This week - Bond is back (Casino Royale) and two magicians go head to head in Edwardian London, (The Prestige).
Bond is here! Well... on he will be on Thursday. We watched the last Bond installment last night on ITV2. We had forgotten how gash it was. We'd forgotten about the scene with Madonna in it. It's best to forget.
But it looks as if there is a hope.... Bradshaw gives Casino Royale 4/5!
The big worry for many people was Daniel Craig, the idea of having a credible actor playing Bond seemed to baulk with a lot of 007 fans. However, for Bradshaw he is,
a man of cool, cruel determination, mesmerising sex appeal and a fatally destructive way with women... Daniel Craig is a fantastic Bond, and all those whingers and nay-sayers out there in the blogosphere should hang their heads in shame.
Now if Bradshaw tells you to hang your head in shame, you do it. So go on nay-sayers.
Craig was inspired casting. He has effortless presence and lethal danger; he brings a serious actor's ability to a fundamentally unserious part; he brings out the playfulness and the absurdity, yet never sends it up. He's easily the best Bond since Sean Connery, and perhaps even - well, let's not get carried away.
Thankfully, the franchise has done away with the ridiculous computer graphics and gadgets (remember the disappearing car?) "though Bond wins a vintage Aston Martin (without ejector seat) in a card game, it's not a very gadgety movie"
The next ingredient of a bond film is of course, sex,
As far as Bond's erotic life goes, the movie retains one important element from Fleming's 1953 novel: Bond gets tortured - in the nude! - by Le Chiffre, who whips his scrotum with knotted rope after commenting that he has "looked after his body".
Bradshaw's only regret is that, "the classic Barry theme tune is saved for the closing credits" which does seem like a strange decision. However, overall it is "all ridiculously enjoyable... For the first time in ages, I am actually looking forward to the next James Bond movie."
Wendy Ide at the Times is similarly complimentary, also awarding the film four stars. No prizes for guessing why..
His sex appeal is off the scale.
Watch out Daniel, Wendy's on her way! Lucky man...
Ide likes Craig as much as Bradshaw, describing him as "up there with the best: he combines Sean Connery’s athleticism and cocksure swagger with Timothy Dalton’s thrilling undercurrent of stone-cold cruelty."
Of course, the Bond villain is an absolutely crucial part of any Bond movie. (Remember the weird North Korean who had to replenish his face's DNA with a weird mask... man that film was so bad, wasn't it?) The new one sounds rather exciting. He is Le Chiffre, "an international money launderer with a Hitler haircut, a platinum asthma inhaler and a tendency to bleed from the eye. They might as well have just tattooed the word Evil on his head."
The key to this film is Craig. Aside from his "impressive physique" (steady on Wendy!), "his main asset quickly becomes evident. He can act."
Next up, The Prestige
Oh dear. Two stars from Bradshaw for this "fantastically boring and self-important movie about two stage magicians in Edwardian London."
Aside from Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale in the main roles, "there's a reliably eccentric cameo from David Bowie" and "Scarlett Johansson plays an unfeasibly sexy magician's assistant with a cock-er-ney accent that makes her sound like Martine McCutcheon's Canadian cousin."
How startlingly dull it all is. The vital elements of wit, of insolence, of light-footedness and light-headedness that make magic so compelling ... are all neglected in favour of a desperately humourless and unsmilingly acted contest.
He concludes, "The movie's opening and closing images are of a hillside covered, surreally, in top hats. There are no rabbits to be pulled from any of them." He's a clever boy, isn't he?
Ide likes it (4/5). It is in situations like this when one has to make a decision as to who to believe. But this really is like choosing which of your children you love the most (the first born).
Set in a murky Victorian London, The Prestige is Nolan’s first period picture. He clearly relishes the design opportunities — the picture is hung with velvet drapes and cobwebs and lit with acrid tallow candles which lend a dusty soft focus with their smoke. The colour palette consists of moth-eaten browns and olives, sprinkled with tarnished sequins.
Mmm tarnished sequins.
Nolan has a conjuror’s instinct for misdirection, drawing our eye with a pyrotechnic flash or an alluring glimpse of Johansson’s thigh so as to conceal a clue to the true point of a scene. This, I suspect, is a film that may take several viewings to reveal its true hand.
However, regarding this Bradshaw wrote,
So it is odd that the prestige of this film, the trick ending, is gradually given away over the final 40 or so minutes in a series of extended takes and giveaway closeups. Why? Because the director figured we were going to guess anyway?
For Anthony Quinn in the Independent (no star rating), the film manages to be, "ingenious and dull at the same time".
As the Nolan brothers have it, their film adapts the same techniques of misdirection to bewitch and bewilder us just as the magicians would their audience. Well, that's the theory. In practice, it fails.
Bond it is then.
Other films out this week - Puritan (Fate catches up with a con artist who masquerades as a medium.), Starter For Ten (A working class teenager struggling to fit in at Bristol University finds himself trying out for University Challenge.), The Host (Guimul) (South Korean film in which a mutant emerges from a river in Soeul and starts attacking poeople.), strong>Twelve and Holding (A young boy's death has far-reaching effects, not only on his twin brother and parents, but also their close friends.), Breaking and Entering (An architect, whose new office has been targeted by a gang of thieves, decides to follow the gang leader home.)
Trailer of the week - Night of the Living Dead 3D