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Posts Tagged ‘SPECTRE’

As I decide on my top ten movies of the year, here are the films I loved but didn’t make my top ten:

A Most Violent Year: Don’t be misled by the title and trailer, this isn’t a violent action movie but a classy crime thriller with fantastic performances from Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain.a most violent year

Amy: Director and producer Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees are back with portrait of singer Amy Winehouse.  As compelling as Senna (2010), the real brilliance of the film isn’t the telling tale that played out in front of the worlds press, but the less know and more intimate story of the tragic figure.Amy

Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance): Winner of four Oscars (Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Cinematography).  Michael Keaton is perfectly cast as an actor once famous for playing a superhero trying to reinvent himself as a stage actor.  Probably director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s best film to date.michael keaton birdman

Bridge of Spies: True story of a cold war soviet spy, the lawyer who defended him and the ultimate exchange in Berlin.   Director Steven Spielberg does what he does best delivering tension and suspence as well as comedy.  Mark Rylance and Tom Hanks are both on top form.  Rylance has to be a good bet for best supporting actor Oscar.Bridge Of Spies

Brooklyn: Story of a young woman who moves from small town Ireland to Brooklyn in the early 50’s.  A surprisingly low key film but totally enthralling, largely thanks to Nick Hornby’s great script and another standout performance from  Saoirse Ronan.Brooklyn

Crimson Peak: A movie of the month winner, but it doesn’t quite make my top ten.  A spiritual successor to The Devil’s Backbone to, to paraphrase a quote from the movie it isn’t a ghost story, it is a story with ghosts.  Mia Wasikowska and Tom Hiddleston are good, Jessica Chastain is fantastic and clearly having a blast.crimson peak

It Follows: Another  movie of the month winner that just misses my top ten; Superior horror with an original antagonist.  The style and the soundtrack are reminicent of the late 70’s and early 80’s.  Maika Monroe impresses in the lead, a young star on the rise to look out for.It Follows

Man Up: British romantic comedy centring on the fallout of a woman who finds herself on someone else’s blind date.  Lake Bell is fantastic and Simon Pegg provides good support.Man Up

SPECTRE: Skyfall was my favourite film of 2012, following Skyfall always going to be an impossible task, and to say isn’t as good doesn’t mean it isn’t a really good film.  Pulling together all the elements of the previous three films to create a story arc for Daniel Craig’s Bond feels forced but taken on its own merits it really works.SPECTRE

The Gift: A confident début as feature director by actor Joel Edgerton.  What starts out looking like an 80’s/90’s yuppies in peril thriller becomes something far more interesting. Edgerton co stars with Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall, all three are excellent. The end has divided opinion, but I think it is perfect for the film.

The Gift Gordo

The Gift Gordo

The Lobster: Set in a strange unexplained dystopian society where single people are turned into an animal of their choosing if they fail to find a partner.  The strangest film I have seen for a very long time, I really loved it, but I am really not sure why.the lobster

The Martian: Held together by a great turn from Matt Damon but kept tripping along by director Ridley Scott who has crafted a surprisingly funny and easy going movie.  Scott’s best film since the underrated Kingdom of Heaven a decade ago.the martian

Wild: The true story of Cheryl Strayed, a young woman who decided to walk the thousand-mile Pacific Crest Trail.  We begin to understand  her motivation through flashbacks as the film unfolds.  Well constructed with great use of music and an excellent performance from Reese Witherspoon.Wild

Watch this space for my top ten of the year some time before Christmas.  

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I have mentioned in a previous article that Daniel Craig’s James Bond has the biggest story arc of all the incarnations of the character.  This is clear to see, but it can also be observed in his co-stars.  There is a convention in Bond movies of two “Bond Girls”.  The secondary of them often appears first in the movie but is ultimately a disposable character.  Her normal role is to provide some cheap thrills for both Bond and the audience, move the plot forward and is then disposed of, sometimes terminally.  A look at these characters tells us a lot about how Bonds character develops across Craig’s four films. 

