Weekend Roundup: Puncture & Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007, BBC’s Emma (2009)

Happy Monday all! It’s been a quiet weekend for me, I barely went out on Sunday as we’ve got everything old man Winter has got to offer. Frigid temp is not enough apparently, so we’ve got dumped with snow, sleet and freezing rain all afternoon. Perfect weather for staying in however.

Apart from going to Side Effects screening on Thursday [review later this week], I pretty much turned to Netflix and some borrowed movies from friends. Here are my mini reviews:

Puncture (2011)

PuncturePosterAs this comes out the same year at Captain America, no wonder this B movie gets lost in the shuffle. I remember seeing the trailer and I thought this must be a way for Chris Evans to show he’s got acting brawn on top of his physical one. I’ve got to admit I was curious to see how Evans fare as a drug-addicted lawyer who takes on a health supply corporation on behalf of a nurse who got punctured by a contaminated needle and contracted HIV.

It’s a David and Goliath legal drama that resembles the battle between a whistle blower and the tobacco giant in The Insider, but unfortunately the similarities ends there. The direction style is far less inferior, not exactly as gripping as the based-on-a-true-story premise. Apparently Evans’ co-star Mark Kassen directed the movie with his brother Adam, and this was their first feature film. Evans himself is quite convincing in his role, though his training as the First Avenger makes him look much too buff to play a junkie.  I really doubt the real-life Mike Weiss has a ripped 8-pack abs as he spent all his days either studying his case or snorting cocaine. Interesting to see Vinessa Shaw twice in one week [she has a small role in Side Effects], she was pretty good here as the HIV-infected nurse. The casting of Michael Biehn here is very baffling as he’s not given hardly anything to do at all, and his character’s portrayed as being so mysterious for no good reason.

Puncture_still

Despite the heartbreaking premise and a well-intentioned effort, the movie is pretty forgettable. Some scenes were over-dramatized and others are not substantial enough. The film also seemed to suggest the fate of Mr. Weiss is not as simple as an overdose, but there’s no follow up of that. I don’t think the ambiguity serves the film well at all. In any case, under a more experienced filmmaker, this could’ve been more engrossing.

…..

2.5 out of 5 reels


Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 (2012)

EON_007Documentary

As a massive Bond fan, I can’t believe I didn’t know about this documentary until my hubby told me about it a few days ago! I’m also ashamed to say that I just realized what EON Productions stand for, and it’s really an apt title considering the length the producers had to go through in bringing the Bond books to the big screen. Here’s the full synopsis per 007.com:

Everything Or Nothing focuses on three men with a shared dream Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli, Harry Saltzman and author Ian Fleming. Its the thrilling and inspiring narrative behind the longest running film franchise in cinema history which began in 1962. With unprecedented access both to the key players involved and to Eon Productions extensive archive, this is the first time the inside story of the franchise has ever been told on screen in this way.

The producer of this doc is John Battsek who also produced the Oscar-nominated Searching for Sugar Man, and I’m happy to say that this film absolutely delivers. It was not only well-done in terms of productions, filled with fun footage from various Bond films and accompanied by John Barry’s fantastic Bond music, this has become my favorite documentary ever. Yes of course the subject matter is of great interest of mine, but there’s much to be said about its production quality and exceptional access to the inside story of the key players.

EON_Cubby_Sean_Ian_Harry

Broccoli, Connery, Fleming and Saltzman

Though I’ve heard about the split up of Broccoli and Saltzman, it’s still quite tragic to see. The same with how George Lazenby threw fame away as quickly as he gained it, and the rift involving Connery and the producers, especially between him and Saltzman. It’s such a treat to see all Bond actors appear in the film to talk about their Bond role, interesting that all of them has their share of struggle surrounding it. The film paints a very sympathetic picture of the late Cubby Broccoli in particular, but his history certainly checks out, without a doubt he loved the character of Bond all the way back to how he’s written by Ian Fleming. It would seem that his involvement in this lucrative franchise went above and beyond the chase for profit.

