7:00 PM, 2nd March, 2013
Yes, everything you’ve heard about this film is true. Skyfall is without a doubt one of the best Bond films ever made. It’s a smart, stripped-down, visually stunning spectacle of a film that both celebrates and reinvigorates the fifty-year-young spy franchise – hopefully – for many years to come.
The film begins with Bond (Craig) on the trail of a hard drive containing the identities of agents working undercover in terrorist organisations. When the drive is lost, M (Dench) comes under fire from the chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee (Fiennes) who pressures her to resign. Her tenure soon becomes the least of her worries, however, when MI6 is attacked and her past comes back to haunt her with a vengeance.
Director Sam Mendes shakes and stirs the series’ traditional tropes of girls, gadgets and guns to produce a sophisticated cocktail of gripping action and intelligent thrills. The action sequences are all elegantly staged – no shaky cam here! – and the camerawork is awe-inspiring thanks to Mendes regular and cinematographer extraordinaire Roger Deakins. The cast – Dench, Fiennes and in particular Bardem as one of the most gleefully unhinged Bond villains ever – are superb; but this is a Bond film, and Craig certainly delivers in that regard too.
It may have taken us twenty-three films (with a couple of duds in between) to get here, but Skyfall is an instant classic that deserves to be seen multiple times – and on the big screen at the Film Group, naturally!
9:38 PM, 2nd March, 2013
Isaac Asimov was a renaissance man who wrote more than 500 books covering all ten categories in the Dewey decimal system. But Asimov is best known as a science-fiction writer, particularly for his robot stories. Film versions of these robots are not always successful – one need look no further than Robin Williams in Bicentennial Man for evidence of that. The good news is that Robot and Frank is a superb adaptation, with a robot butler much more faithful to the original text.
Frank Langella (who was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of ex-President Nixon in Frost/Nixon) superbly plays the title role of Frank, an elderly man suffering from progressive dementia. Frank’s son Hunter (Marsden) is able to give his father a robot butler (smoothly voiced by Sarsgaard) to perform Frank’s household chores. The robot also keeps Frank focused by encouraging and assisting Frank to prepare and perform projects. It is the irregular nature of those projects which propels the plot, as Frank soon hatches bigger plans for his robot than simple chores…
An odd couple buddy-comedy, with a sentimental heart and a powerful performance from Langella, this is a charming exploration of a man’s attempts to stay young the best way he can in a body that is failing him.