Girlhood

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I had been looking forward to this one after reading nothing but good reviews, along with the fact that I typically enjoy coming of age movies. In truth I was a little underwhelmed by Girlhood; it’s a good movie, but there was too much of a personal detachment for me which came more from a lack of emotion conveyed on screen rather than me being a British white thirtysomething bloke. If anything it suggests a promising future for its director and stars.

Girlhood follows a few months in the life of a teenage girl who lives in a tower block complex – the sort you would expect to find in any populous city. She is protective of her younger sister, scared of her older brother, and feels trapped by her surroundings and life – the choices, options, and ability to simply live life the way you want to are limited. We see a host of tropes from similar movies or movies set in similar territory – the hoodlums lurking in the shadows, the invisible parents or adult authority, the contrast between the dim, dark housing development and the bright city lights and delights. That’s not to say the film simply rolls out trope after trope – it engages them and acknowledges them as true to life occurrences. With this approach, the film moves in a matter of fact way – nothing seems startling or out of place, but neither is anything shocking or exciting.

Marieme has been told that she cannot continue her schoolwork due to bad grades (or possibly race and class), and facing a bleak future she decides to go against everything she knows and speaks with a bunch of girls who appear to be part of a gang. Initially it is obvious she is out of place, but the girls accept her and she is quickly drawn into a world of theft, dancing, petty fighting, and general chav activity – but also friendship unlike anything she had experienced before. It is during these moments that the movie has its finest moments – the scenes of young women simply loving being round one another and feeling like they can take on the world are among the most exuberant and honest in film. The film attempts to take a darker turn later in the film as Marieme becomes a drug mule, loses her femininity or accentuates it in a deliberately cartoonish manner, and soon loses faith in her current path – she sees no future for herself in this direction and yet cannot accept returning to any past life. For me, the film loses its way in these moments – Marieme becomes a less interesting character, we lose her friendship with Lady, Fily, and Adiatou, and nothing really happens. It’s clear that the viewer is being shown, not for the first time, that even a strong woman will struggle given the poor choices she has ahead of her and we appreciate that there is little Marieme can do to improve her situation.

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The problem with Marieme is that, even though she is conflicted, she never truly becomes a fascinating character. There are moments, but not enough for us to sympathise with her – this is also hindered by the fact that for most viewers she repeatedly picks the worst option from the choices she has. It’s an annoyance of seeing potential wasted, of watching someone who is essentially good going nowhere. Karidja Toure is very good in the role, transforming from a meek nobody, to an effervescent girl, to a tired, hopeless woman. Assa Sylla is also strong as Lady – the whole cast in general are good at giving realistic portrayals. Sciamma, whose Water Lillies I enjoyed, gives another complex view of growing up as a girl – the hope, the fear, the love and the despair, and most importantly the friendships. The camera frequently moves in a slow panning motion, keeping the viewer as an outsider who cannot quite grasp the struggles of the character, and there is a heavy reliance on music and light. The soundtrack feels retro but uses modern pop music too, yet it lacks a punch or a hook outside of the obvious Diamonds scene. From an emotional standpoint, I always felt that feelings were skirted or on the fringe – perhaps deliberate, though maybe not. I felt like the friendship was real, but there wasn’t enough to make me laugh or love, scream or cry about. The most upsetting scene was possibly seeing Marieme’s little sister possibly following in her footsteps, but this wasn’t explored further.

In all, this is a film which most viewers will likely enjoy more than I did, but for me it is not up to films such as Stand By Me, Now And Then, or even The Virgin Suicides or Little Women –  though perhaps those are not all valid comparisons. A film like this relies on a likable cast and understanding director – both of which are checked boxes here, but they also need poignancy, a certain nostalgic charm or sense of empathy, and that intangible atmosphere which draws us back for repeated viewings and which makes us want to spend more time in the presence of the characters and their world. Girlhood for me doesn’t quite hit all of those notes, and while it is a more grim film than those previously mentioned, it is the lack of emotion which dulls the viewer and keeps us at arm’s length.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Girlhood!

