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Showing posts from December, 2012

Coming Up!

20 to see in 2013 First, a couple of qualifications. I've avoided including films that have been released in the US but not the UK because anticipation is everything, and when reviews begin to spew forth that can be diluted. Even the couple on here that have received festival screenings have lost their lustre a little. Secondly, the absence of foreign language films. In part, this is an acknowledgement of my own ignorance. But it also relates to areas such as promotion and foreknowledge. Foreign language films often have the benefit of being a pleasant discovery. With Hollywood  movies, if there is a positive realisation, it's that it wasn't the big pile of shit you expected from all the advance publicity. So here are some films I'm at least curious to see over the next year.  1. The Zero Theorem There’s probably a sound argument that Terry Gilliam has been past his best ever since Don Quixote floundered, but I’ve found merit in all three off

Some fool has invented an indestructible cloth.

The Man in the White Suit (1951) Alexander Mackendrick’s highly astute film is spun from a very simple “What if?” premise; a scientist creates a fabric that will not wear-out or retain dirt. From this he weaves a scintillating satire on capitalism that takes potshots at both the the workers and the industrialists, whose views connect at the point where the status quo is endangered. Some have pointed to the dismay of Sidney Stratton’s (Alec Guinness) landlady, “ Why can’t you scientists leave things as they are? ” as a summary of the main message of the film itself (she, in particular, is marked as sympathetic as she forwent rent so Sidney could continue with his work). While the issue of (scientific) responsibility is certainly one of the themes present in the script (tellingly, Sidney requires radioactive materials as part of his shopping list of chemicals), it doesn’t resonate as the central one. Sidney himself is virtually a cypher, played with benign self-ri

As you can see, I am about to inaugurate a little war.

You Only Live Twice (1967) Thunderball marked a shift in approach for the Bond series. Plots now appeared to be structured around how much money was available, with the overriding ditctat of putting it all up there on screen. From action sequences to set design, the films relied on being able to announce, “The biggest yet”. Despite this, the jet-setting of the series remained limited. The previous film was located mainly in the Bahamas, and this one would set up shop in Japan.

James Bond, who only has to make love to a woman and she starts to hear heavenly choirs singing.

Thunderball (1965) Look up! Look down! Look out! Her comes the biggest Bond of all! So advised the poster for the fourth 007 cinematic feast. Biggest it most definitely was, but unfortunately in almost every other respect the finished film is inferior to its three predecessors. Nevertheless, the approach taken by the producers (a favourite of Hollywood generally) was to throw enough money at the screen in the hope it would result in higher box office receipts. Which proved a successful one on this occasion. It remains the highest grossing Bond film (inflation-adjusted), in the US.

Choose your next witticism carefully Mr. Bond, it may be your last.

Goldfinger (1964) For an entry in the Bond canon regarded by many as its pinnacle, it is remarkable how significantly Goldfinger strays from what has become the template for the series. But this was still early days and the format that, for better or worse, took hold did so with Thunderball and in its wake. In Goldfinger , Bond is captured 50 minutes into the story and remains so until the climax. There is one big action set piece (involving the famously Q-gadgeted Aston Martin) prior to this but, like the preceding From Russia with Love , this an escapade that relies mostly on character and plot twists for its forward momentum. Besides a car chase, the most recognisably Bond ian feature of the film is the villain, Auric Goldfinger (“ Sounds like a French nail varnish ”) himself. Played by German actor Gert Froebe (who would become most identified with this, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines and Monte Carlo or Bust ) and dubbed by Michael