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In Time: the currency in 2161 is time, and on your 25th birthday you stop ageing… but only have one year left unless you work, beg, steal, borrow or inherit more. Most importantly, this is a well-realised vision of the future, not too ridiculous or unbelievable (Cars, buildings, technology, even the cool designer clothes). The concept is also strong, and quite unsettling that everyone looks fairly young – although not always under 25! Casting’s very clever, JT is more than watchable, Seyfried makes a great damsel with attitude, Cillian‘s a naturally magnetic authority and Pettyfer and his goons make for good pantomime baddies. There’s an interesting parallel/undertone of the current financial crisis, but it’s never the main focus, and due to the subject, there’s also a lot of ‘ticking clock’ situations, which are always visceral. The only downside is that the film has two main settings; standard and turbo. Standard is the great concept/story being played out in quite a mechanical, baggy, and fairly obvious way, however, at least a third of the film is in Turbo mode; the big reveals, pivotal moments and action sequences are all on an air-punching level. Put it all together and you have a well-designed, well-planned, neat, powerful, original and immersive sci-fi film – that’s more than just an update of Logan’s Run!

Score: 8/10

Midnight In Paris [Unavoidable Spoilers]: Woody Allen brings us more misunderstood middle-class artisan-intellectuals with relationship trouble. The idea of the central MacGuffin of this film (travelling back in time and meeting historical figures) didn’t bother me much; but as someone who’s not very literary literate it all got a bit wanky pouring familiar name after familiar name on to the screen as if the audience would lap up the theatricality of it all. The only character I liked from the entire cast was Adrien ”Rhinoceros!!” Brody, everyone else just played pretty grotesque caricatures. Owen Wilson’s does his schlubby moping vagina act again, would love to see him try something different. As with any Allen film, there’s some nice tourism-friendly photography and vision from behind the camera, and a token trampy ragtime soundtrack to tart up the audio. For me, it’s just another stock Allen film – watchable and mildly entertaining – unless you majored in English, then it will undoubtedly be your film of the year.

Score: 6/10

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger: shows two married couples and what happens when infidelity and ‘real life’ takes over. It’s starting to feel a bit like Woody Allen only has one story, and he just changes the locations, names and occupations of his characters. Once again, the focus is on some ridiculously beautiful, artistic, troubled and self-obsessed middle class people that are quite hard to empathise with. This one struggles, trying to juggle far too many characters and flesh out each of their stories: the divorced female wreck, mid-life crisis pensioner, wife seeking family, disillusioned writer, art gallery owner, exotic love interest, blonde bimbo… As we expect from Allen, there’s some sporadic narration by the most Jewish voice ever, a really adorable ragtime old-fashioned score, and a whimsical / romanticised vibe – although I spent over half of the time shouting in my head “THIS IS NOT LONDON!!” There are some really nice touches; great lines hidden among the script, proper belly laughs and the odd comedy character – like the charlatan. It is enjoyable, but not much more. Don’t get me wrong, I like Allen but he’s been doing this schtick for far too long now.

Score: 5.5/10

The World is Not Enough: [Spoilers] when an oil tycoon is assassinated 007 is sent to protect the endangered daughter, a former hostage to one of the world’s most wanted men. After some success on the protecting front, Bond gets to the bottom of a scheme that will… erm… jack up the price of oil… (Note: villain aspirations were quite low in 1999, with Y2K getting all the attention)

Super mega cool submersible jet boat!!

Another Brosnan film, and another absolutely outstanding opening scene & mini-mission; Spanish bank robbery followed by MI6 bombing then the most ridiculously cool and insane boat chase ’round the Thames, over some streets (still on the boat!), wrapping up at the Millennium Dome.

