With the recent success of Skyfall, I decided to do another post on an aspect of the franchise. Whenever I go to see a Bond movie, I am always looking forward to the title sequence. It is one of those things that really puts you in the mood for the movie and establishes everything about the movies; the girls, the guns and the action. Over the years since Maurice Binder blazed a trail with his innovative work, the title sequences have become an integral part to the franchise. So todays question is what are your favourite title sequences from the Bond movies and why? Whatever your opinion please give it.
007, 2010's, 50th Anniversary, Action, Adele, Adventure, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Berenice Marlohe, Daniel Craig, James Bond, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Naomie Harris, Ola Rapace, Ralph Fiennes, Roger Deakins, Sam Mendes, Skyfall, Spy
- Daniel Craig as James Bond
- Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva
- Judi Dench as M
- Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory
- Naomie Harris as Eve
- Berenice Marlohe as Severine
- Ben Whishaw as Q
- Ola Rapace as Patrice
- Albert Finney as Kincade
Skyfall is the 23rd entry into the James Bond series and this year celebrates the 50 years 007 has been on our screens. As many of my followers will know I’m a huge fan of the James Bond series, but I promise I’ll try to make this review as objective as possible. But even if you are not a fan, you can’t ignore the staggering success that the series has attained over it’s 50 year run. Over these years the films have showcased many exciting missions, amazingly beautiful women and maniacal villains, many of which have become a part of popular culture. If there was any doubt that the series couldn’t recover after the underwhelming Quantum Of Solace, then look no further than Skyfall that makes a spectacular return to form on the 50th Anniversary. Anyway, back to my review of the film.
The film starts with Bond and a sexy field agent named Eve, pursuing a mercenary in Istanbul who has a device that contains the identity of NATO agents. Right from the start, the atmosphere is thrilling and gripping, as the chase moves from cars to foot and eventually the top of a train. It is the perfect way to start the film. On the command of M, Eve armed with a sniper shoots intending to hit the target who is grappling with Bond. Instead she hits 007, who in turn falls into the river and is presumed dead. The scene is rounded of as Bond falls into an atmospheric title sequence accompanied by the sound of Adele’s title song, which harks back to the early Bond songs.
As a result of her judgment and command, M is pressured to resign by Government chairman Mallory. Then, MI6 is hacked and a bomb is set off at the headquarters, killing many of the workers. Meanwhile, Bond is “enjoying death” in some corner of the globe, a shadow of his old self. When he hears of the attack, he returns to duty to uncover the source of terror on M. It appears that M made an enemy of a former agent, Raoul Silva, who in turn wants personal and sadistic revenge on his former boss. What ensures is a thrilling, action packed and character driven film that firmly establishes Bond as a force that is here to stay.
What is great upon viewing the film is its neat balance of action and character development. Sam Mendes, best known for directing American Beauty, makes an assured entry into the Bond canon. All of the leading players involved in the film deserve some credit. Daniel Craig’s third movie features a great performance that shows both the vulnerable and tough sides to James Bond.As the flamboyant, sadistic and utterly menacing Silva, Javier Bardem is outstanding in a role that fits him like a glove. In my book, he is sure to go down as a memorable adversary for Bond. Judi Dench gives a commanding performance as M, as she is pivotal to the story and Dench rises to the challenge of having a larger role with ease. We finally get an insight into this commanding woman, both as a person and as the boss. No Bond film would be complete without the women. Naomie Harris provides a sexy presence as a field agent who playfully spars with Bond. Die hard fans should watch for a neat twist involving her character. The other girl, Berenice Marlohe has the smaller role but is equally as sexy and adds mystery to her character of Severine. My only quibble with her character is that it would have been better if her role had been expanded a little more. Sterling support is provided by Ralph Fiennes and Ben Whishaw, who makes an amusing and geeky young Q for this generation of fans. Albert Finney also appears as someone from Bond’s past and steals the scenes that he has.
The cinematography by Roger Deakins is exemplary in the way it captures the mood of the film and accentuates emotions with his use of colour. The locations and set pieces used are also amazing to the eye, such as the scene of Bond grappling with an enemy against a back drop of electric blue jellyfish and an exotic casino equipped with deadly Komodo dragons.
All that I have left to say is this, Skyfall is an exciting, gripping and action packed film with all the right ingredients and references to the early Bond movies. Even if you are not a fan of the series, see it as soon as you can as you won’t regret it.
- Catherine Deneuve as Carol Ledoux
- Yvonne Furneaux as Helen Ledoux
- Ian Hendry as Michael
- John Fraser as Colin
- Patrick Wymark as Landlord
Commonly seen as one of the best examples of psychological horror, Polanski’s Repulsion still remains an unsettling tale of one woman’s descent into mental ruin. Atmospheric and horrific in equal measure, it is a film that leaves a deep impression on the viewer and makes them ask many questions when the film has finished. Polanski has fashioned a film that takes the place where most people feel safe, the home, and turned it into a nightmare of the senses. The use of this is eerily effective and makes the whole film more plausible and supremely chilling.
