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theatre

GoldenEye

(1995, 130 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
Director:
CAST Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, Famke Jansen, Joe Don Baker, Judi Dench, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Cumming
Classification:

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There was a six year gap after the disappointing box office performance of Licence to Kill, during which time various legal entanglements disrupted Bond’s production schedule. Timothy Dalton hung up his tuxedo and Irish-born Remingston Steel star Pierce Brosnan came in.

Brosnan had been tipped for the role for years. The most polished, handsome actor to have played the role, he was naturally suave and sohisticated, a charmer with a twinkle in his eye. This was also the first film in the series not to have any basis in Ian Fleming’s stories - though the title comes from the name of Fleming’s estate, where he wrote most of the novels. It was also the first Bond movie made after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Famke Jansen is one of the series most memorable women, Xenia Onatopp, a sadist who works for the criminal syndicate Janus. Another memorable woman, Judi Dench plays M for the first time - just a couple of years after Stella Rimington became the first woman to head the real life MI5.

Goldfinger

(1964, 110 mins)
Director:
CAST Sean Connery, Honor Blackman, Gert Frobe, Shirley Eaton, Harold Sakata, Bernard Lee
Classification:
Introduced by James Bond expert Murray Gillespie

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The Bank of England has detected an unauthorized leakage of gold from the country, and Bond is sent to investigate. The suspect is one Auric Goldfinger, the richest man in the country. His dastardly scheme involves borrowing a nuclear missile from the Chinese in order to irradiate American gold reserves in Fort Knox, thus decimating the US economy while sending the value of his own gold holdings through the roof! (Not only that, he also cheats at golf.)

As critic Kim Newman noted, Goldfinger is the point where Bond films became their own genre. It’s a supremely confident piece of masculine wish-fulfillment. 007 seduces both of Goldfinger’s babes, Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) and the memorably named (Sappho-inclined) Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman), and for his pains he’s tied to a table while a laser beam crawls up his inner thigh… There is also the bowler-hatted Korean minion Oddjob to avoid. Luckily Bond has a few cards up his sleeve too, like the ejector seat Q has installed in his Aston Martin. This is also famous for Shirley Bassey’s full-throated rendition of the John Barry theme song, "Gooold-Fin-Ger…He’s the man, the man with the Midas touch…"

"A dazzling object lesson in the principle that nothing succeeds like excess." Penelope Gilliatt

Casino Royale

(2006, 144 mins)
Director:
CAST Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffery Wright, Giancarlo Giannini
Classification:

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For Bond 21 (in the official series), the producers decided it was time for another fresh start, ditching super smooth Pierce Brosnan for Daniel Craig. Blond, muscular and pugnacious, he is closer to Sean Connery’s working class insolence than his smarmier successors. This is a utilitarian, back-to-basics Bond, a “blunt instrument”, as M puts it (echoing Fleming), stripped of the knowing smirk and salacious wink.

Which is not to say Craig’s Bond isn’t cocky – that’s his designated character flaw – but the rough edges haven’t been shaved off yet. “Shaken or stirred?” inquires a barman. “Do I look like I give a damn?” Bond shoots back.

Appropriately the vehicle for this relaunch is Ian Fleming’s first novel. “Casino Royale”, which was filmed as a spoof in 1967 though it’s no more inherently ridiculous than any of the others. The (quite faithful) modern version leans over backwards to play down series’ more decadent accoutrements: the girls, the gadgets and the gizmos. Although bad guy Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) has acquired the baroque habit of crying blood, he’s a banker looking for profit, not a megalomaniac thirsting for world domination.

Too bad for him Bond foils a plan to blow up a prototype super-sized airliner at Miami airport (the second of the film’s big three action set-pieces). After taking a bath at the stock market, Le Chiffre organizes a multi-million dollar private poker tournament to win back his dodgy clients’ money. The British Treasury stakes Bond to the tune of 10 million dollars, but sends Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) along to keep tabs on the taxpayers’ investment.

Most memorable moment? Probably the foot chase that kicks off the action. Craig huffs and puffs after a freelance terrorist/dedicated free runner all over a Madagascar building site, including up the jib of a crane. The sequence lasts a good ten minutes and climaxes with a glorious shoot-em-up in some anonymous foreign embassy. By then it’s crystal clear that this Bond means business – even if his antics do raise embarrassing questions in the House.

