20 April 2015

Testament of Youth

Testament of Youth 2014
  • Director: James Kent
  • Based on the autobiography of Vera Brittain
  • Cast: Colin Morgan, Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Emily Watson, Dominic West, Miranda Richardson, Nicholas Farrell
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Colin Morgan – The Fall, The Tempest, Quirke, Merlin, Island, Parked, The Catherine Tate Show, Doctor Who
    • Alicia Vikander – even though she’s Swedish I’ve never seen her in anything before
    • Kit Harington – not being a fan of Game off Thrones I haven’t seen him before either
    • Emily Watson – Wah-Wah, Punch-Drunk Love, Godford Park, Cradle Will Rock, Equilibrium, Hilary and Jackie, The Boxer, Breaking the Waves
    • Dominic West – Mona Lisa’s Smile, Chicago, 28 Days, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Surviving Picasso, Richard III
    • Miranda Richardson – Harry Potter, The Young Victoria, Paris je t’aime, Merlin, Wah-Wah, The Hours, Spider, Get Carter, Black Adder, Sleepy Hollow, Absolutely Fabulous, Kansas City, The Crying Game, Enchanted April, Dance with a Stranger
    • Nicholas Farrell – Amazing Grace, Driving Lessons, Sex Chips & Rock’n’Roll, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, In the Bleak Midwinter, Othello
  • Why?  Colin Morgan
  • Seen:  April 18, 2015 at the cinema 

There are many films and TV series in which World War One forms the tragic backdrop.  Many of them are very good.
As is this one.  Based on Vera Brittain’s autobiography it is her story and Alicia Vikander’s film. Vikander is consistently strong as the determined young woman of the gentry who fights to be allowed to enter Oxford, only to give up her studies to become a nurse when the war breaks out.
Three young men orbit around her. Her fiancé Roland, her brother Ted and their friend Victor who is in love with Vera. They all go to war.  We know what will happen.
It’s an anti-war film. Vera Brittain became a prominent pacifist.
It’s a good film but I want more.  There is little character development other that Vera’s.  The beloved brother is essentially anonymous. Kit Harington as the romantic interest is flat and completely unconvincing. There is no chemistry between him and Vikander. The role would have been much better played by Colin Morgan and only he of the young men brings pathos to the small role as Victor in which he was actually cast.
It’s a handsome film and well crafted. It’s worth seeing. I appreciate the choice of subtle nuances over bombastic drama but the result is too reserved for the final experience to be as great as I had hoped for.

3 ½ * of 5


Oblivion

Oblivion 2013
  • Director: Joseph Kosinski
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Tom Cruiser, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Melissa Leo, Morgan Freeman
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Tom Cruise – Valkyria, War of the Worlds, Eyes Wide Shut, Born on the Fourth of July, Rain Man, Cocktail
    • Olga Kurylenko – Quantum of Solace
    • Andrea Riseborough – Brighton Rock, Never Let Me Go, Happy-Go-Lucky
    • Melissa Leo – Frozen River, Veronica Mars, 21 Grams, Homicide Life on the Streets, The Ballad of Little Jo
    • Morgan Freeman – Transcendence, the Batman films, Gone Baby Gone, The Contract, Million Dollar Baby, Bruce the Almighty, Levity, Along Came a Spider, Nurse Betty, Amistad, Kiss the Girls, Moll Flanders, Seven, The Shawshank Redemption, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Glory, Driving Miss Daisy
  • Why?  Sci-fi. Morgan Freeman
  • Seen:  April 17, 2015 

The year 2077. We won the war but lost the planet. Humanity survives on the moon Titan.
‘Earth is still my home,’ says Jack Harper, maintenance/surveillance macho sentimental book-loving baseball-loving hunter of the alien scavengers that continue to threaten Earth.
It’s a bit James Bondy, with chases and heavy weapons and male cockiness. It’s a bit Star Warrish with lots of spaceships and laser drones and weapons and things.
Jack and his partner/lover Victoria have hovered over the Earth in their space station for some time, keeping an eye on things.   In two weeks they will leave Earth for Titan, their mission accomplished. She wants to go. He doesn’t. 
There’s a threat but it’s mysterious.  Who? What? They don’t know.
Jack is haunted by dreams/memories.  He’s a maverick and disobeys orders. He finds survivors on dead burning exploding Earth.  One is the woman of his dreams/memories, Julia. She has been in Delta sleep since before the invasion, war and destruction of Earth.
After almost an hour of build-up the film becomes interesting. Enter Morgan Freeman. There’s a resistance movement on Earth. But who are they? And what or who are they resisting? What are they defending?
There’s a lot of 2001 a Space Odyssey too.
As is often the case in films like this the logic doesn’t necessarily hold up to scrutiny and it sails too close to emotional clichés to be gripping but it’s exciting at times and not without conceptual interest.

