Mini Movie Reviews: SPECTRE and BROOKLYN

Movie awards season is in full swing, so I’ve been attending multiple screenings a week. Last week I saw four movies, and this week will try to screen three. As much as I’d like to write detailed reviews, I can’t keep up due to work and sleep. Plus, laziness. So I’ll be posting shorter reviews of the movies I see in the next couple months, starting with these two.


SPECTREDirector Sam Mendes’s second James Bond outing and star Daniel Craig’s fourth improved upon the last two films in the franchise to become my favorite with Craig after Casino Royale. I chose to know nothing about the plot before viewing, just plunked myself into a theater seat, and said, “All right, entertain me.” And it did.

The opening sequence is usually among the most thrilling, and this one, set in Mexico City during Día de los Muertos, had me on the edge of my seat. The movie contains several other memorable set pieces involving helos, trains, boats, and fancy sports cars. The action isn’t Michael Bay-ish, meaning it’s not mindless destruction. There’s often an emotional undercurrent to the most explosive scenes, because Bond is trying to save someone’s life or exact revenge.

Craig is ultra cool, tearing across the screen with confidence. His leonine grace makes him equally suave in a tux and dangerous in a fight. This time out, he gets to play some of Bond’s personal backstory, making 007 more accessible than usual.

Despite much press calling her a Bond woman, Monica Bellucci isn’t the female lead. It’s good to see her on screen, alluring as ever, but she has only one scene. Léa Seydoux is the true Bond girl, one who’s believable as a doctor and doesn’t turn into a screaming mess when things get rough. The actress’s most effective features are her expressive eyes, which can go from steely to vulnerable and back again in .02 seconds.

Christoph Waltz is creepy as the villain, but we’ve witnessed this performance before. (See: Inglourious Basterds or any of his 93 other movies in which he plays a baddie.) Andrew Scott is also very good as a jerk; fans of BBC’s Sherlock might recognize him as Moriarty.

Even as Mendes continues to move the franchise forward, he pays homage to past Bond films by including fun references to iconic elements such as a certain white kitty, the classic Aston Martin, and a hulking, hard-to-kill thug who calls to mind Richard Kiel’s Jaws. As for Sam Smith’s rendition of the title song, the only thing I can remember about it is thinking, “Wow, dude can sing high.”

Nerd verdict: Satisfying Spectre



brooklynSaoirse Ronan stars as Eilis, an Irish lass in the 1950s who’s sent to Brooklyn, NY, by her older sister due to a lack of career opportunities for young women in their hometown. With the help of a Catholic priest, Eilis gets a job in a high-end department store while going to school to study bookkeeping.

She also starts seeing an Italian boy named Tony and life looks good—until a sudden death calls her back to Ireland. While there, she meets another young man who makes her wonder whether her life belongs in her home country or across the ocean in America.

The story, from Colm Toibin’s novel of the same name, sounds simple, but the movie is highly affecting (while containing more than a few laughs). Sobs were heard throughout in the audience, and some of them might’ve come from me.

During the post-movie Q&A, director John Crowley said he wanted the adaptation, penned by Nick Hornby, to be emotional but not sentimental, and he accomplished his goal. He had able help from Ronan, showing a much softer side than she had with past characters, and Emory Cohen as Tony, whose chemistry with Ronan is palpable and sweet.

The supporting cast, including Domhnall Gleeson as Jim, the third point in the love triangle; Julie Walters as a boardinghouse’s den mother; and Jim Broadbent as the priest who watches over Eilis; is rock solid. The lush cinematography and period costumes made me nostalgic for a time when the world seemed more beautiful and less complicated.

Nerd verdict: Moving Brooklyn


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  • Reply
    November 9, 2015 at 9:08 am

    I will be posting a short comment due to laziness and ineptitude. Thank you for the great, as usual, reviews! Both are on my list.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      November 9, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      Are you commenting from Paris?! I feel so fancy by proxy. Hope you’re having a wonderful time.

      • Reply
        November 10, 2015 at 9:03 am

        I am home now…only a week in Paris.

  • Reply
    November 9, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    I DID see the trailer for Spectre and rushed right out to see it early Friday morning. There are a few minor plot holes, but it IS indeed a thoroughly enjoyable time in front of a big screen.

    Brooklyn is on a watch list for me at this point. I find Ronan a bit of a hard pill to swallow sometimes, but if it made the great and powerful PCN cry a bit, I figure it’s worth experiencing.

    Keep the reviews coming, I hate wasting money on over hyped movies!

  • Reply
    December 6, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    Just saw Brooklyn. Add some weepy tears of mine. On the way out, while helping some older women in walkers, Nan with her flashlight app and me holding doors, we all discussed the film. One woman was still crying and described how that wer her wedding! Married in civil ceremony in New York in that time period. Wonderful!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      December 6, 2015 at 5:53 pm

      That IS wonderful. Thank you for sharing your and the woman’s experiences! I did not expect to cry but ended up doing just that. Love it when movies surprise me.

  • Reply
    December 6, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    What happened to the notify me of new comments link?

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      December 6, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      Under the “leave a comment” section, do you see something that says you can subscribe to these comments? (I’m the site owner so what I see is different from what you see.)

      • Reply
        December 6, 2015 at 9:29 pm

        It says to subscribe via RSS. It used to have a box to tick to be notified of comments by email…

        • Reply
          Pop Culture Nerd
          December 7, 2015 at 1:39 pm

          Hmm. I spent some time investigating the disappearance of the e-mail option. My best guess is that as WordPress updates regularly, the comments plug-in stopped working properly. Perhaps I need another comments plug-in that’s compatible with the latest WP version.

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