Bond without exploding in a series of bursting epicness.

·         Well, turns out Eastwood knows better. He was apparently flattered, but said that an Englishman needs to play James Bond. Now where’s Benedict Cumberbatch been lately?...err, I mean, we’re still in 1973. Broccoli and Sandman proceeded to kidnap a handful of Englishmen, including Julian Glover (Doctor Who, Quatermass and the Pit, Henry VIII, The Avengers, Treasure Island, The Empire Strikes Back, Troy), John Gavin (Psycho, Spartacus), Jeremy Brett, Simon Oattes, John Ronane, William Gaunt and Michael Billington, who was the front runner.

·         Buuuut United Artists is all like “Fuck England. ‘MURICA FUCK YEAH.” Burt Reynolds (The Twilight Zone, Navajo Joe, Water World, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex *But Were Too Afraid to Ask, Silent Movie, All Dogs go to Heaven, The X-Files, Saints Row the Third, Grand Theft Auto, Universal Soldier II & III), Paul Newman  and Robert Redford (The Sting, Captain America: Winter Soldier.) But Eon was not going to dismiss Eastwood’s wishes and put forward Roger Moore as their English nominee. Well, “nominee” if nominees are already guaranteed to win.

·         Roger Moore was a guy who had been considered to play James Bond before, in Dr. No and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. And speaking of THAT movie…on the off chance that Moore would bail next movie, they kept Michael Billington as a credible backup. Moore attempted not to imitate Sean Connery or his own performance as Simon Templar in The Saint. Tom Mankiewicz complied and wrote the James Bond character to fit Roger Moore’s style of acting, including more comedic scenes and a somewhat more light-hearted approach at the Bond character.

·         Mankiewicz wanted to cast the character of Solitaire as a black actress, with Diana Ross as his first choice. But Broccoli and Sandman insisted that the character remain white as Ian Fleming had originally intended. Catherine Deneuve was first nominated, but then they were all like “Jane Seymour. Perhaps she’ll let us see more.*” Yaphet Kotto, whoever in the blue fuck that is, was also cast while he was finishing the movie Across 110th Street for United Artists. Kotto liked the villain’s occult powers and was "feeling like he can control past, present and future."

·          *We are going to apply explicit punishment to Da Ca$hman that made this God-awful pun.

·         Mankiewicz continued the light heartedness by adding a comic relief character named J.W. Pepper. But on the other hand, David Hedison, known for classic sci-fi films like The Fly, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Another World, The Cat Creature and Journey to the Unknown, would be cast as Felix Leiter not this time alone but twice in the Bond franchise. Madeline Smith was recommended to the cast to be the opening Bond girl by Roger Moore after appearing with him on TV. Ms. Smith was wondering why Moore insisted she be in bikinis in front of Roger’s wife. But Roger never questioned the logic. Not one bit.

·         And with that, it was about time to get to work. In October of 1972 principal photography began in Louisiana. And then all of the sudden, Roger Moore died of a kidney stone. So while Broccoli & Sandman were continuing a tradition of covering up the death of a man involved in a James Bond movie and trying to find a replacement who looked and acted exactly like Roger Moore, the second unit began filming. After both actions had been completed, the crew moved over to Jamaica…because…James Bond is always in Jamaica, don’t you know? And you know where else they film James Bond movies? Pinewood Studios. Always. And Harlem apparently. They were even required to pay “protection money” to a Harlem gang to insure the crew’s safety. When the cash ran out, Roger Moore wasn’t the only death they had to cover up.

·         Meanwhile, people were getting eaten by crocs and snakes. Ross Kananga had to sacrifice his trousers. The script supervisor, whoever the fuck that is, was so afraid that she ran for the hills and found the lost city of Atlantis as shelter. An actor got killed while filming a scene where he was fainted by a snake. Jane Seymour was terrified as an unidentified reptile “got closer.” Geoffrey Holder only agreed to sacrifice himself to the snake pit because Princess Alexandra of Mars was visiting the set from the year 2XXX. Precisely.

·         The boat chase was filmed in the Irish Bayou in Louisiana, which caused a tsunami requiring David Draiman to sacrifice himself. Twenty-six builds were boated for the film. Seventeen were destroyed during unidentified theater rehearsals. And in all this, wouldn’t you know it, we set a Guineans World Record. Seriously. They jumped 110 feet with a speedboat. New record. Unfortunately when they fell it flipped over and everybody got eaten by snakes and crocodiles. Their blood was used as a replacement for ink in the official publication to honor their lives. The crocodiles, that is.

·         Oh yeah and they crashed a school bus.

·         MEANWHILE in the safe and sound land of Home, John Barry was quite thankful to still be in Kansas. Especially considering he wasn’t the guy who made the music. It was, no shit this time, The Beatles. Sort of. George Martin and Paul McCartney were hired to produce the music for Live and Let Die. The theme song for this movie was the first true rock n’ roll film used for a James Bond movie, and was a huge hit when first released. Also, since this movie is really called The Undertaker’s Wind, I’m going to do something like I did when I reviewed The Belles of Hell.

