Maggie Gyllenhaal Weekend – Secretary (2002)

Director: Steven Shainberg

Writer: Erin Cressida Wilson (Screenplay) Mary Gaitskill (Story)

Starring: James Spader, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jeremy Davies, Lesley Ann Warren, Stephen McHattie, Patrick Bauchau

 

Plot: A young woman, recently released from a mental hospital, gets a job as a secretary to a demanding lawyer, where their employer-employee relationship turns into a sexual, sadomasochistic one.


Tagline – Assume the position.

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strangely Intriguing

 

Story: Secretary starts as young woman Lee Holloway (Gyllenhaal) gets released from mental home after her self-harming went too far, released to attend her sister’s wedding, she returns to her self-harming techniques, not in a suicidal way though. Wanting to be part of the world Lee gets her first job as a secretary for lawyer Mr Grey (Spader).

Working for Mr Grey gives Lee a new lease for life, she stops self-harming, while letting Mr Grey giving her the punishment she desires.

 

Thoughts on Secretary

 

Characters – Lee Holloway is a troubled young woman, she has been self-harming for years now, it has put her in a mental home for a time too, now she is ready to enter the world to have a normal job. She gets obsessed with BDSM which her boss punishes her with, the one thing that stops her self-harming. Mr Grey is the lawyer that Lee starts to work with, he demands the best from his secretary and doesn’t mind giving her punishment to make her better, he hides from problem clients and seems to live a lonely life. Peter is the potential new boyfriend for Lee that tries to have a normal relationship, while she is on her own voyage of self-discovery.

PerformancesMaggie Gyllenhaal is fantastic in the leading role, she is by far the star of this movie and showed us all the abilities she had in the acting field. James Spader is great too, he has always been able to walk into these types of roles well.

StoryThe story here follows one woman that wants to find comfort in the world, where the only comfort she has had before has come from her own self-harming, she has problems which will be getting fixed as she enters the real world. this shows how mental illness can create a way for voids to be used to help create moments of peace in lives. This does give us the important discussion to be made, which is fine because people need help to understand the problems people can be fighting with.

Comedy/RomanceCertain moments do have a comical tone to them, while the romance of the film is mostly about how Lee became obsessed with Mr Grey.

SettingsThe film is set in a big American city which shows how the people in each life can have their own personal interests which can come off stranger from the outside.


Scene of the Movie –
The cheque.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The Lee and Peter relationship is strange.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good movie that tackles mental illness that people are living with everyday, we have a brilliant performance from Gyllenhaal that put her name firmly on the map.

 

Overall: One to be watching.

Rating

 

 

James Bond Month – Licence to Kill (1989) Movie Rob’s Pick

Head over to Movie Rob’s site for more reviews

“Oh, don’t be an idiot, 007. I know exactly what you’re up to, and quite frankly, you’re going to need my help. Remember, if it hadn’t been for Q Branch, you’d have been dead long ago.” – Q

Number of Times Seen – Between 5-10 times (Theater in ’89, cable, video, 16 Dec 2014 and 14 Nov 2019)

Link to original review – Here

Brief Synopsis – James Bond tries to track down a Central American drug dealer after his best friend is attacked on his Wedding Day.

My Take on it – This is among my favorite James Bond films and upon this rewatch, I got an even higher appreciation for what they try to do here with this iconic character.

This film stands out among most of its predecessors since it allows the viewer to see the emotional side of the character as he does things from the heart instead of solely on orders from his superiors.

The fact that this film has Bond take on a personal vendetta works really well because we get to see a side of him that we’ve never seen before since it adds a deeper layer to the character.

Timothy Dalton once again proves how great a choice he was for this role and it’s really a shame that he only ended up playing this character twice since he brings such a serious tone to the role that none of his predecessors managed.

Loved the way that some of the familiar characters from the franchise are also given more prominent roles in this film and they show us how close the connection has become between these characters over the many years of them working together.

Robert Davi is a great choice as the villain and I really liked the way that they decided to make the goals of the villain something other than world domination.

