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James Bond PHD

(40 mins)

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Join UBC Film Professors Brian McIlroy and Ernest Mathijs for an academic perspective on James Bond, cultural icon.

BRIAN McILROY

Professor

Film Studies

Brian McIlroy holds a Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia. His main research interests are in Canadian and Irish Cinema and Media. He also has interests in cultural studies and theory. He is the author, editor or co-editor of six books, the most recent being Genre and Cinema: Ireland and Transnationalism (Routledge, 2007). Author of some 50 book chapters, journal articles and book reviews, in 2007-08, he was President of the Film Studies Association of Canada. He is co-founder of the Department’s Centre for Cinema Studies, and information on his funded research can be read at www.centreforcinemastudies.com. In 2011, he was awarded the Killam Excellence in Mentoring Graduate Students Award. Currently, he is exploring early cinemagoing and film exhibition in Vancouver, a project funded by SSHRC.

ERNEST MATHIJS

Professor

Film Studies

Ernest Mathijs holds a Ph.D. from the Free University of Brussels. His specialty is the reception of alternative cinema, cult cinema, and film and stage performance. He is the author of 100 Cult Films (with Xavier Mendik), Cult Cinema (with Jamie Sexton), and The Cinema of David Cronenberg: from Baron of Blood to Cultural Hero. He has also written on European horror, digital cinema, and The Lord of the Rings (and is preparing a project on The Hobbit). He is the series editor of Contemporary Cinema and Cultographies. His most recent book is on the Canadian horror gem Ginger Snaps.

Bond Quiz Night

(40 mins)
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Know your Oddjob from your Honey Ryder? Join James Bond expert Murray Gillespie for a friendly 007 trivia competition in our atrium lounge. Compete individually or in teams. Prizes to be won! Admission Free but VIFC membership is required (costs $12 but comes with a free movie ticket).

Upstream Color

(2013, 96 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
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"Shane Carruth’s 2004 time travel drama Primer provoked endless scrutiny for its heavy reliance on tech speak that the director refused to dumb down. His long-awaited followup, Upstream Color, also maintains a seriously cryptic progression […]

The one-man-band filmmaker-actor-producer-composer-cinematographer-visionary strings together a series of incidents that alternately hint at a science fiction thriller, an existential romance and finally a dreamlike spiritual awakening. Amy Seimetz stars in a moody performance as workaholic Kris, a single woman abruptly kidnapped in the opening act and forced to ingest some kind of mind-controlling maggots into her bloodstream. Under the hypnotic influence of an ominous man, she’s brought back to her apartment and ordered to engage in a series of peculiar tasks, from memorizing passages from Henry David Thoreau’s classic nature treatise "Walden" to folding paper into enigmatic origami.

All of this is a prelude to her captor forcing her to withdraw money from her bank account — which makes it seem as though "Upstream Color" were chiefly about mind-controlling thievery, but then things get really strange…

Carruth’s official description for the movie is that "identity becomes an illusion" [ …] which pretty much sums up the challenge of sorting out each isolated event. This might be a frustratingly muddled venture were it not so beautifully enacted. Carruth’s effervescent, Phillip Glass-like orchestral score and delicately constructed images create an immersive product that’s unquestionably genuine even as it eludes firm answers." Eric Kohn, Indiewire

"Having the movie wash over me was one of the transcendent experiences of my moviegoing life… It’s utterly perplexing, and heart-stoppingly beautiful, quite literally overwhelming." Sam Adams, The Onion AV Club

“Bold, impassioned, ecstatically beautiful…in a class by itself at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.” Scott Foundas, Village Voice

"Upstream Colors certainly is something to see if you’re into brilliant technique, expressive editing, oblique storytelling, obscuritanist speculative fiction or discovering a significant new actress." Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter

Berberian Sound Studio

(2012, 94 mins)
In English and Italian
Director:
CAST Toby Jones, Tatma Mohamed, Cosimo Fusco, Eugenia Caruso, Antonio Mancino
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Toby Jones may not be a household name, but as Michael Nordine labeled him in Criticwire, he is a “household face”—one of those actors you see in everything, yet rarely see in a juicy lead role. Well, that isn’t the case in Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio, wherein Jones plays Gilderoy, a sound mixer invited to work on a film in Italy. He’s a socially reserved, through-and-through mama’s boy used to working on quaint little British documentaries. Unbeknownst to him, his new assignment turns out to be a horror film and Gilderoy is unexpectedly and unwillingly thrown into a world of sadistic violence, gore and cruelty. His tolerance of this grotesque universe is tested, as he adds sound effects to every stabbing and decapitation, and a great many other violent actions in need of aural punctuation. As he continues to work on the film, Gilderoy becomes increasingly alienated from reality. His mental state slowly deteriorates, as Strickland—whose masterful Katalin Varga was a horror story of another stripe—expertly crafts a psychological thriller relying on the power of suggestion rather than graphic violence.

