Monday, 11 December 2017

The Mountain Between Us (3½ Stars)

Let's be honest. Any film that stars Idris Elba is worth seeing, whatever it's about. I prefer to see him as an action hero, but even in quieter roles he can express an emotional depth. He's one of the best actors in Britain today.

Two people meet at Boise Airport in Idaho on December 28th. Dr. Ben Bass (Idris Elba) is a brain surgeon, Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) is a journalist. They've both booked a flight to Denver. Ben has to perform an operation the next day, Alex is getting married. Because of heavy storms the flight has been cancelled. That's an emergency for both of them. They decide to split the cost of booking a small charter plane.

While flying over the mountains in Utah the pilot suffers a stroke and the plane crashes. The pilot is dead. Alex is badly injured. Ben is relatively unharmed, only suffering a few small bruises. Alex has to rest three days before she can walk. After that they begin to walk across the snowy mountains looking for civilisation, accompanied by the dead pilot's dog.

Prior to the release of the film there was some excitement about the dog, a Labrador who's only ever called Dog. The trailer gave the impression that the dog would die, which caused complaints in Internet forums. This prompted the studio to make a statement that the dog would not die. I'm not aware that a film studio has ever released an official spoiler like that before.

The film features exceptional performances by the two leading actors, underlined by breathtaking mountain scenes. The weaknesses are in the story itself. The epilogue, after the two return to civilisation, should have been short. Instead, it was painfully dragged out. The film could have come to a conclusion 15 minutes earlier.

One Million Years B.C. (4 Stars)

This film tells a version of prehistoric times that you didn't learn in school. One million years ago there were small human tribes scattered over the Earth at different stages of cultural development. They had to protect themselves from the dinosaurs which wandered around the wastelands looking for food.

The film's hero, Tumak, is the son of his tribe's leader, Akoba. There's no social justice in the tribe. When a wild animal has been cooked the strongest eat first, and the weakest have to fight over the scraps. Just because a man is strong now it doesn't mean he'll always be privileged. While he's at his physical peak he can do whatever he wants, but when he gets old the younger men bully him and don't give him enough food.

Tumak thinks it's his time to step up. He rips the food out of his father's hand, but he soon finds out that he underestimated his father. Akoba wins a fierce battle, so Tumak is banished from the tribe. Tumak almost perishes, but he's found by the women of a blond-haired tribe. They have different ways. They share their food fairly. They even bury their dead, instead of leaving their bodies as food for wild animals.

There's a love story. Dark-haired Tumak falls in love with blond-haired Loana, played by Raquel Welch. Was this the world's first interracial marriage?

"One Million Years B.C." was made in 1966, four years after "Dr. No", which I watched yesterday. Compare the pictures of Ursula Andress and Raquel Welch, both screenshots from the respective films.

There's an uncanny resemblance. Actually, they should be even more alike. Raquel Welch's skin is darker. She only looks pale because of the film's lighting.

But the similarity doesn't stop there. They sound the same in the two films. When "Dr. No" was filmed Ursula Andress's Swiss accent was too strong to be easily understood, so her voice was dubbed by the German actress Nikki van der Zyl. It's no good checking the voice with other films. Nikki dubbed Ursula's voice in her other English language films.

Raquel Welch's Latin American accent was also considered too strong, so Nikki dubbed her voice in "One Million Years B.C." I have difficulty understanding why. The film's dialogue is all in a primitive language which seems to have a vocabulary of less than 10 words, so it shouldn't have been a problem for Raquel to speak her own lines. Ah, the mysteries of cinema!

There's another curiosity about the film. Among the promotional stills released for the film there was a photo of Raquel Welch hanging on a cross. She's wearing an outfit similar to the cloth bikini she wears in the film, but I can guarantee you that she isn't crucified in the film. It's a very sexy photograph, delightfully sacrilegious, but otherwise totally irrelevant.

Order from
Order from

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Dr. No (4 Stars)

This is the first James Bond film, made in 1962. I can't help wondering if anyone imagined that the James Bond films would still be successful after 50 years. Ian Fleming's novels, on which the character was based, were only moderately successful at the time. They didn't begin to sell well until after the first few films were made. The initial public reaction to "Dr. No" was mediocre. Critics called the film silly.

Then the film received support from two unexpected sources. The Vatican condemned "Dr. No" as a dangerous mixture of violence, vulgarity, sadism and sex, and the Kremlin said that Bond was the personification of capitalist evil. After recommendations like that everyone wanted to see it, and it became a huge box office success, relative to its budget. The critics also sat down and looked at the film again, realising it was better than they initially thought. It now has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 96%.

