In which Martyn and Chris talk about the late-great Sir Sean Connery.
They also discuss what they’d like to see in future James Bond video games and, Chris explains why he’s quit Twitter.
Sean Connery was a Scottish actor, who gained worldwide recognition as the first actor to portray fictional British secret agent James Bond in film. He went on to star in seven Bond films between 1962 and 1983. Originating the role in ‘Dr. No’, Connery played Bond in six of Eon Productions’ entries and made his final appearance in the Jack Schwartzman-produced ‘Never Say Never Again’. He reprised the role in 2005, for a video game adaptation of ‘From Russia with love’. Connery won an Oscar for his role as Jim Malone, in the 1988 film ‘The Untouchables’.
It’s difficult to believe it’s been 14 years since ‘Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’ took the world by storm. Things have changed a lot since those heady days of 2006, as Borat himself remarks “They’ve all gone calculator crazy” (obsessed with our phones).
When we first catch up with Kazakhstan’s fourth most famous celebrity, he’s doing hard labour in a gulag. After the release of the first film the country felt he had turned them into a laughing stock. It caused exports of potassium and, pubis to plummet. Borat became a pariah, with all but one of his kids despising him. Premier Nazarbayev offers him one last shot at redemption, he’ll receive a full pardon if he travels to America and gifts Johnny the monkey to Vice President Mike Pence.
So, how does a sequel mockumentary work when the entire world knows the character? Pretty spectacularly it turns out. The film mostly follows the same plot structure as the first, they’re happy travelling together for a bit. Then they have a falling out, then they reunite. For the most part, Sacha Baron Cohen plays Borat in disguise, the public stunts are mostly performed by his daughter, Tutar, played excellently by newcomer Maria Bakalova.
Cohen is a dedicated method actor and reportedly stayed in character for 5 days straight, whilst shooting this. That’s quite a commitment to the craft and it shows, he’s easily the Peter Sellers of our time.
What follows is a cutting satire of our modern-day lives, mixed with a really sweet Father/Daughter bonding narrative. Bakalova and Cohen are completely believable as family. It’s amazing what this humble Kazakh duo can get people to do. When Borat casually asks a store owner if a can of propane would gas 20 Gypsies, the store owner replies with “maybe the bigger one”. He also happily puts Tutar in a cage. However, because Borat is in disguise so much, certain scenes can feel more like Cohen’s ‘who is America?’ than a straight up Borat sequel.
Like the first film, this gleefully basks in its very un-PC humour, but that is part of what makes it work so well. This is a serious work of social criticism, that also happens to be incredibly hilarious. Cohen and director Jason Woliner have made the unthinkable funny- which might just get us all revaluating how we think about racism, bigotry and sexism. Is it offensive? Yes. But if you are easily offended, don’t watch it. It’s only a film.
Exclusively on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, October 23, 2020
With the exception of The Jungle Book, I haven’t enjoyed any of the Disney live-action remakes. It’s not that I’ve thought any of them were terrible, it’s just that none of them hit me the same way. However, I was genuinely interested in Mulan. It’s packed, with a cast full of martial artists experts and on paper is arguably, the only Disney film that could really work as live-action.
This version of Mulan vastly deviates from the 1998 source material. There are no musical numbers and the romantic subplot, is nowhere to be seen. It also replaces the wisecracking dragon, Mushu, with a soaring phoenix whose presence beats you over the head, with obvious metaphors.
With a cast consisting mostly of Chinese actors, with costumes and sets so impeccably designed. It seemed like a sure-fire hit. The film does look genuinely beautiful in places, the blend of New Zealand and China’s locations is seamless. However, the film doesn’t really have a lot going for it. There’s some really dodgy CGI and green screen work and, as great as her performance is, Liu Yifei never convinces as a man. She’s recognisably a woman throughout, it’s difficult to suspend your disbelief when the film isn’t even pulling off its central promise.
The film has many promising parts but fails to bring them together in a satisfying way. The action set pieces, that should be spectacular are either bad or mediocre, which is a shame considering the film boasts a cast that includes Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Jason Scott Lee, and Gong Li. These are all actors renowned for their martial arts expertise. This could have been so good.
Mulan 2020 is just Mulan 1998, with the fun taken out. My advice would be to wait until it’s free to stream on Disney+.
