ANDREW COLLINS:FILM OF THE DAY
I recommended Skyfall, Daniel Craig’s third crack at James Bond, at Christmas. But on the off-chance that you had fallen asleep on your sofa in a paper hat, here comes 007 again, amid mounting excitement for his fourth, Spectre. Skyfall proved a new high watermark for the franchise, winning two Oscars (sound editing, song), and topping the 2012 UK box office. Sam Mendes re-energised the series to make it the most successful Bond ever. There’s a hot-button cyber-terrorism plot, Javier Bardem is a memorably homoerotic villain, we’re taken back to Bond’s family pile in Scotland, and Judi Dench gets more to do. Under a serious-minded director, the result is dark, paranoid and grave, but no less thrilling for that.
The Ipcress File ★★★★
A spy in specs couldn’t be further away from suave, casino carouser Bond, but Michael Caine’s turn here as Harry Palmer makes him no less enigmatic. It’s a now familiar tale of damn Russkies at the heart of the British Secret Service that also tapped into 1960s ‘brain drain” paranoia, but is made something special thanks in no small part to Len Deighton’s terrific source novel, while maestro John Barry’s score captures the mood perfectly.
Mamma Mia! ★★★★
Surely top of everyone’s guilty pleasures list, the Abba hits just keep on coming in this sunny, funny, feel-good musical based on the internationally successful stage show. Meryl knocks it out of the park, smashes it and owns it all at the same time. Stellan Skarsgard flashes his bottom — but Pierce Brosnan just shows his bum notes.
Mr & Mrs Smith ★★★
Family tiffs in the Smith house take on a whole new dimension when it turns out that the couple who appear to be the personification of suburban marital bliss are both professional assassins (is there such a thing as an amateur assassin?) whose next targets might well be each other. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie fit their roles perfectly and Ange even manages to make wellies look sexy.
Marvel Avengers Assemble ★★★★★
If you thought that comic book adaptations were only the preserve of the anorak-clad, never-had-a-girlfriend brigade, think again. Thanks to writer/director Joss Whedon, this superhero-stuffed adventure is a smart and witty romp that can also be enjoyed by us mere mortals.