Friday, 10 December 2010

Quantum of Solace, Moon, District 9 and Burn After Reading

I missed the opening and slept through a greater part of the rest of the Quantum of Solace when I saw it was showing on Sky soon after acquiring the film channels last month. Noting it was being shown again earlier to day I set the record button for the HD version last Monday after the installation had been completed, and then this afternoon enjoyed the full version with my full attention. Full attention is required to understand the story of the film although as with all Bond films the usual format is followed with one exception, the familiar colourful graphics with the silhouettes shapes of a naked woman or two, culminating with Bond shooting a gun was left to end.

The film is a sequel to Casino Royal with Bond mourning the death of his lover Vesper Lynd and attempting to find out the nature of a criminal organisation whose members include wealthy businessmen and high ranking politicians and where in this film the name is revealed as the Quantum organisation, thus replacing Smersh (Soviet) and Spectre (Independent) crime organisations in past films. The new organisation fits into contemporary conspiracy theories about dark international forces wielding undemocratic or criminal influence over our lives, often with complicity of major companies and senior politicians and with some hiding behind the mask of being environmentalists.

In the latest offering Bond (Daniel Craig) is pursued by a gunman as he drives from Lake Como to Siena in Italy where the Palio is taking place. Bond has captured Mr White at his villa, the last scene of Casino Royal, the banker behind the Quantum organisation in that film, and is taking him in the boot of his car for interrogation by M and the rest of the British Secret Service mobile team, who have the apparent ability to immediately establish HQ’s anywhere in the world where there are friendly governments. However White taunts his captors saying they have people placed everywhere and this proves to include the personal bodyguard to M who attempts to shoot her and enables White to escape.

Following the investigation of the background of the former body guard, a lead is discovered that the man has a contact in Haiti and arriving there, Bond is quickly involved in the attempted murder of the former girl friend of a supposed International Environmentalist called Dominic Greene. The girl Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko) is a Bolivian who is pursuing the murder of her family including the brutal rape of her mother and sister by a leading Bolivian General who is corruptly involved with Greene, helping to overthrow the government in exchange for a large area of desert. The objective is said to be oil exploration but the reality subsequently discovered accidentally by Bond is that Greene has dammed a major underwater lake in order to control the water supply so that he can make a huge profit by charging the new government twice the previous price for supplying 60% of the nation‘s water requirements.

As with all Bond films there are various adventures, chases and sexual interludes in which Bond in keeping with recent films becomes distrusted by the USA and British Governments after being framed for various deaths and events. This includes the death of someone in retirement with South American experience and a British female operative in Bolivia. The final spectacular sequence occurs after a the plane which Bond and Camille have hired is shot down by Quantum, leading them to finding the underground dam and the couple make their way to an isolated luxury hotel in the desert where Greene is meeting the new President to be for the exchange of money and future service contract. The Sun related energy supply at the hotel is explosive and flammable.

As the Hotel commences to explode, Camille manages to rescue a maid from the clutches of the General and then kill him but appears to be trapped within the inferno. Bond and Greene battle and Greene escapes while Bond successfully rescues Camille and himself. He catches Greene and then takes him to middle of the desert saying he will give him liquid if he reveals what he wants to know about Quantum and the whereabouts of the man behind the death of Vesper. The liquid is a can of oil symbolic after the Bolivian based British agent was found having been drowned in oil. Greene dies not from this but from gunshots having failed the Quantum organisation. The films ends in Moscow as Bond tracks down Vesper’s killer, tortures him but leaves him alive for further questioning much to the surprise of M who arrives to have confirmed Bonds ongoing loyalty and professionalism. The film has had mixed reviews and was not as successful as the first Daniel Craig film which met with general approval by Bond aficionados and film goers generally. This may explain why the third film, set in the Middle East and where Bond pursues the Quantum organisation has been abandoned after the Director said he would not be available and a new story has been commissioned. It has not been said that Bond 23 will start Daniel Craig.

A different level of conspiracy is the Peter Jackson produced District 9 which despite prolonged noisy action sequences I enjoyed. A giant spaceship arrives and hovers above earth, in South Africa and upon investigation over a million hungry and sick aliens are discovered called prawns because of their prawn like appearance but no command module for the ship which appears to have fallen to the earth surface and disappears.