At once homage and send-up of the classic Giallo films of the 70s by the likes of Mario Bava and Dario Argento, Berberian Sound Studio is tense, unsettling and darkly funny. A must see for horror film buffs and cinephiles alike—much like Brian De Palma’s Blow Out, this is a master-class on the relationship between sound and image.

"Utterly distinctive and all but unclassifiable, a musique concrète nightmare, a psycho-metaphysical implosion of anxiety, with strange-tasting traces of black comedy and movie-buff riffs. It is seriously weird and seriously good." Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

"A delicately detailed immersion into the world of Z-grade Italian horror cinema that ultimately may or may not be a horror film itself, Peter Strickland’s “Berberian Sound Studio” is a tense, teasing triumph." Guy Lodge, Variety

"The creepiness builds with symphonic precision until reality truly is indistinguishable from fantasy." 4 stars. Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York

Never Say Never Again

(1983, 134 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
Director:
CAST Sean Connery, Kim Basinger, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Barbara Carrera, Max von Sydow, Bernie Casey, Edward Fox, Rowan Atkinson
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Released just a few months after Octopussy, this Thunderball remake was produced by a rival team who had won the rights from EON productions in a lengthy court battle, and who managed to entice Sean Connery back into his most famous role (hence the ironic title).

Directed by Irvin Kershner (The Empire Strikes Back), the movie is the same but differnt: Connery was 52 at the time, and the writers incorporated his age into the story (after failing a training exercise he’s sent to a health clinic to get back in shape). Nevertheless, this is a more vigorous Bond, not just in Connery’s performance but also the outstanding supporting cast he helped to assemble. Klaus Maria Brandauer, the German actor who had won raves as Mephisto, was SPECTRE’s Maximillian Largo; Kim Basinger and Barbara Carrera are the Bond girls Domino Petachi and Fatima Blush; and Max von Sydow is Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

"The classiest of all the Bonds." Jay Scott, Globe & Mail

Skyfall

(2012, 143 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
Director:
CAST Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Berenice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw
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James Bond just turned 50 –in movie years anyhow (“Dr No” came out in 1962) - and in his latest adventure Her Majesty’s sexiest spy seems to be on the verge of a midlife crisis: he’s stuck in a rut, feeling redundant, and getting self-conscious about his age. He even considers early retirement, plunging to his apparent doom after he’s shot in the movie’s thunderously exciting pre-credit sequence. Spoiler alert: 007 survives to fight another day, but not until he’s treated himself to an unofficial sabbatical, an opportunity for recuperation and introspection.

Returning to MI6 in its hour of greatest need, 007 can’t shoot straight, fails his physical and his psych test too. But M (Judi Dench) knows he’s still the man for the job even if her latest government overseer (Ralph Fiennes) seems to think they’re both relics headed for the scrapyard.

This is a movie of gleaming surfaces – veteran DP Roger Deakins turns a glass skyscraper at night into a funhouse hall of mirrors, and a floating Macau casino is like an oasis in the black sea. After all the globetrotting, “Skyfall” brings the action back home to Britain – and Deakins finds a different kind of beauty in the crags and lochs of Scotland. Just on a pictorial level, it’s enticing in a way few CGI spectaculars can match. (The credit sequence alone is among the most lustrous in the entire 007 canon.)

Mendes gambles big on a last act that cuts out all the gadgets and gizmos, brings everything down to bare bones and ties the action to Bond’s own history. And he pulls it off, in part because this apparently immortal series desperately needed someone to take a risk, and because Mendes’ class really comes through in the performances. Judi Dench is probably incapable of being bad, but M is a real character this time, with emotions, as well as convictions, and she hits every note just so. Ben Whishaw is a breath of fresh air as a youthful Q, and Craig himself remains the first 007 who might conceivably take down Sean Connery in hand-to-hand combat.

