The Shape of Water

January 28, 2018 at 12:58 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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A well crafted Guillermo del Toro movie. It is not a mainstream movie – more of a indie one. The staging, lighting, framing – cinematography (?) – and the costumes created a comic feel to the film. The good guys are ‘bright’, the bad guys are ‘black and grey’.

The plot at its most basic is a love story, that manifests itself as a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ story. Romeo is a ‘fish-man’; his ‘adoptive’ family a secretive US government agency; his home a secret US government facility – that is a huge tilt to James Bond (Dr No & You Only Live Twice). Juliet is a mute woman; but she is not a teenager; she works as a cleaner in the Base; she lives above a movie theatre that shows B-grade movies.

The film is a wonderful character study – or rather of various characters:

  • Elisa Esposito, played by Sally Hawkins, is the woman who falls in love with the prisoner, and breaks him out of custody;
  • Amphibian Man, played by Doug Jones, is the ‘asset’ ‘taken’ by the US government in the amazon; he is brave and noble, in the face of mistreatment and torture; he is curious and cultured; he has the mis-fortune to have lungs and gills – making him an object of interest as the space race heats up.
  • Giles, played by Richard Jenkins, is Elisa’s neighbour, down on his luck,  someone sidelined by changing world; but loyal; a reluctant accomplice to the ‘jail break’ – discovering a determination that he did not know he had.
  • Strickland, played by Michael Shannon, is the ‘man in black’; on the surface he is a loving family man, but underneath he is ruthless and remorseless – without a heart of gold.

Elisa sees the treatment handed out to the Amphibian, and sees that it is wrong. Both are unable to speak, so she teaches him sign language. Elisa and Giles represent humanity. Strickland embodies the dangers of focusing on ‘goals’ and ‘black and white’ thinking. He suppresses all emotions to get the ‘job done’. But the biggest betrayal is reserved for Strickland: when he finds that the system doesn’t recognise his years of faithful service.

Hawkins and Shannon turn in two outstanding performances. Jones, though encumbered by a full bodysuit is able to portray nobility and tenderness.

A film with an amphibian cannot be made without CGI and special effect, and there are plenty, but they don’t get in the way.

I enjoyed it. Worth a go, but not for children.



November 21, 2015 at 9:04 pm | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I went to the latest James Bond film the other day.Spectre completes the reboot of the 007 universe: the multi-national crime syndicate, that gives its name to the film, is re-introduced; its leader Blofeld is re-introduced; Bond’s beloved Astin Marton DB5 is re-surrected; and other parts of Bond’s early life filled in.

Warning: plot elements discussed.

The film seems littered with homages to previous Bond films: Bond in a white tuxedo; “shaken not stirred”; destroying yet another car; a massive brute of an adversary; driving off with ‘the girl’ in the DB5 into the sunset; it goes on. There have been so many Bond films that it must be very hard to be ‘new’. My one disappointment was that there was no Rolex watch.

This being the information age, there is a new threat: big brother – big data. The Internet-of-Things has a dark side.

Bond is ably played by Daniel Craig; Blofeld is played by Christoph Waltz; and Madeleine Swann, Bond’s love interest, is played by Léa Seydoux. Only time, and the next film, will tell if these two plot lines progress.

The re-boot has tackled some big issues: water and big data; maybe global warming is next. This being the 21st century, it would be nice to see Moneypenny, played by Naomie Harris, and Swann characters do more.


November 26, 2012 at 9:22 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I saw Skyfall the other day. This film completes the Daniel Craig re-boot of James Bond. By the end film key characters will be in-place for the next era of Bond.

Spoiler Warning – plot elements revealed.

The film fills in the missing back story of Bond’s childhood.

There is a new Q: John Cleese is a bit long in the tooth to provide a stable part of the Bond universe; instead Ben Whishaw is set up for the role – possible for life!

There is a new Moneypenny.

There is a new menace – Silva – played by Javier Bardem; he is from M’s (Dame Judi Dench) past, out to repay a betrayal. He is a new kind of villain: able to mix it with the physical stuff and a bit of a cyber wizard. As it turns out a very deadly combination.

There is a short romantic interest – played by very Eurasian looking Bérénice Marlohe.

Despite the cyber-terrorism theme, Bond returns to the basics: Q issues him with a gun and a radio. Gone are the gadgets of the past. Even, the Aston Martin DB5 makes a welcome return. There is a quiet question that hangs through the film: are the old values and approaches appropriate in the new world?

It is a Daniel Craig James bond, so it is gritty.

Hopefully no komodo dragon were hurt in the making of this movie.

Quantum of Solace

January 6, 2009 at 12:24 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Even though I had not seen the prequel – Casino Royale, I had a spare two hours, so I went to see Marc Forster’s take on James Bond: Quantum of Solace.

Warning: plot elements revealed

December 30, 2008 by

Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
New Zealand

This film is advertised as picking up exactly where Casino Royale left off, so I wasn’t surprised when the film starts with a car chase – but then again it is not an uncommon way to start a movie these days. Bond (Daniel Craig) is back in an Aston Martin being chased by two black Alfa Romeos – bullets fly, the police get involved, cars crash, Bond gets away.

The surprise is that there is someone in the boot; the bad guys were after Bond’s captive. But before MI6 can interrogate the captive, a mole within MI6 takes out the interrogation team and security team, and almost kills M (Judi Dench).

And so this recreation of James Bond shows us – the audience – a glimpse of the recreated Smersh. Much of the film is used to develop the concept that there is a global conspiracy – MI6’s has a ‘new’ nemesis – Quantum.

Revenge is the theme of this film. Bond encounters Camille (Oleg Kurylenko) a young women scarred physically and mentally, out to avenge the brutal murder of her family. Bond is out to revenge the deaths of: Vesper, killed in Casino Royale; Fields (Gemma Arterton), killed to frame Bond; and Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini), killed to frame Bond. Inevitably Bond and Camille pair up – the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Fields’ death is quite unpleasant, drowned in crude oil, and appears to be Forster’s tip-of-the-hat to Goldfinger. Fields is found naked, covered in oil, on a bed; very remanisant of Jill Masterton (Shirley Eaton) painted in gold.

The film is has a very fast pace, and feels like one long chase. The end has the inevitable showdown in the desert, with bullets and bodies flying. The very end shows that Bond has not been consumed by his need for revenge, or perhaps that there are other ways to get revenge, than just killing someone.

Daniel Craig certainly brings a hard edge to Bond.

I thought the ‘bodies in the sand’ lead in, at the beginning of the film, very innovative and very relevant – Quantum are out to corner all of the water in Bolivia.


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