What makes "Dr. No" so good for me is being to analyse it in retrospect after seeing the other films. I can't remember when I first saw it on television, probably in my early teens, but I'm sure I didn't enjoy it as much back then. There are certain recurring motifs that take place in all or most of the films.While watching the film this evening I found myself chuckling whenever one of the motifs occurred.

The first and most obvious motif in the film is James Bond flirting with Miss Moneypenny, M's secretary. She's madly in love with him, but for Bond she's just a plaything. Their relationship is never consummated. By that I don't just mean that they don't have sex; they don't even go on a date. Bond always has an excuse when she starts insisting..

The real reason Bond doesn't take it any further is that Moneypenny is too plain for him. He's only interested in glamorous women like Ursula Andress. When he meets a woman like her there's no hesitation and there are no excuses. He gets her into bed before the end of the film. That's another regular motif: the Bond Girl. In actual fact, most of the films have two or three Bond Girls. There's one good Bond Girl who assists him in his mission, and there's one bad Bond Girl who works for his enemy. In this film the good Bond Girl is Honey Ryder, played by Ursula Andress, while the bad Bond Girl is Miss Taro.

This film is guilty of  whitewashing. Miss Taro is supposed to be Chinese, but she's played by Zena Marshall, a white British actress. The title character, Dr. No, is supposed to be half Chinese, but he's played by Joseph Wiseman, a white Canadian actor.

The optional third Bond Girl is another good Bond Girl who is usually killed in the first half of the film. This procedure is called fridging. A woman is said to be fridged if she is introduced into a film only to be killed, so that the male hero is even more determined to catch or kill the bad guy.

The second good Bond Girl in "Dr. No" is Sylvia Trench. She isn't fridged, and she's actually unique among all the Bond Girls. She's the only Bond Girl who appears twice in two consecutive films. The reason is that she was originally intended to be Bond's regular girlfriend. After the second film, "From Russia With Love", it was decided that Bond didn't need a girlfriend, so she simply disappeared.

If there are three Bond Girls, which one does James Bond sleep with? All of them! In most cases Bond is such an incredible lover that the bad Bond Girl falls in love with him and turns against her master. But not this time.

That introduces the third motif: Bond is irresistible to women. Some try to resist him, but none can succeed. He only has to walk into a room and the women stare at him longingly.

The fourth motif is that Bond is that Bond always wins in the casinos. He has skill at games like Poker, but even when he plays games of chance he never loses.

The fifth motif is that in each film he has to face a criminal mastermind with far reaching plans that can be anything from world domination to simply destabilising the world. In this film Dr. No only wants to ruin America's space program by making the moon rockets crash.

The sixth motif is that the evil mastermind never kills Bond when he has the chance. He spends time talking with Bond as if they were friends, boasting to Bond about all the details of his plans.

The seventh motif is a car chase in almost every film. The chase in this film is simple because of the relatively small budget. As the films continue the chases become longer and more extravagant.

The eighth motif is that the film ends with a big explosion. This almost didn't happen in "Dr. No". The budget was exhausted before the explosion could be filmed. The producer, Albert Broccoli, asked United Artists for extra money to film the explosion, and he was given another $100,000. That was 10% of the film's budget! Fortunately the explosion succeeded first time, or the film would have ended with a puff of smoke instead of a big bang.

That's all the motifs I can think of in this film. Others start later in the series, and I'll mention them when we get to them. Did I forget anything? Please let me know.

Order from
Order from
Order from

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Cosmic Calendar Girls (4 Stars)

It was with great sadness that I heard about the death of August Ames yesterday. She hanged herself on December 5th, four days ago, but the story wasn't made public at first. Now it's been reported on dozens of web sites. Most of the articles call her a "porn star", which is all that most people need to know to judge who she is. Porn stars enjoy a low esteem in the general public, especially female porn stars. Since the advent of high speed Internet it's become common to watch pornography, but people still look down on the actors and actresses who provide the entertainment they enjoy. What people forget is that there's a lot more to the porn stars, or adult entertainers, as they prefer to call themselves. They might be married, own pets, be well educated or active in their communities. They might be sensitive and afraid. Every one of them is a unique human being. They're just people who have chosen a certain career, supposedly one of the most difficult careers.

