Die Another Day (Lee Tamahori, 2002)

Praise for an unloved Bond

Generally, Die Another Day is seen as one of the lesser Bond movies. An apex of the hollow, CGI-stocked Brosnan efforts that typified the late nineties and early naughts. I think the film gets an unfairly bad treatment though, and here’s why:

Astérix aux Jeux Olympiques (‘Asterix at the Olympic Games’, Frédéric Forestier, Thomas Langmann, 2008)

Throwing out the menhir with the bathwater

I had feared this would happen. After the comedy brilliance of Astérix & Obélix: Mission Cléopâtre (‘Mission Cleopatra’ from 2002) – a film containing successful jokes, hilarious performances and a knowing, canny script – the series has returned to its roots of tepid, lackluster kid’s movies.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (David Gelb, 2011)

It takes ten years to make a good omelet

In an underground tunnel in Tokyo lies an eatery with only ten seats and an external toilet. Yet this is the only sushi restaurant to carry three Michelin stars. The 85 year-old head of this establishment is Jiro Ono, and every night he dreams up new creations.

Deguchi No Nai Umi (‘Sea Without Exit’ AKA ‘Kaiten – Human Torpedo War’, Kiyoshi Sasabe, 2006)

The unsung, drowned tragedies of war

In 1944 flocks of Japanese students joined the army to become martyrs in a war against the United States that could no longer be won. Next to the infamous suicide airplanes, the ‘kamikaze’ (‘divine wind’), there existed also manned torpedoes. They were named ‘kaiten’, which means ‘return to heaven’. A lugubrious concept rarely seen in the mainstream, until this 2006 film.

V for Vendetta (James McTeigue, 2005)

All day, all day, watch them all fall down

There is one moviemaking technique that defines V for Vendetta. It’s not the bullet time fighting – that earlier visual discovery by the Wachowski Siblings (screenwriters on this film) in The Matrix: since then a staple for action films and making its appearance here as well. Nor is it the slick costumes, the ensemble cast trappings of this stylized dystopian parable or its symbolism of masks, secrets, subterfuge.