Over the next two decades the aliens are quarantined to create a huge shanty city along the lines of existing ones in South Africa, Brazil and other similar centres around the world. The city within a city becomes the centre of crime in which a Nigerian criminal gang has a controlling interest. They want to be able to use the superior weapons in the hands of the aliens which because of their organic aspect cannot be used by humans.

The film commences with the decision of an international private security organisation supported by governments to move the aliens some 200 kilometres outside of the city thus creating new ghetto but one which will not affect the human beings as the present situation. A leading executive of the organisation appoints his son in law to supervise the transfer of the aliens to their new location by issuing them individually formal transfer(eviction) notice according the new laws. This is the weakest aspect of the film given its unlikely construction and implementation format. There are major problem especially when the supervisor and his team encounter what transpires to be the captain of the alien craft who has spent the past two decades converting the organic liquid which enables the aliens to fuse with physical constructions such as space ship and weapons to be able to control them. The command module is buried underground and their shanty property. In the mêlée which follows the supervisor finds the secret phial of concentrated and processed liquid which will fuel the command model and the master spacecraft back to their home world. The liquid contaminates him and he commences the process of transfiguration into an alien and which the immediate capacity via an alien arm hand to use the weapons and other technology.

When this becomes known to both the International corporation and the Nigerian gangster overlord, the supervisor becomes a target. The corporation what to use his live body parts and tissue in their efforts to create a human/alien hybrid while the Nigerians have the fanciful notion that they can short cut the process by simply eating the limbs of the aliens and in particular those of the supervisor to acquire the abilities.
He then joins forces with the space ship captain who explains that if they can recover the phial and return to the main ship he has the means to stop and reverse the transfiguration. At one point the supervisor, and the son of the captain get the command module off the ground but it is then brought down by a missile, and then the supervisor who acquires a Transformer/Iron Man like battle suit is wounded while the captain and son revive the command module return to the space craft and set off for the home planet, leaving the sup visor and the rest of the over 2 million aliens back in shanty town on earth. The film ends with the question will the alien ship/ships return and if they do will it be to take away everyone op to colonise and will they seek revenge for their previous treatment? What will happen to the Supervisor? Yet I think there is a sequel to be made and yes it will be made!

The film has received widespread praise for its underlying theme of racism except in Nigeria where it has been banned particularly as the name of the crime overlord is similar to that of a recent President! The Director has said that in fact there is no second story and while his instinct is to create a work based on how the space ship came to earth and the pressure is for a solution to the predicament of the supervisor especially as his wife has some to reject the various explanations for her husband’s condition (e.g. he had sex with an alien) and is optimistic he remains alive in some form which she finds a metal flower on her doorstep which also emphasises one of the main points in the film that the supervisor becomes more likeable as a character the more he becomes a physical alien.

Another sci fi film which interested me greatly is Moon a British low budget film released at the Sundance festival and one several awards for an Independent made film last year. For me the film has echo’s of 2001. Although an Independently made film it stars Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey. Sam Bell (Rockwell) is a three year contracted sole employee on the moon site of an international corporation extracting helium-3 from the lunar surface found to provide an endless supply of clean energy to replace the need for oil and gas. He is coming to end of the contract and relies on sending and receiving videos from his pregnant wife back on earth. he is unable to have live communication because of a transmitter fault which will be repaired where his replacement arrives with a repair team. Kevin Spacey plays the chatterbox robotic assistant hence the link with the relationship between the sole survivor of the 2001 space craft and the computer Hal although the best love robot figure is undoubtedly the depressed and negative Marvin in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Sam Bell, that is the original human being is alive back on earth with his wife and 15 year old daughter working as an executive for the energy company. Sam Bell on the moon is one of an endless supply of human clones who have been created to live for three years, die and be replaced. They all have the same set of memories of their wife back home to whom they will return and they all have the memory of an accident on the moon and of recovering back at the base with a repair team on its way to restore live communications with home. The company does visit every three years to incinerate the remains of the defunct clone and ensure that the new clone is functioning and other essential maintenance operations. However in this instance the dying clone survives while the new clone is created and moreover is able to get beyond the site boundary to find out that the robot is able to communicate direct with earth. Thus commences the discovery of the clone crèche underneath the working area and that not only is his daughter alive, but his wife has died but his original has not. Sam then fixes it that future clones will know the truth while he escapes to earth where he reveals the situation. However his freedom and the adverse effect of the standing and finances of the company is shortlived. Soon there is counter publicity that the Clone is an illegal immigrant who is disturbed and needs to be locked up. The good science within the film has been recognised by NASA who invited the makers to shown the film at the Space Centre. It was revealed that the potential use of Helium -3 from the surface of the moon is being worked on. Someone asked why everything in film appears so solid and heavy with the use of concrete for installations. The film maker explained that he assumed that the cost of transporting stuff was such that he assumed the reality would be to use as much of the available resources and someone in the audience is said to have commented she is working on the creation of Mooncrete a substance created from the lunar surface and iced water from the lunar polar caps! The film is the first of planned trilogy.

