It has not been a good week for fans of the James Bond Franchise. Earlier, the first singer to pass, of all those who had contributed a credits song was Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell at 52. Now the Big C has claimed the life of Roger Moore, the third actor to play James Bond, and the first one to shuck off this mortal coil at the age of 89. While Moore was often associated with the ‘silly phase’ of the franchise (culminating with the space romp, Moon Raker), in fact things has taken an over-the-top tone as early as the fourth film, Thunderball (1965) a few years earlier when Sean Connery still had the role. Moore had a lighter, more above-it-all, attitude that he carried throughout the 1970s and well into the 1980s. His model of 007 was clearly the template for the Pierce Brosnan era that followed in the 1990s.
Moore started his career on television, where he was involved with several series in the 1950s and 1960s, the chief among them modern day Robin Hood vigilante series, The Saint, which ran for most of the latter decade. This was often cited as the reason he got the James Bond role after Australian George Lazenby turned down long term commitments to the role after making only a single film. Moore went on to make seven 007 films over twelve years, starred in a few other (forgettable) action films in both the UK and the US concurrent to his lengthy stint as the worlds most famous super spy. He went into retirement after 1985’s A View To A Kill, popping out for charity work (Unicef, PETA) or the occasional sly casting in parodies of spy films.
Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman got a lot of attention earlier this year when the film’s cast and crew boycotted the Academy Awards in protest over US President Donald Trump’s order which blocked entry of citizens from Iran and six other Muslim-majority countries to the U.S. This boycott also prompted a free screening of the film in Trafalgar Square in London in a sign of solidarity. Following this, The Salesman went on to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. The cynic in me felt the film maybe won the award due to the stand made, but, having loved Farhadi’s A Separation from 2011, I thought I’d better see for myself whether or not it deserved the accolade.
The Salesman sees married couple Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) and Emad (Shahab Hosseini), who are currently acting together in a production of ‘Death of a Salesman’, forced to move to a friend’s apartment temporarily after their apartment block is badly damaged and deemed dangerous. In this new accommodation, Rana is assaulted after she mistakenly buzzes someone in, thinking they’re her husband. She is deeply affected by the attack, but doesn’t want to bring the police into it, afraid of the shame that will come upon her when asked to speak of the incident and testify about what happened. Emad is out for revenge though and investigates himself. He discovers the apartment’s previous tenant was a prostitute and the attacker was likely one of her clients expecting his usual treatment. He also finds they left their pickup truck outside so locks it in the block’s garage, in the hope of catching the owner when they return to pick it up. As Emad gets closer to finding the culprit, he drifts further away from his wife, who doesn’t want the man found. She just wants Emad to be there for her and help her come to terms with what happened.
We’ve come full circle. The Cinecast started with an argument on Alien and almost ten years later it continues with an argument about Alien: Covenant(SPOILERS!). Almost ninety minutes of chatting about the inner-workings of Ridley Scott’s brain and his plan for the current state of, and future of the Alien franchise. Something things to love, some things that aren’t quite as lovely. But rest assured with double the Fassbender, there is a lot to discuss here. After that, we try to rank out the order of Fincher’s filmography should be exposed to children after some talk on Zodiac. Our beloved Romancing the Stone makes another Cinecast appearance as well as Mendelsohn and Reynolds grinding through Mississippi. And hey Tarantino’s breakout hit is actually a master class in editing. We talk about the kids’ experience with “R” rated material and remember our own childhoods and being turned away from the multiplex for not having the proper ID.
Turns out the Alien franchise is a nice morning warm-up and we’re happy to share it with you. But beware of face-huggers and SPOILERS! As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!
Director: David Lynch Screenplay: David Lynch Starring: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux, Robert Forster Country: USA Running Time: 146 min Year: 2001 BBFC Certificate: 15
Last year, BBC Culture ran a survey of 177 film critics from around the world to determine what they felt were greatest films of the 21st Century. The well-publicised results found David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive claiming the top spot. It rejuvenated interest in the film, particularly as Lynch’s continuation of his Twin Peaks series was announced around the time. Studiocanal jumped on this by giving the film a new restoration and re-releasing it on Blu-Ray with a few added special features. I haven’t seen the film since the early 2000s, shortly after its original home release, so I’ve been keen to give it a rewatch, particularly with all the Lynch love going around with the new series of Twin Peaks starting last night. This gave me the opportunity I was after then, so here are my thoughts on the film.