Reunion films are tricky. They have to rekindle the magic that made them successful in the first place, be new and innovative enough to entice a new generation and, please life-long fans who’ve been writing the new installment in their heads for years.
Comedy films are doubly tricky, as society’s sensibilities change so much during a hiatus of a decade or longer. But, where the likes of Dumb and Dumber to and, Jay and Silent Bob reboot fell. Bill & Ted Face the Music soars.
It’s been 29 years since Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, but Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves instantly fall back into their titular roles. It’s like they’ve never been away.
Our heroes are still trying to write the song that will unite the world. They’re older now, but they remain just as kind-hearted, as when we last saw them.
After a hilarious session at couples therapy, Bill and Ted are visited by Kelly (Kristen Schaal), the daughter of their future-dwelling mentor Rufus (named after Carlin’s real-life daughter), who brings news of universe ending proportions.
What follows is a fun adventure, told mostly in real-time, written by the franchise creators Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon. The duo have delivered a most outstanding script. They’ve allowed Bill and Ted to grow and evolve, they’re still recognisably the characters we fell in love with in 1988. But they’ve changed, as we all do.
There are enough callbacks to the prior films, to please fans. But nothing that would put off a newcomer. William Sadler as Death remains a highlight, he’s so absurd and uncool, that he ends up being most triumphant.
The handling of the late great George Carlin’s Rufus is done with love, respect, and admiration. It even brought a tear to my eye.
Whilst Bill & Ted are off having adventures, we also follow their daughters Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Thea (Samara Weaving), who are traveling through time, attempting to assemble the greatest band of all time to help their dads fulfill their destiny. Both are completely believable as the daughters of Bill & Ted, I would happily take a spin-off with these two at the helm.
If any criticism can be leveled at this, it’s in the handling of Bill & Ted’s wives Elizabeth and Joanna. We barely see them. However, with a runtime of only 91 minutes, some characters are always going to feel underserved. Hopefully, we’ll get a comic book, that shows us the princess’s adventure.
The entire film is an utter delight from start to finish. Their careers may have taken them in vastly different directions over the years, but Reeves and Winter have remained very close. That trust, natural chemistry, and understanding absolutely shines through.
This film offers a message of love, hope, unity, friendship, and, an utter joy for music. 2020 has been a rough year for everyone, Bill & Ted Face the Music is a shining beacon of pure unadulterated pleasure. It might just save the universe.
Stay for the end credits.
Bill and Ted Face The Music will come to UK cinemas on September 16th.
In which a couple of backwards boys give a spoiler-free review, of a film about a couple of backwards boys (Tenet).
They also pay respect to the late great Chadwick Boseman and Norm Spencer.
They talk about Sylvester Stallone’s director’s cut of Rocky 4, as well as discuss the wrath of Bob McLeod, Christopher Eccleston joining Big Finish, Bernice Summerfield, series 2 of The Umbrella Academy, DC Fandome, Wonder Woman 1984, Black Adam, The Snyder Cut, and a quick spoiler-free review of Bill & Ted face the music.
The podcast is available from all good podcast services, such as but not limited to;
Based on the inspiring true story of Virginia Walden Ford’s fight to create positive educational opportunities for African-American students in Washington D.C., Miss Virginia is a gripping drama about community empowerment with a powerhouse central performance from Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black).
Virgina Walden (Uzo Aduba) an impoverished single mother who is losing her fifteen-year-old son to the rough streets of Washington D.C. Unwilling to see him drop out and deal drugs, she places him in a private school. But when she can’t afford tuition, she launches a movement to change the system that is destroying him and thousands like him. Attacked and threatened by those who don’t want change – from a corrupt politician to the local drug lord, Virginia must discover depths of strength she never knew she had.
Because of Virginia Walden Ford’s tireless campaigning, in 2002 the United States’ government enacted the first-ever Opportunity Scholarship Program for low-income children, leading to a complete overhaul of Washington D.C.’s education system. Miss Virginia stars Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black) in the titular role, Niles Fitch (Roman J. Israel, Esq., This is Us) as her son James, as well as Matthew Modine (Stranger Things), Vanessa Williams (Shaft), Adina Porter (American Horror Story) and directed by R.J. Daniel Hanna.
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