WARNING PLOT SPOILERS FOR ALL FOUR MOVIES 

The first such character that Craig’s Bond encounters is Solange (Caterina Murino) in Casino Royale (2006).  The wife of Alex Dimitrios (Simon Abkarian), who is in the employ of the films main villain Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), Bond sleeps with her to get what he wants then leaves her to clearly knowing that his actions could have fatal consequences for her, ultimately they do! Bond’s cold detachment happens before his heart is thawed but ultimately broken by Vesper Lynd (Eva Green).Solange Caterina Murino

Quantum of Solace (2008) is a direct sequel to Casino Royale, but most importantly post Vesper.  Bond has allready met the movies primary character Camille (Olga Kurylenko) before the appearance of Agent Fields (her first name is revealed in the credits if you are interested) (Gemma Arterton).  After putting herself in the firing line of Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), she is abandoned by Bond who leaves with Camille to follow a lead.  Her death is clearly an homage Goldfinger.  Bond leaves a none field agent in danger without even thinking about it but does feel the need to avenge her, sending Green to a certain death when he may have been better questioning him.  This is a reckless broken Bond who is yet to find the humanity he must find before he can think about any idea of redemption.strawberry fields Gemma Arterton

Skyfall (2012), is a slightly different proposition, there is no primarily Bond Girl, the slot is instead filled by M (Judi Dench) and to a lesser extent Eve (Naomie Harris) who is later revealed as Moneypenny.  The secondary part is taken by Severine (Bérénice Marlohe).  Her death at the hands of Silva (Javier Bardem) is followed by a quip from Bond that has led to a lot of speculation.  Was this the cold pre Vesper Bond, or a tactic to distract Silva?  I have always believed the latter but understand other point of view.Severine Bérénice Marlohe

This finally brings us up to date with Spectre (2015).  Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci).  In the pre-credit sequence we see Bond killing Marco Sciarra (Alessandro Cremona).  It is later revealed to be an unsanctioned hit, acting on orders from beyond the grave for the previous M (Judi Dench).  At the funeral he meets Lucia Sciarra who in true Bond fashion she falls into his arms (and into bed) before revelling vital information to further the investigation. After he has what he wants, instead of leaving her to die Bond calls in a favour from Felix Leiter of the CIA (who we haven’t seen since Quantum of Solace) to protect her.  The character is has a lot of similarities to Solange in Casino Royale, Bond’s more human and humane treatment is surely testament to the development of him as a person over the four movies.  Is Bond in love with Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) at the end of the movie? was Bond capable of love in Quantum of Solace and Skyfall?Sciarra Monica Bellucci

On a side note, A lot was made of an older woman in the part, the first to be older than Bond (Monica Bellucci is four years older than Craig, Bérénice Marlohe eleven years younger, Gemma Arterton eighteen years younger and Caterina Murino nine years younger) this was followed by great disappointed that she isn’t given a lot to do.  While this is true, it is better to have an actress like Bellucci lending a certain class to the part than a typical twenty-something as used in other movies. For example, Bellucci was considered for the par of Paris Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), a part that ultimately went to Teri Hatcher.  Both Hatcher and Bellucci are eleven years younger than then Bond, Pierce Brosnan. 

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After the release of Skyfall I suggested a “Bond Week” eight seminal Bond films to watch over a week (one a day and two on Sunday), now I have a new Bond Week, with a difference or two.  The first Bond Week was an idea, a hypothetical list to immerse someone in the world of Bond movies.  The Second Bond Week consists of Daniel Craig’s four Bond movies, four movies that I watched over the past five days.  

Casino Royale (2006) was the film I hadn’t seen for the longest.  It confirmed my original thought, that it is the best of Craig’s Bond film.  Directed by Martin Campbell who also made GoldenEye (1995), Pierce Brosnan’s first and best outing as Bond.  The script is excellent with the perfect balance of action, grit and humour, it is everything Bond should be.  Weaving together three distinct stories including one that takes its plot outline from Flemings source novel. Made after The Bourne Identity (2002) but before its sequels the influence is clear but it is still 100% Bond.  Clocking in at 144 minutes the film never feels that long, surprisingly second billed Eva Green doesn’t appear until the hour and the film runs for a full 30 minutes after the death of the main villain Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen).james bond and vesper lynd

