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Monday, 22 February 2016

Stop Getting Bond Wrong! Your week in film (Feb 22-28)

Daniel Craig is back as Bond... perhaps for the final time

TV, Radio, DVD, Blu-ray, VOD and cinema picks for the next seven days...

MONDAY 22nd: If Spectre (Blu-ray, DVD and VOD) turns out to be Daniel Craig's last film as James Bond, it will be a shame, because this 24th installment of the 007 franchise is more Quantum Of Solace than Skyfall. As you'd expect, there are a couple of spectacular action scenes (the opening sequence in Mexico is a cracker), while bad-guy Christoph Waltz and love interest Léa Seydoux bring a genuine touch of class to proceedings. But Monica Bellucci is wasted and some scenes either fall flat or make no sense whatsoever. Still, even below-par Bond is always worth a look. Despite its huge debt to When Harry Met Sally, I really enjoyed edgy(ish) rom-com Sleeping With Other People (DVD and VOD), mainly because the script is sharp and Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis are such likeable leads. TV-wise, there's Pacino and De Niro in limp cop thriller Righteous Kill (22:55, Channel 5), classic Steve Martin comedy The Jerk (01:05, ITV4), and intense Xavier Dolan drama I Killed My Mother (01:45, Film4).


Spectre has its moments but is no Skyfall (trailer)


Nobody Does it better: Alan Partridge re-enacts the
intro to The Spy Who Loved Me 

TUESDAY 23rd: It's been 20 years since Trainspotting (22:45, Film4) opened in British cinemas, so kudos to Film4 for marking that anniversary with a showing of the Danny Boyle-directed movie on the exact same day as its original release. Two decades on, the adaptation of Irvine Welsh's cult novel about a gang of heroin addicts in Edinburgh holds up well with a parade of iconic scenes and memorable characters, many of the cast (Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller) turning in performances they've since struggled to top. With a sequel on its way from Boyle, and Welsh returning to the Trainspotting well more and more (Skagboys, The Blade Artist), I suspect we'll be seeing the likes of Begbie, Sick Boy and Renton on the big screen for a long time yet.

Trainspotting is 20 years old this week (trailer)

WEDNESDAY 24th: A holidaying family are terrorised and tortured by two intruders in Michael Haneke's psychological thriller Funny Games (Sky Arts, 22:00). This isn't some run-of-the-mill 'yuppies in peril' movie, though, as the Austrian director cleverly turns the brutality he depicts back on his audience to explore their/our own attraction to and fascination with screen violence. From 1997, this is the original version rather than the inferior US remake, which Haneke also directed. Guardian movie critic Peter Bradshaw joins Claudia Winkleman and Danny Leigh to review the week's new releases on Film 2016 (23:15, BBC1), including Secret In Their Eyes starring Julia Roberts, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Nicole Kidman (presumably on a break from playing a meerkat's girlfriend in those disturbing TV ads).

Funny Games cleverly tackles our fascination
with screen violence (trailer)

THURSDAY 25th: Guillermo Del Toro's Hellboy (22:40, Film4) is a thoroughly enjoyable adaptation of the graphic novel series with Ron Perlman perfectly cast as the titular demon-turned-hero. If you were compiling a list of the best vampire movies of all time you'd probably stick Tomas Alfredson's Let The Right One In (01:00, Film4) somewhere near the top of it. The Swedish film - an adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist's original novel - has all the horror and violence you'd expect but is also a surprisingly soulful and tender tale of first love and lost innocence. Terrific.

Let The Right One In: Tender, soulful, brutal (trailer)

FRIDAY 26th: Mad Max: Fury Road (15:30 and 20:00, Sky Movies Premiere) might just be the finest action film ever made, although you have to feel a bit sorry for Tom Hardy. His debut as road warrior Max Rockatansky is solid enough but this movie belongs to one-armed warrior woman Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and the sheer avalanche of crazy ideas and outrageous stunts that director George Miller and his co-conspirators bring to the party. Relentlessly imaginative, thrill-a-minute stuff. Ethan and Joel Coen talk about their new movie, Hail, Caesar!, on Kermode and Mayo's Film Review (14:00, Radio 5 Live). Cinema-wise, it's a profoundly underwhelming week. If I can muster the energy, I'll see Sacha Baron Cohen's new comedy Grimsby, although its chances of being anywhere near as good as Borat or Bruno are slim.

Mad Max: Fury Road - an avalanche of crazy ideas
and outrageous stunts (trailer)


SATURDAY 27th: Amy (More4, 21:00) is Asif Kapadia's documentary chronicling the short life and tragic death at 27 of British singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse. The Senna director uses archive footage and the voices of friends, family and collaborators to really get under the skin of his subject, an addict who cut a thoroughly forlorn figure towards the end of her life. This is not only a powerful reminder of Winehouse's enormous talent but a film that does a sterling job of redeeming her public image too. 

Amy provides a reminder of the late singer's
enormous talent (trailer)

SUNDAY 28th: Chris Rock is your host for the 88th Academy Awards (01:30, Sky Movies Oscars). I've deliberately avoided mentioning the Oscars on here this year as the entire enterprise grows ever sillier and more sordid. There might be some great films and actors nominated but, let's face it, the whole thing is so cosy, unimaginative and conservative that truly transgressive, challenging and left-field pictures rarely get a look in. And that's before you even get to the scandalous row over diversity. Elsewhere, there's Star Wars: The Force Awakens' very own John Boyega in Attack The Block (23:35, Film4), while Darren Aronofsky's ambitious but bonkers Noah hits Netflix.

Host Seth Macfarlane oozes class at the Oscars in 2013.

The last five films I've seen, from best to worst...
1. Weekend (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967) The New Wave maestro at the top of his game: provocative, outrageous and bloody funny.
2. The Survivalist (Stephen Fingleton, 2015) Bleak but gripping British post-apocalypse drama that works wonders on a low budget. 
3. Goosebumps (Rob Letterman, 2015) Monsters from the famous children's books go on the rampage in an all-action adventure that might have benefited from a bit more Gremlins-style anarchy.
4. Life During Wartime (Todd Solondz, 2009) Solondz's 'spiritual sequel' to 1998's Happiness never hits the hilariously transgressive heights of the original film.
5. The Green Inferno (Eli Roth, 2013) Being devoured by cannibals would probably be more fun than sitting through this again.  

The Survivalist is in cinemas and on-demand now (trailer)

UK box office top 10
1. Deadpool R
2. Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip
3. Zoolander 2
4. Dad's Army
5. Goosebumps R
6. The Revenant R
7. Dirty Grandpa
8. Spotlight R
9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
10. Pride And Prejudice And Zombies

R = Recommended


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