Thoughts on Casino Royale, Freaks And Geeks and being way behind the curve
Hey you guys,
Today I finally got around to seeing 2006's Casino Royale. There was nothing intentional about catching up with it so tardily. I was excited about seeing it when it came out but never quite got around to it. My enthusiasm was renewed by its surprisingly strong showing in 2006 year-end polls but I still dragged my feet.
I was a little wary of all the Casino Royale hype given the writers and directors. There was unmistakably a "Meet the dashing, audacious, radically reconceived new Bond from the people who brought you the boring, tradition-bound old Bond!" vibe about the whole enterprise.
Yet I was immediately impressed. The danger was back. As much as I enjoyed the wink and the smirk Roger Moore brought to the role, I liked Craig's borderline sociopathic Bond even more. He's Bond without pity, an unstoppable killing machine graced with perpetual forward motion, a chilly sense of efficiency and a complete lack of remorse. After devolving into self-parody Bond is once again a bad motherfucker, a buff hunk of man-meat who enjoys killing people way, way, way too much. After the long reign of lazy mediocrity that was Pierce Brosnan's perfectly adequate place-holder stint, Bond is once again the coolest motherfucker on the planet.
One of the chief perks of being a film critic is seeing movies before the general public. I generally get to experience films before critics or audiences have chimed in. It's always exhilarating to see a new film really connecting with audiences in ways that pretty much ensure historic success. There's an electricity in the air during certain screening that screams "Hit". That's how I felt watching a frenzied crowd hoot and holler with palpable bloodlust during a preview screening of 300. I didn't like the film much but I respected it and I particularly respected the way it manipulated audiences' emotions.
With comedies it's usually fairly easy to detect a future hit. Watching previews of Borat, Shrek, Superbad, Napoleon Dynamite and American Pie it was a no-brainer to predict that paying audiences would go nearly as ape shit over these films as the preview crowd.
There's certainly something to be said for being ahead of the curve, for catching movies at the very beginning of their joyous crusade of world domination. I went into Once with no expectations and was utterly, utterly blown away but I had no idea whether anyone else would feel the same way. Obviously people seeing Once for the first time now are going to approach it with a much different set of expectations.
But there's also something to be said for watching films after a cultural consensus has been reached and seeing how your opinion measures up. With My Year Of Flops I'm essentially revisiting cinematic cold cases, films where a consensus was reached long ago that these movies more or less suck and wholly merited their commercial failure.
I also recently started watching Freaks And Geeks. If I was late to the Casino Royale party I missed the F&G; soiree by a couple of weeks. I guess my membership in the Judd Apatow drooling fanboy association will now be repealed even though I sincerely dig it for all the reasons everyone else does.
So here's my question for you, dear reader. As civilians, do you like to experience the hot new thing as soon as it comes out or do you like to wait until the buzz and hype has died down and things can be viewed with a little more distance and detachment? In other words will you be rushing to see Superbad this weekend or are you willing to wait for it on DVD?