Kudos to director Stevan Riley for crafting a compelling documentary that’s as thrilling and entertaining as the Bond adventures. Certainly there’s as much at stakes unfolding behind the camera as in front of it, the drama involving Kevin McClory, one of the producers of the oh-so-ill-advised Never Say Never Again is especially riveting. I had just seen the documentary on Ian Fleming that’s included in The Living Daylights Blu-ray recently, so some of the details on the famed author was already known to me. Yet it’s still fascinating to learn about it, I’d certainly be interested in seeing his biopic. This film definitely enhances my appreciation for one of my most favorite movie franchises. A must-see for anyone who’ve seen at least one Bond movie, and absolutely essential for any Bond fan.

…..

4.5 out of 5 reels


BBC TV’s EMMA (2009)

BBC_Emma2009I’m quite fond of Romola Garai, whom I think is one of the most underrated British talents ever. So when my co-worker lent me the dvd of the 2009 BBC adaptation of Emma with her in the starring role, I couldn’t wait to watch it. I always felt that the 1996 version with Gwyneth Paltrow to be just ok, well apart from Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightley of course. Oh how I’d love to see him as Knightley in THIS adaptation.

Emma is not my favorite of the Jane Austen’s collection, that would be Sense & Sensibility. Yet I quite like this adaptation largely because of Garai’s casting. Though she was 27 at the time, she looked believable as the 20 year-old Emma Woodhouse, a pretty & privileged girl who loves finding suitors for her friends. She portrays Emma as suitably vivacious and naive, as well as a bit of a spoiled brat. We like Emma despite some of her blunders and careless decisions, and Garai’s able to capture her remorse as well as her bubbly nature. Of course this being a miniseries, her character development is far superior than the film version.

Some thoughts about the rest of the cast. Michael Gambon is an interesting choice as Emma’s father who always assumes everything is hazardous to one’s health, he somehow makes his fussy nervousness as something endearing. As I’ve mentioned above, I love Northam’s interpretation of Knightley. I think Jonny Lee Miller is not bad, but I wonder if someone else in the role would’ve been a better choice as he doesn’t seem to be much older than Garai (there’s supposed to be a 17-year difference in age) Plus, I kept thinking of him as Edmund Bertram, the role he played in 1999′s Mansfield Park (one of my fave period drama heroes). Interestingly enough, Blake Ritson who played Mr. Elton also played Edmund in the 1997 BBC version! Certainly BBC has a pretty small pool of actors to choose from, ahah. Ritson is a far better casting choice than Alan Cumming in the film version. I mean, he was just so darn creepy, plus it’s really too much of a stretch to imagine him as a vicar.

Emma_Garai_Miller

Overall this is a lovely adaptation with fun dialog and gorgeous scenery. Kudos to the production quality, the color scheme, costume, music, etc. that makes for a very enjoyable watch. That said, I still much prefer the Masterpiece Theater’s production Sense & Sensibility as the story is inherently more heart-wrenching to me. It’s worth noting that the screenwriter Sandy Welch also wrote the 2004′s North & South, which is by far my favorite BBC miniseries ever.

4.5 out of 5 reels


Well, that’s my weekend viewing roundup. How ’bout you, seen anything good?

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57 thoughts on “Weekend Roundup: Puncture & Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007, BBC’s Emma (2009)

  1. I found Puncture disappointing. I appreciate Evans going for a more dramatic role,but the film itself didn’t live up to his performance. And i dont think i’ve ever watched a BBC miniseries before.

    As for me i recently watched Warrior,which i thought was pretty effective.

    • Yeah I think it’s too bad as the story was pretty gripping. I changed my rating to be lower as I think I was being too generous in hindsight. Glad to hear you like Warrior, that was a good film indeed.

    • Oh also i watched 20th century boys, which is a film adaption of a manga. From what my dad found apparently its a trilogy, and the author of the manga its based on also wrote Monster(I posted a review of its anime adaption a while back). Basic plot is that a manga the main character character wrote as a child starts happening in real life, and he along with some childhood friends have to figure out who is behind it. Overall i liked it and it had a sense of paranoia about that i found extremely well done, but there was one section of the film where the narrative seemed to get a bit jumbled.