2 ½ * of 5


16 April 2015

The Triumph of Love

The Triumph of Love 2001
  • Director: Clare Peploe
  • Based on play by Marivaux
  • Cast: Mira Sorvino, Rachel Stirling, Ben Kingsley, Jay Rodan, Fiona Shaw
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Mira Sorvino – Summer of Sam, Lulu on the Bridge, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, Beautiful Girls, Quiz Show
    • Rachel Stirling – Bletchley Circle, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, The Young Victoria
    • Ben Kingsley – Hugo, Shutter Island, Gandhi, Twelfth Night, House of Sand and Fog, Schindler’s List, Dave
    • Fiona Shaw – The Tree of Life, the Harry Potter movies, The Butcher Boy, Jane Eyre, My Left Foot
  • Why?  It’s the second film on the DVD bought for Igby Goes Down
  • Seen:  April 12, 2015 

The DVD is still in the player so we might as well watch it.  I’d never heard of it before and the title does not bode well but Fiona Shaw is in it so it must have some merit.
A young queen in France in the 18th century or so has inherited the throne from her father who had usurped the crown from the rightful king whose son is now the rightful king and she falls secretly in love with him and so disguises herself as a man and…
Shakespeare it is not though they share some ingredients.
The young queen goes about seducing both Fiona Shaw and Ben Kingsley in order to win her way to the handsome young prince she’s in love with.
I think it’s supposed to be a farce. Or a parody. Or something.
Shakespeare can make this kind of nonsense work and even have depth.
The exchanges between siblings Shaw and Kingsley are small masterpieces and Shaw as a bit of a mad scientist is fun.
Ah. We’re told at the end that this play was first performed in Paris in 1732. That explains it.
Well, it still isn’t Shakespeare.


2 ½ * of 5


Igby Goes Down

Igby Goes Down 2002
  • Director: Burr Steers
  • Based on novel: no
  • Cast: Kieran Culkin, Claire  Danes, Susan Sarandon, Jeff Goldblum, Jared Harris, Amanda Peet, Ryan Phillippe, Bill Pullman, Rory Culkin
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Kieran Culkin  Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Cider House Rules, Music of the Heart
    • Claire Danes – Stardust, Evening, The Hours, Les Misérables, Romeo and Juliet, To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, Little Women
    • Susan Sarandon – Emotional Arithmetic, White Castle, Thelma and Louise, Anywhere but Here, Dead Man Walking, Little Women, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Client, Romance & Cigarettes, The Exonerated, The Banger Sisters, , The Cradle Will Rock, Earthly Possessions, Lorenzo’s Oil, The January Man, Bull Durham, The Witches of Eastwick, Compromising Positions, Atlantic City
    • Jeff Goldblum – Independence Day, Jurassic Park, The Fly, Remember My Name
    • Jared Harris – Fringe, Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Other Boleyn Girl, How to Kill Your Neighbour’s Dog, Happiness, I Shot Andy Warhol, Dead Man, Smoke
    • Amanda Peet – 2012, Changing Lanes, She’s the One
    • Ryan Phillippe – Gosford Park
    • Bill Pullman – Dear Wendy, Independence Day, While You Were Sleeping, Sleepless in Seattle, Sommersby, A League of Their Own
  • Why? Remember it as weirdly funny.
  • Seen:  Once before. Now: April 11, 2015 

Rich bourgeois New York family. Neurotic, hospitalised catatonic father. Mega-bitchy mother. Righteous young Republican fascist older brother.
And then there’s Igby who screws up and is sent to a military academy. Where he continues to screw up and is sent to another school.  From which he runs away to New York.
Poor Igby. He fumbles and stumbles through his absurd life among the filthy rich and seriously awful people.
Claire Danes is fun to watch as Sookie, a drifting sort-of student/guru/oracle who rolls a perfect joint.
I never saw the Home Alone films but I’m quite sure that this role as a sardonically suffering Holden Caulfield clone is quite a change for Kieran Culkin.
Sookie and Igby come together. Not without complications.
Weird, yes. Funny, no.
Igby goes down. Way down. Passing one bizarre, forlorn loser after another as he falls. As they fall.
Actually it’s a very depressing film but very well acted. And rather addicting.