Ranking The Bond Girls – The Minors

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Come in, sit down boy, have a cigar, you’re gonna go far… if you read this – do we have a treat for you today yes siree. It’s time to kick back, draw the blinds, and enjoy yourself in a clean and safe manner by reading this list of wicked temptresses and lusty beauties. Our esteemed colleague Mr Bond, Double Oh Matron, has done the Hard work, done all the sweating and heavy lifting if you will, to bring us this list of conquests – women who are merely a footnote in his exhaustive travels, women who can barely even be called real people and in many cases even go unnamed (but not unharmed or unloved). Translation: read my list of the most minor Bond girls – those who may have only appeared in a single scene or had little impact on the plot; it’s really good!

24: Kimberley Jones – A View To A Kill

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80s Computers

Here we go, the lowest ranked Bond Girl based upon my warped preferences. She exemplifies everything that is both wonderful and terrible in the Bond Universe in that she is only there to be fucked. In a very 80’s movie, she is a very 80’s girl with big hair, big smile, and big… personality. She was played by Mary Stavin who also appeared briefly in Octopussy a Swedish former Miss World winner who went on to appear in such classics as Caddyshack II and Alien Terminator. And hey, look! She recorded a ‘song’ with everyone’s favourite Irishman George Best.

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She’s now a Nolan sister, apparently

 

23: Gemma – Quantum Of Solace

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I don’t know who I am either

I’m not even sure what all this lass did in the movie, aside from helping Mathis to help Bond. Yeah, she’s not really a Bond Girl then and shouldn’t really be here but I’ve typed it all now so tough. Anyway, she’s played by Lucrezia Lante della Rovere who is starred in a bunch of Italian movies and TV series.

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My hair is modeled after my earrings

 

22: Marie – Diamonds Are Forever

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Bikinis

Poor Marie goes one better than attempting to flirt with and shag Bond, but gets choked instead – with her own bikini for good measure. And guess what? Denise Perrier, who played the part, was also a former Miss World. My detective skills sense there may be a theme at play….

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G..G…Granny?

 

21: Bond’s Lover/Unnamed Girl – Skyfall

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Sleepy time

As if being fucked and being strangled weren’t enough, this Jane Doe doesn’t even get a name, instead being christened as either Bond’s Lover or the ominous Unnamed Girl. She enjoys a quick romp with Bond and although it is implied that she has had some sort of more meaningful relationship with Bond during his hiatus from MI6 she only appears in one scene and is never heard from again. She was played by Tonia Sotiropoulou who is a model but not a Miss World Winner, and also appeared in the rather good Berberian Sound Studio. 

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Wake up!

 

20: Linda – The Living Daylights

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Bikinis #2

Such is the way of the Bond Universe that most wealthy women lounge about and dream that one day a real man will drop out of the heavens and satisfy their every sordid whim. Bond’s erection hears this call and her drops onto her yacht before dropping his pants. Played by Belle Avery who has appeared in mostly rubbish before becoming a Producer.

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Call me

 

19: Inga Bergstorm – Tomorrow Never Dies

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DON’T call me

Another who is only on screen for a bit of titillation and a good old ‘Cunning Linguist’ gag, she doesn’t do anything but is pretty hot so woo hoo. She was played by Cecilie Thomsen, a model and actress who used to be Bryan Adams’ girlfriend. Great.

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Wrap it up

 

18: Bonita – Goldfinger

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Bikinis #3

Played by Nadja Regin (who had a sort of bigger part in From Russia With Love), Bonita is a minor femme fatale who Belly Dances her way into Bond’s life before being thrown away after Bond spots the double cross. Regin has had a long and strong career as an actress, writer, and publisher.

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One of these could be her. Or maybe it’s a completely random image of two completely random people

17: Zora – From Russia With Love

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You wanna piece of me?

 

You’d assume that as a species we’ve graduated from outdoor cat-fights concerning matters of the heart or loins, but switch on any of those horrible reality shows or daytime chat shows and you’ll realise your mistake. Silly humans, thinking they have evolved. And silly writers, thinking audiences in the 60s would believe two -just-Eastern-enough woman would be rolling around in the dirt and pulling hair just for the opportunity to hope on a shlong. Hmm, maybe those writers knew something we didn’t. Anyway, early Bond movies didn’t think much of women, but look at them tearing off each others clothes – ain’t it hot!? Zora here, was played by Martine Beswick (an English Model and Actress) who would also appear in Thunderball and continue to bit and scratch other women in future movies.

