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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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Have you always wanted to give foreign films a try but don’t know where to start?

There’s something for everyone in the ‘world cinema’ section of any shop – you just need to know what to look for. Foreign films aren’t all 4 hour-long arthouse softcore snooze-fests; although there are some… The only advice I would give to first-timers is to avoid dub-tracks at all costs and go straight for the subtitles (voice acting is generally stale, lips are out of sync, you lose the performance, and famous voices can distract you)

Below is a list of ‘Entry Level’ movies to get you started. There’s nothing too heavy on dialogue or ideas. These are ‘gateway’ movies to show that there’s an alternative to Hollywood’s churn-and-burn franchises. Some of the choices may seem obvious, but this list is aimed at absolute beginners. Most similar lists I’ve seen seem to stop at around 1970 listing ‘classic after ‘classic’; which aren’t necessarily the most accessible movies for novices.

THE RAID REDEMPTION gareth evans iko Uwais Joe Taslim Donny Alamsyah Yayan Ruhian Pierre Gruno Tegar Setrya Ray Sahetapy kick ass action film fighting scene machete watch streamThe Raid (‘Serbuan Maut‘ – Indonesia): imagine an action film where pretty much the entire runtime is nothing but bone-breaking, innovative, and mesmerising fight sequences! An action film that delivers on real, physical stunts and traditional fighting & filming techniques! An action film that says no to overblown and unnecessarily cheap-looking CGI, and gratuitous back story of 1D characters. The Raid (and The Raid 2) are movies that don’t disappoint. TRAILER

Run Lola Run Lola Rennt Tom Tykwer Moritz Bleibtreu Franka PotenteRun Lola, Run (‘Lola Rennt‘ – Germany): A simple concept played out three times, in a variety of frenetic, stylish, and a adrenaline-pumping ways. The plot follows a girlfriend’s attempts to bail out her debt-ridden boyfriend before his lenders send him to sleep with the fishes. You could watch this and think about free will, chance, the butterfly effect etc – or you can sit back, switch off, and let it hypnotise you. Bright, poppy, and with a pounding dance soundtrack, this plays out like an elongated music video. TRAILER

Hard Boiled 1992 John Woo, Yun-Fat Chow, Tony Chiu Wai Leung, Teresa Mo, Philip ChanHard Boiled (‘辣手神探‘ – Hong Kong): So you love the iconic gun fights from films like Face/Off, The Matrix, and Shoot ‘Em Up – awww, that’s cute. How about some genre-defining gunplay complete with doves, explosions-ahoy, and slow-motion bodies flying in all directions – delivered by the master of infinite-ammo action, John Woo. This is the peak of the ‘Heroic Bloodshed’ genre of action; basically kung fu but with guns. The final hospital shootout is among the best action scenes ever filmed. TRAILER

Love me if you dare Guillaume Canet, Marion Cotillard Yann Samuell La Vie En Rose Jeux d'enfantsLove me if You Dare (‘Jeux d’enfants‘ – France): Love stories, meh, I’m not usually a fan – but here’s one that’s quirky, cool and doesn’t star Zooey Deschenel (WTF, France?!?). It follows two best friends from children to pensioners as they struggle to be in the right place at the right time for their life-long love to truly work out. Any film this poetic, stylish and charming – to the point of warming your heart – could only be French! TRAILER

The Good Bad Weird Korean Blockbuster Dream CastThe Good, The Bad, The Weird (좋은 놈, 나쁜 놈, 이상한 놈Korea):  one of Korea’s best directors, and a handful of the country’s biggest stars in a story about three outlaws trying to find ancient treasure before the Japanese Army and other bandits. This is a fun historical romp that entertains for the duration, like an Indiana Jones film. It’s an Italian-style spaghetti western, with Hollywood sensibilities, but still remains a very ‘Korean’ feeling movie; combining some of the best aspects of 50 years of ‘world cinema’ together perfectly. TRAILER

