Film Review: No Time To Die (2021)

Spoiler-free territory as Daniel Craig steps into 007’s shoes for the last time in the lengthy and long-delayed No Time To Die

“You know, history isn’t kind to men who play God”

If anything has characterised Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond, then it has been a marked inconsistency in the quality of those films. The heights of Casino Royale were followed by the disappointments of Quantum of Solace, the game-changing Skyfall chased by an underwhelming Spectre. So the hope was certainly that No Time To Die, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga
would follow the pattern of soaring to a high peak to round off this era.

And whilst it certainly climbs somewhat out of the valley, it is by no means an all-time classic Bond movie, despite the raft of rave reviews. It could safely be an hour shorter, it has one of those villains whose plan you’re never really quite sure about and much as I like Léa Seydoux, her Madeleine Swann being the Bond woman who gets to have a second film is a real heard-scratcher as the chemistry with Craig just isn’t there. Continue reading “Film Review: No Time To Die (2021)”

Film Review: Spectre (2015)

After the emotional triumph of Skyfall, the lethargic pacing of Spectre can’t help but feel a letdown

“Why, given every other possible option, does a man choose the life of a paid assassin?”

After the rip-roaring success of Skyfall, it seems little surprise that director Sam Mendes and lead scribe John Logan would return for the next instalment of the Bond series. But Spectre ends up as part of the yoyo-ing trend of Daniel Craig’s tenure which had previously seen the excellence of Casino Royale followed up by the not-excellence of Quantum of Solace. Delving deep back in Bond folklore, its overlong running time and stultifying pace sadly makes it a bit of a challenge.

This time round, surveillance networks are the villain as Bond investigates global conglomerate Spectre and their nefarious plans under Blofeld, whilst M and co do battle with the enemy within in the form of Andrew Scott’s smarmy C. Despite his class, Ralph Fiennes is a much less impactful M than Dame Judi but Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris and Rory Kinnear are all settling well into their MI6 roles, popping in and out as needed. Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld is vividly effective but the problem lies in an ineffectual plot that doesn’t grip anywhere near as much as Skyfall did. Continue reading “Film Review: Spectre (2015)”

2017 Oscars – pre-ceremony thoughts

“For whatever reason, he spared a hamster”

When you see as much theatre as I do, it can be difficult to keep up to date with cinematic releases – if I have a night off, I rarely want to spend it in a dark room… – but I have tried my best this year to see at least some of the Oscar-nominated films, so that I can chip in once they’ve been distributed in a way that will doubtless cause some controversy or other.

Continue reading “2017 Oscars – pre-ceremony thoughts”

21st Screen Actors Guild Awards nominees

Film
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Steve Carell – Foxcatcher as John du Pont
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game as Alan Turing
Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler as Louis “Lou” Bloom
Michael Keaton – Birdman as Riggan Thomson
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything as Stephen Hawking

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Jennifer Aniston – Cake as Claire Bennett
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything as Jane Hawking
Julianne Moore – Still Alice as Dr. Alice Howland
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl as Amy Elliott-Dunne
Reese Witherspoon – Wild as Cheryl Strayed Continue reading “21st Screen Actors Guild Awards nominees”

DVD Review: Les adieux à la reine (Farewell, My Queen)

“Cela veut-il pour vous Madame dire quelque chose?”

Based on the novel Les adieux à la reine by Chantal Thomas, Farewell, My Queen takes us to a place that may seem familiar – Marie Antoinette’s court at Versailles in the days just before revolution – but shifts the perspective slightly to present a forensic yet subtle study of a way of life that, though it didn’t know it, was teetering on the brink of extinction. Benoît Jacquot’s 2012 film eschews political statement or even grand emotion in favour of a quiet observational style, an almost voyeuristic approach which offers an original take on events which is highly engaging.

The entry point into the royal court is Sidonie Laborde (Léa Seydoux in scintillating form), one of the queen’s ladies-in-waiting who is utterly devoted to her mistress (the ever-elegant Diane Kruger). So much so that as news begins to trickle in of the storming of the Bastille, the subsequent strange behaviour of the king and the disintegration of the social structures in the palace as people decide to flee for their lives, Sidonie remains by her queen’s side, obeying her every capricious order even when her demands eventually go beyond the pale. Continue reading “DVD Review: Les adieux à la reine (Farewell, My Queen)”

Review: Secret Cinema, The Grand Budapest Hotel

“Many of the hotel’s most valued guests came for him”

At a smidge over £50 a head, the latest incarnation of Secret Cinema certainly isn’t cheap. But they are doing things differently this time around – the location is secret as always but the film has been identified in advance as Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel and the immersive experience into which they plunge the audience will be running for over a month, to allow many more people than usual through the doors of this plush establishment and into its fabulous world.


For where we end up is The Grand Budapest Hotel itself, an evocation of Mitteleuropäische largesse to which we are guided by purple-suited bellhops. Instructions issued beforehand identify the dress code as evening dress, urge you to practice your waltzing and give a list of props to bring along. It’s all voluntary but as with any immersive experience, one gets so much more from it by diving headfirst into the universe that has been so lovingly created. Continue reading “Review: Secret Cinema, The Grand Budapest Hotel”

67th British Academy Film Awards nominations

BAFTA Fellowship
Helen Mirren

Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema
Peter Greenaway

Best Film
12 Years a Slave – Anthony Katagas, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Steve McQueen
American Hustle – Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison and Jonathan Gordon
Captain Phillips – Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca
Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman
Philomena – Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan and Tracey Seaward Continue reading “67th British Academy Film Awards nominations”