From Russia With Love

(1963, 115 mins, DCP)
Director:
CAST Sean Connery, Robert Shaw, Lotte Lenya, Daniela Bianchi, Bernard Lee, Pedro Armendariz, Lois Maxwell
Classification:
Introduced by Bond expert Murray Gillespie

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When MI6 gets a chance to get their hands on a Lektor decoder, Bond is sent to Turkey to seduce the beautiful Tatiana, and bring back the machine. With the help of Kerim Bey, Bond escapes on the Orient Express, but might not make it off alive.

Although producer Cubby Broccoli has said it refined what a Bond movie is, From Russia with Love is in many ways a grittier, more muscular thriller than Dr No and most of the films that followed. Working with twice the budget of Dr No, Terence Young established a more visceral edge, rooting in the movie in its principal Istanbul location and making the most of the way SPECTRE plays off Cold War enemies Russia and Great Britain in the cunning plot. The villains are a particularly memorable crew, with Lotte Lenya as Rosa Kleb ("number three"), a blond Robert Shaw as her muscular assassin, and the anonymous ’?’ as cat-loving "number one" (aka Blofeld). The highlight? Probably the brutal fight in a sleeping car compartment on a trans-europe express.

"Highly immoral in every imaginable way; it is neither uplifting, instructive nor life-enhancing. Neither is it great film-making. But it sure is fun." Richard Roud, The Guardian (1963)

The Ghosts in Our Machine

(2013, 93 mins, DCP)
Director:
Classification:

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Are animals sentient beings, or are they property? Some we deem more sentient than others; and for many, well, it’s much easier not to think about what humans perpetrate on other species. Photographer Jo-Anne McArthur has made it her life’s work to challenge the widespread willful ignorance that allows animal abuse to carry on unchecked. For more than a decade Jo-Anne has travelled the world, putting herself at risk to document animals held in captivity to supply our food, clothing, scientific research, or simply our entertainment. Her photos are sometimes heartbreaking to see, but also often unexpectedly beautiful, always soulful, and inspiring.

The same could be said of Liz Marshall’s film, which gives a sense of the horrors humans inflict on animals, but also the immense spiritual bond which many of us feel for other living beings. Marshall (Water on the Table) and her collaborators have conjured hauntingly lovely images and sounds to make this something much more than agit-prop.

"A superb example of committed fimmaking." 4 stars. Susan Cole, Now magazine

Digital Dharma

(2012, 90 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
In English
Canadian Premiere
Director:
Classification:

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Against all odds, E. Gene Smith, a Mormon, pacifist and Buddhist organized a mission to rescue the written legacy of the Tibetan culture even as it was threatened with destruction and loss. The film documents his amazing efforts which set in motion an ongoing project to preserve, digitize and translate 20,000 volumes of Tibetan literature, from medicine and history to poetry and Buddhist texts.

Hannah Arendt

(2012, 113 mins, DCP)
In German and English with English subtitles
Director:
CAST Barbara Sukowa, Axel Miberg, Janet McTeer, Julia Jentsch
Classification:

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"The greatest evil perpetrated is the evil committed by nobodies, that is, by human beings who refuse to be persons." - Hannah Arendt

Margarethe von Trotta’s work serves as a corrective to the phallocentric tendencies of history. From the twelfth-century mystic Hildegaard von Bingen (in her last film, Vision) to Marxist Rosa Luxemburg, von Trotta has always been fascinated by powerful, inspiring and complex women. Hannah Arendt is no exception.

A refugee from Nazi Germany, Arendt was a writer, philosopher and academic, the author of "The Origins of Totalitarianism." In 1961, she traveled to Jerusalem to cover the trail of Adolf Eichmann - one of the architects of the "Final Solution" - for the New Yorker, and appalled by this man’s pathetic attempts to exonerate his actions, she coined one of the most resonant and controversial concepts of the twentieth century: "the banality of evil".

Superbly played von Trotta’s longtime collaborator, Barbara Sukowa (and with Janet McTeer as her friend, the novelist Mary McCarthy) Arendt emerges as a bold, uncompromising, and perhaps surprisingly charismatic figure.

Margarethe von Trotta was born in Berlin. Her features include The Second Awakening of Christa Klages (77), Sisters, or The Balance of Happiness (79), Marianne and Julianne (81), Rosa Luxemburg (86), The Promise (94), Rosenstrasse (03), Vision (09) and Hannah Arendt (12).

"Trotta has made an extremely vivid cinematic essay, thrilling in its every minute, deeply moving in its seriousness and suitably unsettling." Elke Schmitter, Der Spiegel

"A thrilling lesson in courage." Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter

"The best movie this critic has ever seen about the life and times of a writer." Brandon Harris, Filmmaker

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