Los Cronocrímenes Timecrimes Karra Elejalde, Candela Fernandez, Barbara Goenaga, Nacho Vigalondo, Juan InciarteTimecrimes (Spain): Whilst on vacation with his wife everyman Hector sees a lady undressing at the edge of his property, which sets off an elaborate chain of events. Here’s to the highconcept, low-budget timetravel film with no SFX! It’s hard to say more without ruining the film, but this one stands out for being completely rooted in the real world; the characters feel human, the baddie fumbles around, the settings are banal but creepy. Simple, clever, and effective. TRAILER (contains spoilers)

01 - The Streetfighter Street Fighter 1974 Sonny Chiba, Shinichi Chiba, Yutaka Nakajima, Goichi Yamada, Masashi Ishibashi, Jirō Chiba, Etsuko Shihomi, Masafumi Suzuki, Nobuo Kawai, Ken Kazama, Fumio WatanabeThe Street Fighter (激突!殺人拳 – Japan): when he refuses to kidnap a billionaire heir for the Yakuza, they try to kill the street fighter – which turns out to be a terrible decision for all involved. This is the first movie to get an R rating for violence alone, a major influence of a Mr Tarantino, and while it’s not as shocking as it would have been 40 years ago, it’s still a brilliant Martial Arts movie. It’s also been deemed important enough to be made available for free on the public domain (LINK) TRAILER

Troll Hunter Norway Film Review Movie Pics Screenshots Screencaps Otto Jespersen Glenn Erland Tosterud Johanna Mørck Tomas Alf Larsen Urmila Berg-Domaas Hans Morten Hansen Robert Stoltenberg Knut Nærum Eirik Bech André ØvredalTrollhunter (‘Trolljegeren‘ – Norway): mockdocumentary following an old school troll-hunter (mythical ones, not internet trolls) as he helps keep these magnificent beasts hidden from the unsuspecting public. This one’s a dead-pan slow-burner that packed with loads of tiny details about trolls and their mythology. The central character is played superbly, taking his job very seriously, which engages the viewer. Great black comedy / fantasy satire. TRAILER

Ring Ringu Nanako Matsushima Hiroyuki Sanada Rikiya Ōtaka Yoichi Numata Hideo NakataRing (Ringu – Japan): You know the drill; after watching a cursed VHS you get a phone call saying “you gonna die lol”, and you spend your last week in a pants-shittingly terrifying nightmare scenario. A victim of its own success, having being parodied everywhere, it’s easy to forget how scary this film is; it’s broody, atmospheric, restrained, and genuinely terrifying. The haunted mother of the J-Horror genre, which kick-started the trend of (usually botched) Asian horror remakes. TRAILER

Micmacs à tire-larigot Jean-Pierre Jeunet Non-stop shenanigans Dany Boon Yolande Moreau Dominique Pinon André Dussollier Jean-Pierre MarielleMicMacs (‘MicMacs à tire-larigot‘ – France): after losing his dad to a landmine, and being hit by a stray bullet  Brazil sets out to take his revenge on the two weapons manufacturers responsible. Despite being a sharp commentary on the arms industry the title translates as “non-stop shenanigans”, and that exactly what this is. A fun take on the classic ‘revenge’ story, this is from French visionary Jean-Pierre Jeunet; who somehow manages to capture surreal and dream-like worlds perfectly – and manages to make this modern film look and feel like a Golden Age classic. TRAILER

Which foreign film would you recommend for a beginner and why?

Please leave your film suggestions and reasons in the comments.
I’ll hopefully have enough to create a follow-up post – which would credit your entry and link back to your website.
Remember though, these are NOT the best foreign films per se, but the best ones for introducing people to world cinema.

Die Another Day: A mission in North Korea is sabotaged, goes tits up, and 007 is captured! After a prisoner exchange, losing his 00 plates, and going dark James Bond is determined to find the traitor, and investigate a newfangled millionaire with a history that’s too good to be true.

Another Day... of pointing guns at things

Die another Day starts fantastically: huge hovercraft action sequence (well handled, superb choreography, definitely cool), Bond gets captured, tortured to shit, ends up looking like The Dude then gets released back to a country that turned its back on him – so he goes off the grid again. M herself says “You’re no use to anyone now”, letting us all know that even James Bond, at the end of the day, is an expendable commodity.

14 months in prison and he comes out looking like Jeff Bridges?!?

