My Year of James Bond [Paste]

At the start of last year, I had seen one James Bond film: No Time to Die, in late 2021. Even though I loved it, I felt like I was missing out on so much context. James Bond felt like a huge black hole in my cinematic knowledge, too big to know where to begin stitching it together. Everyone I know, it seemed, grew up watching Bond movies—and has a particular actor they instinctively consider “their” Bond—leaving me without a model of how to get into Bond in the first place, at least without a time machine. At times, I used my preconceptions about Bond movies as a shield justifying my ignorance: Bond is misogynistic trash, anyway. British imperial propaganda. Cheesy and embarrassing besides.

Seeing No Time to Die with my dad, mostly because it happened to be on, I determined that I needed to get around to watching some James Bond films, misogyny and imperialism be damned. Then, because 2022 marked 60 years since the release of Dr. No, all the Eon-produced James Bond films were re-released in Ireland and the U.K., one each Wednesday.

I wrote about watching all the James Bond movies last year for Paste magazine. You can read it here!

The Fast and The February: A Film Diary

This February, I watched all the Fast & Furious movies for the first time.1 It felt like a big hole in my pop cultural lexicon, right up there with my general James Bond ignorance and never having seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy. So I bought a boxset of films one to seven from CEX2 and borrowed the rest from the library,3 and got to work.

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August Van Sant: A Film Diary

Until we recorded the fifth episode of our podcast, I’d only seen two Gus Van Sant films: his infamous 1998 shot-for-shot remake of Psycho and his 2018 biopic of the late cartoonist John Callahan, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot. I thought the former was interesting, but not necessarily enjoyable, and the latter I thought was simply a good film. But I was never really drawn to Van Sant as a filmmaker. I’m not sure why. I’d heard high praise for some of his films, especially My Own Private Idaho, but I’d heard others panned into the ground. Maybe it’s just because he doesn’t have a public persona the way a lot of directors do: he’s a private enough guy that he doesn’t even have a personal life section on his Wikipedia and he doesn’t seem to have much appetite for self-promotion or even making calculated career moves.

Then I watched Good Will Hunting and it piqued my interest in the films of this mysterious man with a name that just about rhymes. So, I decided to watch them. All seventeen of them, over the month of August. I initially recorded my brief thoughts on each over on my letterboxd, now I’ve compiled them here, with some elaboration. I found very little advice on navigating Van Sant’s filmography when I started, so hopefully this can act as, if not a guide, then at least an example of how someone did it for others to follow or ignore as they see fit. You can hear my thoughts on Good Will Hunting on the podcast, but the rest of the gang is all here.

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