He plays this role with lots of cunning and intelligence and is developed quite well that it helps make this story feel much more plausible and realistic in all that it tries to do.

Bottom Line – Great Bond film that is among the very best because we finally get to see the emotional side of the character. His personal vendetta in this film takes the character to places that we’ve never seen before and add a new layer to the way that we can perceive this iconic character.  Dalton once again does a great job playing this character and it’s a shame that this was his second and final time playing the role. The way that some of the familiar characters in the series show their personal side also helps the story as we get to see how camaraderie among these characters is quite tight knit after so many years working together. Davi is a great and cunning villain and I really liked the fact that they chose to say far away from world domination villains and made this one seem much more plausible and realistic in his quest for power. Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – In an interview during filming in September 1988, Timothy Dalton denied media claims that his Bond was not allowed to have as much sex, due to the A.I.D.S. epidemic at the time. However, in a 2007 interview, he admitted that this was true. (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy (9/10) (upgrade from original review)

James Bond Month – Licence to Kill (1989)

Director: John Glen

Writer: Michael G Wilson, Richard Maibaum (Screenplay)

Starring: Timothy Dalton, Carey Lowell, Robert Davi, Talisa Soto, Anthony Zerbe, Frank McRae

 

Plot: James Bond goes rogue and sets off to unleash vengeance on a drug lord who tortured his best friend, a C.I.A. Agent, and left him for dead and murdered his bride after he helped capture him.


Tagline – Out for revenge. Glimpse behind the cool facade of 007. And see how sweet revenge can really be.

Runtime: 2 Hours 13 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Most Serious Bond?

 

Story: Licence to Kill starts when known drug lord Franz Sanchez (Davi) is captured on Felix’s (Hedison) wedding day, being transferred to prison, he escapes and gets his revenge torturing him, leaving him for dead. James Bond (Dalton) one of the best men finds him and goes in search for Sanchez.

James having his licence to kill revoked, goes rogue in hi vengeance as he looks to eliminate anybody who was involved in the attack on Felix working with his partner Pam (Lowell).

 

Thoughts on Licence to Kill

 

Characters – James Bond is seeing his good friend Felix get married, only for the day to be shattered by a drug lord, James wants revenge and hands in his licence to kill in an attempt the man responsible, going rogue from his majesty’s secret service. This is a raw version of James that will go to all lengths to get revenge instead of justice. Pam is one of the people that works with Felix, she teams up with James to get the job done, being his only friend in the mission. Franz Sanchez is the ruthless drug lord that kills anybody that crosses him, trying to control his women Lupe, this is his weakness and has gotten him caught in the past. Lupe is the girl on Franz’s arm, its not where she wants to be, it’s the only place she is allowed to be, whenever she tries to leave he will beat her.

PerformancesTimothy Dalton might be an underrated Bond really, I have never considered him one of the best, but here he gets the most serious performance required in the franchise.  Carey Lowell gets to become one of the strong Bond girls, while Robert Davi makes for one of the scariest villains in the franchise, one not after world domination. Talisa Soto completes the main cast with her role that must play both sides.

StoryThe story here takes James rogue in a revenge mission against the drug lord that tortured his best friend. This story feels more serious, which is wonderful to see, we break certain rules set up in the previous film, like the way Bond girls are treated, we see Bond go completely against the rules of his licence in a personal vendetta over a mission. This rawer feeling Bond movie brings us into a new light which is enjoyable to watch because it doesn’t just follow the same predictable formula and feels like James has a life away from the secret agent field.

Action/AdventureThe action is more restrained, with them being more of a fight to remain undercover almost stealth like, until the final act where we get the big sequence. The adventure takes James across the border of the law to get the job done this time.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show where drug lords would operate with their newest idea to get away with their crimes.


Scene of the Movie –
Pop.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It can be too serious in places.

Final ThoughtsThis is the most serious Bond film to date, it takes things in a different direction and makes us believe Bond to be a real person who would be after revenge.

 

Overall: The most improved Bond.

Rating