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Spectre Mask Mexico Festival Street Party Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen,

Spectre [Plot Spoilers]: a posthumous video from ‘old’ M sends 007 into the belly of the beast; going after the head of the global criminal super-organisation SPECTRE: Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion.

This starts with a beautifully choreographed long single-take; moving from the sky, down through crows, up an elevator, through some rooms, and over rooftops. The pre-credits mission ends with an overlong and confusing shaky-cam helicopter set piece; the Greengrass-style shaky-cam style of which spoils much of the subsequent action – which is defined by big, loud, turned-up-to eleventy-stupid explosions right, left, and centre.

Spectre Choppah Helicopter Mexico Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen

After the initial setup, the film immediately starts throwing up a lot of overly familiar scenes; fortress on a snow-covered mountain top, Austrian forest chase, train fight with a brutish henchman, inviting Bond in to the secret lair before he escaped and blows the place up, scars, cats, exploding watches, Aston Martin gadgets, London chases… it feels like a rejected script for the 50th Anniversary film; that half-assedly tries to tie the last three movies together and leans on the aforementioned ‘classic Bond’ moments, ‘jumping the shark’, and even doing stuff that’s been parodied in Austin Powers – including drinking and advertising Heineken.

Spectre Meeting Broken Lights Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen

Going back to the old mould of ‘classic Bond’ the film also contains a higher level of silliness than the rest of the post-Casino Royal reboot movies: from out of nowhere Blofeld and Bond grew up together? Even bringing back a campy evil genius like Blofeld (who was in a handful of the early Bond films) feels like a strange villain choice; especially following after Javier Bardem‘s demented Skyfall performance. The dodgy science of drilling in to precise parts of the brain that contain memories / facial recognition / balance also feels ridiculous.

Spectre Widow Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen,

While Craig continues his streak of gritty and remorseful Bond, pretty much everyone else feels under-used: Waltz is only in about 20 mins of the movie, and he doesn’t look remotely interested – I can only imagine it’s because he’ll be in the next few movies too? Monica Bellucci (not even a proper femme fatale) is in two back-to-back scenes, and Dave Bautista (silent but violent – OddJaws) gets a couple of frenetically shot action scenes and one word to say. Bond Girl Léa Seydoux starts off promising; but soon turns into the generic helpless love interest. in On the flipside M and Q get slightly more screen time and even a bit of action in the field.

Spectre Car Chase Astin Martin Jaguar Rome Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen

Of course, not everything about the old movies are bad: there’s more tongue in cheek moments, a better script for quips, one-liners, and wordplay (“I guess we know what C stands for now… Careless“). There’s also more of a throwback vibe of escapism and glamour, which somewhat po faced Casino and Quantum films were missing – every shot looks like Bond and the Bond Girl are straight off a GQ cover. Although this goes a little too far with the cheesy ending, and the fact that there’s very little believable threat to Bond and his breakaway MI6 team.

Spectre Blofeld Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen,

Skyfall and its focus on Bond would always be a tough film to follow; and switching the focus to big names, big story, big locations, big explosions and bigger budget – Spectre doesn’t come close. Being one of the most expensive films ever made (but it’s not that obvious) this had to tick all of the constituent boxes of a ‘classic’ and safe Bond film. Although the surface is presented as the new Post-Bourne reboot Bond (nanotech, drones, cybersecurity) everything under the bonnet is straight outta the 1960s/1970s. Joe Public and those that grew up with the first 15 or so movies will love this because it’s a familiar romp, but I feel that more recent and more hardcore fans of the franchise will be let down by a fairly profunctory and borderline cynical by-the-numbers Bond outing.

Score: 5.5/10

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Information-hoarding new-age Blofeld. Like Elliot carver after a funectomy – 3
Henchman: Goatee’d Hinx; somewhere between Oddjob and Jaws – 4
Bond Girls: Two-scene widow; and slightly less ridiculous Christmas Jones – 6
Action: Mexican Helicopters / Rome Car Chase / Austrian Forest / Desert Shoot-em-up / London Bombing – 7

Spectre Ring Octopus Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen

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Shamelessly stolen from Michael over at It Rains… You Get Wet.

Oldboy Korean Movie1 – A movie you love with a passion

Oldboy: saw it in a tiny – practically empty – 50-seater screen [Aberdeen, Belmont Cinema] and just fell in love right there. It’s got plot, style, direction, acting, editing, originality, and groundbreaking themes that the re-make probably hasn’t touched with a bargepole: I’m not rushing to watch it! Such a fine example of original, bold, and brave film-making.

High School The Musical Logo2 – Movie you vow to never watch

Don’t think I would purposely decide to never watch a particular film on grounds that it’s potentially bad (I’ve sat though old propaganda films, terrible B-movies, outrageous exploitation films with no problems), but you’d be hard-pushed to convince me to watch the High School Musical movies, or any of those “he/she dies of cancer at the end” manipulative sob-fests.

