Over the past two days the Exeter Phoenix have shown international shorts, documentaries and even award winning contemporary short films.
Simon Roger Key
Each year the team behind Exeter Phoenix’s Two Short Nights film festival go out of their way to put together an eclectic mix of contemporary cinema’s finest shorts.
17 facts about the 17th Bond film on its 20th Anniversary
People like to argue about who the best Bond is but I don’t care. You can keep your Daniel Craigs, Sean Connerys, Roger Moores and the other two. My favourite incarnation of 007 is Pierce Brosnan. GoldenEye (Campbell, 1995) was Brosnan’s debut, released in November 1995, which means it’s 20-years old! To mark its anniversary, here are a few facts about GoldenEye, that you probably didn’t know…
1. The name’s… not Bond
Timothy Dalton was due to star in the 17th Bond film (GoldenEye), but instead, he decided to quit. This surprised many people, none-more-so than Bond 17’s screenwriters, who had already written a script with Dalton in mind.
2. The Bonds that never were
Pierce Brosnan was offered Bond in the ‘80s but did you know Liam Neeson and Mel Gibson were offered GoldenEye before Brosnan? When both actors passed, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson went with the cheaper option.
3. Kept you waiting, huh?
The six-year delay between the release of License to Kill and GoldenEye is the longest gap between entries in the franchise’s entire history.
4. The return of an old friend
The Aston Martin DB5 is synonymous with 007 but its appearance in GoldenEye marked the first time the car had appeared in a Bond film since 1965’s Thunderball.
5. A license to kill a lot of people
Pierce Brosnan’s 007 manages to kill 39 people in GoldenEye. Roger Moore easily beats that with a whopping 59 kills in Octopussy, but on average, Brosnan is the deadliest of all the 007s – with 27 kills per film.
6. Codename GoldenEye
GoldenEye was the first James Bond film to be created completely independently of Ian Fleming’s books but the title was taken from the name of Fleming’s Jamaican estate.
7. Bond was always a bit of a Queen
If the train sequence where Bond derails 006’s armoured train looks familiar, that’s because the location – Nene Valley Railway – was used to film Queen’s ‘Breakthru’ music video.
8. I ate Mr Bond’s liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti
Bond’s producers wanted a big star to play GoldenEye’s chief big bad aka Alec Trevelyan. Anthony Hopkins was their first choice but he turned it down, as did Alan Rickman.
9. Close but no cigar
Sean Bean auditioned for the role of James Bond twice and for two different films: GoldenEye and The Living Daylights. Still, he got to play one of Bond’s more memorable adversaries.
10. Always behind the times, but never without a watch
Prior to GoldenEye, 007 wore a variety of watches but the debut of Pierce Brosnan triggered a new dawn, with Bond wearing an Omega SeaMaster in each film thereafter. However, the watch Bond wears has nothing to do with advertising.
11. Strangling a cat
Everyone knows the GoldenEye theme song was written by U2’s Bono and The Edge. But did you know Bono also recorded his own version? Mercifully it was never used.
Actor Joe Don Baker has appeared in the Bond franchise as two different characters; as Brad Whitaker in The Living Daylights and as CIA operative Jack Wade in GoldeneEye. Is he the best double-agent ever? Probably not.
13. From Hong Kong with Love
Somewhat unbelievably, Hong Kong action cinema auteur John Woo was originally offered the opportunity to direct GoldenEye but he turned it down – just imagine what could have been!
14. The era of computer generated tomfoolery begins
GoldenEye has the honour of being the first Bond film to feature computer generated effects. Just don’t mention Die Another Day’s invisible car…
15. The Spy who loved the other Spy
The original GoldenEye script had to be rewritten because it was too similar to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1994 action film, True Lies – a film that steals liberally from Bond.
16. Bond and M sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G
In the original script for GoldenEye, the first scene between Bond and M implied that the two were former lovers but fortunately the producers dropped this awful idea.
17. GoldenEye’s multiplayer mode on the N64 was almost never a thing
GoldenEye for the N64 was infamous for its multiplayer shenanigans. However, the multiplayer mode was never meant to exist – it was an afterthought put together in secret by the developers in the last six weeks of production. Thank you RARE!
The latest outing from 007, Spectre, is out in cinemas nationwide now
In the last 24 hours I’ve been staring into the abyss, reflecting on life’s many quandaries but specifically about being single. Sat in my singleton squalor, I carelessly shovel Turkish delight into my mouth-hole while watching Céline Dion music videos from the ‘90s. She warbles on about her achy-breaky heart and her misfortunate nautical adventures. There were tears aplenty.
The formula: Shaken but not stirred
The formula for a James Bond film is a simple cocktail of action, explosions, globetrotting and beautiful women. Despite the age of the series it lacks any real maturity and like the MARVEL superhero films, it’s a series – despite the range of its fans – that is primarily aimed at impressionable young men. The franchise’s biggest problem is its regressive treatment of women, however, that problem isn’t just limited to the characters that inhabit these films. If art reflects reality, then the toxicity at the heart of the James Bond series is a reflection of the world in which these films are made.
