Thursday, 20 January 2011

BlogalongaBond #1 - Dr. No

This is my first entry in the blogging craze that is set to sweep the nation - Blog-A-Long-A-Bond. It was set up by the huge Bond fan The Incredible Suit after he realised that there were 22 months until the release of the next Bond film and 22 OFFICIAL Bond films available to watch. The plan is to watch one film a month until the release of Bond 23: Red Sky At Night, Shepherd's Delight or whatever they call it, and review each one on our blogs.

Check out the Facebook page dedicated to the challenge and the chance to read all the contributing bloggers thoughts on the original Bond film.

For my reviews, rather than doing the standard type of review where it describes the plot, complements the acting, action, etc... I will be rating each film on a number of elements that have become synonomous with the Bond series. So here we go...

Relevance of pre-credits sequence to rest of film: No pre-credit sequence :(

Bond song: No Bong song but instead the credits are set to the classic Bond theme composed by Monty Norman... no wait, John Barry... no wait, Monty Norman... no, John Barry... and on and on and on... It also has a bizarre Calypso version of Three Blind Mice before the action starts up again with three blind assassins... very odd.

Time elapsed before we hear the line "Bond... James Bond": 7 minutes 42 seconds

Attractiveness of Bond girls: There is an attractive wealthy woman playing cards with Bond, a white woman who is supposed to be of Asian origin (?!), and then Honey Ryder, who has the iconic entrance of coming out of the sea in that bikini, has a great name, looks good and shows some steel to her in what otherwise is a damsal in distress role.

Best innuendo: Honey Ryder - "Are you looking for seashells too?" Bond - "No, just looking"

Best one-liner used when despatching an evil henchman:

[Professor Dent tries to kill Bond, but his gun is out of bullets]
James Bond: That's a Smith & Wesson, and you've had your six.
[shoots Dent twice]

Best gadget: Q was not introduced in this film so Bond has to make do with a Geiger counter

Evilness of villain: Dr. No has no real physical presence in the film until 20 minutes from the end. Before that he is a shadowy figure that strikes fear into his minions and commuincates through elaborate methods and only by his voice. Having said that, physically he isn't a match for Bond and the end fight between them is over too quickly.

Feasability of villain's evil scheme: Only truly revealed too close to the end of the film to have any real threat or impact (and detailed to Bond in one of those now-cliched "I will tell you my entire plan over dinner before killing you" moments, Dr. No wants to interfere with a US space launch by using a radioactive radio signal. Feasibilty rating - slightly implausible and low on the death count

As you can tell from the examples provided, this was not a "classic" Bond in terms of the formula that we have come to know and love. Dr. No is more along the lines of the tricky first film where you have to spend time introducing us to the characters and the world that they inhabit. They do a fantastic job of building Bond's character who is cynical and sardonic, a no-nonsense killer when he needs to be, and isn't afraid to take the time to romance the ladies. And Connery is damn near perfect in the role.

James Bond will return in February in From Russia With Love.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


So Warner Bros have officially announced some of the casting for the new Batman film.

Man of the moment Tom Hardy will be playing Bane and hopefully Nolan can go someway to rectifying the horrendous treatment that the character went through during Batman & Robin.

Catwoman is much more contentious casting as my number one pick was:
Marion Cotillard
But she went and got herself pregnant ruling her out of the race.
Second choice was Natalie Portman...

but she went and got pregnant too.
So we are left with Nolan's choice of Anne Hathaway...

I'm a little hesistant about the casting but Rachel Getting Married showed she can do more than just be a goodie two-shoes and I know she'll look good in a catsuit (or out of one if Love And Other Drugs was anything to go by).
However the big casting news seems to have been missed by all the big movie websites but "official sources" claim that Nolan needed someone to help the film appeal to the kids and so teeny bopper sensation Justin Bieber will be playing Robin (OMFG!!!!)

Monday, 17 January 2011

Top Ten Films of 2011 - week 2

Week 2 of the cinematic year saw The Belmont (and every other cinema in the UK) under siege from the masses flocking in to see The King's Speech. I was expecting it to be a success but to continually have audiences of 100+ every screening is amazing. The last time we had such a popular film, ironically it was probably The Queen!

Anyway, here is my updated list for 2011 so far.

1. BLACK SWAN - 5 stars

2. BLUE VALENTINE - 4 stars

3. THE KING'S SPEECH - 3 stars

4. 127 HOURS - 3 stars


Friday, 14 January 2011


The tagline for Blue Valentine is "a love story for anyone who has ever been in love" and this film is an incredibly honest look at a crumbling relationship that will connect with anyone who has experienced the first flush of love or the pain of rejection.

Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end... and so does every relationship.
Movies predominantly deal with either the beginning or the end of the romance, never the middle. It is the beginning and end that define a relationship and Valentine skillfully intercuts the disintegration of a marriage, with the initial courtship between the two lovers.
By doing this, it makes the break up more painful to witness but also providing reasons as to why it was doomed from the start.

Using this narrative structure, the audience don't get to see the everyday life that Dean and Cindy had and therefore it is left open to your own interpretation as to whose fault it is that the marriage is on the rocks.

Dean is initially more sympathetic in the audiences' eyes as he is funny and charming during the romance and tries to make an effort to save his marriage, yet as the film plays out you can see Cindy's point of view that his carefree attitude and lack of ambition is incredibly frustrating to cope with.

The reason that there is such empathy towards the couple is down to the performances of Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Both are excellent and show a real spark and connection at the start and convince that they have lived together so long that the love has slipped away. Williams in particular excels during the later scenes as she has the tougher job of turning audience sympathy towards her.
Special mention should also go to the adorable girl who played their daughter. So cute.

Most of the publicity surrounding the film has been about a pivotal sex scene that highlights the fact that there is no way back for the couple. It is difficult to watch as Williams gives in to Gosling's requests for sex but it still feels forced and makes for uncomfortable viewing. The MPAA in US gave it the dreaded NC-17 rating, giving it a higher rating than Saw 3D which is quite frankly ridiculous (this is the same organisation that gave The King's Speech a R for strong language).
Thankfully after years of ridicule, the BBFC have finally got their act together and started rating films properly so it got a 15 rating.

However the more interesting sex scene in Blue Valentine involves a tongue. It is the third film in the last couple of months to feature a scene involving cunnilingus (the others being The American and Black Swan). It seems that adding a shot of someone going down on a woman is the arthouse independent equivalent of retrofitting a blockbuster into 3D. It worked for other films so we should put one in our film to make more money.

A film with much to recommend it, but just don't make it a first date movie as it will probably put you off your potential romance for life!

4 stars

Friday, 7 January 2011

The Top Ten Films of 2011 - week 1

I decided something when I was doing my Top Ten list for 2010. I realised that I was spending ages looking back through lists and ticket stubs, etc to try and remember all the films I had seen that year in order to try and decide what the top ten were. I realised that it would be much easier to chart the top ten throughout the year, thus saving myself a lot of time come December.
So each week, I'll update my top ten to include films I have watched that week.
Here goes (note there are only 3 films at the moment as that is all I have seen so far!)

1. BLACK SWAN - 5 stars
"If Polanski ever directed a mash-up of The Red Shoes, All About Eve, Suspiria and Showgirls, the result would be Black Swan. A dark, disturbing masterpiece with a career best performance by Natalie Portman. Her final dance as the black swan is one of the greatest things I have ever seen in my life."

2. THE KING'S SPEECH - 3 stars
"a safe, run-of-the-mill BBC drama elevated to cinematic status due to the great performances of its cast"

3. 127 HOURS - 3 stars
"Great performance by Franco as a man stuck between a rock & a film that has visual, aural & editing ADHD"


The King is lost for words... but Colin Firth hopefully won't be when he wins the Best Actor Oscar next month (that he should have received last year for A SINGLE MAN) and can finally lay the ghost of Mr Darcy to rest.
THE KING'S SPEECH is the current frontrunner for the upcoming awards season (and also looks like it will be The Belmont's biggest moneyspinner since MAMMA MIA).
Why? Is it a better film than THE SOCIAL NETWORK? Not by a long shot. Is it more Oscar friendly? Absolutely!
Here is a British film that is based on a true events, has a historical setting, thespians get to play real people and Firth gets to play a real life person with a disability/affliction (double win) and there are no mentions of Facebook anywhere.
But is it any good? After all, Oscar doesn't always get it right. While it has terrific performances, lovely production design, a nice script and all that, it does suffer from a problem that affected the last great British monarch drama, THE QUEEN. It does have the feeling that if it didn't have such a great cast, you could easily have watched this on BBC1 at 9.00 on a Sunday evening in the comfort of your own living room.
A British film made by-the-numbers to tick as many boxes as possible to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. Congratulations, you succeeded, but I wish that you hadn't played it so safe.

3 stars

127 HOURS in 127 WORDS!

127 HOURS is the true story of Aron Ralston who literally found himself between a rock and a hard place facing the decision stay there and die or cut off his arm in order to escape and live.
A terrific central performance by James Franco is almost lost underneath the incredible visual and aural assault to the senses perpetrated by Danny Boyle, who seems to believe he must use every camera and editing trick in the director’s playbook to keep the story interesting for the audience.
A good, disarming film but to see how a story like this can be done more effectively, buy or rent the excellent BURIED, that features nothing but Ryan Reynolds in a coffin for 96 minutes, when it’s released on 14th February.