Hot chick with a leather jacket and grenade launcher... <"blowing away" joke>

We sadly say goodbye to Q who, after the token gadget-based verbal jostle with Bond, Q says “always have an escape plan” and disappears before our eyes. While I may sound pathetic, this was hands down the most emotional and moving scene of the entire series for me (Sorry Mrs Bond). Not only is it’s laden with ‘he’s going to die soon’ overtones – he literally sinks into the ground – but it reminds you that Q has had the best relationship with every 007 for over 35 years and played a crucial part of Bond’s survival in at least 17 films. Q branch isn’t let down here, with some awesome gadgets like the X-ray specs, BMW, credit card lockpick, grapple watch and Q-boat!

One of 007's only friends (that didn't get killed)

Brosnan‘s still on a winning streak here, much aided by a whole lotta of shots of him pointing guns at people and looking angry and/or displeased. We also see Bond properly, and semi-convincingly, injured for the first time ever with a gammy shoulder for the film’s duration (although he did fall about 150 feet!). Most infuriatingly, Bond once again falls for the his one weakness, the oldest trick in the book, and the one thing that continually lands him in trouble… a vagina. If he carried out his job professionally he wouldn’t end up in so many perilous situations!!! (Although a procedural Bond movie would be pretty shit.) How many times has he been betrayed by a chick now!? Really?!

BOOM! Chestshot!!! Right in the tits!

The supporting cast and characters are such a mixed bag here. Robert Carlyle and Denise Richards seem to turn up and sleep through their scenes; sure they’re both vaguely memorable / strong / smart but they lack any presence. The character Bullion (Goldie) feels like his agent managed to sneak him in last minute, and no other henchmen do anything worth noting. On the upside Coltrane goes out in style as Bonds love-hate Russian contact, and Elektra King is played so, so well – Marceau’s beauty, strength and damaged background make her the perfect siren.

Another chick with a gun... someone in production must have a fetish

Other decent touches in this are the hypnotic oily credits, banking Pun-O-Rama, stereotype of ‘Bonnie Scotland’, “strictly plutonic”, “Christmas comes once a year” (Boom, Boom, Chiii!), classic nuke disarmament ultimatum, and Bond jumping from a normal house and landing in a submarine dock!!! There’s also a clear taste for new modes of transport: para-hover-sledge, mini super boat, pipe inspection pod, and the chopper chopper.

All aboard the tube! Next stop, nuclear warhead.

Even though you can’t fault the technical elements of most of the Bond pics, this one’s shot and framed particularly well. While it’s a good film, has a pretty interesting story and is well put together, this one feels like it’s missing some mojo and coherency. So many scenes feel gratuitous (let’s fly to somewhere snowy to have a ski-chase / let’s go to a casino so you can wear a tux…).  Despite some great twists and cool bits it just seems flatter and more lifeless than the previous few outings.

Score: 6/10

Bond's actual nemesis in this film... EXPLODING SNOW!?!WTF!!!!

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Anarcho terrorist thug with a headache and no feelings. 6
Henchmen: Skinhead Russians x100 / Gold-toothed Bullion / DREADful Gabor. 3
Bond Girl: Assassin – Cruz-esque. Elektra – foxy siren. Denise Richards – Lara Croft entrance/ purple dress – smocking – 8
Action: Opening 10 mins, ski chase, nuclear bunker fight, caviar factory, submarine fight. 5

Goldie looking a bit rapey in the background...

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Elektra looking a bit rapey in the foreground

Burn After Reading: black comedy from the Coen brothers about a bunch of exceptionally dumb people going through their mid-life crises; adult-themed hilarity ensues. More than anything this film’s great for letting us see long established actors like Brad Pitt / George Clooney playing absolute idiots. Pitt is especially funny, playing an air-head who’s sheer idiocy ensures he commands every scene he’s in. The plot seems fairly absurd until the last half hour when it comes together nicely, and the CIA meetings between JK Simmons and David Rasche are phenomenal. It’s technically sound, but above the comedy there’s not much else on offer. Coen fans will definitely love this but unless you like or ‘get’ black comedy it will probably just seem like a failed Adam Sandler-esque film. The fantastic cast definitely keep this film watchable.

Score: 7/10