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No

16: Vida – From Russia With Love

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You wanna piece of ME

Vida. She’s the other one. Played by Aliza Gur, a former Miss Israel, who would appear in various minor movies and hit TV shows before seemingly retiring in the early Seventies.

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No

15: Apollo Jet Hostess – Moonraker

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I must break you

We’re only a few (re) entries in, but we’ve already seen quite a bit of sexism and violence towards women. I quite like this nameless character – she has the looks, of course, but there is an air of danger and mystery around her. I like to think she survived the aircraft crash which she instigates, but we will never know. Played by Leila Shenna who appeared in a few French and Algerian movies through the 70s before giving it all up in the early 80s.

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We will never know

14: Chew Mee – The Man With The Golden Gun

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Come in

With a name like that, what’s not to love? We all know it’s hilarious to mock other countries, and even more fun to take their silly languages and fashion pervy names from them; Pee Niss, Jie-An-Tkok, Mam Aree, Phuree Kun’t, and so on. She is an entirely pointless character aside from the cheap name joke – she indulges in some soft pool side flirting, then vanishes from the movie – but we all had a laugh. And we all had a look. Francoise Therry is the actress’ real name and I have no idea where she went.

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Where did I go?

13: Estrella – Spectre

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Don’t leave me!

Appearing only in the superb opening scene to Spectre, she again is only there to remind us that Bond likes having sex with hot women, as if anyone hadn’t cottoned on to this fact yet. For such a minor role Stephanie Sigman is beautiful enough and manages to act in some sort of captivating enough manner for us to remember her – she has already appeared in movies like Miss Bala, and shows like Narcos, so there is every chance for her to go on to a great career. She’s also a beer.

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Blue is a warm colour

 

12: Thumper – Diamonds Are Forever

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Wabbit

Diamonds Are Forever is basically Connery doing Moore – a lot of camp, bizarre humour and wacky characters. Thumper, played by Trina Parks, is partner to Bambi (naturally) and together they act as the elite guards of Mr Whyte. You can’t help but think a couple of pitbulls may have been the better choice, or some dude with a gun, but hilariously they almost defeat Bond with their acrobatic style. Bond eventually gets the better of them and pushes their heads down towards his special area. Parks was the first African American Bond girl I believe, and she was a famous dancer and choreographer who appeared in various other movies and shows including The Blues Brothers.

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Wayhay

11: Bambi – Diamonds Are Forever

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It is unclear who is enjoying it more

Ranked higher than Thumper because she’s hotter and has the better chance to dispatch Bond while Thumper flaps around doing needless somersaults. Played by Lola Larson in what seems to have been her only role – I think she was a former athlete but I can’t be arsed researching further (at all).

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Could be anyone

10: Peaceful Fountains Of Desire – Die Another Day

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Smooth

As the decades passed, we moved on from the likes of Chew Mee and now have named our Asian characters with curious epithets or snazzy translations. Peaceful Fountains Of Desire could almost have been Violent Squirts Of Coitus, but this was unfortunately not considered. Then again, this was Die Another Day so the results could have been much much worse (Painful Anal Expulsion? Nah, too metal). She only appears in one scene – a Chinese Intelligence Officer pretending to be a masseuse, and although it’s all very hot and weird she’s still memorable. Not as much as Brosnan’s beard though. Played by Rachel Grant, who is related to the current British Royal family, she has gone on to appear most famously in Braniac: Science Abuse and a variety of other shows and movies.

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9: Felicca – The Spy Who Loved Me

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Well well…

 

Essentially the same character as Fiona Volpe and whose death is almost identical, Felicca is sent by the bad guys to arouse Bond’s shlong but not his suspicions just long enough for the henchman Sandor to stick a bullet in Bond’s skull. For reasons unknown, but presumably shlong related, Felicca has a change of heart and warns Bond of the danger – she instead catches the bullet and dies. An interesting twist then, no doubt encouraged by Roger Moore whose Bond wasn’t as cold-hearted as Connery’s. Played by Italian actress Olga Bisera, who also founded her own Production Company and appeared in Castle Keep and various Italian movies before retiring in the early 80s.