Dartmoor Killing is the theatrical debut from Devon’s own, Peter Nicholson – best known for his work at the BBC and Channel 4. Nicholson’s film eschews the usual conventions of British cinema i.e. period settings, Northern working class strife or cockney geezers. Instead, it delivers a contemporary thriller with a twist of suspenseful horror.
Becky (Gemma-Leah Devereux) and Susan (Rebecca Night) are both in their late twenties and prior to Becky’s imminent wedding, Susan treats Becky to a holiday on the moors. However, Susan’s motives for visiting Dartmoor are far from selfless and it turns out she’s motivated by something other than rugged landscapes.
Arriving on Dartmoor the two ramblers make their way to their idyllic B&B, however, they cross paths with the mysterious, Chris (Callum Blue). When Chris injures his ankle, Becky and Susan offer to help him back to his picturesque but isolated moorland home. At first, this meeting appears to have been by chance but it’s here that the planned city break takes an unexpected and sinister turn, exposing deception and even suppressed memories from a terrifying past – hinted at through ghost-like visions.
Above all else, Dartmoor Killing is indebted to its local setting and fortunately the film’s Director of Photography (DoP), Nick Dance, has done a beautiful job of capturing Dartmoor’s natural beauty. It doesn’t quite match the dream like quality of Spielberg’s Dartmoor in War Horse (Spielberg, 2011) but much of that film was a romanticised vision – perfect for its ‘against all odd’ story.
At one point Chris opines that the moor is a dangerous place but this is never demonstrated through the mise en scène e.g. Dartmoor doesn’t have the harshness of the moorland depicted in Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights (Arnold, 2011) or even the dreariness of the depressing, Blair Witch-wannabe, A Night in the Woods (Parry, 2011). There is danger lurking on the moors, but here it’s mankind, not nature that poses any substantial threat. Dartmoor Killing is more obviously linked to American psychological thrillers of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, films like Dead Calm (Noyce, 1989), Pacific Heights (Schlesinger, 1990) or Cape Fear (Scorsese, 1991).
Nicholson’s debut is an assured one, with good performances from the central cast and it beautifully captures the wonder of Dartmoor, whilst also managing to tell a story that defies the usual slew of British clichés. There are a few minor issues with the script but in spite of this Dartmoor Killing is a gripping thriller, and like the moors themselves, worth experiencing first-hand.
CUB (Govaerts, 2014) is about a Belgian Cub Scout pack that goes on a camping trip just over the French border, unsurprisingly, things don’t go to well for the Cub Scouts in this horror, but how does the film fare?
It has been seven years since the last Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle film, the underrated CGI affair from Kevin Munroe, TMNT (Munroe, 2007). And, it’s 21 years since the last live-action Turtle film – the disastrous and rightfully maligned, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 (Gillard, 1993), often incorrectly referred to as Turtles in Time.
Jason Schwartzman should be quite used to playing writers by now, but none are as terrifyingly narcissistic as Philip, in Schwartzman’s newest film, Listen Up Philip (Perry, 2014).
Spring (Benson & Moorhead, 2014) is an interesting proposition, it’s a film that attempts and succeeds to defy expectations. Like the directors previous film, Resolution (Benson & Moorhead, 2012), it provides a unique take on the horror genre but also encompasses tropes we associate with others.
Next To Her focuses on two sisters, Chelli – pronounced Helli – and Gabby. The younger sister, Gabby, is intellectually disabled and Chelli has been caring for her for most of her life.
As the 54th BFI London Film Festival kicks-off the weather might be predictably dreary, but Clare Stewart, festival director, has lined-up an eclectic mix of films that make visiting the cinema – if you’re in London – a necessity.
The festival’s opening film is the UK/USA production, Imitation Game (Tyldum, 2014) and Stewart and her team of film programmers have picked a corker to open this year’s festival.
Imitation Game is a biopic about the life of Alan Turing; the British mathematician and cryptanalyst whose innovative machine (Christopher) broke the German Enigma code and helped to save millions of lives. The film focuses upon three specific points in Turing’s life: a founding friendship at school with a boy named Christopher; WW2 itself i.e. how Turing came to be involved in the top-secret, government project to decrypt the ‘unbreakable’ code; and finally, Turing’s arrest for indecency in the ‘50s – Turing’s only crime being gay and performing an ‘indecent’ act in public. [Read more…] about Imitation Game: faultless start to the BFI London Film Festival
My Stuff, the debut feature from Finnish director, Petri Luukkainen, is a quasi-documentary and we join Petri – director and subject – as he embarks upon his experiment to forgo his possessions for one year.
Frances Ha is the tale of Frances (Greta Gerwig), a 27 year old who has drifted through life and isn’t really sure who she is. However, she’s getting to a point in her life when things are beginning to change – not least her friendship with her flatmate, Sophy (Mickey Sumner). When Sophy decides to move in with another friend, it sets about a period of self-discovery and we’re fortunate enough to be along for the ride.
12 Years A Slave is Steve McQueen’s adaptation of Solomon Nothup’s gruelling memoir. Its story revolves around Solomon, played by the excellent British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor in a career highlight. A free man and an accomplished violinist living in New York, Solomon is tricked into to joining a travelling show and promptly sold into slavery.