I wanted to write a tribute to August yesterday. I couldn't bring myself to do it. I read all of the online articles I could find. I read the final tweets on her Twitter account. I wanted to write a summary, adding my own thoughts. I couldn't do it. It hurt too much.

So today I took the logical step of watching one of her films to remember her in the privacy of my own home. I own three films she stars in on DVD: "Cosmic Calendar Girls", "High Heel Homicide" and "Model for Murder". Most of August Ames' films were hardcore pornography, but she also made a small number of softcore pornography films, which are more to my taste. As far as I remembered, out of the three films "Cosmic Calendar Girls" is the film in which she plays the biggest part, so that's the film I chose. I may watch the other two soon.

August Ames plays Ilya, a calendar model from Galaxia in the seventh star system of Orion. This is Ilya's normal appearance. For unknown reasons last year's calendar sold badly. I wonder why. Maybe the Galaxian feminists have been staging protests against women being objectified?

The publishing company wants to try something new. Ilya has dressed up as an Earth girl to make the calendar look more exotic.
What do you think? They might be on to a winning idea. If it doesn't succeed they could always try making a calendar with kittens and puppies next year. But let's give Ilya a chance first.

August Ames is stunning, even as a blonde. I would buy her calendar. The Galaxians hire Earth's top photographer to take pictures of her in the natural surroundings of Earth. Unfortunately, there are problems that prevent the photoshoot taking place. Ilya falls into the temptations of Earth. She drinks too much alcohol, which makes it impossible to maintain her Earth girl appearance. She starts to revert to her Galaxian look.

Now let's talk about the circumstances that led up to August's death.

It all began with a battle on Twitter. When I looked at August's account yesterday morning there were a large number of tweets. When I checked again today most were gone. Maybe Twitter removed them. Maybe the tweeters themselves felt ashamed of what they'd written and removed their own tweets. I hope the latter is the case. It's possible that there were even more messages that had already been removed before I checked yesterday. I don't know.

On December 3rd August Ames posted that she had refused to perform a sex scene with a man on the grounds that he regularly performed gay pornography. Her anger wasn't directed at the man, the porn star Bruce Beckham. She was angry with her agent for signing her up for this film, because she had clearly stated that she didn't want to perform with gay men or crossover men. ("Crossover" is the insider term for straight men who perform homosexual acts in films).

The first attack came from Bruce Beckham himself, who called her homophobic and uneducated. August defended herself by saying that she wasn't homophobic, because she's bisexual and feels strongly attracted to women. She added that many female porn stars refuse to perform sex scenes with men who are gay or crossover. For August the refusal to have sex with Bruce had nothing to do with homophobia, she was merely exercising her right to decide who she wanted to have sex with. Allegations were raised that the health checks in the gay porn industry aren't as stringent as in the mainstream porn industry, but this has been denied by others. I'm no expert on the subject, so I shan't comment further. What I can say is that for two days people were arguing about the subject. The claims of homophobia continued, while August's friends jumped in to defend her. Then she killed herself.

It's a clear case of cyberbullying. There's no doubt about it. Obviously, a stronger person wouldn't have reacted that way. August was a sensitive person, and the insults hurt her. She had already admitted to suffering from depression on occasions. But that's the way it is with any type of bullying, whether it's on the Internet or in the school playground. It's always the weak people who are the targets of the bullies. It's no fun attacking strong people. When I first entered grammar school there were bullies who picked on me. It didn't last long. They gave up when they realised that I didn't care.

However weak August may have been before her suicide, it was the bullies who pushed her over the edge. They're responsible for her death. They killed her.

This evening I've noticed that the discussions are still continuing. Bruce Beckham himself initially claimed to be guiltless in her suicide, but in his later tweets he expressed remorse. Unfortunately his friends are undoing his feelings of guilt by telling him it's not his fault. There's nothing wrong with feeling guilt. Guilt is therapeutic. If you tell yourself you did wrong you're less likely to make the same mistake in the future.

There's a small irony in the film "Cosmic Calendar Girls". At the end of the film August Ames begs the photographer to have sex with her, but he refuses, because he knows what she really looks like. She seeks solace by having a threesome with two other women. Homophobic? No way! She has sex with women after being refused by a straight man.

I'll end this review by posting a small photoset of August Ames, fully clothed. This should help those who didn't know her before now to appreciate her. Out of respect, I'm only posting photos in which she's fully clothed. If you want to see more explicit photos or videos of her there's a website called Google which will point you in the right direction.