And then there’s Javier Bardem, one-upping even his flamboyant psychopath from No Country for Old Men. The only thing banal about his villain Silva is his name. It would be a sin to say too much about this character, discover him for yourself, but Bardem’s outré performance is simply delicious, a warped mama’s boy who fancies himself, whisper it, Bond’s mirror image.

For Your Eyes Only

(1981, 127 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
Director:
CAST Rogert Moore, Carole Bouquet, Topol, Lynn-Holly Johnson, Julian Glover, Cassandra Harris, Jill Bennett
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Roger Moore was well into his groove by the time this adventure came along, an attempt to bring the series back down to terra firma after the OTT space antics of Moonraker.

Said director John Glen, a former editor who went on to helm four Bond movies, "We had gone as far as we could into space. We needed a change of some sort, back to the grass roots of Bond. We wanted to make the new film more of a thriller than a romp, without losing sight of what made Bond famous – its humour."

Even so, the film’s staunchest admirer is something of a surprise: French art house director Robert Bresson raved about it, "It filled me with wonder because of its cinematographic writing … if I could have seen it twice in a row and again the next day, I would have done."

A ship containing an Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator (ATAC), which can control ballistic missile attacks, is sunk. Bond is sent to retrieve the ATAC before the Russians do. MI6 had sent archaeologist Timothy Havelock to discretely locate the ship, but he and his wife were murdered in front of their daughter Melina. Bond tracks down their killer, Hector Gonzales, and must complete his work before Melina takes her revenge.

Diamonds Are Forever

(1871, 120 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
Director:
CAST Sean Connery, Jill St John, Charles Gray, Lana Wood, Jimmy Dean, Bruce Cabot, Putter Smith, Bruce Glover
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After the more sincere emotional chords in George Lazenby’s (less popular) On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Sean Connery was persuaded to return - negotiating one of the most lucrative contracts any actor had ever seen.

Diamonds are Forever is almost campy in its cruel cynicism and acerbic wit, but it’s surely entertaining. When MI6 arrests small time smuggler Peter Franks, Bond takes his place, meeting courier Tiffany Case. He follow the trail of the diamonds, as everyone who touches them gets killed.

Country singer Jimmy Dean (not the actor) plays a reclusive Howard Hughes type billionaire, holed up in Las Vegas and, it transpires, at the mercy of none other than Ernst Blofeld (Charles Grey, a few years before Rocky Horror). Jill St John is Bond girl Tiffany Case, while Lana Wood (Natalie’s sister) is Plenty O’Toole. Goldfinger director Guy Hamilton is back calling the shots.

You Only Live Twice

(1967, 117 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
Director:
CAST Sean Connery, Akiki Wakabayashi, Donald Pleasence, Mie Hama, Tetsuro Tanba, Teru Shimada, Karin Dor, Charles Gray
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Donald Pleasence is the quintessential Bond villain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, bent on kickstarting WWIII. (Just ask Mike Myers, who parodied the performance in the Austin Powers films.)

Blofeld is hijacking American and Russian space shuttles, in an attempt to start a war between the two nations. Bond is sent to Japan to investigate, with the help of Tiger Tanaka, the head of station in Tokyo. Armed with over 100 trained ninjas, Bond infiltrates Blofeld’s volcano lair (a masterpiece of design by the great Ken Adam).

The screenplay, very freely adapted from Fleming, is by the noted children’s author Roald Dahl. The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory author had himself been something of a James Bond like figure, working for British Intelligence in the USA during WWII, and reportedly keeping a stable of wealthy, attractive women while he was about it.

The Living Daylights

(1987, 130 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
Director:
CAST Timothy Dalton, Maryam d'Abo, Jeroen Krabbe, Joe Don Baker, John Rhys-Davies, Art Malik
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Enter Timothy Dalton. It could have been much sooner: he was in the running to replace Sean Connery in 1969, but was judged too young at the time. In 1980, when Roger Moore considered retiring the part, Dalton was all but signed up to succeed him - then Moore changed his mind. When his opportunity finally came around Dalton projected a leaner, meaner edge that some aficionados consider the closest to the 007 described by Ian Fleming.

The story is inspired by one of Fleming’s short stories. Bond is assigned to protect Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbe), an ex-KGB officer who is defecting to the British. Koskov is to escape during the intermission at the Bratislava concert hall, and must be protected from a KGB sniper. Bond sets up across the street, but decides against assassinating the sniper…

This is a less gimmicky, more pragmatic Bond movie.

"Grips like wet rope" Brian Case, Time Out

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