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Well?

 

8: Cigar Girl/Giulietta Da Vinci – The World Is Not Enough

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Gun

 

Another film, another nameless Bond girl, though this one listed in the credits as ‘Cigar Girl’ is one of the more intriguing pieces of the World Is Not Enough puzzle. She gets a lot of screen time in the pulsating cold open and Bond doesn’t manage to get the information out of her that he needs or get her out of her pants. Cigar Girl continues the grand tradition of the cold-blooded Bond assassin, and leads a merry chase along the Thames until Bond catches up with her in dramatic fashion. It becomes clear that she is more scared of someone else than Bond, but she dies without giving any hints as to who that may be. Maria Grazia Cucinotta stars as the ill-fated lady, an actress, model, producer, and screenwriter who has appeared in many memorable roles ins shows such as The Simpsons, The Sopranos, and Il Postino. 

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Guns

 

7: Irina – Goldeneye

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Miaow

 

Irina is one of many pointless characters in the Bond universe, but by God I love Goldeneye and it wouldn’t be complete without Minnie Driver’s cat strangling. She only appears in a single scene when Bond meets Zukovsky, singing badly in the background. It’s funny. That’s about it really. Minnie Driver is of course an established star in her own right these days, and Goldeneye was one of her earliest big screen performances.

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Purrrr

 

6: Rosika Miklos – The Living Daylights

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What Lies Beneath

 

Rosika is a curious one, a capable ally to Bond, and someone it appears has worked with Bond in the past – at the very least they are aware of each other from some previous occasion. Her looming figure is akin to Brienne Of Tarth, and she helps Bond out early in the movie by throwing around Koskov without breaking sweat. Played by Julie T Wallace, an actress who has appeared sporadically on TV and film in The Fifth Element, Speed Racer, and many British sitcoms.

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Of Tarth

 

5: Ava – The Living Daylights

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‘These guys eat too much red meat’

 

Part of another daring double along with Liz, Ava is a CIA agent who helps Bond out a couple of times during the movie. It would have been nice to see them return for another mission, especially with Felix’s importance in the next Dalton movie. Ava is played by Dulice Liecier, an actress who looked like she was going to be big in the 80s before vanishing – she appeared in shows like Grange Hill and Eastenders as well as singing on Another Brick In The Wall.

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Is There Anybody Out There

 

4: Liz – The Living Daylights

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Hi

 

Part of another daring double along with Ava, Liz is a CIA agent who helps Bond out a couple of times during the movie. It would have been nice to see them return for another mission, especially with Felix’s importance in the next Dalton movie. Liz is higher on the list because she’s hotter than Ava. Liz is played by Catherine Rabett who started out as a successful dancer before starring in You Rang, M’Lord, Doctors, and Emmerdale.

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Eh up, lad

 

3: Martine Blanchaud/Log Cabin Girl – The Spy Who Loved Me

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So… cold…

 

It’s The Spy Who Loved Me again, and that means another woman trying to blind Bond with her boobs until he is killed. She appears (as The Log Cabin Girl) in the opening sequence having sexy times with Bond until he is chased away and down the alps on skis, followed by the KGB until the famous leap off the cliff. In another common theme, Sue Vanner retired from acting in the early eighties, having played in various TV shows such as Minder and Tales Of The Unexpected.

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From Sweden With Love apparently

 

2: Ling – You Only Live Twice

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You Only Appeared….

 

It at first seems like Ling is yet another foul temptress, as she shares a bed and some flirtatious fun with Bond in the opening sequence. It appears she has a hand in killing Bond but surprise surprise he gets to live twice, and Ling was in on the whole thing from the start. It’s all very elaborate and quick, but she’s hot so wayhay to us. Ling was played by Tsai Chin, something of a star in Asia thanks to her many impressive roles over the decades and success as a singer, teacher, writer, director, and stage actress, appearing in things like The Joy Luck Club, Memoirs Of A Geisha, and even 2006’s Casino Royale. 