The copyright holder for these photos is the Canadian film studio Twisty's. I hope they will allow me to use these images to honour August Ames in her death.

August Ames
August 23, 1994 – December 5, 2017

Friday, 8 December 2017

Monster (5 Stars)

"I'm not a bad person! I'm a real good person!"

When I reviewed "My Friend Dahmer" in September this year I was challenged by a friend who said it was wrong to make a film about a serial killer, because he shouldn't be glorified. I insisted that the film in no way glorified him, but she refused to watch it herself to form an opinion. Earlier this month I was involved in an online discussion about "The Killing of John Lennon", a biopic about Mark Chapman, and similar arguments were brought. Most of the people in the discussion said that it was wrong to make a film about a bad man who had killed their hero.

In both cases I defended the films. A murder or a series of murders can't be seen in a vacuum. There are millions of people on the Earth, but very few killers and even less serial killers. What makes a person that way? How can I prevent my children from turning into serial killers? Describing a person's thoughts and motives in a film doesn't mean that the director is saying he was right to do what he did.

The film "Monster" is about the much publicised case of Aileen Wuornos, a woman who was sentenced to death in 1992 after killing seven men. She was given six death sentences, but she appealed against one of the sentences on the grounds that the killing was in self-defence. The appeal was refused because it was pointless; even if she'd been found innocent of one murder, she would still have been guilty of the other five murders. She was executed in 2002.

Charlize Theron puts on puts on a stunning performance as Aileen Wuornos, for which she deservedly won an Oscar as Best Actress. Roger Ebert called "Monster" the film of the year. The excellent screenplay by the director Patty Jenkins (who also directed "Wonder Woman") gives a fascinating insight into her mind. Was she a good person who was pushed over the edge, or a clinical psychopath who couldn't have ended up any other way? Patty Jenkins leaves the decision up to the viewer. Aileen grew up as a naive young person looking for love. As a child she was repeatedly sexually abused by friends and family members. When she was 14 she became a prostitute, because it was the only thing she was good at.

In 1986 Aileen met and fell in love with Tyria Moore, whose name is changed to Selby Wall in the film. Love usually saves a person, but in this case it had the opposite effect. Selby was unemployed, so Aileen needed to earn more money to support two people. Prostitution was no longer enough. Aileen could make more money by robbing and killing her customers. Though not stated in the film, it could also be that after becoming a lesbian she found sex with men too revolting to continue her work as a prostitute.

The film is honest in its portrayal of Aileen Wuornos. When we see her killing for the first time in self-defence the viewer is cheering her on, saying that he deserved to die. Then we see her killing her other customers who aren't so bad, they're just lonely men willing to pay for sex. Finally we see her killing a man who doesn't even want sex from her, he only wants to help her. The initial sympathy which we had for her slowly ebbs away.

My film ratings are often erratic, but I have one small rule that I adhere to. Any film that makes me cry gets five stars. It's a deeply emotional film. I could feel Aileen Wuornos' madness. That made me cry.

Order from
Order from
Order from

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Spectre (4 Stars)

This is the fourth film in the New Bond series. Like the previous film, "Skyfall", it's directed by Sam Mendes, but it has a completely different feel to it. It's a darker, more depressing film. This is intensified by the cinematography, which uses dull colours, even in daytime scenes. I'm glad that I've watched the Daniel Craig Bond films (almost) back to back, four films in six days. That's the only way to notice subtle changes in style.

Why is "Spectre" darker than the previous films? It's the arrival of Bond's nemesis Blofeld, whose full name is Ernst Stavro Blofeld. He introduces himself as the man who has been making Bond suffer for years; at least for the last four films. We can expect him to continue making Bond suffer for years to come. Does this mean we can expect more dark, depressing Bond films? I hope so. We had 40 years of camp James Bond films, especially in the Roger Moore years, so it's time to try something new.

Blofeld is played by Christoph Waltz. In an interview after the film's release he said that he wasn't satisfied with his performance. It's the mark of a great actor -- or a great anything else -- that he's the biggest critic of his own work. I felt that he played the part admirably, but he must see minor faults that aren't apparent to me. It depends on what he's trying to achieve. Is he attempting to model himself on any one of the past incarnations of Blofeld? In the Classic Bond films he was played by five different actors. For me Donald Pleasance is the version of Blofeld that I most fondly remember. Telly Savalas was so different that he seemed like a different person.

