Month: October 2015

SPECTRE (Spoiler Free)

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Most reviews are saying “it’s good, but not as good as Skyfall” and I can see where they’re coming from. The latest Bond film – SPECTRE – is, in my opinion, the best Daniel Craig Bond film (let’s face it, best Bond film) we’ve had. If you liked the return to wisecracking charm in Skyfall then you’ll love this.

We begin a little while after M’s (Judi Dench) death at Skyfall. Bond has received a message from beyond the grave: find some guy, kill him, don’t miss the funeral. And so begins a globe-trotting mission of such personal dimensions that we suddenly realise we’ve always been heading here. If the old Bond movies were about cars and girls and secret bases it transpires that the Craig Bond films are absolutely about the man himself, his past, and his future.

Our favourites are back – from Skyfall, at least. Dench’s M appears in a sense, new M (Ralph Fiennes) puts in a spectacularly refreshing turn, given chance to leave his desk. Moneypenny (Naomi Harris) and the ever-lovable Q (Ben Wishaw) shine brighter than they did in Skyfall. The entire cast is wonderful – Belucci, Seydoux, Scott – there isn’t a dropped ball among them. And as for Christoph Waltz’s villain, Franz Obenhauser, there’s little more to say than “wow, what a threat!” (that fucking drill, man!).

I’m trying to be as vague and spoiler-free as possible here, I don’t want to spoil anything (even the things that really don’t need spoiling) so I’ll wrap up by saying this: SPECTRE is Skyfall II. SPECTRE is Craig Bond IV. And it ties the era up wonderfully, offering several heavy nods to the past (eyes open, they’re everywhere!) and wrapping a neat bow around the future. Daniel Craig is unlikely to do another Bond film and I think that SPECTRE is the perfect send-off.

SPECTRE is absolutely a concluding part to a Daniel Craig Bond Anthology but there are beginnings aplenty, both new one and revisited ones. God, I want to say so much more! Put it this way, some reviewers have complained about the plot. They’re wrong to do so. Many will say the climax is dull. It absolutely isn’t; not everything needs to be a scenic, helicopter-shot explosion orgy. Dear me, what an awful review. I’ll do a more spoilery one soon, where I can tell you WHY I think it’s such a great movie, but in the meantime GO AND SEE THIS FILM!

Mr Robot (Spoiler-Free)

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Once in a while a show comes along that slips under my radar, leaving me late to a party everyone else has been enjoying for ages. Breaking Bad, Firefly, Prison Break. There are others. But my number 1 show this year so far is hacker thriller ‘Mr Robot’.

The show charts the turbulent life of Elliot – a cyber security specialist by day, vigilante hacker by night – as he’s approached by Anonymous-a-like hacker collective fSociety, who plan to lay waste to the future of the world’s biggest and most controlling company, E Corp (or Evil Corp, as Elliot – and thus we – always hear) by encrypting their debt records beyond recovery, throwing away the key and destroying any backups; a move that isn’t the most original goal for a TV hacker group, but it by far the most realistic and ambitious.

What begins as a 21st Century critique of mass media, home computing and cultural anti-heroics rapidly spirals into a damning, terrifying exploration of the human mind, of depression and anxiety, of loneliness and of the blurred line between modern good and evil. Word is the series began life as a movie but the themes needed space to breathe. Making this a series (which was recommissioned for a second run before the first had even hit the airwaves) gives the characters the room they need to develop properly. It’s a triumphant series with unrivalled cinematography and enough twists and turns to keep us all in a state of bewildered, fevered joy and confusion. Plus, there’s not a single “3D Tron-like internal user interface with borderline AI” in sight – this is the most realistic portrayal of real-life hacking I’ve ever seen on screen.

If you haven’t seen the show, its first series is available now on Amazon Instant Video in its entirety. If the themes are your cup of tea then you will not be disappointed. Stick with it through its somewhat personal and challenging middle as the feeling of despondency and banality (which I admit I almost condemned the series for) are entirely and devastatingly relevant and necessary. Watch this show! Every performance shines – especially Christian Slater as the leader of the effervescent fSociety and Rami Malek as Elliot. Eyes open, too, for a startlingly refreshing guest appearance by Jurassic World’s very own mad dino-scientist, BD Wong.

I devoured this series in a week, but I agree with my mate Rob (who recommended it to me) that watching it over a month would offer a harder-hitting experience. Binging is great, but this one has such perfectly orchestrated pacing that I almost wanted to watch one a week in the style of “normal TV”. On finishing the series I wanted – still want – to talk and talk and talk about it, to unpick its many intricate mysteries and expand on the theories I’ve already formulated about “its future”. I may very well write a spoilery, in-depth examination of the show in the near future. If I do, be sure to have seen the show before reading, as some of the twists are huge.

Mr Robot. Every bit as good as ‘they’ keep telling you it is. Watch.

At His Second ‘People’s PMQs’ Corbyn Hits The Ground Running

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After an effective but lacking start at his first Prime Minister’s Questions before Conference Season – where he read questions sent to him by members of the public – Jeremy Corbyn is now seriously finding his feet. Today’s PMQs, the second to be formulated around questions from members of the public, was wonderful.

By reading questions the public want answered makes it difficult for boorish Cameron to dodge the raised issue or mock the questioner. To do either would simply strengthen the already almost-universal opinion that the Tories are simply out of touch with the majority of the British people.

Today Corbyn followed up his People’s Questions with detailed, informed and often cutting follow-ups, shining a light on the realities of a frightening housing shortage, planned tax credits cuts and rapidly growing inequality in the UK. Cameron seemed more interested in plugging his Chancellor’s pointless and gimmicky “fiscal charter” non-policy.

All in all, only a hard-line Tory would claim that this session of Prime Minister’s Questions was anything other than a weak and weary defeat for David Cameron – dodging facts, spinning half-truths and diverting discussion from serious public concerns in favour of party political vote-farming. In my opinion, Corbyn was more statesmanlike, more eloquent, more thorough and far more respectable.

Corbyn 1, Cameron 0.