      Also i am close to finishing a martial arts short film script i’ve been working on(A friend of mine knows a lot about martial arts,so its going to be a collaboration with him)

      • That 20th Century Boys sounds interesting Julian, though I’m not a big fan of Manga. Hey, best of luck to you on your short film project. Do keep me updated on that one!

  2. I’ve never heard of Puncture but I have a huge crush on Vinessa Shaw, too bad she never became the big star that I thought she would be. I might give it a rent just to see her on screen.

    I can’t wait to watch Everything or Nothing, been waiting for it to come out on BD. Since I’ve watched a lot of Bond docs, hopefully this one will have something new that I didn’t know about the franchise.

    Again because of the dreadful weather we’re having here, I didn’t do much. Just watched The Firm, I bought the BD over a year ago and totally forgot about it. Still a good film based on a great novel. Then I watched Alien 3, if not for David Fincher’s style, the film would’ve been unwatchable. Such a waste of time, money and talent on that film.

    • I think Vinessa is quite talented, not to mention beautiful. I’m surprised she’s not more famous.

      You absolutely should watch that EON documentary. It’s really well-done and the production quality is superb. I LOVE the Bond music that accompany it from start to finish, John Barry is a genius!

      Oh I quite like The Firm, one of my fave Tom Cruise movies. Been a while since I watched that one.

  3. I’m glad you got to see Everything or Nothing which I added to my Bond marathon last year. It’s definitely the documentary that every Bond fan should see.

    I’m also with you on Romola Garai. Extremely underrated actress.

    • Yes indeed, I think you’ll enjoy it if you love the Bond franchise. Yes, Romola should get more roles, she has said that she’s considered too fat for Hollywood which is of course ridiculous!

      • Fat? She looks fine to me. Hollywood is just stupid. They keep hiring no-talents like Kate Hudson and J-Lo while not giving someone like Romola a chance to headline a film.

        • I know! I think she’s svelte and beautiful. It’s too bad Hollywood can’t recognize a great talent and opts for those talentless bunch.

  4. I’ve been wanting to see Puncture. Yes, I am a bit of a Chris Evans fan. Maybe give that one a miss for a while. Looking forward to what he does in The Ice Man, with Michael Shannon, later this year.

    Finally saw Django Unchained on the weekend and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. It was a good weekend of film for me!

    • Hi Jaina, if you’re a fan of Evans then Puncture is worth a watch. I thought he was pretty good, such a different role than Capt. America surely. I did tell you that I met him at Comic-con right? I won the raffle for his autograph, he’s as hunky as in the movies, but quite pale, I guess the spray tan him a lot, ahah. The Ice Man looks sick, I read about the real life killer, made me shudder.

      Bummer, I haven’t seen those two movies yet. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil looks like a hoot, I missed out on it at my local film fest a couple of years ago.

    • Oh man, you really should watch it Fogs, it’s on Netflix Instant now. I totally missed out on it last year too, but it’s really fascinating to see all the producers and actors being interviewed, plus all the footage and music. One of the best docs ever for me.

  5. Well, you were more productive than me during the weekend as a movie lover. I only watched a couple of TV series and Wizard of Oz. I actually have a long weekend, but I don’t have much energy to blog lately :( was pretty preoccupied on something else

    It seems you have a pretty wonderful weekend, especially with Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007, which you must’ve enjoyed a lot.

    • Wizard of Oz! Boy I still haven’t seen that one, but I will do so before the prequel comes out. No worries about blogging, just do it when you find it enjoyable.

      Yes that Bond documentary is wonderful, definitely worth a watch even if you’re just a so-so Bond fan. It gives you an insight on how the biggest movie franchise got started.

    • Hi Chris! [now that I know your real name :D]

      That EON doc is totally worth seeing, it rates as one of my fave documentaries ever. Insightful AND enjoyable.