Donald Pleasance was a superbly evil version of Blofeld. Telly Savalas ran around too much, which made him seem comical. Christoph Waltz is somehow creepy as every bad guy that he plays, and that fits the role of Blofeld. I assume that he'll try to be closer to his vision of the role in the next Bond film. When I see him again I'll better understand what he's trying to achieve.

"Spectre" adds something to the character of Blofeld that wasn't in the Classic Bond films or the Ian Fleming novels. Bond and Blofeld are brothers! By adoption, at least. After the death of Bond's family he was adopted by Blofeld's father. At the time Blofeld used his birth name, Franz Oberhauser. He despised his adopted brother so much, feeling jealous of the attention his father gave him, so he killed his father, faked his own death and changed his name. Blofeld is his mother's maiden name, but his new Christian names are random.

There's a subtle irony that my friends missed when I went to watch "Spectre" with them in the cinema two years ago. In the Austin Powers films Dr. Evil, pictured above, is a parody of Blofeld. In the third film, "Goldmember", he reveals that he's really Austin Powers' lost brother. Now "Spectre" has copied this idea from "Goldmember". James Bond influenced Austin Powers, and now Austin Powers is influencing James Bond. I wonder if this crossed the minds of the screenwriters when they were writing the script.

Could Daniel Craig and Christoph Waltz be brothers? Even though the relationship is only by adoption there are certain similarities. Judge for yourself.

Where did the film take me on my virtual holiday today? London, as always, followed by Mexico, Morocco, Italy and Austria. Who needs to fly to other countries when he has a Blu-ray player?

You can skip the rest of this post if you don't speak German. Here's a newspaper report about the death of Blofeld's father. It contains a few errors and examples of poor style that could have been avoided by letting Christoph Waltz, a native Austrian, take a quick look at it. "Tal" and "gebracht" are two separate words that shouldn't have been combined. The word separation is faulty throughout. Probably the text was typed using an English version of MS Word, and the English language word separation algorithm was used. A German would never separate "Obduktionsbericht" as "Obduktionsberi-cht". Also, it's not usual to call the body of a dead person a "K├Ârper". The word "Leiche" would be used. That's sloppy.

Order from
Order from
Order from

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Aus dem Nichts (5 Stars)

Family. Justice. The Sea.

This is Germany's selection for the Best Foreign Language film in the 2018 Academy Awards. Diane Kruger won the award for Best Actress at the 2017 Cannes Film festival. The title means "Out of nowhere", but for some inconceivable reason it's called "In the Fade" in English. What's that supposed to mean? It's an emotionally intense film. In the cinema this evening the audience was so silent that you could have heard a pin drop.

Diane Kruger plays Katja, a young German woman who has married Nuri Sekerci, a Kurdish man in Hamburg who owns an office that works supporting immigrants, giving tax and legal advice, translation work and even selling discounted plane tickets to Turkey. One evening a Neo-Nazi couple plants a nail bomb outside the office, killing Nuri and his son.

If I stopped my review there you would think you know what the film's about: Nazis, immigration, racism, politics, etc. You would be wrong. Those subjects, however important they are, are just the background for a psychological drama about the fight for survival of a woman whose whole life has been ripped from under her feet. The film isn't about the victims of the attack, and it only indirectly concerns the perpetrators of the attack. It's all about Katja.

After a shaky beginning, Katja had a perfect life. She met Nuri when he was a drug dealer selling hashish. They fell in love, but before things could progress he was arrested and spent four years in prison. That was the kick that Nuri needed to turn his life around. While in prison he did a degree in Economics, and after being released he went straight. His father gave him the start capital for his business, and he was able to provide a good life for Katja and their six-year-old son Rocco.

Then Nuri and Rocco are killed. Katja survives, but she's the real victim.

A woman in a position like that needs help. But what happens?

Katja's parents blame her for marrying a bad man, a foreigner and an ex-convict.

Nuri's parents blame Katja for their son's death.

The police investigations concentrate on Nuri's criminal past. They don't believe that he could have bought such a large house as a legal adviser for immigrants, so they assume he was selling drugs on the side.

Katja's life spirals out of control. She turns to hard drugs, which she had never used before. She attempts suicide. The only thing that gives her hope is the arrest of the couple who planted the bomb.

But after a long trial there's not enough evidence to convict them.