Quantum of Solace (2008).  I once described Quantum of Solace  as the perfect Bond film, it isn’t the best Bond film but it is everything you want from a Bond film.  The film is the closest Craig’s Bond ever gets to  the character from Ian Fleming novels.  At 106 minutes, it is the shortest of all 24 Bond films, this again goes back to the 250 page novels.  But most importantly, it does the bravest thing a film can do, it doesn’t try and be bigger and better than its predecessor.james bond and Camille

Skyfall (2012).  If Quantum of Solace is the perfect Bond film and Casino Royale is the best, Skyfall is the biggest.  Introducing Q and Moneypenny to the rebooted series, having two M’s and delving into Bond’s childhood, there is a lot going on.  The 50th anniversary Bond movie, it is filled with nods to the earlier films, despite this it still works as a film in its own right, not just a Bond film.  I’m sure it is the first Bond film for many viewers, it works as well for them as it does for existing fans.   There is an interesting departure from the Bond formula.  Dispensing with a primarily  “Bond Girl” Bond spends the final act with M (Judi Dench).James Bond and M

SPECTRE (2015) Having watched the first three on DVD, I have been back to see SPECTRE at the cinema for a second time.  Skyfall director Sam Mendes returns for what feels like an end of an era.  Bringing all the plots of the previous films together and attributing them to SPECTRE feels a little clunky and forced.  Take this aside and the film is great.  M (Ralph Fiennes), Q (Ben Whishaw) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) are given more to do then their characters can normally expect.  This break from formula shows real confidence by Mendes.  If it is Daniel Craig’s last Bond film, it is a fitting swansong.James Bond and Madeleine Swann

In this era of bindgewatching television, four movies in four days isn’t a big task, will I take on all 24 Bond movies in a month?  possibly one day.  Did I learn anything from watching the films back to back? probably not but it does lend a prospective to them.  Timothy Dalton is the closest to the character described by Ian Fleming; Pierce Brosnan looks like the character Fleming described; Sean Connery had the best of Fleming’s stories, but Daniel Craig has the best Story arc and the most consistently good movies.  Is Craig the best Bond? possibly!

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Another busy month with lots of interesting and varied movies, here are the contenders for movie of the month: onth:

McFarland: (I actually saw this at the end of September but forgot to add it my list) Disney does these true life sporting movies really well, see Million Dollar Arm, Invincible and Miracle for example.  The young unknown cast are good as is Kevin Costner, Maria Bello isn’t given much to work with.

McFARLAND, USA L to R: Jose Cardenas (Johnny Ortiz), Danny Diaz (Ramiro Rodriguez), Thomas Valles (Carlos Pratts), Victor Puentes (Sergio Avelar), Damacio Diaz (Michael Aguero), Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), Johnny Sameniego (Hector Duran) and David Diaz (Rafael Martinez) Ph: Ron Phillips ©Disney 2015

Macbeth: Brutal and visceral take on Shakespeare’s tragedy.  It looks fantastic and has a real emotional impact but has a flaw.  Normally the centre of the story, Lady Macbeth is sidelined, this is all the more surprising considering she is played by Marion Cotillard.Macbeth

The Walk: Dramatisation of Philippe Petit’s illegal high-wire walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre as seen in the documentary Man on Wire (2008).  The walk is spectacular especially in IMAX but the build up is a little flat.The Walk

The Intern: A retired 70 year old man takes a job as an intern.  Don’t be fooled by it being a nice film or the lukewarm reviews, it is actually really good largely thanks to stars Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway.The Intern

Regression: Drama/thriller about the scandal involving regression therapy in the 90’s and 90’s.  It lacks a little direction but is ultimately a lot better than the reviews will have you believe.Regression

Suffragette: If you only remember one thing from school about women’s suffrage in Britain it will be Emily Davison and the kings horse at the Epsom Derby.  More than a hundred years have passed since then and yet this is the first film on the subject.  Carey Mulligan is fantastic in the lead as are Anne-Marie Duff, Helena Bonham Carter and Ben Whishaw in supporting roles, the plot however is a little too by the numbers and fails to elevate the film to greatness.Suffragette