3 * of 5



Fright Night

Fright Night 2011
  • Director: Craig Gillespie
  • Based on story by Tom Holland
  • Cast: David Tennant, Toni Collette, Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Imogen Poots, Christopher Minta-Plasse
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • David Tennant – Dr Who ( just short cuts), Hamlet, Extras
    • Toni Collette – Little Miss Sunshine, In Her Shoes, Hotel Splendide, The Hours, About a Boy, Changing Lanes, The Sixth Sense, Velvet Goldmine, Muriel’s Wedding
    • Colin Farrell – The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, In Bruges, Daredevil
    • Imogen Poots – 28 weeks later, V for Vendetta
  • Why?  David Tennant, one of the best Hamlets
  • Seen:  April 10, 2015 

After many Friday evenings with James Bond we find, having now completed the box, that we have to actually make a decision on what to watch.
For no special reason, this is our choice.  I wonder what it’s about. It’s described as entertaining and scary. Scary movies are not actually our thing but David Tennant is. Oh wow, Toni Collette is in it too.  5 * already.
Oh no, American high school.  The rating plummet towards minus a few *.
Colin Farrell is a vampire?  Up a star or two.
One geeky teen-ager is seriously angry because his friend accuses him of reading Twilight. Another half a star, at least.
David Tennant – a vampire slayer! A sexy, foul-mouthed and vulgar one. Another two or so stars.
The stars add up on this one.  It’s funny and scary and entertaining as promised. Colin Farrell, Toni Collette and especially David Tennant do what they’re so good at.  It’s not In Bruges or Hotel Splendide or Hamlet. But it’s great fun.

3 ½ * of 5


11 April 2015

James Bond Skyfall

Sky-Fall
  • Director:  Sam Mendes
  • Based on the novels  by Ian Fleming
  • Cast: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomi Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Ola Rapace, Hrlrn McCrory
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Daniel Craig   Quantum of Solace, Casino Royale, Defiance, Flashbacks of a Fool, Infamous, Road to Perdition, Elizabeth, Hotel Splendide
    • Judi Dench –the other Bond films, Hotel Marigold, My Week with Marilyn, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jane Eyre, Cranford, Nine, Notes on a Scandal, Mrs Henderson Presents, Ladies in Lavender, The Shipping News, Chocolat, Tea with Mussolini, Shakespeare in Love, Mrs Brown, Hamlet, Henry V, A Handful of Dust, 84 Charing Cross Road, A Room with a View, Macbeth
    • Javier Bardem – No Country for Old Men, Before Night Falls
    • Ralph Fiennes - Harry Potter, Coriolanus, The Reader, In Bruges, The Constant Gardener, Maid in Manhattan, Sunshine, The English Patient,  Spider, Strange Days, The Quiz Show, Schindler’s List, Wuthering Heights
    • Naomi Harris – Pirates of the Caribbean, Tristram Shandy, Twenty-Eight Days Later, White Teeth
    • Albert Finney - The Bourne Ultimatum, Amazing Grace, A Good Year, Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Breakfast of Champions, Cold Lazarus, Miller’s Crossing, Tom Jones
    • Ben Whishaw – The Tempest, I’m Not There
    • Rory Kinnear – Quantum of Solace
    • Ola Rapace – Svinalängorna, Tusenbröder, Tillsammans
    • Helen McCrory - Hugo, Harry Potter, Becoming Jane, The Queen, Hotel Splendide
  • Why? Curious. Hal and I saw several Bond films in a Bond festival in the early 70’s and enjoyed them. Sean Connery is the only Bond we have ever seen.  Friends have said later actors have been good too. And with Judi Dench they can’t be all bad.  So we bought the box...
  • Seen:  April 5, 2015   

What a phenomenon this is. More than fifty years of the same character. Changing, evolving, developing with the times.  But always 007.
So now the last one to date.
How many more of these bizarre opening chases can they think up?  And how can each one be more exciting than the last?
I don’t suppose he can really be dead. Can he? He’s another film to appear in. They’re filming it as I write.
But there’s his obituary. And funeral.
And M is being retired. But she refuses to go.
‘Brave new world.’  Says Bond to young Q.
Indeed. Yes. Bond is alive but he’s regarded as past it. Obsolete. Old.  And Q – is young. And cheeky.
Humour has returned to the Bond films.  Grimness has not left but much of the exotic glitter is also back, mixed with the austerity.
It’s quite ingenious how they weave some of the old goodies into this Brave New World.
I hold my breath for the last half of the film.
Wow.

