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I can’t fault the filmmakers for not continuing the storyline of the previous films, but a self-contained Bond story has no business being so incongruous with the rest of the 007 canon. “Casino Royale” was beloved for its sweeping action and sharp sense of humor, while the underappreciated “Quantum Of Solace” was still praised for its sense of momentum and overall grittiness – all hallmarks of the series, albeit at different points in its history.

“Skyfall” misses the boat on so much of what makes Bond Bond that it seems Mendes and company went out of their way to confound people’s expectations. This might have been less jarring in a reboot featuring a new lead actor, but audiences have responded well to both of Craig’s previous outings and such a sharp departure is both confusing and disheartening.

Rating: ★★★ out of ★★★★★ (OK)

Full review: Skyfall

 

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Stephen Chbosky’s screenplay is controlled and often subtle, almost to a fault, but it’s his direction that comes across best. This is his directorial debut, but a multitude of smart decisions – from creative visual cues to letting his actors play to their strengths – suggests that he’s done this many times before.

It would be a mistake to assume any bestselling author could make such a painless jump to directing, but Chbosky clearly has the innate ability to tell a story regardless of the medium. I went in expecting something twee, in the vein of “Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” but what I got was an affecting drama that’s darker, more subversive, and less clichéd than its ad campaign suggests.

Rating: ★★★★ out of ★★★★★ (Very Good)

Full review: The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

-J. Olson

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