Crimson Peak:  The look of the film possibly owes a debt to Dario Argento or even Nicolas Roeg but the story is pure Guillermo del Toro.  A spiritual successor to The Devil’s Backbone to, to paraphrase a quote from the movie it isn’t a ghost story, it is a story with ghosts.  Mia Wasikowska and Tom Hiddleston are good, Jessica Chastain is fantastic and clearly having a blast.crimson peak jessica chastain

The Program: The story of how and why Lance Armstrong cheated his way to be the most famous and successful Tour de France rider.  Well passed and structured and with great performances from Ben Foster and Chris O Dowd.The Program

Black Mass: Whitey Bulger was the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, he was also an FBI informant and his brother was state senator.  A story so bizarre it has to be true!  The film plods a little and isn’t a patch on similar themed Martin Scorsese films.  Johnny Depp’s performance is actually very good but is distracted by his over reliance on makeup.Black Mass

The Lobster: Set in a strange unexplained dystopian society where single people are turned into an animal of their choosing if they fail to find a partner.  The strangest film I have seen for a very long time, I really liked it, but I am really not sure why.

IMG_2135.CR2

IMG_2135.CR2

The Last Witch Hunter:  Vin Diesel plays an immortal witch hunter keeping the world safe.  There is nothing wrong with it but it fails to do anything, new original or particularly interesting.  Most notable as the first significant movie role for Rose Leslie from Game of Thrones.The Last Witch Hunter

SPECTRE: Following Skyfall is an impossible task, and to say isn’t as good doesn’t mean it isn’t a really good film.  Pulling together all the elements of the previous three films to create a story arc for Daniel Craig’s Bond feels forced but taken on its own merits it really works.SPECTRE

There were a few contenders but the movie of the month is:Crimson Peak

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In the last few weeks Fast & Furious 7 has gone over $1billion at the world box-office making it the 20th film to achieve the milestone, the others are: Titanic, The Avengers, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Frozen, Iron Man 3, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Skyfall, Transformers: Age of Extinction, The Dark Knight Rises, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Toy Story 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Jurassic Park, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Alice in Wonderland, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Dark Knight. But it is unlikely to be the biggest film of the year.  In fact  2015 could be the biggest year for blockbusters ever.

The contenders to join the billion dollar club are:

Fast & Furious 7: $1.2billion and counting!fast and furious 7

Avengers: Age of Ultron has just been released and is brilliant.  The perfect blend of the darker tone seen in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (that took over $700million last year) and the fun of and the fun we have come to expect from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Given the fact The Avengers (2012)  took $1.518 billion, they will be looking for more this time.Avengers Age of Ultron

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens should be a shoe in for the $1billion club.  The original Star Wars (1977) took over $700million, when adjusted for inflation and modern ticket prices it is well over the billion mark and the second highest grossing film of all time.  It won’t be the first Star Wars film to top $1billion, the first of the prequels The Phantom Menace (1999) got there first.Star Wars Episode VII  The Force Awakens

In 2012 Skyfall became the first Bond film to top $1billion, with Sam Mendes returning as a director and Daniel Craig heading a fantastic cast, Spectre could be the second.Spectre

Jurassic Park (2003) broke the billion dollar bracket on its re-release a few years back, adjusted for inflation, it would probably have done it on fist release.  With this in mind and a $150million+ budget the makers of Jurassic World must be hoping for something approaching the billion dollar mark.Jurassic World

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 should be good for around $800million. The final Harry Potter film broke $1billion so I wouldn’t discount the possibility of Mockingjay joining the club too.mockingjay

Minions is a prequel/spin-off to Despicable Me (2010) and is will probably smash the half billion dollars the original film took.  I don’t think it will make a billion dollars but you never know.Minions

Thanks to the licences Marvel sold before Marvel Studios emerged, The Fantastic Four is described as a 20th Century Fox/Marvel Entertainment release.  It may not be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it is riding on their coattails and will be looking for something north of $750million.  The casting looks good, but it’s going to need positive reviews to come close that figure thanks to the week first attempts at Fantastic Four movies.The Fantastic Four

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My top ten most anticipated movies for the coming year, along with the release date and the reason I am looking forward to them:

American Sniper – I am praying for a return to form from Clint Eastwood, and the trailer is excellent. 16th January

