In some long-running TV series, especially science-fiction (and doubly so for the multiple incarnations of Star Trek), there is a phenomenon to explain the inevitable lapses in continuity, which is called “retroactive continuity” or “retcon.” This is either canonical (invented by the writers in later episodes) or non-canonical (invented by the fans), and usually they fall down on some logical level.
One of the more famous fan-based retcons tries to explain why James Bond has been played by multiple actors and appears to have aged forwards and backwards since 1962. According to this theory, “James Bond” is just a cover identity, which multiple double-oh agents have assumed over the years. The films On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, The Spy Who Loved Me, and For Your Eyes Only render this nonsensical, and the Daniel Craig movies have rendered the whole thing moot.
It was probably inevitable, but a faint hint of repetition has crept into the Jason Bourne franchise. This third movie feels an awful lot like the second, but that’s not entirely a bad thing. There is enough energy to what’s happening on screen that you don’t notice the similarity between the two films.
Of course, film franchises thrive on a bit of familiarity but we can at least hope that they have the sense to stop long before they have to use ever-increasing numbers of stunt persons to double a geriatric Matt Damon.
How quickly did we leave the Cold War behind? The dust had barely settled on the fall of the Berlin Wall when this 1990 Tom Clancy adaptation was treating the subject like a period film. Of course, the world had changed so drastically since the novel’s 1984 publication that it was impossible to view the material as current events.
Francis Ford Coppola’s feverish anti-war epic Apocalypse Now actually began its journey to screen in the late sixties when Über-macho filmmaker John Milius attempted to meet the challenge presented to him when he was informed that no one had successfully adapted Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness, although several had tried, including luminaries such as Orson Welles. His original screenplay was true to Milius’s conservative, pro-military outlook, containing a great deal of praise for the warrior lifestyle and nothing but contempt for the hippies he saw protesting against the Vietnam War.
If nothing else, The Right Stuff could go down in history as the movie that could have elected a President. At a time when the Democratic party was looking for a viable candidate to challenge Ronald Reagan in 1984, the image of Ed Harris as John Glenn, the squeaky clean All-American with the can-do attitude filled them with hope that the real former astronaut turned senator could help them re-capture the White House. I think the film may have actually hurt Glenn in the long run. While he was an American hero, a capable senator and probably would have made an able president, to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, he’s no Ed Harris, at least not in the charisma department.
Unfortunately, all the focus on political ramifications had nothing to do with the actual film, which seemed to get lost in the shuffle. Too bad, because it’s one of the best films of the 1980s, taking real life personalities and molding them into something like a modern American myth.
Silence of the Lambs was a rule breaker from the start. Contrary to convention, its primary relationship is between its diminutive female heroine and an urbane serial killer. It cleaned up at the Academy Awards despite being essentially a highbrow horror film that was released in mid-February, approximately eight months before the start of “Oscar season.” Moreover, Anthony Hopkins won Best Actor despite being on screen for about 16 minutes.
Lawrence Kasdan‘s Silverado is a modern old-fashioned western. It’s old-fashioned in the way that it pretends that the western never fell out of favor as a genre. Embued with the optimism that westerns lost in the late 1960s and 1970s, it freely embraces the time-honored conventions that Blazing Saddles gleefully lampooned a decade earlier. It’s modern in its first-rate production values and its cast of stars-in-the-making.
Filmed mostly in New Mexico, Silverado makes the maximum use of the wide open spaces available. Towns sit in the middle of vast plains that stretch to distant mountains. The cinematography is almost a character unto itself.