Monday, Nov. 24, 2008

Quantum of Criticism

By David Luhrssen
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I may have been alone among film critics in calling Quantum of Solace the best Bond ever, but millions of moviegoers were willing to meet my opinion at least half way. Quantum of Solace scored the biggest opening weekend ever for 007. And the juggernaut continues. Nudged out of first place this past weekend by Twilight, Bond came in at number two, holding back a pair of pedestrian animated movies (Bolt, Madagascar: Escape 2Africa). Quantumís domestic take thus far is $109.5 million. The numbers will only grow.

What does this mean, exactly? For one thing, those infantile if aging Baby Boomers who largely comprise the nationís dwindling corps of professional film critics have only underscored how narrow and unfounded are their views. They probably loved that invisible car Pierce Brosnan drove in one of those forgettable Bond flicks in the years before Casino Royale.

More interesting is measuring the success of Quantum of Solace and Dark Knight against the failure of many self-consciously important indie movies and film festival fodder during the past few seasons. Bond and Batman both address political, ethical and social issues but project them onto the mirrors of a funhouse, a dark carnival of entertaining and distorted images that insinuate the points being made without belaboring them like a dull civics lecture by professors straining to be hip.

At the same time, Quantum and Dark Knight were old franchises brought to new life by directors who emerged from the more ambitious end of independent cinema. It shows what can happen when familiar genres are handled with imagination and the courage to move forward against dull expectations.

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