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…twice

 

1: Madame La Porte – Thunderball

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I See You

 

Appearing only in the famous pre-credits sequence, Madame La Porte helps Bond escape in his souped up DB5 after attending the funeral of a SPECTRE agent with him. She is one of the few minor Bond girls to get involved in the action and get any sort of meaningful dialogue so she seems as good a pick as any to top this list. Played by Maryse Guy Mitsuoko, a strip tease artist and actress who appeared in a handful of spy movies in the 60s before taking her own life in the 90s.

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We’ll see you again

 

Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of this trouser-rupturing series as we meet the likes of the Masterson sisters, Bibi Dahl, and Molly Warmflash!

Ranking The Bond Women -Introduction

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Chauvinism ahoy! Following on from my ridiculously unpopular Bond Songs ranking posts I thought I would move on to even more misguided waters by listing all of the women who appear in Bond movies. As before, this is a personal list so nostalgia and personal preference will hold more weight that cultural importance or lack thereof, with a sprinkling of character, writing, and acting ability aiding in the ranking. Before I get started with the list, for all your purists out there THIS IS MY LIST. I am including Never Say Never Again (even though it’s tripe), I am including typical Bond girls and female Bond baddies, and I’m trying to include even the most minor character – it just needs to be someone who has had some sort of fling or naughty, nudey escapade with Double Oh Shlong – because of this I may miss a few characters – don’t hate me. Or do, I don’t care. I am not including Moneypenny as she is a regular, recurring character and I’m not including Judi Dench’s M because I’m not a GILF hunter.

At time of writing I have identified a frightening, wrist-wrenching 90 ladies. My wife tells me I have peculiar tastes when it comes to women, so be prepared for some unusual choices in my top 20. I’ll split up my posts into minors, middling, and major characters, and I’ll even share with you a lovely picture of each woman along with my alarmingly non-pervy thoughts. Won’t that be lovely? And because no blog post is complete without a list – here is the list of Bond Girls by movie which I will be including! Feel free to let me know your favourites now, or alternatively wait until I have completed my wanking. RANKING! Ahem, ranking. Ahem.

Dr No: Honey Ryder, Sylvia Trench, Miss Taro

From Russia With Love: Sylvia Trench (again), Tatiana Romanova, Zora, Vida

Goldfinger:  Dink, Jill Masterson, Tilly Masterson, Bonita, Pussy Galore.

Thunderball: Fiona Volpe, Paula Caplan, Mademoiselle La Porte, Patricia Fearing, Domino Derval

You Only Live Twice: Aki, Ling, Helga Brandt, Kissy Suzuki

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: Teresa Di Vicenzo, Ruby Bartlett, Nancy,

Diamonds Are Forever: Tiffany Case, Plenty O’Toole, Bambi, Thumper, Marie

Live And Let Die: Solitaire, Rosie Carver, Miss Caruso

The Man With The Golden Gun: Andrea Anders, Mary Goodnight, Saida, Chew Mee

The Spy Who Loved Me: Anya Amasova, Naomi, Felicca, Martine Blanchaud.

Moonraker: Manuela, Corinne Dufour, Holly Goodhead, Apollo Jet Hostess

For Your Eyes Only: Melina Havelock, Bibi Dahl, Countess Lisl

Octopussy: Octopussy, Magda, Bianca,

A View To A Kill: Kimberly Jones, Mayday, Stacey Sutton, Jenny Flex, Pan Ho, Pola Ivanova

The Living Daylights: Kara Milovy, Linda, Rubavich, Rosika Miklos,

License To Kill: Lupe Lamora, Pam Bouvier,

Goldeneye: Xenia Onatopp, Natalya Simonova, Caroline

Tomorrow Never Dies: Inga Bergstrom, Wai Lin, Paris Carver,

The World Is Not Enough: Cigar Girl, Christmas Jones, Electra King, Molly Warmflash,

Die Another Day: Peaceful, Miranda Frost, Jinx. Verity.