Whiplash – Great word of mouth.  16th January

Ex Machina – I am a fan of Alex Garland as a writer and am interested to see what he is like as a director.  Plus, the trailer looks interesting. 23rd January

A Most Violent Year – Great cast, interesting trailer. 23rd January

Kingsman –  The Secret Service: Another off centre action/comedy from Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman. 29th January

Blackhat – Michael Mann’s first film in 6 years.  20th February

Mad Max: Fury Road – I am such as fan of the original films I wasn’t keen on the idea of this but the trailer looks amazing. 15th May

Crimson Peak – I am keen to see anything from Guillermo del Toro. 16th October

Spectre – A new Bond film is always exciting, the success of Skyfall has upped that.  23rd October

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Can J.J. Abrams do for Star Wars what he did for Star Trek? 18th December

Also keen to see: John Wick, Jupiter Ascending, Child 44, Jurassic World, Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tomorrowland, Mission: Impossible 5 and The Hateful Eight (we probably won’t get it in the UK this year).

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Bond 24 has a title: SPECTRE. For those new to the franchise (the Daniel Craig era has certainly created new fans) SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) is a criminal organisation that first appeared in Thunderball (1961), Ian Fleming’s eighth full length Bond novel. They appeared in the film sereies form the start replacing SMERSH (fictional Soviet counter-intelligence agency whose name is a portmanteau of Směrt Špionam meaning Death to Spies) as the antagonist in Dr. No (1962) and From Russia with Love (1963).  Check out the new title card.  The way the glass has cracked is no coincidence, if you don’t know what I am talking about check out the old SPECTRE logo. SPECTRE

A few extra names have been added to the cast along with their characters names. Little else has been said about them but a few of them fit Bond archetypes: The 29 year old French actress Léa Seydoux  is playing Madeleine Swann she is most likely the main “Bond Girl” a versatile actress who has already worked with Woody Allen, Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino and Ridley Scott. Her most impressive performance was in Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013), but she can also do action as we saw in the great fight scene with Paula Patton in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011).

Christoph Waltz is playing Oberhauser. He has to be the main villain, there has been speculation that he will be revealed to be Ernst Stavro Blofeld. For all his great work he will always be associated with the character that introduced him to most audiences Col. Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds, that is why he has to be a villain, and a particularly menacing one. Or does he? The only problem with this is the name. Hans Oberhauser is a character from a Bond story, Octopussy (the book is nothing like the film). Oberhauser is a mountain guide who is killed by a former British soldier and war hero to conceal his crime, stealing Nazi gold. Oberhauser was a friend and farther figure to Bond who had taught him how to ski before the war. Bond is sent to Jamaica to arrest Major Smyth, the British soldier. If you want to find out what he actually does, read the book.

Dave Bautista from Guardians Of The Galaxy has henchman written all over him, the character name Mr Hinx seals that one!

Monica Bellucci is possibly the most interesting name on the list. An actress that seems to have been linked with just about every Bond movie since the late 90’s has finally been cast. She could be on either side, good or bad, or as is often the case with the second female character in a Bond film she may cross the line between the two. Her character name, Lucia Sciarra gives nothing away. I don’t remember it from a novel and a quick search online reveals nothing.SPECTER cast

The films synopsis: “A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.”

This gives little away and asks as many questions as it answers. Does “Bond’s past” refer to a n earlier film, Quantum? Or Bonds refere to when he was much younger, going back to Hanns Oberhauser mentioned above. Or even Bonds parents Andrew Bond and Monique Delacroix-Bond, killed in a climbing accident in the French Alps when Bond was 11. Carte Blanche the 2011 Bond Novel written by Jeffery Deaver was set in the modern day and rebooted giving the character a tweaked back-story to fit the modern setting. The most interesting part of the story was a sub plot that revealed the possibility that Bonds mother was a spy-hunter tasked with identifying Soviet moles until she was killed by the KGB. I suggested at the time this would make make an intesting sub plot for a movie. Is this what they are thinking?

The other thing revealed today was Bond’s new car. The yet to be released Aston Martin BD10:James-Bond-24-Spectre-Aston-Martin-DB10

SPECTRE will be released on 23 October 2015 in the United Kingdom and and two weeks later in the United States. I’m excited already!

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