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The Artist: follows a silent film star struggling to cope with the advent – and subsequent dominance – of sound in Hollywoodland after 1927. It’s black and white, there’s almost no digetic sound, the picture is box ratio… yet it’s in crystal clear HD! Definitely missed a trick with ‘worn footage’ or ’genuine reel’ look, feel and sound that would have polished off the aesthetics perfectly. Despite this, the film looks sublime, is beautifully shot and full of bold, striking, iconography and period detail – all packed in to the stunning mise en scéne. The charisma of both leads leaps off the screen – genuine eye candy – particularly Dujardin who without saying a word effortlessly entertains for the duration, while guiding you through his highs and lows better than most ‘talkie’ actors can. The story is simple, and drawn out in parts, most noticeable in the mid-section (Valentin’s struggle), giving the film quite a large, over-emphasised, centre-sag. The original score feels authentic, old-timey, and carries the movie during the slower parts. Above all else, The Artist is an adorable love-letter to ‘classic’ cinema in both its style and content; the opening theatre-in-theatre is silver-screen gold. However, because of this – and in the same vein as films like Cinema Paradiso – it feels like most critics, reviewers and cinema enthusiasts have been hypnotized by the cinematic history/nostalgia (combined with the non-standard formatting) and are clambering over each other to gush the highest praise imaginable. It’s a cute period piece, no doubt, but ‘Film of the Year’ is a big stretch for me. Equally good and novel (if you never watch B/W/Silent films), The Artist is enjoyable, entertaining and undeniably unique sitting in modern cinema listings;  but the more steps back you take towards objectivity, the lighter, fluffier and style-dependent it begins to look.

Score: 6.5/10

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The Spy Who Loved Me: after dispatching a bunch of goons that chase him down a mountain (it’s becoming a regular nuisance) Bond is paired up with his Russian counterpart XXX to solve the disappearance of some nuclear submarines.

Bloody women drivers, huh?!

In the opening seconds we see the first visible boobs in franchise – nudey posters in submarine. Starting as it means to go on, and staying true to the pornographic nature of the book, the intro’s essentially shadow-porn, and the rest of the film has so many random busty women, bikini/lingerie clad models, beach babes and general skin on display it’s unreal. Did Russ Meyer direct this? We even see a woman in the shower, totally buff, and it remains a PG?!?! AWESOME!

Not leaving much to the imagination

What with all the sexiness flying around, it’s no surprise that James Bond capitalises on the amour; some random hottie he’s just met literally takes a bullet for him. There’s a painful-to-watch ‘Women Drivers’ scene that makes you glad XXX knocks him out! Also, with lines like “Keeping the British end up, sir” it’s like Bond’s happily swapped his 007 badge for the ‘double entendre’ one. Not to mention the fact that his name is almost Rodger More!! Carry on Roger!!!

In your end-oh!!

Despite showing Russia and the UK working together in the height of the cold war the film’s unapologetically patriotic. From the Union Jack parachute to the continual references about Bond’s queen and country. He’s definitely out to win the hearts and minds of the British public! The evil plan to abuse nukes would have also played to contemporary fears of a WWIII.

She's a damsel, in distress, with boobs!

For being such a goofy giant with metal teeth Jaws comes across surprisingly menacing, no doubt attributed to his lack of dialogue. Even though he’s comically indestructible and not the smartest peanut in the turd you can’t help but think that he’ll do some proper damage to Bond at one point. He also gets the 3rd train fight in the series!

Tin Grin

Other unforgettable moments from this are the underwater lotus, fantastic theme song (top 5 of the 22 to date), the exotic backdrops of Egypt and Sardinia, the ‘tie’ scene on the roof (emulated in later Bonds and Oldboy). The age disparity between a ‘seasoned’ Bond and the Bond girl that could be his daughter… There’s also a lot of exciting and tense scenes, given the tone of the film; disarming the nuke, bombing ship, gunfights etc. Finally, the massive submarine-swallowing ship at the end is the the epitome of a villain’s base; scores of henchmen, operations control room, klaxons, monorail, tannoy updates and everything your modern baddie needs!

No matter how rubbish this looks, you still always want one

Being the 10th film in the franchise this one had to be a hit, and even though Stromberg blends in to the ‘generic villain’ category with a recycled ‘evil scheme’ this one’s saved by Jaws, Bond, Egypt, action, and miles of cleavage!

Score: 7.5/10

1 cropped frame and two gratuitous bikinis!!

TOP TRUMPS

Villain: Stromberg – underwater world fantasy. Certifiably mad! Webbed hands. 7
Henchmen: Jaws: kicked out of train, car crashed into building, blown up in base, shot in face. kills a shark with his face!! Total Bad-ass, indestrictable but least realistic! 9
Bond Girl: Marine Biologist bikini girl Naomi and XXX. 7
Action: Ski Chase / Rooftop Fight / Lambo run – underwater / on-ship action. 8

... you get the idea

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There is one scene where the girls face is the focal point

AND FINALLY…
No look at The Spy Who Loved Me would be complete without Alan Partridge’s narration of the introduction. Enjoy.