Movies out today: Time to get shaken, not stirred

And so the festive season glut of blockbusters begins, starting with one film that – with the widest cinema opening in South African history – is likely to break local box office records.

Skyfall:
After the fantastic franchise-rebooting Casino Royale and less impressive Quantum of Solace, Daniel Craig is back in the tuxedo of Ian Fleming’s deadly MI6 agent, James Bond. This time the increasingly despondent Bond must come to the aid of M (Judi Dench) when she’s targeted by cyber-terrorist Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem). Fortunately Ben Whishaw’s Q is around to kit out the suave spy with some effective new gadgetry. Meanwhile, Naomie Harris and Bérénice Lim Marlohe are Skyfall’s requisite Bond girls.

Every time a new 007 film comes out, it’s proclaimed as the best ever made (yes, even Die Another Day)… so take these claims with a pinch of salt. Skyfall is no different. This said, with Sam (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) Mendes in the director’s chair, the 23rd Bond flick apparently finds the perfect balance between action and character. Demonstrating some real emotional depth, it’s warm and darkly humorous. Still, at over 140 minutes, it’s a bit long, and the final Act won’t be to to everyone’s taste. 92% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

Finding Nemo (3D):
For a limited time only, catch the 2003  Pixar classic back on the big screen, this time in converted 3D. For those who don’t know the plot of this animated family adventure, clownfish Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) embarks on an epic journey from the Great Barrier Reef to rescue his son Nemo, who has been snatched up for a dentist’s fish tank. Marlin is aided by assorted marine allies, including cheerful amnesiac Dory (Ellen DeGeneres).

Finding Nemo ranks amongs the top 5 highest grossing animated films of all time. It also went on to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2004. Now in 3D form, it’s been celebrated as one of those rare re-releases that actually benefits from the visual dazzle of the new format.

The Oranges:
Suburban secrets and sexual dalliances take centre stage in this indie comedy. Nina (Leighton Meester) is a young woman who comes home for Thanksgiving, and promptly falls for David (Hugh Laurie), her parents’ married friend and neighbour. Oliver Platt and Allison Janney play Nina’s parents while Catherine Keener is David’s wife.

Obviously The Oranges’ main attraction is its excellent cast, but according to the majority of reviews, these talented performers are wasted. The Oranges isn’t a bad film, but it’s apparently too mundane and blunted to be memorable. American Beauty this one ain’t.

The Angels’ Share:
Screening in limited release is this award-winning Scottish comedy-drama. Paul Brannigan plays a working class Glasgow hooligan who vows to turn over a new leaf when his son is born. When he and the members of his community service group visit a whisky distillery, they realise a priceless, soon-to-be-auctioned cask holds the key to a better life.

The Angels’ Share won the Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of  95% Fresh. Although a touch uneven, the movie is funny, feel-good stuff for the most part – of the type that only the Brits can make. File this one alongside the likes of Brassed Off and The Full Monty perhaps.

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