  6. I saw the Fleming biopic a few months ago, the one from the late 1980s. It’s entertaining. Guess who I spotted in a very small role…Christoph Waltz looking suave in a dinner jacket with Fleming at a nightclub, playing a spy.

    • Hi Marcus! I thought of your great posts comparing the Fleming books to the Bond movies as I was watching this doc. Which Fleming biopic did you see, what’s the title?? Christoph Waltz? Now THAT I gotta see!!

  7. Awesome reviews! I haven’t seen any of those but that Bond documentary sounds pretty great, I’m adding that to my watchlist. I love BBC costume drama productions – especially Jane Eyre – so I’ll try to see Emma too!

    • Thanks Sati! I can’t recommend that EON documentary enough, it was utterly fascinating for me. As for BBC costume dramas, I do love ‘em too. Btw, the writer for this Emma adaptation is the same one as the BBC’s Jane Eyre starring Toby Stephens. I presume you’ve seen that one?

      • That’s the one with Ruth Wilson as Jane? I loved it, i think it’s the best adaptation out there. I’m definitely going to try to see Emma soon.

        • Oh you can’t say that’s the best adaptation if you haven’t seen the 1983 version ;) At least as far as Rochester is concerned anyway. But yeah, do see this adaptation of Emma, Romola Garai is so lovely.

  8. Would love to see the story of Bond, but it’s not on DVD on Netflix yet ;-(. I guess I better get streaming one of these days…
    Saw The Fountainhead (1949) with Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal… wow, was I surprised at what a good film it is. Very over-dramatic in parts, and the dialog is straight from Ayn Rand so much of it is much more philosophical than it needs to be, but the real-life off-screen romance between Cooper and Neal really shows on screen. See for yourself:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vC5yxqKedTk

    • Hi Becky, nice that you saw a good classic movie. I still haven’t seen a single Gary Cooper movie yet :( Btw, that EON documentary is on Netflix Instant. You have that right?

  9. Puncture def looks like a pass for me. Glad to see you liked Emma. Romola Garai is one of my favorite younger actors.

    As for me I am in full winter hibernation mode. I did my app for TriBeCa Film Fest. Yesterday I watched American Masters on Jeff Bridges, a documentary on RFK and the speech he gave in Indianapolis following MLK’s assassination, one on abolitionists and finished the weekend off with an AlfredHitchcock triple bill of The39Steps TheLadyVanishes and Sabotage on TCM. Oh yeah and also saw His Girl Friday for the 100th time. Highly recommended.

    • Wow, looks like you’ve got some great stuff to watch there Iba. The feature on the abolitionists on PBS sounds fascinating, I missed that one but I heard the commercial on MPR. Is His Girl Friday part of Hitchcock collection also? Pardon my lack of classics knowledge :)

  10. the 007 docu is in my instant queue on Netflix right now. I can’t wait to see it now, esp after your review!

    stay warm Ruth. I wish I could send you some NM sunshine. maybe you should just come down this way instead. :)

  11. I saw that documentary Everything or Nothing, my favorite things about it were the use of all the beautiful Bond scores, and content-wise enjoyed new interviews with Bond actors, especially George Lazenby being so honest. A pity there were no recent interviews with Sean Connery, only archival footage. Anyway, I loved the doc, and in my top 10 of 2012.

    • I would’ve put that in my top 10 of 2012 as well Chris! Yeah, the Bond scores are awesome, I could’ve watched the EON doc on rotation just for the music! The choice of footage are entertaining as well.

      Yeah, interesting how Lazenby later realized what a big mistake he made acting like a superstar. But sounds like he’s accepted that and moved on with it. I enjoyed Dalton and Moore’s interviews as well, I’m still sad Dalton didn’t get to do his 3rd Bond movie that was in his contract. Darn those legal battles!

  12. Hmm, I’m not the biggest Bond fan, but that documentary does sound pretty interesting. Might have to look that one up.

    I worked most of the weekend but did find time to watch Bullhead. Really good Belgian film, though it was pretty depressing. Easy to see why it got an Oscar nod last year.

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