This second adaptation (followmg the 1967 spoof) of Ian Fleming's first 007 novel is pitched as a prequel to the 20 films that came before it. It begins wrth James Bond becoming a ‘double 0' licensed to kill agent and thereafter fills in how the fledgling killer became the cold-hearted professional assassin we all know. Blond. cropped and buffed Daniel Craig looks good as a young. thuggish Bond. But the sixth actor to play 007 is hamstrung by a script that tries to do too much wrth the character

and the franchise. 007's abrupt changes from killer to lover and back again, coupled wrth the film's constant shift between being a traditional Bond


This wildly imaginative fabulist fable from Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro works as a companion piece to his earlier excellent Spanish language ghost story, The Devil’s Backbone. Like that film, Pan’s Labyrinth locates supernatural events within the grimly realistic milieu of Spain’s Civil War, here seen in its closing stages. And once again the protagonist is an innocent child, in this case a daydreaming young girl named Ofelia (Ivana Baquero).

As the film opens, Ofelia and her pregnant and unwell mother arrive in the country’s mountainous northern region to join her new stepfather, a cruel captain in Franco’s army named Vidal (Sergi Lopez). With her mother bedridden and her stepfather busy snuffing out pockets of resistance, Ofelia is left to her own devices. She soon discovers a subterranean world populated by various fairytale creatures, including a fearsome faun who tells the girl that she is, in fact, a princess and that she must complete three tasks in order to return to her home.

The contrast between these two worlds is great, and the film underscores that by treating each in very different ways. While some aspects of the subterranean one are frightening (one of Ofelia’s tasks is to steal a dagger from a gruesome cyclopean giant that might have been dreamed up by Clive Books of Blood Barker), the colourful fairytale realm, with its animatronics monsters, otherwise resembles the similarly titled Jim Henson children’s fantasy, Labyrinth. It’s above ground, however, where the real terrors lie. Vidal’s war against the resistance fighters sees him smash a prisoner’s nose flat with a wine bottle and torture another almost to death, and in one particular nasty scene Vidal himself has his cheek slit from mouth to ear. Stomach-churnineg graphic, these sections of the film play like a horror movie.

The tonal shifts are very jarring, and the switch between children’s film and horror movie a little heavy-handed. But the film works well as an analogy to life in Spain during Franco’s repressive regime and when the country was liberated from it. Beyond that, Pan ’5 Labyrinth powerfully illustrates the point that the real world is more horrifying than any imagined one. Del Toro should be applauded for his clarity of vision. (Miles Fielder)

I Cameo. Edinburgh and selected release from Fri 24 Nov.

adventure and a more up-to-date espionage thriller (The Bourne Identity is the model) leaves Craig little room to put his own stamp on the role.

While Casino Royale boasts a strong leading man. the film itself is weak. It opens with a couple of great set pieces (Bond earning his double zero stripes by beating a man to death in a toilet and a chase sequence across a construction site in Uganda) and the first half of the film races along. But after Bond sits down for a marathon poker game at the titular Montenegro gambling palace the plot and pacing is lost and the film trails off to an anti- climactic close. And without a threatening Villain (Mads Mikkelsen's terrorist mastermind Le Chiftre doesn't Cut it) nor an alluring Bond girl (ditto Eva Green's snooty accountant). Casino Floya/e doesn't really feel like a Bond film at all. (Miles Fielder)

I General release from Fri 77 Nov. See Comment. page 45.

DRAMA SPECIAL (15) 82min 0..

There's a pantheon of Cinema that is fixated on the comic store as a metaphorical character The Lost Boys. True Romance and the movies of Kevin Smith spring to mind. The comic book store is the centre of their protagonists world. the fantastical realm they inhabit. Special wears this concept on its skin—tight lycra sleeve. Michael Rappaport (Hitch, video game Comic Book Villains) gives a tour de force performance as Les. a traffic cop who signs up for a medical experiment and comes out belieVing he's a superhero. This. though, is no Mystery Men type pastiche. the aesthetic and mood created by co-directors Hal Haberman and Jeremy Passmore is more akin to Oliver Hirschbiegel's Das Experiment than Hollywood superhero mowes. The director's toy wrth us by concealing like a superhero's real life alter ego whether Les actually has superpowers or is qurte simply delusional. All Les' decisions. such as designing a costume when he realises that he can only fight crime as a vigilante. are based on the logic of superheroes from the 508 and 608 golden age. but. alas. he lives in an all too modern world.

Special is flawed. mainly because the SuppOrting cast are not given sufficient screen time to stoke interest. yet it's undoubtedly the most intriguing dissection on superhero mythology since M Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable. (Kaleem Aftab)

I Cineworld Renfrew Street, Glasgow from Fri 77 Nov


Film news to keep you amused

I Future Shorts, Europe’s leading programmer and exhibitor of short films, comes back to Scotland this fortnight with screenings in Edinburgh at the Bongo Club on Saturday 18 November from 6pm and then in Glasgow at The Arches on Sunday 26 November from 7.30pm. The November programme incIUdes Claude Lelouch’s superb, rarer screened 1978 C’était un Rendez- Vous (pictured), a spectacular high-speed car race through the streets of Paris championed for its no editing, no tricks, no roadblocks method.

I At the CCA in Glasgow there is a free but ticketed programme of independent and DIY films from international lesbian, transgender. feminist and queer filmmakers on Wednesday 22 November. Visit for more information.

I Not only is there an exceptionally fine Italian Film Festival on the rampage ( but there is also the superb Heist Almighty! And Mondo Italia! seasons at both the GFT and Filmhouse. On top of that, from Sunday 26 November, there is a season celebrating the work of legendary cinematographer Miroslav Ondricek, the master Czech lens man behind Amadeus.


Rough Cuts has got a double whammy DVD giveaway for you lucky people. courtesy of Momentum Pictures and Freemantle Home Entertainment respectively. Jumping and laughing. that's what life is about and we‘ve got three c0pies of each to give you. To be in with a chance of winning one simply send an email marked ‘DlSTRlCT IANNUCCI' to stating your DVD preference. name. address and daytime telephone number. Usual List rules apply.

16—30 Nov 2006 THE LIST 43