4* of 5


PS The Bond saga is over for now. It has been fun. Though there were times when we were close to abandoning the project.  There are some very bad Bond films. But now I’m glad we stayed with it.

I have to admit that my stubborn insistence that Connery is the only Bond is wrong.  Best is clearly Daniel Craig. Pierce Brosnan is a strong second place. Sean Connery is an inglorious third, Roger Moore a suave but silly fourth, Timothy Dalton an unrememberable fifth and that poor George bloke is best forgotten.


An amazing ending. We might have to go and see Daniel Craig in Spectre at the cinema this summer. Can’t wait for the DVD.

James Bond Quantum of Solace

Quantum of Solace 2008
  • Director:  Marc Forster
  • Based on the novels  by Ian Fleming
  • Cast: Daniel Craig, Judie Dench, Mathieu Amalric, Giancarlo Giannini, Gemma Arterton, Jeffrey Wright
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Daniel Craig   Casino Royale, Defiance, Flashbacks of a Fool, Infamous, Road to Perdition, Elizabeth, Hotel Splendide
    • Judi Dench –the other Bond films, Hotel Marigold, My Week with Marilyn, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jane Eyre, Cranford, Nine, Notes on a Scandal, Mrs Henderson Presents, Ladies in Lavender, The Shipping News, Chocolat, Tea with Mussolini, Shakespeare in Love, Mrs Brown, Hamlet, Henry V, A Handful of Dust, 84 Charing Cross Road, A Room with a View, Macbeth
    • Mathieu Amalric – Le scaphandre et le papillon
    • Giancarlo Giannini – Casino Royale
    • Jeffrey Wright – The Hunger Games, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Source Code, Cadillac Records, Broken Flowers, Angels in America, Hamlet, Homicide Life on the Streets
    • Gemma Arterton – The Boat that Rocked, Lost in Austen
  • Why? Curious. Hal and I saw several Bond films in a Bond festival in the early 70’s and enjoyed them. Sean Connery is the only Bond we have ever seen.  Friends have said later actors have been good too. And with Judi Dench they can’t be all bad.  So we bought the box...
  • Seen:  April 4, 2015   

Now our expectations are raised again. We want and expect a serious Bond.
The opening car chase is even more murderous than ever.  And takes over where the last film left off. James Bond is bitter and, though he denies it, out for revenge.
It’s almost non-stop chase for thirty minutes and it’s very exciting. I have, as so often, no idea what’s going on.
But. We have some very nasty CIA agents. And one who helped Bond in Casino Royale who doesn’t think the US should support fascist coups.
Bond’s demons follow him through the chases and intrigues and M is in trouble because her government doesn’t believe that the villains she and Bond are chasing exist.  Or even worse, they’re not villains, they’re allies.  And it’s all about oil and water.
She is ordered to bring in Bond or the Americans will be allowed to kill him.
It’s the shortest of the Bond films and – could it be? – the best. So far.  There’s one left.

3 ½ * of 5


James Bond Casino Royale

Casino Royale
  • Director: Martin Campbell
  • Based on the novels  by Ian Fleming
  • Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Judie Dench, Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Jesper Christensen, Ivana Milicevic
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Daniel Craig   Defiance, Flashbacks of a Fool, Infamous, Road to Perdition, Elizabeth, Hotel Splendide
    • Eva Green – Dark Shadows, Kingdom of Heaven
    • Judi Dench –the other Bond films, Hotel Marigold, My Week with Marilyn, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jane Eyre, Cranford, Nine, Notes on a Scandal, Mrs Henderson Presents, Ladies in Lavender, The Shipping News, Chocolat, Tea with Mussolini, Shakespeare in Love, Mrs Brown, Hamlet, Henry V, A Handful of Dust, 84 Charing Cross Road, A Room with a View, Macbeth
    • Mads Mikkelsen – must be something but I can’t find anything
    • Jeffrey Wright – The Hunger Games, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Source Code, Cadillac Records, Broken Flowers, Angels in America, Hamlet, Homicide Life on the Streets
    • Jesper Christensen –Melancholia, The Young Victoria, The Interpreter
    • Ivana Melicevic  Battle in Seattle, In Her Shoes
  • Why? Curious. Hal and I saw several Bond films in a Bond festival in the early 70’s and enjoyed them. Sean Connery is the only Bond we have ever seen.  Friends have said later actors have been good too. And with Judi Dench they can’t be all bad.  So we bought the box...
  • Seen:  April 3, 2015   