·         THE MOORE ERA BEGINS

·         Woah boy. There are quite a few points for discussion in this movie. But since it’s in the title, and the whole reason why Phase 1, 2 and 3 are being split apart, why don’t we discuss Roger Moore as James Bond? You know that there was a lot riding on this movie. Not only were you trying to introduce a Sean Connery that wasn’t James Bond, but this was the second time after a failed attempt. Not to mention, the hope is that Roger Moore would come on for a ton of future Bond films. So, yeah, it was kind of important that he turned in a good performance.

·         And as much as I’d like to be the Connery purist…yeah, Roger Moore did a damn fine job. Comparing him to Connery is like this: As far as his character is written, it’s like we didn’t see a different person. Their behavior is the same. Sympathy when he chooses too, cruelty often. Suave and seductive. Men want to be him and women want to be with him. Roger Moore does a pretty good job at trying to convey this, but I’ll admit it, he has less flavor. Like, if you put Connery in a shitty spy movie, he’d be the shining star and carry the film. Moore? Not so much. But what he lacks in the verbal suave he makes up for in a more impressive physical stature compared to Connery.

·         And he is most definitely not George Lazenby. Thank God.

·         Now onto other things. Honestly from my section about the development of this movie, you should be able to guess this is gonna be fairly racist. But for the odd fan or two that wants to defend this movie politically, or maybe knows it’s racist but doesn’t understand quite why, allow me to throw in my two wooden nickels. Here’s your first problem: you’re cashing in on Blaxploitation, but with a white hero and a black villain. In other words, making a Blaxploitation movie for white people. That’s about as racially sensitive as Elvis Presley cashing in on rock music or Eminem cashing in on hip-hop.

·         Now let’s get into some of the more aesthetic areas. One of the most focused on areas of the film is San Monique, which is often, in this film, the site of voodoo rituals. The most common appearances of animals in these scenes are goats and snakes – two symbols commonly attributed to Satanism – and a snake is also used as a trap in an attempt to kill Bond in a different part of the film. The leader of these rituals wears face paint that attempts to convey half of his face as white and half as black…but while the white side is actually in white paint, the “black” side is just his skin.

·         This guy really doesn’t talk much. Most of it half hysterical, evil laughter. Which may not be the worst thing since he is on the bad guy’s side. But it gets embarrassing when he’s uttering ape roars while flapping his mouth this and that way. It seems that there is an abundance of black people in this movie, dozens upon dozens, yet only one is not either openly or secretly aligned with Kananga and Mr. Big. And that one is subservient, and in some stills you could assume he was Felix Leiter’s slave. It gets worse when about 40-50 minutes into the movie, Bond’s mission essentially becomes saving the “pure white” woman “Solitare” from any black person who gets in his way.

·         This still isn’t the end of it. The main villain is a drug dealer. Yeah. I guarantee you if this movie was released in 2013, he’d be Mexican. I also really hate the scene where Bond is being driven by a black taxi driver. Bond says something like “if you follow that car there’s an extra $20 in it for you.” And the driver goes “Man, for $20, I’d take you to a Klu Klux Klan Kookout.” That’s about $100 today. As a Jew, I wouldn’t be taking somebody to the National Nazi Convention for $1000. But I guess Hollywood wants to give both of us the stereotypes of “greedy.”

·         And as for those afros…yeah, they’re far from the worst thing in the movie, probably the least offensive, but I really shouldn’t have to explain how every single black person wearing an afro is…well, interesting, shall we say.

·         I’m not done here. But we’re going to start to transition. Bond, for about 20 minutes (damn that was fast) has a comedy relief side character. She’s this frail black girl who claims to be training for the CIA but is not-so-secretly a double-crosser. First off, she’s annoying. Comedy should be light in a Bond movie and come from instances, not be the sole purpose of a character’s existence. In fact, that second part can be applied to any comedy movie. But furthermore, she’s pretty much playing the Lou Costello part, even in physical stumbling. Maybe you don’t need a fat white dude to play that part, but a skinny black chick who claims to be working for the CIA? Man, the feminist in me is getting pissed off.

·         OH SPEAKING OF WHICH – MONEYPENNY! Yeah. She’s not here much. Practically in a cameo. I got pissed in a previous review because she continued to stay with Bond even though it seemed implied that she as completely aware of how much he cheats on her. But now she’s practically walking in on Bond’s affairs. In the year 1973. Completely accepting. And the girl he was fucking is trying to sneak away. Bond finds more importance in hiding the girl – who turns out to be two girls – from his boss than from hiding them from his lover. It’s as if Moneypenny literally has no self-respect. I don’t even understand the point of the character anymore. She was charming at first, but now I’m seeing that…she’s practically just “there” in this movie. She played an important role once in the whole series, and that was saving Bond from retirement in about 10-15 minutes.

·         The gadgets, though very restrained, are present. It’s practically guns and one fancy device. Looks like Eon listened to the critics. Good job Undertaker. The one fancy device is a watch that attracts metal objects from a distance. It’s a pretty cool device and because none others were introduced, we got more focus on that one thing. The climax totally involves the watch, however the movie as a whole isn’t a half-toy commercial for this thing. One of the side-villains kind of sort of has a gadget in a metal arm – which, if you watch the movie, totally makes him a black Captain Hook – but the effects of the weapon beyond a normal arm are only exhibited twice and briefly.