Casino Royale: Solange, Vesper Lynd

Never Say Never Again: Domino Petachi, Fatima Blush

Quantum Of Solace: Agent Fields, Camille, Gemma

Skyfall: Bond’s Lover, Severine

Spectre: Lucia Sciarra, Madeleine Swan, Estrella

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Gravity

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There are certain films I wish I’d seen in the cinema in their original runs; Star Wars, T2, Jurassic Park, Aliens, The Thing, The Exorcist – some of them because of their special effects deserving to been seen as a spectacle on the big screen, others due to their cultural impact or the sheer surprise or shock value of seeing them in a crowd of unsuspecting victims with little knowledge about what was about to happen. I think I can add Gravity to that list as it is, for almost its entire run time, a truly marvelous feast for the eyes, with jaw-dropping visuals and a camera that does things that a camera should not be able to do. I think it’s the defining technical achievement in Cinema since 2000 and absolutely deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible.

From a story perspective, we are down to bare bones stuff; a small team of astronauts are fixing a Station when calamity ensues and they are left stranded in space, floating through the never with only the dimmest hope of survival. Many have of course compared the film favourably to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and those comparisons are not simply due to the groundbreaking technical work and effects. 2001 also had a fairly non-eventful story, the story being there to more serve the visuals, the experimentation, and to open the floodgates to a world of discussion and hypothesis on what it was all about. Gravity may have a simple story, but it has those open-ended moments and strange scenes which are destined to be pored over for years to come. Not nearly to the same extent and nowhere near the scope of 2001, but enough to allow the film to be discussed as art not merely from a purely, traditionally artistic perspective. Where it succeeds over 2001 is in its urgency, plotting, and acting. While we basically have two main performers, they are both on top form – Clooney his usual charming self, and Bullock going from strength to strength in what must have been a grueling shoot. She plays someone unlike most of her traditional roles, and manages to be cold and detached, emotional, emotive, and allows us to urge and cheer her on as she races to beat the impossible odds.

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It’s a movie of two halves, the first being all about establishment and destruction – learning about this group, then watching the collapse and catastrophe, the second half being about redemption and hope, with Bullock frantically trying to keep her sanity and composure while learning to move through tragedies past and present. The pacing is mostly excellent, with an ever present threat of further collapse, with the constant ticking of gravity’s pull, and with one more problem to solve all propelling the movie forwards; it helps that the running time isn’t excessive. Similar to recent flicks like Fury Road and Apocalypto, the viewer is left breathless by the action and spectacle and barely given a moment’s respite to get your breath back. Cuaron has crafted something impossible, like many filmmakers before him, and has surely paved the way for a host of new stories, films, and ideas. The fact that this is both original and pays homage to the greats means this is a love letter to film, but one not so self-indulgent as to leave anyone in the cold. The fact that it is intelligent and well-executed and not simply a visual marvel means it is one that is sure to be held as a classic for years to come.

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Let us know in the comments what you thought of Gravity and which films you missed on the big screen that you wish you had seen in their original run.

 

Rust And Bone

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A love story between unconventional, unlikable characters; a story of redemption for a selfish father; a story of hope for a lost soul. Rust And Bone is all of these, and features a tour de force performance from Cottilard. At times beautiful, haunting at others, it’s frustrating that something seems a little off throughout and the film doesn’t manage to hit the high notes it reaches for even though all the ingredients are there.

I think the two most notable things to say from my perspective on Rust And Bone are the performance by Cottilard, and the gnawing sensation that something was going to go badly wrong before the end – the film feels throughout like a bleak Haneke tale and I was always expecting the worst. I don’t know if that can accurately be called tension or if that is merely me projecting onto the film, but it was there nevertheless. Cottilard’s performances speaks for itself, and many thought she would get another Oscar nod for it. She stars as a woman – Stephanie – almost in the femme fatale vein, who works in a French equivalent of Sea World, giving Orca performances. She appears to be in a loveless, potentially violent relationship and spends evenings in dodgy night clubs. One night she meets Ali, a man with a violent, mistake-led past who has recently become the club’s bouncer. He has only moved to the area to live with his sister to try to find some stability for himself and his young son. After an accident at her job Stephanie has both legs amputated and enters a serious depression. Over the course of the film, we watch as Stephanie and Ali form a closer relationship, but still suffer from inside and outside problems and stresses. As the film progresses, the two begin to rely on each other potentially to the detriment of their other responsibilities and we wonder if tragedy will strike again.