Children of Men Clive Owen Michael Caine No more babes future london dystopia3 – Movie that literally left you speechless

Children of Men: My friend Spencer and I literally walked home slack-jawed, glancing at each other occasionally and muttering phrases like “No way”, “Holy shit” and “Fuck me” for 20 minutes after we left the cinema. Unbelievable, powerful film-making, paired with groundbreaking technical precision that should be watched big, loud and uninterrupted.

City Of God Brasil Brazil Lil Ze Rocket Drugs Crime Gangs4 – Movie you always recommend

City of God: usually to people that haven’t yet been swayed to world cinema yet. My DVD of this has been continuously whored out for the past 5 years. Actually, I don’t even know where it is any more… Poor Rocket! Take that acclaimed coming-of-age crime film Gomorrah, turn that son-bitch sideways, and stick it straight up your candy ass!

Barry Pepper Hollywood's unsung hero5 – Actor / Actress you always watch no matter how crappy the movie

I try to catch as many Barry Pepper films as I can. For me, he’s one of American cinema’s unsung heroes, never the leading man, but always putting in a top shift, and connects with the audience so effortlessly. Jackie Chan too, although he’s done so many movies that it’s hard to keep tabs – and had a few ropy hollywood outings.

Zooey Deschanel GROSS6 – Actor / Actress you don’t understand the appeal of

Zooey Deschanel: seems to have carved herself out as the go-to queen of the quirk. I cannot stand her cutesy, look at me, bug-eyed, big-fringed, dressed-like-a-tranny-from-the-1980s vibe. Arrested Development is Michael Cera’s get out of jail free card, or else he’d be cast off in the same boat.

Russell_Crowe7 – Actor / Actress, living or dead, you’d love to meet

See next question – LOL. Seriously, I’d love to sit down and have a few beers with Russell Crowe. Of all the egos, stars, and reported stories from behind the scenes, he’s been the most fun to follow through the years, and sounds like he’d be a great drinking buddy. It helps that he can act the pants off of most people too, at least when he puts his mind to it.

Gina Gershon OH MY GOD SHE IS SO DAMN HOT8 – Sexiest actor / actress you’ve ever seen

I have always exclusively reserved my Hollywood-wood for the lovely Gina Gershon (Those eyes! Those lips! That hair!) – she’s like an expensive whiskey that keeps getting better with age. Although recently I saw a few photos of Italian actress Sophia Loren and my life hasn’t been the same since. Too close to call. Maybe Lizzie Capplin, or Penelope Cruz. Toughest question on the list for sure.

The Good Bad Weird Korean Blockbuster Dream Cast9 – Dream Cast

The Good, The Bad & The Weird is as close to a ‘dream movie’ I’ve seen in real life. However, if I were a producer I would go for… Brian De Palma directing an international action-thriller with an ensemble including Javier Bardem, Jean Reno, Penelope Cruz, Barry Pepper, Moritz Bleibtreu, Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel – all in their prime.

Boyd Crowder Raylan Givens walton goggins timothy olyphant justified10 – Favourite actor pairing

When Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) are in the same scene my telly, brain, and Marshall stiffy pretty much explode simultaneously. The back-and-forth banter between those two is some of the best-written TV out there, and the actor’s chemistry is sublime.

BASEketball Court Matt Stone Trey Parker I hear your moms going out with SQUEAK]11 – Favourite movie setting

If I was living in a world where BASEketball or Death Race 2000 were actual sports I’d quit my job tomorrow. Being dropped into a Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie, MicMacs, Delicatessen) or Luc Besson (Fifth Element, Adele Blanc Sec, Angel-A, Nikita, The Last Battle) would be wildly entertaining, although I know for a fact that this is going to change when Snow Crash is finally made – come on Hollywood, pull your finger out!

Amores Perros12 – Favourite decade for movies

I think the 2000s is a tough decade to beat, so much emerging talent and superb movies. Probably helps that I spent most of the decade in front of a cinema screen.

Oldboy, Amores Perros, Mystic River, A Bittersweet Life, Children of Men, Kill Bill Vol 1, Together, No Country For Old Men, 3:10 to Yuma, Battle Royale, Memento, The Fall, Intacto, Infernal Affairs, The Woodsman, Bourne Ultimatum, District 9, 3-Iron, Brick, Eternal Sunshine, Primer, Lilya-4-Ever, In Bruges, City of God, Love Me If You Dare

Commando John Matrix Rocket launcher four barrel carnage moustache guy multipl deaths13 – Chick flick or action movie

Action; every single time. I like the odd chick-flick now and again – Just Like Heaven, Princess Bride, SATC – but even the Mrs prefers a good old action-film over the chick-flicks.

