VAMPIRE ACADEMY (2014) is a forgettable film (based on a Y/A series) in which a runaway vampire princess and her bodyguard are dragged back to the eponymous school only to discover that lurking behind the usual girlfights and petty power struggles is the sinister scheming of dying vamp Gabriel Byrne. Forgettable, though interesting to see that along with the now-common assertions they aren’t classic Bram Stoker vamps, the writers also have to specify their vampires don’t sparkle.
THE FANTASIA THAT NEVER WAS was the only special feature on LeAnn’s Fantasia/Fantasia 2000 DVD set that interested me, a look at material considered for the original film or for Walt’s dreamed-of sequels (figuring that he could trade out some segments while keeping others, making it practical to constantly revise it; the talking heads in one segment suggest the loss of the European market during WW II killed that hope). The only completed segment is the slow-moving Claire de Lune, which was later revamped for the film Make Mine Music (this is the reconstructed original). Other segments are only available as rush sketches, with the best being the moody afterlife fantasy The Swan of Tuonela, based on Finish legend and Sibelius’ music.
ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS (1957) is a French drama in which illicit lovers Maurice Renet and Jeanne Moreau have a perfect plan to knock off Moreau’s inconvenient husband, only to have a stalled elevator leave Renet trapped while he’s trying to clear way the last bits of evidence. Pretty good, but reminds me of the old complaint by the French New Wave directors about how slow and overly thoughtful French films were; the elevator sequences are intense, but Moreau’s moody sulking in the belief Renet has dumped her gets old fast. “I should have left you alone, Julien—I shouldn’t have touched you or caressed your face.”
I rewatched SPECTRE (2015) for Martinis, Girls and Guns (my in-depth original review is here) and found it even more a hybrid of Craig Bond and Classic Bond than I remembered, with such details as an Oddjob-style Brute Man grappling Bond in a railway carriage, the very Connery-style seduction of Monica Bellucci and the only ticking-clock ending of any of Craig’s films. It also continues the ruminations on Bond’s place in the cyber-age (“C says a drone can do anything a 00 can do.”) that have been going on since Goldeneye. Fun, though I notice they never explain what “Spectre” means in this version, or how Q deduced that Blofeld was the mastermind behind everything in the Craig era (and while it is nice to see Q get a little of action, I notice that Moneypenny despite having been a field agent in the previous film is strictly deskbound here), and Christopher Waltz is too ineffective to be such an Ultimate Villain. “I always knew death would wear a familiar face—but not yours.”