Exit Brosnan. Enter Craig.  Only three left of the James Bond box. I didn’t think, ten or so films ago, that I’d be a little sad that the whole thing will soon be at an end (except for the ones to come).
Well, I’m not that sad. But I am curious about Daniel Craig. I have a hard time seeing him as Bond.
Austere is not a word one associates with James Bond but as the film starts that’s the word that comes to mind.
There seems to be a time warp. Bond has just been promoted to double-O status and is a newcomer somehow.  M is already angry with him though. He is as arrogant as in the others but has absolutely no humour. He is cold, his charm is calculating and infrequent. A traumatic childhood is hinted at. Psychology? A Bond with character? A lean and hungry look? And suddenly there is kindness.
It works. He’s fascinating.
Even M is human. She has a home and a husband.
It’s exciting and unexpected.
Poor James.

3* of 5


4 April 2015

Tracks

Tracks 2013
  • Director: John Curran
  • Based on book by Robyn Davidson
  • Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Mia Wasikowska – Jane Eyre, Alice in Wonderland, The Kids are All Right, Defiance
  • Why?  The book
  • Seen:  March 29, 2015

 The book made a deep impression on me when I read it over thirty years ago. I’ve loved camels ever since, though to be honest I’ve never met one.
The film lives up to my expectations, and my memories of the book.  In a slow steady pace Robyn Davidson in the very credible figure of Mia Wasikowska makes her way on foot across Australia. She’s not stopped by contrary camels, or drought, or getting lost, or hallucinations, or despairing loneliness, or avid journalists invading her chosen solitude.
The desert scenery is spectacular. Wasikowska does a very fine job. The slow pace only adds to the drama and harsh beauty.
Seventeen hundred miles, two hundred or so days. It’s unbelievable but it’s true.
And I still love camels.

4 * of 5


Hotel Splendide

Hotel Splendide 2000
  • Director: Terence Gross
  • Based on novel: no
  • Cast: Toni Collette, Daniel Craig, Katrin Cartlidge, Stephen Tompkinson, Hugh O’Conor, Helen McCrory, Peter Vaughn, Tony Jones, Dan Hildebrand
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Toni Collette – Little Miss Sunshine, In Her Shoes, The Hours, About a Boy, Changing Lanes, The Sixth Sense, Velvet Goldmine, Muriel’s Wedding
    • Daniel Craig – Defiance, Flashbacks of a Fool, Infamous, Road to Perdition, Elizabeth
    • Katrin Cartlidge – From Hell, Topsy-Turvy, Career Girls, Breaking the Waves, Naked
    • Stephen Tompkinson – Taming of the Shrew Retold, Brassed Off
    • Hugh O’Conor – Chocolat, My Left Foot
    • Helen McCrory – Hugo, Harry Potter, Becoming Jane, The Queen
    • Peter Vaughn – Longitude, Les misérables, Our Mutual Friend, Remains of the Day, Brazil, The French Lieutenant’s Woman,
    • Toby Jones – The Hunger Games films, My Week with Marilyn, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Creation, Frost/Nixon, Amazing Grace, Infamous, Mrs Henderson Presents. Finding Neverland, Ladies in Lavender, Harry Potter (Dobby’s voice), Joan of Arc, EverAfter, Les misérables, Naked, Orlando
  • Why?  Toni Collette, Katrin Cartlidge, and I love the film
  • Seen:  Once before. Now: March 28, 2015 

