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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

The Room Lisa Johnny Denny Mark Oh Hi Mark, You're tearing me apart lise, Tommy Wiseau

The Room: 10 years after it was released, this has become the greatest cult film of our time. In the UK there are currently two (very well-worn) 35mm prints that endlessly tour the country, hopping from one independent cinema to the next. These screenings however are like no cinematic experience you could ever imagine. Remember the established Cinema Code of Conduct that us hardened movie goers live by… bin it.

Aberdeen’s Belmont Cinema showed this for the first time in over a year, late last Friday night. Upon entering this screening, there was a very unusual atmosphere. Dozens of people were grasping handfuls of white plastic spoons, which rattled throughout the movie like background chatter, people dressed in over sized suits / tuxedos with shaggy black wigs and shades (inside a darkened theater), American footballs being thrown around – crashing against the odd unsuspecting head, and a whole lot of shouting, heckles and laughter. The cinema was absolutely buzzing and the lights hadn’t even gone down yet.

Tommy Wiseau As Johnny in The RoomThe origins of the movie are equally unique. It started off as a failed play, then an unpublishable book, before Tommy Wiseau (above) decided to turn it in to a film that he would star in, write, produce, direct, cast and distribute himself – to keep artistic control, of what is easily one of the worst vanity projects in human history. Initially flopping on its small release, it quickly built up momentum on the midnight movie circuit in America and has been screened all over the globe for the past ten years.

The film itself is absolutely god-awful: I’ve seen movies made from editing several separate films together to try to make a single narrative that have worked better (and made more sense) than this. The acting is absolutely tragic. The script feels like it was written by a nursery class. Characters just walk into a scene, spit some melodramatic lines, then walk off, often to never re-appear. There’s next to no continuity in any of the scenes. I genuinely don’t think anyone could make a film this bad, no matter how hard they tried. It’s a crashing car that flips for 99 minutes.

The Room Johnny Tommy Wiseau You're Tearing Me Apart LisaYet it’s this level of previously uncharted terribility that makes the experience of seeing the room like no other. Nobody’s there to watch it, they’re all there to enjoy it. I’ve seen 1-2 films a week for the past fifteen years and can only remember a handful of standout cinema visits: James Bond opening nights, birthday trips, first-dates etc… All of these pale in comparison to the thrill of watching The Room in a sold-out theater with die-hard fans and wide-eyed first-timers.

As a movie-going experience The Room is fascinating, electrifying, unique, but above all else – stunningly entertaining. Everybody was grinning ear to ear for the duration. It got a King’s Speech style standing ovation at the end, more laughs than Anchorman, more whoops than Rocky and more audience participation than a sing-a-long Broadway show. To watch a download on your laptop, or a DVD in your front room would kill the very essence of the film. If you ever get the chance to see this in a cinema you have to cancel any weddings, funerals, graduations, anniversaries and buy yourself a ticket.

Film score: UNRATABLE

Experience: UNMISSABLE

Audience participation checklist for a screening of The Room.

The room spoons aftermathSpoons: the main room in the movie has far too many framed pictures of spoons. Every time one of them hits the screen the audience loses their shit, yells “SPOOONS!!!” and a torrent of white plastic cutlery is thrown towards the screen. It’s like the arrow scenes from The 300… hundreds of white streaks flying overhead. Happens around a dozen times and never gets boring. Fact: it took 3 people +90 minutes to pick all the spoons up after the screening (remnants pictured left)

Hi / Bye!! when any central character enters of leaves a scene everyone hollers “Hi Denny / Bye Denny” in an eerily sincere manner, whilst waving at the screen. The exception being that when Lisa appears she’s greeted with Boooos, hissses and quick-fire bursts of the word ‘SLUT!’.

Golden Gate BridgeSan Francisco: between most scenes there are establishing shots of San Francisco. Alcatraz, steep hills, trams, iconic houses and the Golden Gate bridge. Any time these appeared the audience yells “Meanwhile, in San Francisco”.

Go! Go! Go!: in any above mentioned establishing shots that are slow-pans the audience claps, stamps, and yells “go, go, go’ for the duration.

Chicken dance: there’s at least three times when a character is called out for being a chicken, and the people in the room burst in to an Arrested Development style ‘CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP’ with flappy arms. Naturally, everyone in the cinema does this too.

The Room Tommy Wiseau's Ass Buttocks Disgusting Can't unseeSex Scenes: for a 99 minute movie, there’s at about five lengthy sex scenes – two of which are the exact same footage. Cue lighters in the air, yells of “bewbs!!!!”, and synchronised hand-clapping to the awful romance music. Of all the Men and Motors, Bravo and Babestation nudity you’ll have ever seen in your life, nothing compares to the cold, awkward, physically impossible, ass-bearing, petal-blowing ‘sex scenes’ of The Room.

American Football: about every 20 minutes, for no reason, characters start tossin’ a pig skin around. Guess what everyone in the theater starts doing…

General, infamous, dialogue:  You know when these are coming because the die-hard fans will hush the screen in to silence in the run up to some of the best and worst delivered lines in cinematic history. “Oh hi Mark!“,  “YOU’RE TEARING ME APART LISA!!!”, “I got the results of the test back – I definitely have breast cancer“, “anyway, how’s your sex life?“, “She’s showing everybody me underwears“, “Leave your stupid comments in your pocket”, “Well we’ll Seeee, Denny, don’t plan too much, it may not come out right”… Every line was followed by an uproar of laughter, yelling and cheering.

There’s nothing else left to say other than seek this out and see it as soon as you can.

Heat: a professional robber and homicide detective go head to head in a battle of wits, guns and getting the job done. The film is laden with superb moments & set-pieces: action, suspense and climaxes, which means that the film is gripping, explosive and unpredictable for the most part. You couldn’t hand-pick a greater cast of actors at their peak – right down to the extras (including Henry Rollin’s neck!!). Both leads are fantastic, equally volatile yet in-control men, despite the contrast between Pacino’s shouting / flailing and  De Niro’s calm / focused anti-hero. Both portrayals are physical, entertaining, and career-tipping performances, so much so that by the end, you don’t really want either to snuff it. The biggest problem is that, by wanting to keep the film believable and give it more clout, almost every character gets some back-story, which means that the film spends some time opening lots of minor tangents, many of which are never resolved or revisited – or related to the plot. There’s no question about it, Heat is an outstanding film, and I’d love to give it 9, or 10, but I’d  have been much happier watching a three-hour film focused almost exclusively on the two central performances, than have them share the runtime with a multitude of smaller, less relevant characters.

Score: 8/10

“Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.”

Margin Call: ensemble piece set around the 2008 financial collapse, when bankers first discover how much they screwed up. Seeing as the whole world knows how this story ends, it feels a bit odd creating a tight drama out of it, especially only starring the culprits. The script feels like it’s been written by a committee of naïve, lefty students, with some terrible “OMG – guess how much this banker was paid last year” and “LOL- it’s OK to screw over the unwilling public” type dialogue thrown in every ten minutes, just in case you still happened to like/respect bankers. The film only really comes to life when Tucci, Spacey and Irons are in the frame; they do what they do best and for those scenes you can soak up the proper acting. Unfortunately, there are also scenes where broody Baker and Moore struggle to convince, or keep up with the big boys. It is – and feels like – someone’s first time behind the camera; filmed in a rough-ish documentary style, when it needed to be more slick, engaging, flashy or all three. The best bits of Margin Call are powerful scenes with A-listers earning their buck and dropping your jaws; the worst parts feel like unnecessary hindsight-laden anti-banking propaganda.

Score: 3.5/10