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I would recommend Rust And Bone to any genuine film fans – it’s a difficult tale to watch at times, but the redemptive journey and the burgeoning central relationship is genuine and affecting. As I mentioned, I kept waiting for the film to take a stark turn, but I cannot add any further comment in that respect without giving away spoilers. Audiard’s films are always impressive and thought-provoking and tend to receive much critical acclaim – this one is no different, but when you throw in an actress with now world wide renown the bar is raised that little bit further. It isn’t always easy, it isn’t always simple, but that’s love.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Rust And Bone and if you feel it deserves the adulation it has received.

Cockneys Vs Zombies

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It seems there’s a zombie mashup for every occasion; all we need now is Zombies vs Zombies, and the world will implode in an undead mass. While it’s true that the majority of these efforts are terrible, every so often something good squeezes through. Cockneys Vs Zombies just about hits the mark thanks to its charm and swagger and a number of funny moments and a good cast. Although the whole geezer thing gets irritating after a few minutes, it somehow doesn’t get too badly in the way of this entertaining jaunt through the East End.

Firstly, I’m surprised at how little money the movie has made given the critical consensus and a fair amount of hype and advertising around release, at least in the UK. According to Wikipedia, the movie has only made just over 100 grand off a 2 Million budget. That in itself is enough to make me recommend the movie – it’s a hell of a lot better than movies which rake in tens or hundreds of millions – better made, more inventive, funnier etc. Audiences outside of the UK may struggle with some of the speech and dialogue, but if you’re willing to give it a try, and if you like zombie movies, there’s no reason why you won’t enjoy this.

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Harry Treadaway and Rasmus Hardiker star as Cockney brothers who want to help raise the money required to prevent their Grandfather’s Retirement home from being demolished. Not having any particular skills or education, they decide to rob a bank. When the robbery goes tits up the brothers (along with their cousin Katy and two friends) take a couple of people hostage. While all this has been going on, a construction group has accidentally discovered an abandoned 17th Century graveyard underground containing zombies – unleashing a growing wave of the undead across the East End. Soon the group of friends and hostages are surrounded by zombies and need to set aside their differences to reach their loved ones and try to fight their way out of London.

The film has some very funny moments – the zombie chasing the old man (Richard Briers’ last role) and much of the action in and around the Retirement home. Although Alan Ford’s hard old man shtick wears then very quickly, the appearance of Honor Blackman and Michelle Ryan, along with the rest of the cast prove that the ensemble can carry and cover most annoyances. The movie doesn’t deviate far from most movies of its kind – the outbreak, the siege, and the escape are all present, but the addition of the elderly characters and the setting, along with the fact that everyone involved is having fun mean that this is infectious and entertaining, if not as timeless as Shaun Of The Dead. Give it a go if you are a fan of that movie as it shows there is still life in this beaten horse.

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Let us know in the comments what you thought of Cockney’s Vs Zombies – is it one film too many in the genre, or one joke too few?

Outrage

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There can be little argument against Kitano being one of the finest Japanese directors since the 1980s, having made a number of genuine classics. With Outrage he’s back on familiar territory, telling a story of jealous, tired Yakuza, and the lengths they will go to to remain in power, if not retain their honour.

Lets get the good stuff out of the way – Kitano knows how to shoot a film, he has his own cinematic style, and he has a penchant for explosive violence. Outrage was supposed to be a return to a more familiar style for Kitano and an attempt to regain some of his greatest successes, but it falls short. The story is one we have seen too many times and there is nothing unique in the plot or action. Kitano himself is not the central character, but rather one of several Yakuza main men who are dealing with the needlessly complex developments in what is essentially a simple story. Kitano as a performer is even more laid back than usual, the rest of the cast are fine without having any standouts. The film was well enough received to inspire a sequel which I have not yet seen, along with plans for a third.

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I would recommend this to fans of Kitano, but as a starting place for anyone interested in his work I would say that you should leave this one until you are more familiar with his earlier movies. As an introduction to Yakuza movies you could give it a shot, but it may be too dense and distant to fully understand the genre.

Let us know in the comments where you rank Outrage along with Kitano’s other movies!