Any film with Toni Collette and Katrin Cartlidge has to be amazing. I remember this one as being weird and loveable. I think it might be the film where I made the acquaintance with these two favourites. Now I see that other coming stars are in it – and odd and young Daniel Craig, an unchanging Toby Jones, and many others I’ve seen in so many other films.
It’s as absurd as I remember it. The Hotel Splendide is an enormous monster of a mansion on an isolated island off the coast of Somewhere British. Guests who arrive never leave. Each one is more bizarre than the last.  The family who runs the place is as dysfunctional as they come.
It’s a mix of Brazil, Fawlty Towers and Charlie Chaplin. It’s a hate/love story, a battle of the chefs, a conflict between cold showers, abstention and enemas, and epicurean lust for life.
Bizarre, absurd, weird – these words hardly begin to describe it. Add heart-warming and heart-breaking, daft, sweet, bittersweet, poignant, eccentric, haunting – in more ways than one – and you might get the idea. 

4 ½ * of 5


Die Another Day

Die Another Day 2002
  • Director:  Lee Tamahori
  • Based on the novels  by Ian Fleming
  • Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Judie Dench, Rosamund Pike, Toby Stephens, Rick Yune, Samantha Bond, John Cleese
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Pierce Brosnan   –the other Bond films, The World’s End, The Ghost Writer, Mamma Mia, Seraphim Falls, Dante’s Peak, Mars Attacks!
    • Halle Berry – Things We Lost in the Fire, Monster’s Ball, X-Men, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, Bulworth, Jungle Fever
    • Judi Dench –the other Bond films, Hotel Marigold, My Week with Marilyn, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jane Eyre, Cranford, Nine, Notes on a Scandal, Mrs Henderson Presents, Ladies in Lavender, The Shipping News, Chocolat, Tea with Mussolini, Shakespeare in Love, Mrs Brown, Hamlet, Henry V, A Handful of Dust, 84 Charing Cross Road, A Room with a View, Macbeth
    • Rosamund Pike – The World’s End, An Education, The Libertine
    • Toby Stephens – The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Twelfth Night, Orlando
    • Rick Yune – Snow Falling on Cedars
    • John Cleese – The Day the Earth Stood Still, Harry Potter, Frankenstein, A Fish Called Wanda, Silverado, The Meaning of Life, The Taming of the Shrew, Fawlty Towers, The Life of Brian, Monty Python
    • Samantha Bond  Downton Abbey and other series
  • Why? Curious. Hal and I saw several Bond films in a Bond festival in the early 70’s and enjoyed them. Sean Connery is the only Bond we have ever seen.  Friends have said later actors have been good too. And with Judi Dench they can’t be all bad.  So we bought the box...
  • Seen:  March 27, 2015  
Oh no! Pierce Brosnan’s last Bond film! Hope it’s good one.  The spectacular surfing scene at the beginning bodes well. The whole intro is spectacular and ends with Bond being tortured in a North Korean prison for fourteen months. Grim!
He’s finally traded but he’s suspected of revealing top secrets and M fires him and imprisons him.
But he’s Bond. He escapes to go after Zao, the man who betrayed him, England, China and the moderates in North Korea.
That is, not surprisingly, just the beginning.
The formula is there. Cuba, Iceland, diamonds, car chases (fancier than ever), explosions, beautiful spies, evil villains. But in spite of the flash and icy bling it’s bleak and bitter. James isn’t having fun anymore.
Which makes it all the better for us.  John Cleese, Madonna and the Clash with ‘London’s Calling’ add class too.

3* of 5


Contagion

Contagion 2011
  • Director: Steven Soderbergh
  • Based on novel: no
  • Cast: Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon. Laurence Fishburne, John Hawkes, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Ehle, Elliot Gould, Enrico Colantoni
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Gwyneth Paltrow  Two Lovers, Proof, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, The Royal Tenebaums, The Perfect Murder, Shakespeare in Love, Sliding Doors, Moonlight and Valentino, Seven, Hook
    • Matt Damon – True Grit, Invictus, The Brothers Grimm, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, The Bourne Identity, Dogma, Saving Private Ryan, Good Will Hunting, Courage under Fire,
    • Laurence Fishburne – Bobby, Akeelah and the Bee, The Matrix Trilogy, Mystic River, Othello, Boyz n the Hood, Class Action, The Colour Purple, Rumble Fish
    • John Hawkes – Winter’s Bone, The Miracle at St. Anna’s, The Perfect Storm. A Slipping Down Life
    • Jude Law – Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows, Hugo, Repo Men, Sherlock Holmes, The Imaginariunm of Doctor Parnassus, Sleuth, The Aviator, Closer, Alfie, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Cold Mountain, Road to Perdition, eXistenZ, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Gattaca, Wilde
    • Marion Cotillard – Inception, Nine, Public Enemies, La vie en rose, A Good Year, Big Fish, Un long dimanche de fiancailles
    • Kate Winslet – Mildred Pierce, The Reader, The Holiday, Little Children, Romance and Cigarettes, Finding Neverland, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Life of David Gale, Hideous Kinky, Titanic, Hamlet
    • Jennifer Ehle – The King’s Speech, The River King
    • Elliot Gould – Friends, American History X, MASH
    • Enrico Colantoni – Veronica Mars
  • Why?  Sounded good. Good cast.
  • Seen:  March 22, 2015 

