Tag Archives: Pierce Brosnan

Skyfall (2012) or livewithfilm takes notes from Bond’s talent for queue jumping…

13 Nov

After what seems like the whole of the UK caught Bond’s latest bust-up on its opening week, livewithfilm thought it should probably catch up and headed to the BFI IMAX. Such a trip dealt this blogger an odd hand as – with the favoured son of MI6 careering his way around London – Bond at one point decided to drive past the very cinema livewithfilm was sitting in. Perhaps his Aston Martin DB5 was an elaborate ruse to beat the nationwide rush for tickets…

With Judi Dench frostily glaring across the screen as MI6 chief M and muscular Daniel Craig set to save his country from the evil clutches of malevolent super-crim Javier Bardem, the stage seemed set for a by-the-numbers return for Bond. Yet Skyfall is not the spy as we know him. Steered into unknown territory by the acclaimed talents of director Sam Mendes and director of photography Roger Deakins, Skyfall sets a magnificent new dawn for Bond who remains at once nostalgic for his fifty preceding years and bold enough to hold his own for the next half century. After crashing out of a heart racing opening chase that rivals the Russian dam bust of Goldeneye (1995) and mirrors Brosnan’s final bungee dive, Bond is left to drink his sorrows away presumed dead. Yet as Bardem’s Silva wages a very personal war against a particularly matriarchal M, Bond is drawn back to protect his old boss.

Forcing Britain’s beloved spy to encounter a range of homoerotic and oedipal themes, Bardem subversively dominates Skyfall. A giggling hybrid of Andy Warhol and Hannibal Lector with an entrance to rival Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Silva is a furious reflection of Bond. In this landmark year for the secret agent, it is fitting that Bond – relentlessly criticised for his archaic and sexist spy lifestyle – is forced to confront himself in this manner. Deconstructing entrenched expectations in an approach akin to Nolan’s recent Batman reinventions, Skyfall takes Bond to new heights through a timely ‘self-aware’ reinvention. Craig once again deftly fills the tux alongside franchise stalwart Dench, new addition Ben Whishaw’s Q suitably matching up to the oft-credited pair. Most crucial of all though, Deakins and Mendes inject originality into Skyfall that almost erases all memory of Quantum of Solace (2008) to reinvigorate Bond for future duties.

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I Don’t Know How She Does It (2011) or livewithfilm broadens its horizons and suffers the consequences…

31 Oct

In the spirit of wider filmic know-how, livewithfilm decided to take the plunge. Don’t fret though, more horror fun will follow shortly!

Laughably labelling itself as a romantic comedy, Douglas McGrath’s I Don’t Know How She Does It remains an insufferable vision of entrenched sexism. Besides regarding itself in a falsely noble light, the film misses every opportunity for feminism or fun and merely affirms a phallocentric vision of working life. Sarah Jessica Parker once again struggles to find a role suited to her small screen strengths in busy mother Kate Reddy. Managing to juggle childcare with a high-flying financial role, Kate is applauded by all and sundry. Yet when business guru Pierce Brosnan threatens to whisk Kate away on global business trips, the heroine must choose between family and her job.

While bungling a hackneyed plot that adds little to a genre already saturated with sub par entries, McGrath instils a trying patronising streak tohis filmwhich marvels at the female capacity to work. Using its first act to shoehorn in its inquisitive title at every opportunity, the film positions Kate as an oestrogen fuelled totem for male compatriots to gawk at in wonder. Even though Pierce Brosnan’s jet-setting silver fox can happily undertake a full time job, Sarah Jessica Parker’s workload is constantly signposted as a cause for contention. Concluding that a woman must choose to either be suppressed housewife or power-suited breadwinner, I Don’t Know How She Does It reinforces tired gender roles unsuited to the Carrie Bradshaw era rom-com. Woefully out of touch with contemporary enlightened thought, even Mad Men’s exceptionally powerful Christina Hendricks is sidelined amongst an ensemble of underdeveloped female characters.

