By Barbara Vancheri
DIRECTOR: Sam Mendes
CAST: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux
A character speaks for the audience when he says, “It’s good to have you back, 007.”
Spectre may not be the best Bond picture ever or even the best one starring Daniel Craig, but it is indeed good to have 007 back. It pays homage to villains past and present, underscores the evolution of the Bond girl into Bond woman and addresses modern-day worries about surveillance and technology squeezing out agents with a license to kill. Or not kill.
It features a Sam Smith song, Writing’s on the Wall, returns Ben Whishaw as gadget guru Q, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny and Ralph Fiennes as M, and stages chases on land and in the air — at the same time in one scene.
If this is Craig’s final Bond (and that has yet to be decided), he goes out in figurative and literal style, thanks to impeccably tailored Tom Ford suits reminiscent of 1960s fashions. He pairs a white dinner jacket and danger for one bruising scene while a companion is clad in a sultry dusty green gown that seems to materialise out of nowhere. Bond also tools around, for a while, in an Aston Martin DB10 concept car that will have auto enthusiasts salivating into their buttered popcorn.
Spectre opens with a portentous on-screen message declaring, “The dead are alive” that gives way to the macabre, musical merriment of the Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City. The costumed skeleton marchers, paper brides and floats soon make way for an epic pursuit involving Bond and a villain who tries to escape by helicopter.
But 007 muscles his way into the craft, and the men slug it out on the rails of the chopper, which perilously spins over and buzzes the panicked crowd. Bond gets his man — and the helicopter — along with a ring that will grant him access to a sinister, secret organisation known as Spectre.
Back in London, however, Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott), the new head of the Centre for National Security, tells M, “We’re going to bring British intelligence out of the darkness into the light,” and that means relying on machines more than man. That feeds into the movie’s exploration of questions of trust along with Bond being forced to revisit faces of friends and foes from the past.
Spectre rewards long-time and shorter-term fans of the franchise who will recognise nefarious characters from Daniel Craig’s watch and touchstones from Sean Connery’s era. New players in the mix include Christoph Waltz as a brilliant baddie, Lea Seydoux and Monica Bellucci as the beauties who enter Bond’s life, and former professional wrestler Dave Bautista as a henchman who looks like he could really hurt 007 or anyone else for that matter.
Sam Mendes, who directed Skyfall, returns for Spectre, a rather chilly affair despite the deeply cut emotions and stakes. But it feels big, bold and topical and raises questions about James Bond, whose apartment here looks barely occupied, having a life instead of a death-defying mission.
It is good to have him back. —The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS
A warm, winning journey
By Kenneth Turan
FILM: Meet the Patels
DIRECTORS: Geeta Patel, Ravi Patel
CAST: Chandar Abboy, Renita Abboy, Rishika Advani
Meet the Patels is the unlikeliest of success stories. It’s a documentary that began as a home movie and ended up a warm and funny feature. It turned one man’s culturally specific journey into a lively and engaging universal story made with an unmistakable sense of fun.
But Meet the Patels is more than just a hoot. Its candour and empathy allow it to make keen points about love, marriage, family and the unexpected complications that American freedoms can bring to immigrant lives.
Front and centre in this endeavour is Ravi Patel, whose story this is and who co-directed the film with his sister Geeta (who is also the cinematographer) and who co-stars in it with his parents, Champa and Vasant. Meet the Patels is a family affair from beginning to end.
Before we meet the Patels in person, the film begins with a cartoon version of Ravi (animated by Jim Richardson) talking to the camera and bringing us up to date on the back story of his life.
A first-generation Indian-American, Ravi reveals that just before filming began he broke up with his first serious girlfriend, the red-haired, non-Indian Audrey.
Not only that, Ravi’s immigrant parents, fixated on his marrying an Indian, were never told of Audrey’s existence, so “in Mom and Dad’s eyes, I’ve never had a girlfriend.” To be approaching 30 without ever having had marriage prospects is a family crisis of the first water. As father Vasant tells him, “Not getting married is the biggest loser you can be.”
In broad outline, of course, this story is not an unfamiliar one, but two things make it special, starting with Ravi’s live-wire personality.
Ravi is a working actor and comedian who has an antic presence and a fine deadpan face, and his sharp and funny voice-over (heard both over the footage his sister shot and speaking to the audience in the animation) is a high-energy component that unifies the film.
Ravi’s appealing comic charisma sets the tone of Meet the Patels, leading to such elements as bright yellow arrows that point out amusing things on-screen and lots of brief interviews with both Ravi’s friends and his parents’ friends about Adventures in Matchmaking, Indian Style.
The second factor that makes Meet the Patels so attractive is the detailed specificity of both Ravi’s immediate family and the broader Indian cultural context everyone is rooted in.
Both Vasant, a self-made success whose favourite phrase is “look at me now,” and his acerbic mother, Champa, of all things a celebrated matchmaker in her home village, are vivid characters.
Happy veterans of a 35-year arranged marriage that was agreed to after a single 10-minute meeting (“Some people date and get married; we did it the opposite,” his father explains), they are understandably high on that process and want Ravi to give it a try.
Adding to the complications is the unavoidable fact that Ravi is a Patel, which makes him “unconditionally part of the biggest family in the world.” Ravi’s parents expect him to marry another member of the clan, which is based in a 50-square-mile radius in India’s Gujurat province but which now boasts Patels all over the world.
Meet the Patels begins with sequences that took place during a family visit to India, a visual record whose shaky cinematography (Geeta was just learning to use the camera) becomes one of the film’s unexpectedly amusing aspects. — Los Angeles Times/TNS
An all new Jesse Stone movie
FILM: Jesse Stone: Lost in Paradise
DIRECTOR: Robert Harmon
CAST: Tom Selleck, Kohl Sudduth, Gloria Reuben
Paradise police chief Jesse Stone takes some well-deserved vacation time and chooses to spend it in Boston, where the Assistant State Homicide Commander, Lieutenant Sydney Greenstreet, aware of his previous experience as an LA Homicide detective, has sought his expertise in evaluating a packet of cold case murders. His cop-ly intuition leads him to a case that has already been closed, but when something about it catches his eye, it sets him off on an investigation filled with surprises, unlikely suspects and grave danger.
Saqr Entertainment Stores, Doha
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