I enjoy films that portray strong women. I like films that don't show women as weak creatures who have to rely on men to do everything that they need. However, I understand that this can be alienating for women viewers. "That woman on the screen is so confident. She can do everything she wants, but I'm nothing like her". That's the downside of films about strong women. But that's not what we have in this film. Katja is a weak woman. She's someone that the average woman on the street can relate to. A catastrophe comes, and she's knocked flat on her back. That's no shame. What woman wouldn't be emotionally wrecked if her husband and son were murdered? Katja looks to others for help and doesn't get it. She wants to give up. That's still fully understandable. But then, when all seems lost, she pulls herself together and finds strength in herself that she didn't think she had.

I recommend this film to every woman everywhere. Men might like it as well.

Skyfall (5 Stars)

Until today this was the only James Bond film that I had never seen. My friends already told me before I went to see "Spectre" in 2015 that "Skyfall" was the best Bond film ever. Then I read that "Skyfall" was the biggest box office success of all the Bond films, the seventh most successful film of all time, but even that didn't tempt me to catch up with it.

Now I've finally seen it for myself. It's an amazing film, especially in contrast to the relatively weak "Quantum of Solace". Maybe it's because of the arrival of a new director, Sam Mendes? I don't know. Whatever the reason is, "Skyfall" stands out as a classic. At the moment of writing this I'm still trying to think if there's any justification for giving it less than five stars.

Q and Moneypenny are back, after I complained about their absence in the last two films. However, they're completely different characters, even if they share the same names. In the Classic Bond films Q was an inventor who supplied James Bond with the most adventurous and infeasible gadgets. The new Q only gives Bond a gun and a radio. When Bond looks disappointed, Q's reply is "Were you expecting an exploding pen? We don't really go in for that any more".

James Bond makes remarks about Q's youth. The actor Ben Whishaw was actually 31 when the film was made, but it's true, he hardly looks a day over 20. Rather than being a seasoned old man like Desmond Llewelyn he's MI6's whizz kid.

In the Classic Bond films Miss Moneypenny's first name was never stated. She worked as M's secretary. It was an often repeated joke that she had a crush on Bond, and he flirted with her on every visit, but whatever promises Bond might have made to take her on a date never came to fruition. Miss Moneypenny always looked plain, in comparison to the sexy girls that he bedded in each film. Please don't accuse me of judging women by their looks, I'm just telling you how Bond judged women. If Miss Moneypenny had worn a short skirt and thigh high boots Bond would have wanted her.

In "Skyfall" we're told that her first name is Eve, which isn't much of a deviation from Classic Bond, but just look at her! When I first heard that Naomie Harris had been cast as Miss Moneypenny I shook my head and said "No, no, no. She's much too beautiful to be Miss Moneypenny". James Bond wouldn't have ignored her for 50 years if she'd looked so hot, even without the thigh high boots. That's what I thought in 2012, and it was one of the many reasons I didn't go to the cinema to watch "Skyfall". I think differently now. She's not the same Moneypenny, she's a new character with the same name. She can't just type, she's a field agent who is an expert sniper. She says in the film that she's applied for a desk job as M's secretary, though I find that a bit difficult to believe. Field agent to secretary seems too big a descent.

There's one small detail in the film which I consider significant. James Bond's Aston Martin is fetched out of storage, only to be destroyed a few scenes later. Sam Mendes wanted to emphasise that the old Bond is gone and a new Bond has stepped into his shoes.

In my review of "Tracks" last month I explained that I don't need to go on holiday, because films take me around the world. The best way to enjoy an instant cinematic holiday is to watch a James Bond film. All of his films jump from one country to another. "Casino Royale" took me to London, Italy, the Bahamas and Montenegro. "Quantum of Solace" took me to London, Italy, Austria and Bolivia (although the Bolivian scenes were actually shot in Chile). Today I used "Skyfall" to visit London yet again, followed by Istanbul, Shanghai and finally the most beautiful country on Earth: Scotland! Skyfall is the name of the Bond family estate in the Western Highlands. This estate is fictional, but the location is Glen Etive, a few miles south of Glencoe. The area between Fort William and Glencoe is the most attractive part of Scotland. Some people prefer Skye, and I admit that Skye is beautiful, but I contend that the people who prefer Skye have never spent time walking through the mountains and valleys of Glencoe. I have visited the area many times.

Here are a few screenshots from the film to show what I mean.

I could have posted 50 screenshots from the film, but these pictures should be enough to show what the Scottish scenery is like. Glen Etive is a wonderful place to visit, but a difficult place to live. It's a long walk to the next supermarket.

But now I've finally decided. Five stars is the rating the film deserves.

Order from
Order from
Order from