OK, I am never going to touch anything or anyone ever again and I’m not going to leave the flat. I think I’ll stop breathing too.
Um. That won’t really help, will it?
Let’s pretend this is just a film.
And it’s quite a film.  It tries to do everything. From the outbreak of the pandemic, rapidly through the death of millions, to the collapse of society, to the development of the vaccine, to the romantic end for one young couple.
There are too many people to really care about any of them, though each individual actor offers a good performance. Best is Jude Law as a manic whistle blowing blogger who exposes, or seems to expose, fraud, cover-up, nepotism, corporate greed.
As a realistic prediction of what could – and very likely will – happen, it’s a very good film.
As a thriller it’s too reserved to be exciting. Maybe it’s not a thriller. Maybe it’s a documentary…

3 ½ * of 5


The World is not Enough

The World is not Enough 1999
  • Director:  Michael Apted
  • Based on the novels  by Ian Fleming
  • Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau, Judie Dench, Robert Carlyle, Denise Richards, Robbie Coltrane, Samantha Bond, Desmond Llewellyn, John Cleese
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Pierce Brosnan    the other Bond films, The World’s End, The Ghost Writer, Mamma Mia, Seraphim Falls, Dante’s Peak, Mars Attacks!
    • Sophie Marceau – Les femmes de l’ombre, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Braveheart
    • Judi Dench –the other Bond films, Hotel Marigold, My Week with Marilyn, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jane Eyre, Cranford, Nine, Notes on a Scandal, Mrs Henderson Presents, Ladies in Lavender, The Shipping News, Chocolat, Tea with Mussolini, Shakespeare in Love, Mrs Brown, Hamlet, Henry V, A Handful of Dust, 84 Charing Cross Road, A Room with a View, Macbeth
    • Robert Carlyle – Stone of Destiny, 28 Weeks Later, Hitler the Rise of Evil, Black and White, Beach, The Full Monty, Carla’s Song, Trainspotting, Go Now, Riff-Raff
    • Robbie Coltrane – Harry Potter 1-8, From Hell, Henry V, Black Adder, Tutti Frutti, Absolute Beginners
    • John Cleese – The Day the Earth Stood Still, Harry Potter, Frankenstein, A Fish Called Wanda, Silverado, The Meaning of Life, The Taming of the Shrew, Fawlty Towers, The Life of Brian, Monty Python
    • Samantha Bond  Downton Abbey and other series
  • Why? Curious. Hal and I saw several Bond films in a Bond festival in the early 70’s and enjoyed them. Sean Connery is the only Bond we have ever seen.  Friends have said later actors have been good too. And with Judi Dench they can’t be all bad.  So we bought the box...
  • Seen:  March 20, 2015   

A boat race on the Thames! I hope we don’t run into anything like that when we’re in London at the end of April but it’s fun to watch on TV.
I don’t really know what’s going on but it’s exciting.
Ah, skiing. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
If the oil pipeline is supposed to be a good thing, though, then I’m not going to like this film much. Oil pipelines are really bad and I don’t like oil magnates. The world can’t afford them.  They’re villains, even the ones James Bond is in love with. This doesn’t have a good feeling.
It gets better though.  The beautiful oil magnate – um. Seems James isn’t in love with her after all. Seems she’s the bad guy. OK.
It’s not a flop but this film doesn’t have the sharpness of the previous two.  Brosnan seems tired and Judi Dench deserves a better role. Robert Carlyle is always good. John Cleese is a welcome addition but I’ll miss M.  Desmond Llewelyn died at the age of 85 after this film was made.

2 ½ * of 5