Friday, 30 November 2012


It can’t be overstated as to how subtle this film is. Like a puzzle or an enigma you are given clues as to what is happening and has happened, and who each person is in the story and what their significance is. It just takes on e further piece of information for that all to change, rather like the game Go really. The board can change from black to white, or vice versa with the introduction of piece in a particular place at a particular time. Maybe that is the best way for there to be more showing and less telling. The thing is as well here is that even when people do tell, you’re not entirely sure that they’re telling the truth.
Such is the world in Barbara, a film set inEast Germany in 1980. We are not in Berlin; we are in the provinces, away from the bright lights and the big decisions. The eponymous Barbara is a hospital doctor and we see her start a job in a new hospital, somewhat under a cloud. As I said we are left to discover how she got to get where she is, somewhat. She as well is less than happy and not too easy to trust at the beginning of the film.
We see as the film progresses that Barbara is subject to her flat and herself being searched by the police. It is these goings on that explains her nature and how she would not fully trust someone that she has only just met. We know now how insidious the workings of the Stasi were in East Germanyand we also know about how ordinary people were only to willing to inform on their friends and neighbours. I don’t know what it says about human nature when you hear that in a large number of cases this was done without a tangible reward.
The message from this film is all about choices and how those choices can give you a certain amount of freedom. It’s also about how people can enact change not just by change what’s around them by changing themselves as well. Sometimes for things and prospects to change perspective and position needs to change as well, maybe sometimes as well it’s only the slightest change that is required. I urge you to see this film.

Friday, 9 November 2012


Cinema these days seems to be obsessed by numbers. How many people have seen a film, how much did it make, how many Oscars did it win? We also see now that this is the 23rd Bond film, or the 25th, the series has been going for 50 years. That’s fifteen more than Star Wars, with six films, soon to be seven. Bond seems far more prolific even though the Quantum of Solace seems so long ago now and seemed such a long film as well.

On the other hand Skyfall seems to fly by. As with the Bonds of old the locations stack up, Istanbul, somewhere in South East Asia, Shanghai, Macau and the London Underground, etc. He visits a casino, he drinks a vodka martini, he’s given gadgets by Q, all as you would expect. In all the years of the Bond films he’s met with the uber-villain and has had a verbal spar with them. I don’t recall thigh caressing and overt flirting between them, hello!

In Sam Mendes’s hands as well we have a bit more character development of Bond and M. This is all a bit curious though as we were presented with a new agent in Casino Royale and now we have this grizzled old agent in this film. Judi Dench develops her role as M for mother, but then M has always been able to make Bond feel like a naughty schoolboy. I would say more but then I would be shot for it.

I did enjoy the film; it is after all at the top end of recent Bond films. I did also keep being reminded of the World Is Not Enough, Bond back story, M back story, Istanbul, explosions. The World Is Not Enough had Scots playing Russians; Skyfall has an Irishman playing a Scot. That’s not unique in the history of Bond though.

The film is as well beautifully shot, there are some gorgeous shots of Scotland, breath-taking views of Shanghai and exhilarating sequences in Istanbul. I also loved how the seeds were sown for Bond films in the future as well as reaching back to the past. It was also good to see a classic Aston Martin back, even though it was really shoe horned in. Bond has some of his swagger back, but this film also retains some of the recent seriousness, therefore reflecting today’s serious times, to an extent.