James Bond 007 Everything or Nothing Sean Connery George Lazenby Roger Moore Timothy Dalton Pierce Brosnan Daniel Craig14 – Hero, villain or anti-hero

Two words – James. Bond. Total hero.

Survive Style 5+ Vinnie Jones 15 – Black and White or colour

Colour for the most part. I’m not particularly adverse to black and white – it has its merits – but I’ll take ‘modern cinema’ every time over the classics. Imagine watching films like Volver, Scott Pilgrim, The Fall, Lego Movie, Kill Bill and Survive Style 5+ in monochrome / B&W… no chance.

The Whistleblower: based on the true story of Kathryn Bolkovac, a U.N. worker that uncovered a scandal involving human trafficking, forced prostitution, bent police, and her ‘peacekeeping’ colleagues. Being a politically loaded / statement movie you can’t really miss the two main agendas: highlighting the brutal & ugly side of sex traffic, and pointing out some flaws and cover-ups of the United Nations – both noble causes, and both elements are well covered, shocking, eye-openers. The cast match the tone of the film, and Weisz in particular is shit-hot, holding up the film, and keeping it rooted in reality (she wholly de-glammed for the duration). Behind the camera, it’s no-nonsense film-making; a couple of shock moments that are done in a blunt, realistic way – not much is explicit, but the implied scenes are harder to watch – all efficiently handled. Other than the pretty rough material, and being a tad on the long side, there’s not much to complain about. The Whistleblower is a shocking exposé, and a  thriller with no ‘action set pieces’ – and whilst it’s a fantastic dramatic powerhouse, it’s definitely not a Friday night flick.

Score: 7/10

Brotherhood of the Wolf: a French knight and NATIVE AMERICAN WARRIOR (!!) investigate reportings of a murderous wolf-like beast in 1700s France. I can best describe this as a 1980s fantasy fanboy political aristocratic period dramahorror‘; with werewolves, camp comedy, bawdy action, and token European tits. Trying to cover this much ground, it’s simply far too weird and ridiculous for its own good. The acting is theatre at best, the plot is nothing short of batshit mental, there’s also lots of hammy slow mo, rubbish CGI, and a laughable bone-sword. The beautiful Monica Bellucci can’t even save this, as a tracking shot of her naked body morphs into a CGI woman-shaped mountain-scape… really!?!?! The film’s like a wholesale sized can of industrial strength WTF, focus grouped by the biggest nerds in the world – and I love geeky films.

I endured 45 minutes then skipped through the rest of the film, stopping at the action scenes only.

Alternative Plans: sat in the corner of my room – confused, angry and disoriented – bashing head against the wall, thinking why… why… why… why…

Maléna: From the writer/director of Cinema Paradiso, this nostalgia driven film is about a teenage boy’s first obsession with a lady, Monica Bellucci, who the entire town perves on & gossips about. We all remember our first unattainable crush, but this film goes little too far as we see the kid transform from casual degenerate, to voyeur, then pant-snatchng sex-pest weirdo-stalker… definitely take this with a pinch of salt! The passion and intensity of Italians really shines through in the characters, which makes is great to watch, if a little OTT, and the visuals harness the best of picturesque Italy / Sicily. The tone of the film takes a massive U-turn near the end, from sugar-coated to bleak, although it coincides with the main’s realisation about his love. In the end, as she was the focus of pretty much every scene this film is to Monica Bellucci what Volver was to Penelope Cruz, but a lot kinkier with much more nudity (unfortunately 15 minutes of skin is cut from the UK release!!). But why do directors always give her on-screen beatings?!?! The cinematography, Bellucci and accompanying score were the only real stars of this.

Score: 4.5/10

Doberman: follows cops, robbers, bent cops and transvestites entangled in a feud & bank robbery – although there’s only a few minutes spent in the bank. The film has a strange, over-exposed and grainy, look but remains slick and stylish throughout. There’s a ton of hyper violence culminating in the world’s worst facepalm, but it’s all pretty surreal as it’s based on a pulp comic. The script’s just as brutal and not very PC, mainly due to the transvestite / gay / fetish characters and general eccentric stereotypes. Also, what is it with directors treating Monica Belluci so roughly? Unfortunately, it lacks the depth, substance and story of similarly styled Besson / Tarantino films. Definitely a visual treat, but it’s a bit of a no-brainer and stays in-your-face from the very first frame. Style over substance.

Score: 6/10

Shoot ‘em up: bit of a let down, especially after reading a load of reviews saying how mental / violent / bloody / gorey it was (and that it was the most fake blood used in a film ever!). So I sat through the whole film waiting for the mother of all gunfights… but it never kicked off! Clive Owen is once again cast to play another gritty hard man, he must be getting bored of doing these roles. Overall it’s a ridiculous over-the-top action-fest of a film, with little plot and awful one-liners. More watchable than Crank, but Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti are definitely better than this!

Score: 5/10