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Posts Tagged ‘The Rhythm Section’

A few weeks ago when it was becoming clear that cinemas would be closing I tweeted to jokingly suggest I was compiling my top ten movies of the year.  Now the cinemas are all closed, and all the big releases have been put back, it isn’t clear how many more movies I will be seeing on the big screen this year, so I thought I would post my top ten of the year.  The top five would probably have made my top ten had they come out in any of the past ten years.

  1. Parasite Parasite
  2. Portrait of a Lady on FirePortrait of a Lady on Fire
  3. 1917 1917
  4. Long Day’s Journey into Night Long Day's Journey into Night
  5. Color out SpaceColor out Space
  6. Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)Birds of Prey
  7. The Invisible ManThe Invisible Man
  8. The LighthouseThe Lighthouse
  9. The True History of the Kelly GangThe True History of the Kelly Gang
  10. Little JoeLittle Joe

Bonus/Redux Pick: JoJo Rabbit*JoJo Rabbit

* I just remembered, I saw a preview of JoJo Rabbit in December last year.  Following the advice of Chris Hewitt of Empire Magazine/Podcast, I only included films released that year for my 2019 best of list.

The other films I have seen so far this year (excluding re-issues of older films) are as follows (in the order seen).  Let’s hope I have seen a lot more than 21 by the end of the year!

  • The Gentlemen
  • Just Mercy  
  • Seberg 
  • Bad Boys For Life 
  • Bombshell
  • Queen & Slim 
  • The Rhythm Section
  • Dark Waters
  • Underwater
  • Greed
  • The Hunt

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We are in an interesting period in the movie calendar:  The awards bait movies have been and gone, the blockbusters are waiting in the wings, amongst the dregs there are often a few gems, there certainly has been this month:

The Rhythm Section: As a big fan of Mark Burnell source novel this movie had a lot to live up to, it sadly fails. The story has been simplified from the novel loosing the nuance and a lot of the meaning.  On a positive note, Blake Lively is very good.The Rhythm Section

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn): Suicide Squad (2016) was a horrible mess of a movie, but it had one thing going for it, Margot Robbie was excellent as Harley Quinn.  Birds of Prey understands this and has Harley front and centre, not to take away from the supporting cast are also excellent.  It is fun and funny, simply everything a film like this needs to be, and everything that Suicide Squad wasn’t.  Also surprisingly violent, properly violent, not just comic book violent.   Its a shame it isn’t finding more of an audience.Birds of Prey

Underwater: Disater/Sci-fi movie set seven miles under the sea at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.  Aside from being unoriginal, and very predictable, there is nothing actually wrong with the movie, it just never really gets going, and is all just very average.  Kristen Stewart is very good though.Underwater

The Lighthouse: Robert Eggers follow-up to The Witch is just as intense, but even more bold and visceral.  It isn’t always clear what is going on leaving a lot of the film open to interpretation, the film is all the better for this.  Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson are both excellent.The Lighthouse

The Lost Boys: Re-mastered version of the classic 80’s teen horror.  As fun and funny as ever. Great to see it on the big screen.The Lost Boys

Dark Waters:  A legal drama based on a true story is a departure from the expected for Todd Haynes. There is a constant sense of dread, this combined with a lack time is spent in courtrooms makes it feel more like a conspiracy thriller.  Mark Ruffalo is utterly brilliant in the lead; Anne Hathaway isn’t given much to do in a much smaller supporting role, but has a few great moments.Dark Waters

Little Joe: Director Jessica Hausner’s first English language movie; Sci-Fi thriller with about a plant that is engineered to have antidepressant qualities.  The film has the dread and anxiety of a horror movie but without gore or violence.  The pastel colour design is disturbing in itself, as is the unusual score.  Emily Beecham and Ben Whishaw subtly brilliant in an un-showy way.  There is an interesting subtext that could be about medication, mental heal, or GM crops, maybe it’s about all three?Little Joe

Greed: Writers/Director Michael Winterbottom reteams with long-time collaborator Steve Coogan in a film about an unscrupulous fashion tycoon.  Often funny but with a very serious message, far from the directors best work but still very good.Greed

Color out Space: Things start to get a little strange for family living in an isolated woodland home.  Directed by Richard Stanley, his first feature since 1992, and based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft.  Nicolas Cage, does exactly what you expect him, Madeleine Arthur probably has the most screen-time, and is also very good.   I expect it to divide opinion, I loved it!Color out Space

Not the best film, of the month, but the most surprisingly good: Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn):Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

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james bond no time to dieAs the promotion of next spring’s No Time To Die, the 25 James Bond movie gets underway, the merry go round of who will replace Daniel Craig as 007.  The first thing I would say is that I am only talking about male actors, Bond is a man,  and as M (Judi Dench) says in GoldenEye “a sexist, misogynist dinosaur. A relic of the Cold War”.  There have been many suggestions that Ian Fleming’s character was actually a closeted or repressed homosexual.  This isn’t as outlandish as it sounds.  The books were written at a time when it was illegal to be gay.  A gay friend, who knows a lot more than me on the subject once told me that the secret services actively recruited gay men at this time.  Putting all this aside, the character would change too much if a woman were cast.  That’s not to say there isn’t room for a female 00 agent.  I would love to see a different film within the same universe.  That said, EON Productions are making a rare departure from Bond with The Rhythm Section due for release early next year, before No Time To Die.  Based on Mark Burnell novel of the same name the film promises to be a more gritty and realistic take on the genre.  Blake Lively stars as Stephanie Patrick an accidental/reluctant spy.  The film has an estimated $50 million budget, as a new property, this is considered a big risk, Bond 25 however cost five times that and will be expecting to smash $1billion in ticket sales.  I hope the film does well for two reasons, the second book is the best in the series, I would love it to see it adapted.  Secondly it would help the idea of a female 00. mark burnell the rhythm section

Back to Bond:  I understand Tom Hiddleston is still favourite, and for my money a good choice.  Tom Hardy, never seems far from the conversation; great actor but I don’t see him as Bond.  Sam Heughan seems to have come out of nowhere, and is the favourite of some bookies.  I didn’t know who he was and had to look him up.  This is often a good thing when it comes to Bond, an A list actor has never been cast in the role.  This also bodes well for lesser know actors: James Norton, and Jack Lowden, as well as TV stars Aidan Turner and Richard Madden.  It isn’t so great for big names: Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, and Chris Hemsworth.  Of the three my pick would be Fassbender who would make a great brooding Bond in the vein of Timothy Dalton.  Elba would have been a good choice, but I feel the ship has sailed.  At 47, he would be in his 50’s by the time his first movie came out, and his 60’s by the third or fourth.  Hemsworth, I would discount for two reasons: I personally would prefer to see a British or Irish actor in the part, and I would rather see him in more comedic roles.bond

Other actors getting odds of 10/1 or better include Jamie Bell, Cillian Murphy, Henry Cavill, Damian Lewis.  Bell, I don’t see as Bond, I can’t explain why.  Cavill, I think that ship has sailed.  Murphy, I would never have considered, but think he would be an interesting choice (even better if he used his Peaky Blinders accent!).  I’m warming to the idea of Lewis, just as he seems to be dropping out of contention.  The two others who seem to have dropped out of contention are Benedict Cumberbatch and Henry Golding.  Cumberbatch probably comes with too much baggage, If you mention the name of any of the actors who have played Bond: Connery, Lazenby, Morre, Dalton, Brosnan, Craig; Bond is the first think you think of. Cumberbatch is already Doctor Strange and Sherlock Holmes.  As for Golding, he has dropped out the race as quickly as he entered it.  From what little I have seen of him, he seems to have the looks and the charm, but I haven’t seen anything to convince me he is a very good actor.bond2

So who will be the seventh James Bond?  Probably either nobody from this list, or one of the lesser know actors.  But as strange as it sounds, it doesn’t matter that much.  George Lazenby aside (50 years ago), they have never chosen a poor actor.  How good or bad the films are rests with the script and direction.  I have always maintained that Timothy Dalton is the best Bond, he plays the character closest to the one in Ian Fleming’s novels, but he didn’t make the best films.  With GoldenEye (1995) Pierce Brosnan made one of the best Bond films, but his subsequent films ranged from poor to terrible.  This was purely down to the scripts, and nothing to do with the actor.

bond3

The interesting thing will be the setup.  Will Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, and Ben Whishaw return?  From one point of view, I would like to see them back as they are all great, on the other hand, a clean reboot with a new whole cast would be interesting too.  I like the idea of doing something different, either, going back to the books and making a 1950/60’s set period spy movie.  Or a modern day version, but going back to the start, Bond Year One!  A movie about a younger Bond being recruited.  I have also for a long time advocated bringing back Timothy Dalton, or even Pierce Brosnan to play an older retired Bond.

Given the timescales these movies work to, I would expect to see Bond 26 in 2024/25. 

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In a recent article on the BBC website (quoting an interview in the Guardian) James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli stated her belief that James Bond will “probably” never be played by a woman. “Bond is male. He’s a male character. He was written as a male and I think he’ll probably stay as a male.” She went on to say “And that’s fine. We don’t have to turn male characters into women.” The same article went on to quote an article where Halle Berry also said that Bond should remain male, she however suggested a new Bond type female character could be created.  While it may not be a popular, or politically correct opinion at the moment, I agree that Bond only works as a man.  We are however, at a point in time where Bond casting can be colour-blind, while Bond needs to remain British (and male), we are a multicultural society, despite the views of a vocal minority, you don’t have to be white to be British.  This leaves the door open, not just for Idris Elba, but for any other British actor regardless of race, I believe Henry Golding has joined the debate!The Next James Bond_

To change the sex of Bond would impact on all his interactions with other characters to such an extent it would distract from the story.  Regardless of what I, or anyone else thinks, Broccoli is the person most directly responsible for casting the part, so will ultimately decide the direction it takes. This isn’t to say characters are locked into being one sex.  The BBC article I mention, refers to the new series of Doctor Who, starting tomorrow with the first ever female Doctor.  Ghostbusters (2016), wasn’t terrible because of the idea, or the casting of woman, the cast were good, the issue was with the terrible script. Barbara Broccoli

Back to Halle Berry and her idea: There has previously been a suggestion that her character Jinx Johnson, from Die Another Day (2002) would get her own spiff-off movie or TV show.  Fortunately, this did not happen, she was a terrible character from a terrible film.  The only positive thing I have ever heard about the character, is that she looks good!  Truely representing all that is bad about Bond!  There are far better characters in the Bondverse to get their own movie, characters with a little agency, would be: Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell) from Licence to Kill (1989), Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh) from Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), or Camille (Olga Kurylenko) from Quantum of Solace (2008).  I’m not sure any Bond shared universe is a good idea, do we want a new Bond related film every year?  The current format of a film every few years, reboot every decade or so works. Female Bond Spin-offs

It would be better to start from a clean slate, developed a new completely different character in their own universe and having their own characteristics.  Fortunately, that is exactly what Barbara Broccoli is doing.  In a rare none Bond movie, EON Productions next movie will be The Rhythm Section adapted from the book of the same name by Mark Burnell.  The first of four books about the character Stephanie Patrick.  In the books Stephanie Patrick is a couple of turns short of rock bottom in a downward spiral following a traumatic event.  She is working as a prostitute to fund her drug problem until a revelation from a  journalist sends her life in a completely new direction.  The books are about identity and purpose, but work on a more surface level too, with great action.  There are four books in the series leaving at least three more stories to adapt, but with author Burnell onboard writing the script, there could be more than that.  Blake Lively is staring, and looks like a good choice.blake lively

And finally the elephant in the room, who will be the next Bond?  The name we can’t escape is Idris Elba, I think he would make a fantastic Bond, but fear his time may have passed.  At 46 he is about the right age now, he should be making his second film.  As it is, he would be 50/51 before he made his debut, giving him time to make three film before he is too old.  I am not going to list contendors or speculate on who will take the part, that’s for another day, but I am going to keep banding the drum for my Bond Movie idea, I know it will never happen but it doesn’t stop me modestly suggesting it’s a great idea: Bring Timothy Dalton back to play a long retired James Bond, forced back for one last mission (there are multiple story ideas to facilitate this).  As he gets older, the same idea could also work for Pierce Brosnan. Old Bond

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