Second Impressions

It's not often that I'll attend a second public screening of a motion picture, especially since it costs you $10 just to get in the door around here, not to mention any parking privileges. But more of a factor than cost is that of the films that I would willingly go see again, I never end up making the time. Compared to anyone with kids, I certainly have more time than the average joe, at least to see a film that isn't animated.

I can think of only a few films that I've seen this year that would warrant a second viewing, but that I never got around to seeing. At the top of the list is still my favorite movie of the year, V for Vendetta. Although I've seen the film once in the theater, I've subsequently seen it twice at home. It is the only film that I have openly wept at every time I've seen it. Like a lot of ardent film-goers, I'm sure that I read into film a little much, but what can I say; the film is fucking great.

However, I'm not writing to mention my list of favorite films of 2006, but to remark that as much as I loved V, the film that I have seen twice is Casino Royale, and I'm coming to love it much the same.

I was shocked to discover that I actually liked the movie more than my first viewing, but when I rationalized, I can logically attribute it to the 'Star Wars syndrome'; when you are genuinely excited to see a film, you have a tough time absorbing all facets of the film. This was certainly the case this time around. I knew what was going to happen and when, so I was able to watch the film develop, observe nuances that I had missed, and dispassionately check and see if the things I loved the first time around were really that good.

The first thing I'm going to remark is that I like Chris Cornell's "You Know My Name" theme song the more I hear it. I had heard some disparaging remarks about its quality on the 'net, but it's probably the first Bond song I've liked since "View to a Kill". (Incidentally, my vote for best Bond song of all time is Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better".)

The performances across the board are better than I thought. I'm not going to rehash the comments I made earlier about Craig and Green; I'm talking about Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre, bringing so much to his role. The pivotal torture scene has Craig and Mikkelsen playing off each other with humor, bravado, seriousness and desperation -- for both men. Jeffrey Wright does more with the least amount of screen time ever as Felix Leiter than half the actors before him. In only a few lines he conveys that Bond has better skills than him, but commands Bond's respect with his sincerity and a bit of wit. It's not impossible to believe that the long-lasting friendship is solidly formed like this.

The script is better than I thought, containing some of the best dialog ever in Bond film history. There is nary a cringe-inducing witticism or embarrassingly hackneyed line spoken throughout the film, which is something in itself. It's still so fresh in my mind, but I'm hard pressed to think of any two scenes -- they being the first two between Bond and Vesper on the train and in the cab to the hotel -- that not only tell you so much about the characters (possibly more revealed about Bond than in any three minutes of any film), not only is hilariously witty, but really makes you believe that these two have an instant connection. The chemistry between them makes their later exchanges all the more poignant. I confess that I had a small tear well up when the scene changed to Venice, knowing that he really truly had fallen for this woman.

In short, right now it stands as my favorite film in Bond history. If you haven't seen it at least once, what are you waiting for?

Update: If not the best Bond movie ever, it's looking more likely that it will be the top grossing Bond movie of all time.

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