I remember that with rumours circulating of another James Bond hitting the screen in the new millennium you were genuinely uncertain as to whether Brosnan’s Bond would make it back from Korea, if he’d live long enough to go on an adventure, or simply be replaced, mid-film for the first time…

A new super-group of villains... or ABBA tribute, I can't remember.

Looking back, a mid-film replacement would have been amazing for several reasons. It would have freshened up the films and their now standardised formula. It could be used to shed some light on the identity of “James Bond”. Most importantly, it would have saved Brosnan from looking pretty awkward for a lot of the movie. As Bond, Brosnan brought a lot of sides to the character, but his key feature was undoubtedly his sophistication, suaveness and confidence no matter what he was doing. Here however, after the opening he can only play it from one angle; dark, tortured, jaded Bond – and being honest, it just doesn’t work. I can’t tell if it was solely the Broz, or the B-movie script he was given but some of the scenes were absolutely shocking – watching him try to seduce Halle at the bar is cringe-inducing. It’s a shame because he has the best actor track record – to date.

What EVERYONE in Cuba looks like... not just their leader... everyone!

As 007 follows the leads we end up in Cuba, and – as always – the exotic nation is represented accurately and with taste: apparently everyone just samba‘s their way around town, has grey Castro-beards, smokes Cuban cigars and drinks Mojitos… Once Bond’s fucked up a health club in style he heads back to London, and the blades club. The first swordfight of the film is an absolute master-class in action, with loads of nice little innovations, both actors putting their back in to it, and a gradual build up – it really is gripping stuff. So far, this film’s surprisingly fresh, with an intriguing story that we want to see through…

This scene was so good it could have been a grand finalé

Then some problems start appearing in the as soon as we pass the halfway mark because – as we all know – people in the 2000s use to get bored after 60 minutes of good storytelling, so someone in production decided to turn everything up to eleven. The film starts throwing dozens of ridiculous things at the audience… virtual reality, invisible cars, a war suit, a dream machine, switchblade mini planes, a tiny ring that breaks any glass… Then there’s an onslaught of CGI that makes the film look like a low-budget affair; buildings, waves, icebergs, ice and hundreds of explosions!!! That can’t be boring at all, right?!?! Wrong! The film makes two supercars drifting on ice, firing rockets and machine guns at each other boring. It makes two scantily clad chicks having a swordfight to the death boring. It even makes an airplane perilously breaking up and exploding in the air… boring. The aforementioned CGI doesn’t help either – looking like it’s been drawn with crayons – the old-school rear-projection would genuinely look better than this.

Whoa!! Two supercarsszzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Hale Berry’s character Jinx is pretty poor, literally waddling into the film and constantly quacking some of the most generic American lines with absolutely zero tact or timing – yo mama jokes, in a Bond film? Really? What’s the point in even having a US-UK sparring match, it’s 007, we all know he’s the best. Plotline redundant! Gustav Graves is a rubbish character, but sub-standard acting only makes him cheesier. And that’s it… nobody else really of note.

Kinky Jinxy gets stuck in her Bondage Bed - 007 has to bust her out. zzzzzz

Other unhealthy titbits are: ‘saved by the bell’, rubbish theme song (sounds like it was thrown together in an afternoon), credits that are integrated with the story (worked for me), an actual appearance by Madoga, “Sex for dinner, death for breakfast” (So good they say it twice!), and electricity manifesting itself in the form of 1980s blue lines, like it totally does in the real world.

Save christmas trees, lick wall sockets - zzzzzzzz

This film is what the word Bi-Polar was actually created to describe: the first hour is a solid, well-made classical Bond film with modern twists. The second half IS memorable but for all the wrong reasons, worst of which being the terrible CGI – my rule on this; if you can’t do it in-camera with a Bond budget, don’t bother!

Score: 4/10

Too many special effects makes this guy puke... (zzzzzzzz)

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Bad actor – overly smug, diamond merchant. 4
Henchmem: Diamond-faced Zao – strong, smart, athletic, good match. Fiji guy – laser face. 6
Bond Girl: Hale Berry,  pretty. Fencing chick, ultra hot at the end. 7
Action: Hovercraft. Health Centre blowout, fencing/swordfight, MI6 break-in, Ice car chase, plane fight. 6

What a cool multicoloured face ma-zzzzzzzz

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