Carol Ledoux is a young manicurist from France who lives with her sister in a London apartment. Although highly attractive, she is sexually unaware and repulses all men for an unexplained reason. She practically day dreams her way through the day, barely making conversation with anyone and rejecting the gestures of her suitor. When her more confident sister ,Helen mentions she is going away on a trip with her smarmy boyfriend, Carol is filled with panic at the thought of being left alone. Dismissing her sisters worry as her being merely sensitive, Helen leaves Carol by herself. What ensures is a shocking disintegration of Carol’s mind, as her fears become a reality in the squalid apartment and she slowly but surely starts to crumble in a macabre fashion.
A young Catherine Deneuve is heartbreaking and pitch perfect as the repressed, withdrawn and frigid Carol. Her character does not talk much, but her face and body shows every confused and emotional thing she is going through and makes her startling performance both frightening and intense. The whole film is anchored by her portrayal and keeps the viewer glued as she sinks deeper and deeper into a delusional mental state. She is most effective when her face is almost catatonic and her eyes don’t betray what she is feeling, this makes the audience wonder what is really going on in her head. The camerawork should be praised, the way it follows Carol like a stalking predator adds to the paranoia she suffers and the unsettling feeling she feels around men in society. The music used is interesting because of its piercing changes in tempo and sound that give only subtle insights into the troubled and confused mind of Carol; many other uses of sound are used to add to the isolation such as an unanswered phone ringing and the sound of bells from the nunnery behind the apartment taking on a sinister tone before the midnight hour. Everyday objects such as a crack in the wall and the constant ticking of a clock become forms of torture as she continues to crumble into a catatonic state and hallucinate about the thing around her.
A genuinely chilling story of delusion, repression and isolation that slowly builds its way up to a violent climax, Repulsion is psychological filmmaking at its best. If you enjoy this film, then you can’t go wrong with the rest of Polanski’s Apartment Trilogy, consisting of Rosemary’s Baby and The Tenant. These films continue with themes similar to Repulsion and make for nerve shredding viewing.
- Mickey Rourke as Harry Angel
- Robert De Niro as Louis Cyphre
- Lisa Bonet as Epiphany Proudfoot
- Charlotte Rampling as Margaret Kruesmark
An unsettling mix of noir and supernatural thriller, Angel Heart contains many visually indelible images and a highly atmospheric score that linger long in the memory. Although polarizing and controversial upon release, in no small part to a graphic love scene, Angel Heart is much more than that. It may seem like style over substance and lacking subtlety, but if you look closer it has a nail-biting premise that culminates in a shocking and unexpected finale. Angel Heart is not a film for everyone, in particular the faint hearted but there is no denying its shock power, sense of creepy atmosphere and memorable lead performance by a young Mickey Rourke.
It is 1955, New York. Harry Angel is an unkempt private detective who is often contacted for simple cases. One day he is contacted by a lawyer whose client wants help with an interesting job. The client is the elegant yet strangely sinister Louis Cyphre, who Harry meets in a church in Harlem. He informs Harry of Johnny Favourite, a crooner during the war who suffered horrific injuries and hasn’t been seen in a long time. Cyphre had a deal which he cryptically talks about that he had with the crooner that he wishes to resolve. He wants Angel to find out simply if Johnny is alive or dead. Harry takes the case, but as he investigates further into Johnny’s life in New Orleans and meets the sexy and mysterious Epiphany Proudfoot, a growing sense of creepiness and uncertainty begins to surround it. His questions are met with hush-hush replies and strange occurrences begin happening as a result of Angel’s curiosity with the crooner. He also becomes caught up in the Voodoo of Johnny’s past and he is plagued by weird dreams that make no sense to him at all.
Special praise should go to the cinematography that captures the darkness and sweltering atmosphere that Harry uncovers through the course of the film. The film is also sonically intriguing, making the simplest of sounds such as the clattering of feet and the turning of a fan sound sinister. A young Mickey Rourke both shows the tough and vulnerable side to Harry, making the audience relate to him and what he is going through. His scenes with De Niro are fantastic and memorable. Robert De Niro relishes the role of Cyphre and plays him with a creepy and cryptic menace that is quite unsettling. Shedding her good girl image of The Cosby Show, Lisa Bonet is enigmatic and sexy as the Voodoo priestess and daughter of one of Johnny’s conquests. Charlotte Rampling is an interesting and mystical presence in her small role as a wronged fortune-teller whose heart was broken by the crooner.
All in all, Angel Heart is a visually intriguing and doom laden movie that takes many twists and turns as it escalates. As I’ve mentioned earlier, the film is not for everyone. But if you like a thriller with a supernatural edge and bizarre images, this is the film I would recommend.