·         The action scenes are pretty good. They’re starting to border on too theatrical. They fight like real people fight…but much more like real well-trained people fight than just two guys with emotions flowing. Maybe the latter better fits the plot but, as far as building up tension, I’d rather see the former. You can also see they’re starting to succumb to the cliché of having the hero get all the strikes in, as if any possibility of the hero losing will make the audience feel hatred instead of hope and love. Most of the past Bond films didn’t suffer from this problem. Bond would make mistakes all the time. Especially when they’re practically set-up for him.

·         #Scarecrows.

·         The atmosphere’s alright. The jungle/lush scenes were very successful in portraying the mood. All the green – but not perfect green – all the gators and all the swamp water…you totally felt like you’re in Southeast America. Even though it was filmed in Jamaica but that’s besides the point. Still, guys…you’ve already done that. In several Bond films. Including Dr. No. And Dr. No had better atmosphere than this. The city scenes are…you know, good. The point that this is a city and a very specific culture is properly conveyed. I’m sure that the exaggeration of the culture didn’t help. But man, as exaggerated as it was, the visual of the city didn’t POP. I’ve seen that happen in other movies and it didn’t happen here.

·         So I think the point I’m getting at here is this: In The Undertaker’s Wind, there are a lot of very well-executed aspects. Bond, the scenery, the action, other actors – but they all feel somewhat weak compared to precedent. There are a few points that really make the movie worth watching, such as the gadgets and the music. But then, man if any other Bond movie hit you the wrong way in the PC-feels, then this is going to be pretty humiliating to watch. It’s a grain-of-salt film and the reaction to it, I would suspect, would vary sharply from person to person. But you know what’s great? It never got boring. Not in one spot of the movie. Which, unfortunately, happened to a good share of Bond films. And for the expectations, it also wasn’t anything of a disappointment. I’m giving it a 3.8/5. So far, believe it or not, it’s one of the most enjoyable Bond films. At least personally.

·         REACTION

·         It’s the 27th of June in 1973. The Undertaker’s Wind is opening for the rest time…and only in The United States. The world premiere would happen in London on the 6th of July. Interesting choice. And it was a MASSIVE box office success. Just like most Bond films. But this goes back to Dr. No, Goldfinger type money. On a budget of $7 Million ($36 Million 2013) the movie gained a whopping $161.8 Million. If that type of gross isn’t huge today, consider that’s about $837 Million when you factor in inflation. It has since been the most viewed film on broadcast television.

·         For most critical appeal, this is how it went down: “I can’t stand the racism but the action was fun!” It holds a 65% on Rotten Tomatoes as of the moment. If we’re gonna quote specific critics, we might as well quote the King of Critics, Roger Ebert. He said Roger Moore "has the superficial attributes for the job: The urbanity, the quizzically raised eyebrow, the calm under fire and in bed.” However, he felt that Moore wasn't satisfactory in living up to the legacy left by Sean Connery in the preceding films. He rated the villains "a little banal", adding that the film "doesn't have a Bond villain worthy of the Goldfingers, Dr. Nos and Oddjobs of the past."

·         BBC Films reviewer William Mager praised the use of locations, but said that the plot was "convoluted". He stated that "Connery and Lazenby had an air of concealed thuggishness, clenched fists at the ready, but in Moore's case a sardonic quip and a raised eyebrow are his deadliest weapons". Leonard Maltin called the movie a "barely memorable, overlong James Bond movie" that "seems merely an excuse to film wild chase sequences" and gave the film a 2/4 rating.

·         Danny Peary called Jane Seymour "one of the Bond series's most beautiful heroines" but had little praise for Moore, whom he described as making "an unimpressive debut as James Bond in Tom Mankiewicz's unimaginative adaptation of Ian Fleming's second novel…The movie stumbles along most of the way. It's hard to remember Moore is playing Bond at times – in fact, if he and Seymour were black, the picture could pass as one of the black exploitation films of the day. There are few interesting action sequences – a motorboat chase is trite enough to begin with, but the filmmakers make it worse by throwing in some stupid Louisiana cops, including pot-bellied Sheriff Pepper."

·         Since its release, Chris Nashawaty said that Kananga was the worst of the Moore-era villains, but IGN ranked Solitare as #10 of the hottest Bond babes. Entertainment Weekly, who I apparently work for now, said that Live and Let Die was the third best Bond movie. MSN chose it as the 13th best and IGN ranked it as the 12th best. It was nominated for best original song…and how the fuck does that awesome Paul McCartney song not win? Since its release, Live and Let Die by McCartney and The Wings has been covered by Guns N’ Roses and has taken independence from the movie, often played on the radio and known as one of McCartney’s greatest hits. Yeah. Greatest hits. And didn’t win.

·         Next time: Firearms 007

·         I, Da ₡₳$h₥₳₦, singing off.