Giving a synopsis of Mulholland Drive is a tricky business, as it might depend on your interpretation of the plot and the latter third in particular gets pretty surreal. However, to avoid spoilers or debatable interpretations of the film, I’ll focus on the basic setup in the first half. Here we see an actress, later referred to as Rita (Laura Harring), escape being shot when she’s involved in a car accident on the titular Hollywood road. She’s left with amnesia and wanders into an apartment currently occupied by wannabe actress Betty (Naomi Watts), who just arrived in town. Betty wants to help Rita, so the two set about investigating, to find out who she is and what happened to her. Meanwhile, film director Adam (Justin Theroux) is struggling to get his latest project off the ground as some shady mafia types seem to have a stranglehold over production, forcing him to hire an actress as the lead against his will. His life is further troubled by the discovery of his wife in bed with another man. His path converges with the two actresses later on, as their journey takes increasingly dark and puzzling turns.
In a slight change of pace for the crew, in addition to huge amounts of television, this past month we’ve also been watching a heck of a lot of movies.
Join us as Colleen, Dale (Letterboxd) and I (Letterboxd) touch base on what we’ve been watching, reading and listening to and this month including some minor gushing about a couple of shows with Canadian ties.
Cannes is happening now, and as per every year it looks like the festival has a diverse and wonderful line up. This includes the latest from “New Greek Weird” standard bearer, Yorgos Lanthimos. And the poster designed for its festival debut is easily my favourite one sheet of the year. Look at those glorious vertical lines, that create a medical space that absolutely dwarf Colin Farrell. White matting, and some strange varied typesetting on the mouthful of a title, which of course involves an animal, as per Lanthimos’ previous films, Dogtooth and The Lobster. Speaking of the latter, Farrell was so good in that film as the dumpy protagonist, he is again collaborating with the director. If this poster is any indication of the tone and style, expect great things for The Killing of A Sacred Deer.
With the huge popularity of the rebooted Star Trek films, I suppose it was inevitable that another go at a series would ensue. Hello to Jason Isaacs!
After the somewhat mediocre response to the last outing with Scott Bakula and company, I can only imagine that the game will be seriously upped for this endeavor. Bigger budget, better effects, higher profile cast and for the love of God get that opening theme song into something that won’t make people put between the sofa cushions!
Star Trek: Discovery has a lot of notable names and familiar faces but honestly… give me Michelle Yeoh commanding a starship and the rest of it can be filled with Tribbles for all I care. I think this is going to be a lot of fun though – and hopefully thoughful as well. Of course it could all end up imploding under the weight of the new movies, but with TV what it has been as of late, I’m fairly optimistic for this new series going
There are too many mediocre music docs. This is definitely NOT one of those. Amazon Prime financed Amir Bar-Lev’s epic four-hour Grateful Dead documentary, which was built almost entirely out of unearthed archived video. And if you have seen the official Grateful Dead archive, it looks (I’m not kidding) a lot like that Area 51 matte painting in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Long Strange Trip starts out when Jerry Garcia is a teenager, and ends with his death in 1995, and in between it (somehow) acts as both a primer for novices, and a very specific set of images and information for experts. I caught it at Hot Docs and it played like gangbusters with an enthusiastic (and greying) crowd. Also, the bands first Tour Manager has a voice that is dead-on Michael Caine, so even in the talking heads segments you are in good hands.
The 30-year odyssey of the Grateful Dead was the most unlikely success story in rock ’n’ roll history. Famously averse to publicity and seemingly incapable of recording radio-friendly hits, they flouted music-industry convention by giving their live music away to a global network of tape traders and becoming the highest-grossing concert act in America through word of mouth alone.
Long Strange Trip is the first full-length documentary to explore the fiercely independent vision, perpetual innovation, and uncompromising commitment to their audience that made the Bay Area band one of the most influential musical groups of their generation. Artfully assembling candid interviews with the band, road crew, family members and notable Deadheads (including Minneapolis Senator Al Frankin), director Bar-Lev reveals the untold history of the Dead and the freewheeling psychedelic subculture that sprouted up around it. The film also provides poignant insight into the psyche of late lead guitarist Jerry Garcia, whose disdain for authority clashed with his de facto leadership of the sprawling collective that kept the show on the road.
With a soundtrack that captures some of the band’s most dynamic live performances as well as unguarded offstage moments and never-before-seen interviews, footage and photos, Long Strange Trip explores the Dead’s singular experiment in radically eclectic music making. Much more than the “behind the music” backstory of an exceptionally talented and beloved group of musicians, the film is at once an inspiring tale of unfettered artistic expression, a heartfelt American tragedy, and an incisive history of the rise and fall of 20th-century counterculture.
Amazon Studios is giving the film a limited release in NY & LA on May 26th, and across the country in select theaters for single night playdates, but if you have Amazon Prime, Long Strange Trip will be available worldwide on that streaming platform on June 2nd.