Friday, 30 November 2012

RespawningCouch Podcast: Audio Review: The Master

This time I review the 5-star, critically-acclaimed 'The Master'. But is it all that good?

Friday, 16 November 2012

RespawningCouch Podcast: Audio Review: Argo

The latest instalment of Ben Affleck's fantastic directing career is another one with great performances, intelligent writing and sophisticated direction.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Skyfall Review

While the press seems to have had an uncontrollable orgasm following the release of Skyfall, the film left a somewhat mixed impression on me. Through watching the endless repeats on ITV on Sundays during my childhood, Bond has become a source of entertainment and nostalgia. After the joyous rejuvenation of the franchise through Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace left a sour note as it returned to everything Die Another Day had soiled all over the icon. With the tsunami of 5 star reviews across the web and print it was understandable that Skyfall would achieve the record-breaking box office opening it has gained. But even with my expectations low, I was still disappointed by the overall film. 

What is immediately striking from the off is the visual look of Skyfall. The cinematography constantly shows the richness of the various exotic locations that the films writers force into the film’s overly long running time. From the neon light glass-scapes of Shanghai to the heather moors of Scotland, the film brings it back to the almost “travel book” styles of Ian Fleming’s original novels. During action scenes, the camera work is dynamic and manages to capture the intensity and startling brutality of it all. However the same can’t be said for the sound design and general score of the film. Adele’s opening track, again overrated, offers a nostalgic step-back to the strong female vocals of Shirley Bassy, yet the rest of score lacks anything remotely unique or interesting, with a surprising underuse of various Bond theme mixes. 

The story, one of revenge and betrayal, is nothing terribly new in the long-standing franchise. Though like the Rupert Murdoch notes of Elliot Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies, Bardem’s Silva almost dives into Julian Assange territory, the world of “cyber-terrorism” isn’t a new enterprise of evil terror in the espionage/ action genre, even Die Hard 4 did it. But what Skyfall unfortunately spends a significant chunk on is Judi Dench’s character. For me M has been the stern, no-nonsense approach that Bernard Lee portrayed all those years ago. An individual that realised the value of Bond but understood his requirements as head of MI6. He rarely left the confines of his leather doored office and dealt with both foreign and domestic diplomatic procedures. Yet Dench has increasing been moulded into the uncomfortable “mother” of Bond. She’s become one who is rather reckless in her approach, frequently entering the field to be shot at, assassinated or kidnapped. Here that strange relationship with Bond is structured into the main crux of the story, and ultimately drags an entire half of the film into a sentimental wash of forced nostalgia and shallowness.

Javier Bardem perfectly understands and adapts to his parts specific characteristics and motivations, its a stunning performance that simply outshines that of Craig. I’ve never really been a fan of Daniel Craig’s work, and while his portrayal of James Bond has been a departure from the likes of the camp Roger Moore, and the bitter Timothy Dalton, he comes across far too wooden and rather unlikeable. Grimacing and removed from any of the suave personality of his traditional counterparts, he fails to react and correlate with the rest of cast. Naomi Harris rather gets the butt of the script with a string of tireless jokes, but similarly fails to really blossom along with any of the cast, especially Craig. Meanwhile other “Bond Girl” Berenice Marlohe‘s short role is an impressive one that ends far too quickly, consequently making her character rather pointless. Ralph Fiennes does well and so too does Ben Whinshaw as Q, adding some energy and youth into a role that has long been missed.

So do I think this is the “Best Bond film of all time”? Absolutely not, and I don’t believe it’s the best Bond film of the last few decades. Do I think this is Daniel Craig’s best performance? No and I don’t think this film is going to bring any Oscars to the franchise, which was a rather ludicrous prediction by many  film journalists in the first place. Yet while it’s unbelievably overrated, it’s still remains an entertaining film that is visually stunning, competently written and smartly directed. 


Tuesday, 13 November 2012

RespawningCouch Podcast: Audio Review: Skyfall

I give my thoughts on the new James Bond extravaganza Skyfall. But is it the bestest, greatest, award-winningest film ever. One word.....ermmmmmm.

Lights Camera Critic Update

Hi Guys

After moving house, twice, and getting my laptop fixed, I've failed to update the blog of recent. This may continue into December primarily due to applications to JET and my completion of the TEFL course. I will continue the audio reviews, along with other podcasts but written stuff might have to wait for a while. But don't worry, I'll be doing a "Top 12 of 2012" breakdown at the end of the year and some other bits and bobs.