The idea of corporations and states wielding secret power with the ability to crush opposition by fair means and foul, even in theoretical democracies is a constant theme of movie and TV land. The almost supernatural efficiency and effectiveness is comprehensively demolished the Joel and Ethan Coen masterpiece Burn after Reading. John Malkovitch is a CIA analyst who decides to write a memoir after being fired. His paediatrician wife( Tilda Swinton) is having a passionate sexual affair with a playboy George Clooney with she wants to settle down and commences divorce proceedings. Her lawyer tells her to get control of her husband’s finances and she copies the contents of his computer to disk which she accidentally leaves on a visit to health club.

At the club the disk is discovered by two employees. One is played by Brad Pitt who is behind a plan to elicit money from Malkovitch which appeals to another assistant (. Frances McDormand) who is frustrated when she finds that her medical insurance will not pay for the cosmetic surgery she wants to make herself sufficiently more attractive to find a good husband. When the plan fails because Malkovitch refuses to pay and hits Pitt, she goes to the Russian Embassy and promises to provide more for money. They decided to break into the house to the couple to gain more information. Clooney also works for he government at the Treasury and is a USA Marshall and the activities of Malkovitch who has been persuaded to move out of the house and live on their boat and as well as of Clooney come sunder the surveillance of the Secret Service, especially when the Russian embassy is approached. To compound the farcical possibilities Clooney has also started a sexual adventure with McDormand via a an online dating site and returns to the Malkovitch home after an early morning before work run after staying the night with the wife who has gone to her workplace. Returning he encounters Pitt hiding in a closest and shoots and kills him in a panic. Finding that the man has no ID on him he disposes the body in the river, a development which the Secret Service is aware.

Worse happens as following the disappearance of Pitt the accomplice persuades the Health club manager who fancies her to also breaks into the house where he is then discovered by Malkovitch who returns with an axe to get into his locked out of home where he first shoots and wounds the man and then kills him with the axe. The accomplice meanwhile has returned to the Russian embassy where she is told they are not interested as the information is worthless. Clooney has become increasingly disturbed by what has happened, especially when he realises he is under observation, not only by the secret service but by the Detective agency hired by Clooney’s wife and by Swinton. Meanwhile the main cause of all this mayhem, Linda, the woman seeking the money for plastic surgery is apprehended by the CIA as is Clooney just as he is about to board a plane to Venezuela(no extradition treaty), During the film there are meetings between staff and a CIA chief as they try and unravel what is going on. No one really knows to in order to complete the cover and for the problem to go away he agrees to buy the silence of Linda by paying for her plastic surgery and to let Cooney go to Venezuela. It is assumed the two wives get their divorces although what happens to Malkovitch is unclear except one assume no action will be taken against him for the murder of the Health club manager. I assume that out of the glare of media interest the reality is more like this than in Bond films although come to think of it as in the Quantum of Solace, Moon and District 9, a great deal of covering up and misleading presentation is made

I am mindful of what happened in relation to the death of the kidnapped charity worker in Afghanistan recently. At first the US government told the British Government who told the media and the House of Commons that the girl had been killed by the kidnappers. Only later was it admitted that those within the military had lied and she had been killed by one of the rescue team who having come under fire had thrown a grenade. Later I turn tot he events in central London yesterday.

No comments:

Post a Comment