All Cheerleaders Die is a ‘subversive’ horror film based upon a decade-old project between the film’s directors Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson. Its stars are relatively unknown with the exception of an un-credited and brief cameo from Michael Bowen – who was most recently seen terrorising Jesse Pinkman and Walter White as white supremacist Uncle Jack in Vince Gilligan’s, Breaking Bad.
Amat Escalante’s Heli won him the Best Director gong at this year’s Cannes. Heli depicts a working class family thrown into the Mexican drug world, a dangerous place of police corruption and violent criminals – notably, it features a very graphic torture sequence not for the faint-hearted.
Hide Your Smiling Faces marks the début of Daniel Patrick Carbone. It’s a bold take on childhood, growing-up, loss and a film that shies away from sentimentality; in short it’s no Stand By Me.
I’m always reluctant to compile a ‘best of the year’ list, because around this festive time of year we’re always inundated with countless articles, all competing for our attention with their best of everything in this particular year. Basically, there are plenty of other distractions, so who wants to read a stupid, subjective list of things that I liked in 2012? It’s just so pointless; who really gives two hoots if I don’t think The Master is the best film of 2012? However, after reading some of the frankly astounding lists already out there, *coughs*, The Guardian’s, I decided to do just that.
The ever provocative, Austrian director, Michael Haneke, returns to our cinemas with his newest film, Amour. But is Haneke’s Palme d’Or winning film up to scratch?
Haneke has never been one to shy away from the cruel realities of ‘real life’ and his new film opens with a flash-forward which ultimately signposts the film’s ending (which isn’t a criticism). By doing so it informs how the film is to be viewed and adds greater poignancy to his examination of love, old-age and illness – and considering the age of the characters, it’s not an unexpected conclusion. Amour is a fairly bleak film, but if you’re familiar with the director’s other films e.g. The White Ribbon, Cache and Funny Games, that won’t be particularly surprising.
Amour is the story of two elderly, retired music teachers, Anne and Georges, who are both in their 80s. The couple are fairly active and do not have the passivity, which is typically forced upon elderly characters in cinema e.g. the film begins with them attending a concert and returning home via the bus, where they debate the concert’s finer points. But from here on in, we see the devastating effects of illness in old-age, Anne suffers multiple strokes before the onset of dementia, which in no time at all, renders Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) bedridden and completely dependent upon her husband, Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant).
One motif, which worked particularly well, was the sense of dread from an ominous, external menace e.g. burglars/strangers. This subtle reference, alluding to the actual menace upon the horizon, but that menace isn’t an external one, Anne and Georges’ threat comes from within – and from those that they let into their home. At one point, Georges reprimands a care worker for treating his wife poorly – somebody he hired. In general, society expectantly, has little do with Anne and Georges, their daughter – played by Isabelle Huppert – barely visits and their only other visitors are some kindly neighbours, who purchase their shopping but offer no other form of support. As with death, it seems in old age we are also on our own, abandoned by almost everybody.
The film builds towards an obvious crescendo, but one of the most disarming features of Haneke’s film is in its depiction of amour, of love, but not the folly of youthful, romantic love, which typifies cinema. The love depicted in Haneke’s film is one which is centred upon two people who have been together for a very long-time, which isn’t to say the romance between them has fizzled, just that the film centres upon a deeper, less shallow depiction of love.
Amour is a hauntingly beautiful and challenging film, with some outstanding acting from Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant, and Haneke continues to be one of the most thought provoking directors at work today – cinema salutes you, sir!
Trying to write an entertaining synopsis of Twilight’s events, thus far, seems fairly pointless. If you’ve not tuned into the adaptations of Stephenie Meyer’s novels by this point, well, you’re a little too late to the party.
John Dies at the End (Coscarelli, 2012) was the second film I attended at the 56th BFI London Film Festival and fortunately it was miles better than Cronenberg Jnr’s, Antiviral. Here’s my verdict on John Dies at the End…
Just last weekend I took a trip to the big smoke. While there I consumed far too much whisky and strutted about London in my brand new Buffy t-shirt, which is aces, obviously! Apart from making yet another, bold fashion statement, the purpose of my visit was to attend the 56th BFI London Film Festival – and attend it I did. Here’s the first review of two films screened in the festival’s cult section.
Tabu’s narrative is split into two parts: Lost Paradise and Paradise. The first hour of the film follows the lives of three elderly women in present day Lisbon: Pilar (Teresa Madruga), Santa (Isabel Cardoso) and Aurora (Laura Soveral). The three elderly women are all going about their mundane lives, until Aurora’s death and it’s this event that triggers the film’s second half, Paradise.
To Rome with Love sees Woody Allen continue to develop his collective of films about Americans abroad. Midnight in Paris (Allen, 2011) was that rare Woody Allen film; being a critical and commercial success – something Allen has scarcely achieved in the last 20 years. The question then, is whether To Rome with Love would be as good as the film it followed, or would it have more in common with the boresome You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (Allen, 2010), or, would it flounder somewhere in the middle? I visited Dartington’s Barn Cinema to find out…