Those Sorts of Movies

24 November 2008 · 8 comments

After watching Michael Clayton and re-watching Casino Royale for the fourth time, I told Kris I “like those sorts of movies”, though I couldn’t really put my finger on what “those sorts of movies” were. I decided that the Bourne films probably fit the bill, so I put them on the our Netflix queue.

I waited patiently for The Bourne Identity to crawl to the top of the list. Kris was in the midst of her Foyle’s War obsession, so it took a couple of months. Eventually, however, Netflix shipped my movie.

The other night we sat down to watch Matt Damon in an action role. We grabbed some dinner, plopped in the disc, and sat down on the futon. The disc didn’t work. “Crap,” I said, pulling the disc from the player. It was damaged. We sent the disc back and waited for a replacement.

In the meantime, I joined Paul J. for a trip to the new Bond film, Quantum of Solace. As you’ll recall, I recently watched all 22 previous Bond films back-to-back-to-back, and thought the previous film (the afore-mentioned Casino Royale) was the best Bond film to date. It effectively reset the films’ continuity, starting from day one. The new film picks up immediately where that one left off: it’s as if its part two to the story, and this story exists in a parallel universe to the other 21 Bond films.

The problem is that while the new movie has the same writers as Casino Royale, it has a different director. I don’t like him. And for the first half hour, I didn’t like Quantum of Solace. It was a flurry of quick-cut chases that were impossible to follow. No, I’m serious. They were impossible to follow. With cuts twice every second, the film becomes disorienting, and that’s not fun. Toss in bad acting and terrible dialogue, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Fortunately, the film eventually changes tempo. It never truly becomes good, but it does become enjoyable in its own way, with one truly great chase scene (in airplanes!).

Anyhow — a couple of days later, the replacement Bourne Identity disc arrived in our mailbox. On Saturday night, we watched the film. It was okay — almost good. I have trouble buying Matt Damon in this role, but that’s a personal problem. The story was interesting. I like “this sort of movie”.

As the film was ending, I said to Kris, “You know, I think we own this DVD.”

“What?” she said, dumb-founded. I stood up, dug in the stack of DVDs on the TV, and sure enough: there was a copy of The Bourne Identity.

“When did you buy that?” Kris asked.

“I didn’t,” I said. “I got it in a white elephant gift exchange last year or the year before. I forgot about it until just now. See? It’s still in the wrapper.”

All she could do was shake her head, and I don’t blame her. I was shaking my head, too.

1 Dave November 24, 2008 at 07:55

Foyle’s War is so far superior to the Bourne films that I can’t believe you even mentioned the two things in the same article, much less the same sentence. Normally I wouldn’t say this to a close friend of mine, but JD, I think you just need to put Kris in permanent charge of your Netflix cue. I’m sure that Karen is of the same opinion for our cue considering that I’m on a mission to watch every single episode of The Rockford Files. In order. Now all I need is a ’74 Firebird Esprit and I’m set.

2 J.D. November 24, 2008 at 08:11

I don’t hate Foyle’s War, but I don’t love it as much as Kris does. My main problem is Foyle. He only seems to have one emotion — which is no emotion! :)

3 Michael Rawdon November 24, 2008 at 11:21

I haven’t seen Michael Clayton, but I’d put Casino Royale and the Bourne films in the category of “espionage/action” films. Casino is (like all Bond films) in the “more action than thinking” subcategory, while the Bourne films have elements of the “meticulously clever plan” subcategory. Although I haven’t seen the whole thing, I’d say that Ocean’s Eleven (the Clooney one) is in the same general category, but very much to the “meticulously clever plan” end of the spectrum.

I think such films differ from straight thrillers in that you’re supposed to marvel at the MAD SKILLZ of the main characters rather than be on the edge of your seat wondering how they’re going to get out of it. The Bourne films veer closer to being true thrillers (especially the first one) than do the other films.

I think it would be fair to say that Raiders of the Lost Ark is also in this category, at the “more action than thinking” end, of course. (The later films fall out of this category and are simple action films.)

There’s another subcategory, which is “meticulously clever plan which goes awry”, which allows the hero to show his MAD ACTION SKILLZ once the bad guys thwart his clever plan. For some reason I can’t think of a good example of this subcategory, although I’m sure there are dozens.

I bet you liked The Incredibles, too, since in many ways it was basically a spy film (although it had trouble figuring out what it wanted to be, and so ended up being something of a mess – it’s one of Pixar’s weaker films).

4 Lisa November 25, 2008 at 14:31

Oooh, good. We’ve been talking Foyle’s War up to you guys for too long. Glad you’re enjoying it.

5 Dave November 25, 2008 at 17:14

I didn’t say you hated Foyle’s War, my dear fellow. As for Foyle’s disposition, although he’s very dispassionate, I wouldn’t say he has NO emotion. He’s just understated. That said, I think his general lack of excitability explains certain things about the character’s relationships, don’t you? Admittedly I’ve only seen the first season (I think), but that seems to explain part of his relationship with his son.

Did you ever watch State of Play? I’d recommended it to you at one point. I still recommend it. It’s in Netflix.

6 Paul J. November 25, 2008 at 18:27

+1 for the Rockford Files. I see that you can watch it on Netflix “Watch Instantly” option. Nostalgia. My dad used to watch it. Didn’t Rockford have the trailer on the beach thing? What’s up with this loner-trailer-on-the-beach thing? Rockford, Mel Gibson’s character in Lethal Weapon, Hancock, etc.

7 jdroth November 25, 2008 at 18:33

And, Dave, I didn’t say you said I hate it! :)

8 Nick November 26, 2008 at 13:09

Why do you hate Foyle’s War, JD? I agree with Dave. It is much better than The Bourne Identity. I haven’t seen all of Foyle’s War either, only some episodes on OPB. Foyle’s “general lack of excitability” is an underlying current in the series and it is almost as if we see the world from his perspective. Ah yeah, it is a great series and I am glad Kris made you wait while she watched them all.

Previous post:

Next post: