Skyfall

Where No Bond Has Gone Before.

NB: Above the video, guaranteed no spoilers!  Comments which contain spoilers occur after the video, and are preceded by A VERY LARGE WARNING J

Casino Royale was the perfect Bond reboot, and opened up so many possibilities for the character. Quantum of Solace couldn’t decide what the actual plot was, and undid all the good of Casino Royale.

So Skyfall had a huge task if it wasn’t to fail the franchise for good.

But relax, ladies and gentlemen, for it is indeed a most excellent film.

Why? Because it has all the things you want and expect from Bond, and just a little bit more. High-speed chases – check. Glamorous women and locations – check. A really evil villain with proper motivation – check. A story line which makes sense and which we care about – checkety check.

It also has the unexpected – it allows the past to be peaked at and revisited in several ways, which brings perhaps not depth, but certainly layers, to the characters and plot, and touches base with the Bond of 50 years ago. 

It is beaufully shot (I was particularly taken by the scenes combining fire and fog in Scotland) and brilliantly scored. Two points in particular, both in connection with The Car, make perfect use of familiar music, and I even (just about) forgave the pub singing of the theme tune because the titles which accompany it were outstanding.

I pondered for a short while whether Casino Royale was a better film because of the way it relaunched the franchise. But no. Skyfall has the action and glamour of Bond, plus the added layers which, for me don’t spoil the Bond mystique.

Bring on the 24th film!

 

HERE BE SPOILERS …  

Just two things, really.

Firstly, I will admit to being a teeny bit disappointed by the Eve ‘reveal’ at the end. I’m not sure that the character we saw during the film *is* suited to a desk job. Perhaps there are other things planned for her in the future – I hope so. The reveal at the end of The Dark Knight Rises was much more pleasing.

Which brings me to my second point.

Not that it spoiled Skyfall one bit, but this Bond story certainly had several shades of Batman about it. No? Well, I give you:

  • An orphaned, only child, returns to the childhood home to rejoin battle.
  • A ‘dead’ hero, hiding away from the world, puts the suit on again when his country needs him.
  • A psycopathic nemesis with a manic grin and a deformed face.
  • Dammit, he even chases the baddies on a motorbike! 
  • And then there’s the ‘standing on the rooftop surveying the territory’ bit.

Just saying 🙂

Barbara

I have yet to see one review of this film which doesn’t compare it to The Lives of Others, which I think does Barbara a real disservice.

I suppose the obvious connection is that both films are set in East Germany in the 1980s, but whereas Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s earlier film focusses on the Stasi officer and has a cultural, city-based feel, Barbara looks at the life of a doctor, sent to a rural hospital after she dared to ask for an exit visa to the West.

It’s subtle, slow, and benefits from an excellently contained performance from Nina Hoss.  While the ending is perhaps a little sentimental, it’s clear why the character behaves as she does, and everything slots into place.

Interesting, and worth a viewing in its own right.

Looper

You know what? Despite all the time-travel hype, this film is really about the strength of love, and doing the right thing.

It’s quite a clever concept; the whole time travel bit works if you don’t think too hard about it, and it moves at such a pace that you don’t have time to do that anyway.

There’s a good enough mix of intelligent plot and high octane action, with a bit of a gear change from time to time to keep you on your toes.

I wouldn’t put it in the same league as Source Code, or even The Matrix, but it was entertaining.

I just don’t understand why they have to complete their own loops though. Get someone else to do it!

Samsara

An absolutely beautiful film that will say something different to everyone who sees it.

IMdB describes it as:

Filmed over a period of five years in twenty-five countries on five continents, and shot on 70mm film, Samsara transports us to the varied worlds of sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial complexes, and natural wonders.

This gives the facts, but what it can’t convey is the beauty, wonderment, distress and profundity that the images evoke.

There are monks painstakingly creating beautiful works of art from sand, which will be wiped away later; the majesty of both nature and natural disaster; the choreography demonstrated by prison inmates, and in a different format in the industrialised production of meat products – distressing yet intriguing.

There is no narrative as such, but a juxtaposition of faith, nature, humanity and automata which had me leaving the cinema with a feeling of wonderment.

It’s stunning – WATCH THE TRAILER NOW!!

Holy Motors

This is such an individual, unique film, it’s difficult to know how to describe it.

There isn’t a story as such, but rather a series of ‘appointments’, mostly staged, featuring Denis Lavant in numerous guises, from beggar to motion capture artist, family man to total weirdo.

There’s no rhyme nor reason to any of it – we don’t know who he really is, where he comes from, or why he does any of the things he does.

Denis Lavant is genius, almost unrecognisable from one scenario to another, and although the only sure thing is the timeline (the action takes place in one day, from dawn until dusk), he is the presence which links each encounter, albeit as a different persona each time.

It’s funny and sad, disturbing and confusing, and altogether like nothing I’ve ever seen before.