Having shown his capacity to support complex plots and career defining performances in overlooked Truman Capote pic Infamous, McGrath’s mishandling of narrative sense in I Don’t Know How She Does It seems all the more disheartening. Apropos to nothing, the film decides to indulge in vérité straight to camera interludes which only resurface during the final scrabble for a conclusion. While McGrath could be applauded for seeking to add something unexpected to his film, the director doesn’t have the conviction to use this tool for any real means. It is as if the self aware artistry of the Nouvelle Vague has been filtered down into an empty, time wasting gesture. Yes the fourth wall is shattered, but the film’s foundations are taken with it.

I Don’t Know How She Does It has nothing original to say, in fact only undermining a genre previously adept at envisioning powerful female leads. While causing a solitary laugh at the expense of its banking protagonists, the film is awe inspiringly unfunny. Jokes don’t simply fail they are nonexistent, sucked into a bland black-hole of thumb twiddling tedium. Adding to the woe, the real comic talents of Sarah Jessica Parker, Kelsey Grammer and Saturday Night Live regular Seth Meyers go entirely to seed. The real question to be answered remains: I don’t know why they made it.

Taffin (1987)

14 Nov

Yes, the earthquake you felt on Saturday was the ground trembling after livewithfilm failed its assignment for the first time. As sad as it is, the celluloid free weekend seems to have done livewithfilm some good. Rejuvenated with a (previously waning) desire to continuously watch films, livewithfilm has decided that it will try its upmost to stick to its original pledge. Livewithfilm will watch a film a day (or near enough). How better to return than with Pierce Brosnan in tow as Taffin? Catapulted into the public consciousness by a viral video of Brosnon’s performance (search on youtube if you haven’t already… No, really do!), Francis Megahy’s film was high on the livewithfilm wish-list.

Taffin (Pierce Brosnan) is a violent renegade, collecting fees and busting kneecaps for the powerful gangster presence in his Irish town. After falling for local girl Charlotte (Allison Doody), Taffin seeks to make peace with the populace and decides to foil the plans of a crooked councilman. However, when the council begin construction on an unwelcome chemical works, Taffin must question how far he will go to protect the townsfolk. With company heavies attacking anyone who threatens their project, Taffin must resort to violence when the villagers come to him as their final hope.

Whilst entertainingly furious, Taffin is a classic for all of the wrong reasons. Impressively inept, the film manages to be inadvertently hilarious throughout, placing itself in a curious zone of accidental amusement. Whilst attempting to envision a rugged devil-may-care Irishman, Bronsnon’s protagonist comes across as a ‘focus-group’ anti-hero. Livewithfilm could almost hear Megahy ticking the boxes with his blunt HB. One moment a brooding literary aficionado, Taffin will hurl down his books at a moment’s notice to assault the nearest villain. Peppered with dialogue that would draw a snigger from a boulder (‘tut tut tut, you’re a very naughty boy’), Taffin remains neither gloomy nor explosive. Brosnan’s ultimate answer to this, in a classic piece of script interpretation, is to scream incidental pieces of dialogue; his ‘maybe you shouldn’t be living here!’ outburst remains a line that gives new meaning to the term ‘powerhouse performance’.

Meghany’s Taffin falls hardest when it attempts to merge increasingly diverse themes; gritty reality sits awkwardly next to the charming scenes of Ireland. Such a revelation left livewithfilm watching a topless Brosnan hunting for his knitted tea-cosy. The lunacy sees secret meetings at the local cow auction and reaches a bizarre peak when most of the cast of the 90s comedy Father Ted arrive. Sensing his film leaning too far towards the quaint, Meghany frantically inserts ill-chosen misogyny into the latter stages of Taffin; the crowds that mass inside the village strip club only create an uncomfortable atmosphere that had livewithfilm baying for the destruction of the hamlet. If you are looking for an enjoyably dark vision of Ireland then livewithfilm would recommend John Michael McDonagh’s brilliant The Guard (2011). Nevertheless, you will struggle to find a more entertaining vision of madness than Brosnan in Taffin. All together now… Maybe you shouldn’t be living here!