Prestigious Bond Torches Mononoke’s Labyrinthine Wood

They don’t mention it in the small print, but blogging software comes with invisible mind control coding which infiltrates your synaptic networks and gradually makes you believe that other people really, really need to hear your opinion on things. My resistance to this malign effect is temporarily faltering, so here’s a movie/TV round-up.

Casino Royale: enjoyed it more than any Bond movie I’ve seen in a while (and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank those responsible for the two very fine Bourne movies – they pretty much forced the Bond producers to reconsider what they’ve been doing to the franchise over the last decade or more). It’s not perfect by any means – a bit too long, I thought, and it loses some of its energy and direction in the last half hour or so – but its strengths more than compensate. Daniel Craig is definitely one of those strengths. Not sure how those who’ve grown up liking their Bond movies more OTT than this are going to feel about it, but all in all Casino Royale’s rekindled my virtually comatose interest in things 007ish.

The Prestige: loved the book (highly recommend it if anyone’s looking for something to read), and the film’s a good interpretation of such a complex, atmospheric text. Hugh Jackman’s on pretty good form, but the director’s the real star: Christopher Nolan might have made a bad film at some point, but if so, I haven’t seen it.

Pan’s Labyrinth: definitely memorable. A mix of visually striking fantasy elements and really quite brutal and very definitely non-fantastical strife set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. Recommended, so long as you have a reasonably high tolerance for witnessing physical and emotional distress. A distinctively European film – where else could you get quite the same rich stew of fairy stories and vicious 20th century history to draw upon? Well, Asia probably. Speaking of which …

Princess Mononoke: anime, watched on DvD. Man vs. Nature, in a very literal sense. It’s got something – can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but it’s definitely something. It feels, at times, like myth-making of considerable power, and despite its occasional oddities (to Western eyes, at least) in terms of plotting and character motivation/development, it never comes across as anything other than grown-up film-making. Some of the animation is exquisite, too.

Torchwood: the US gets Buffy, Angel, X-Files, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5 etc. We Brits get Torchwood: the implausible adventures of the most sex-obsessed, dim, indisciplined and downright ineffective secret investigators the world has ever seen. I mean, if these guys are all that stands between the human race and disaster, we might as well all drop everything and head down the pub to enjoy what little time we have left. Actually, the last three or so episodes have been a slight (but only slight) improvement, so things are on a bit of an upward trend. I’m still feeling a bit short-changed, though.

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