Review; Trouble with the Curve

A pile of cliches assembled with all the creative flair of an IKEA catalogue.

Review: The Hunt

Thomas Vinterberg's drama demonstrates how a single word can destroy a life. Devastating brilliant. Brilliantly devastating.

Review: Great Expectations

Do we need another adaptation of Dickens' novel? Mike Newell's cracking young cast convince us we do.

Review: End of Watch

It's not a good cop movie, or a bad cop movie - it's a really, really good cop movie.

Review: Sighteers

Ben Wheatley's new film is Natural Born Caravanners - and suffers from all the problems that title suggests.

Rust and Bone

It’s like watching a French Free Willy. The whale never escapes. The trainer loses her legs. Everyone stays miserable. But this is strangely uplifting stuff.

James Bond Cupcakes

We celebrate Bond's 50th the only one way we know how: with some 007 cupcakes.

Skyfall review

Skyfall isn't a Bond movie. It's a movie about Bond. And that's something very special indeed.


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BlogalongaBond: Skyfall (2012) Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Thursday, 29 November 2012 16:06

Skyfall title

Well, this is it. After 23 long months – some longer than others *cough* Roger Moore *cough* - BlogalongaBond is at an end. But before you start holding your breath and counting to 10, there’s still the matter of Skyfall to discuss...


Right from the off, I suspected that Skyfall would be a lot like Spooks. I left the cinema convinced that I was right (see a Skyfall review here). London locations, a relatively low-key plot (i.e. no raking the moon or jet packs) and a lot of emphasis on Her Majesty’s Secret head honcho. In a similar vein to the BBC’s character-driven espionage, Skyfall wasn’t a Bond movie: it was a movie about Bond.

And how. After Casino Royale’s prequel-of-sorts, Daniel Craig’s Bond films have all found themselves in the same cycle of 007 finding himself. First, he becomes a hardened bastard. Then, he gets revenge. Finally, he gets a secretary. They’re all obsessed with moving the psychological/bureaucratic pieces back into starting position ready for Bond's future. Skyfall doesn’t do it as well as Casino Royale but it arguably feels the most complete.

Whether you buy the idea that Bond has suddenly become an OAP dinosaur (dinOAP?) just two films after his initial promotion doesn’t matter; Sam Mendes is having too much fun exploring the mythology of it all. And fans of the franchise do too. Is 007 just a title passed on down the MI5 production line? Before going all Alex Trevelyan, did Silva (the wonderfully sexy Javier Bardem) once bear the moniker, as he did M’s affections? And what exactly did happen between Bond and Moneypenny in Shanghai?

Ah yes, Naomie Harris’ transformation from gun-toting agent to “You’re right, James, I’m a woman, I’m not good enough to be out in the field”. It’s a massive cock-up of her character arc, but let’s face it: there’s not really room for more than one female in Neil Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan’s script. And that Bond girl is M.

M’s relationship with 007, played out with doting maternal overtones, builds beautifully on the Brosnan period’s development of her role (thank goodness Purvis and Wade stuck around after Die Another Day). These days, The Dench is the most important part of James' emotional jigsaw after Vesper Lynd. Judi’s death at the end of Skyfall is this generation’s Tracy, a loss given a post-Brosnan spin that allows Bond a GoldenEye-esque stab at revenge. It’s a smart move that rounds his rebooted character off – hopefully curing him of prequelitis once and for all – but also sets the stage for Ralph Fiennes’ new boss.

As Mallory sits there in his padded leather office, plucking his braces and swigging his Scotch, you wonder what exactly he does all day when Bond’s not in the office. The answer is quite simple: he reads this educational pamphlet I found underneath my seat in the cinema.

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Christmas Movie Cupcakes; It's a Wonderful Life Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Tuesday, 18 December 2012 06:53

It's a Wonderful life cupcake

It was only a few years ago that I saw It's a Wonderful Life for the first time - and amazingly, it lived up to its reputation. There's something brilliant about a Christmas film for all the family that starts off so bleak and miserable before leaping back into feel-good territory. It's like Scrooge, but with an even more tragic first act. And what better way to celebrate Jimmy Stewart's change of heart than with a cupcake?

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Advent Calendar 2012: Now That's What I Call Christmas Movie Music! (1990s) Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Sunday, 16 December 2012 15:05



With Home Alone and Home Alone 2, Chris Columbus set the standard for the modern Christmas movie - and it's rarely been bettered since. The same is true of John Williams' fantastic soundtrack, which leaps from sinister to sweet by way of beautiful choirs and tinkly celestas. It's a flawless album. 

But while the current array of Christmas cinematic offerings are slim, the 90s saw a surprising number of contenders for Home Alone's crown. From Danny Elfman's The Nightmare Before Christmas to The Muppet Christmas Carol's carol-referencing score by Paul Williams (the guy who also scored Bugsy Malone and The Muppet Movie), the decade contains most of my favourite Christmas music - it's a veritable goldmine of festive tunes. 

So today's Advent Calendar post is an hour-long compilation of the best Christmas movie soundtracks from the 1990s. And before you ask, yes, of course it includes Kermit the Frog scatting.


(Requires Spotify)


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Film review: Life of Pi Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Wednesday, 19 December 2012 15:39
Life of Pi film review
Director: Ang Lee
Cast: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Rafe Spall
Certificate: 12A

A lot of people believe that Life of Pi is a five-star masterpiece, one of the best films of the year, that it proves that 3D is the future of cinema. I'm going to tell you why.

Yann Martel's Booker Prize-winning book was already a literary giant, feted by critics and punters alike. The tale of a boy, Pi, who ends up shipwrecked with nowt but a rowing boat and a tiger for company, it's presented as an anecdote by an adult narrator, who promises his listener (Spall) the story will convince him to believe in God. Can the novel’s structure be replicated on screen?

In short, yes. Ang Lee's adaptation is faithful to the letter. That's part of the problem. A story about storytelling, told by a storyteller, David Magee’s script is soon adrift in a sea of voiceover.

Fortunately, once stranded, that leaves us with Suraj Sharma, whose debut performance is nothing short of magnetic. Whether he’s hallucinating, trying to catch food or merely gazing at luminous fish, Sharma’s natural openness makes for a likeable lone survivor.

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