Tag Archives: James Bond

A holiday season movie list

Here comes the time of the year filled with Christmas carols and endless family reunions. But this is also a time to step back, reflect on the year, and catch up on movies that we at DCIFF have been meaning to (re-) watch. To help you navigate this holiday season, here is a non-exhaustive list of movies to fill your cold winter days. The choice was driven by some holidays traditions from foreign countries, important events in the cinema world in 2019, and a few of my all-time favorites.

Varda by Agnès, by Agnès Varda (2019). The only female director of the French New Wave passed away last March, leaving behind an impressive legacy. It is impossible to pick just one movie from the exhaustive list of her works, but her last piece is essential – Varda by Agnès – in which she discusses her lifelong career, aspirations and techniques with the sense of wit and sensitivity that makes her so unique. It will make you want to re-watch her entire body of work, and you can luckily do so this month at the Lincoln Center retrospective in New York.

Agnès Varda, in Faces Places (2017)

A good old James Bond, for two reasons. First, if you are from the UK, this is probably on your list of holiday traditions anyway. However, we recommend these movies because the next episode of the adventures of 007 – No Time to Die – will be released in movie theaters in April next year, featuring Daniel Craig as his last stint as James Bond. So, do yourself a favor and watch the entire James Bond series and get ready for the new chapter.

A Christmas Tale, by Arnaud Desplechin (2008). In a cold city of France, a family reunites for Christmas, despite their unhealed wounds and resentment toward each other. But the movie is somehow joyful in its sadness, driven by strong and colorful characters. It also brings together the many actors that have been part of Desplechin’s work for a long time, who seem to have become his family.

Emile Berling, Mathieu Amalric and Catherine Deneuve in A Christmas Tale (2008)

Eyes Wide Shut, by Stanley Kubrik (1999), because it starts at a Christmas party and could be a good way to spice up your holidays between two long family gatherings.

Uncut Gems, by Josh and Benny Safdie (2019). Last but not least, the Safdie brothers gifted us with a new movie, released right on time for Christmas. It features Adam Sandler as a jewel shop owner and gambler, who keeps getting himself into a mess. If you enjoyed the hyper and bumpy ride that was Good Time (2017), Uncut Gems promises to be equally intense.

Mathilde for DCIFF

Mixing Bad: where are all the great chemical films?

A few steps from the corner of K and Sixteenth Streets is the American Chemical Society (ACS). a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress that represents chemists.  It is also the world’s largest scientific society. I recently sat down for lunch with ACS’s Lead Communications Officer, Joan Coyle to discuss the history and connection between chemicals and film along with Darcy Gentleman, Ph.D. Darcy is a scientist, a world-class mixologist and coincidentally, a film fan. One of his favorite quotes is in The Insider (1999) when conscience-stricken, Phillip Morris chemist Jeffrey Wigand, played by Russell Crowe, utters, “I love science.”


Darcy Gentleman and Joan Coyle (from ACS)
– photo Russ Imrie

“Much of the chemistry seen in Hollywood film occurs in sci-fi and super hero movies,” Coyle said, “Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes it’s bad. Chemicals [and science] in film inspire kids to enter the field and demonstrate how chemistry is a big part of our everyday lives. The bad part is inaccurate scenarios reinforce misconceptions of science.”

Chemicals and science (often gone very badly) have been used as plot devices since the early days of film. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) was particularly ghastly, following closely on WWI’s mustard gas butchery. In the 1990’s, Sean Connery starred in two films that bracketed popular ideas of chemicals and science. Medicine Man (1992) focused on the jungle search for obscure medicinal plants and unknown therapies while The Rock (1996) revolved around a suspenseful terrorism plot to wipe out San Francisco using nerve gas.

Conversely, within the last few years, scientists or chemists seem more positively portrayed in pop culture. For example, the character “Q”, the Quartermaster in charge of James Bond’s spy gadgets, had previously been played by older British actors, such as John Cleese. Instead, Skyfall (2012) director Sam Mendes chose 31-year-old Ben Whishaw, the youngest and most attractive to reprise the role.

“It’s [also] important to remember Hollywood produces films to make money—not to teach science or chemistry. An encouraging trend, though, is the increasing number of consultants hired to get the science right. In fact, the producers of Breaking Bad consult with expert members of ACS,” Coyle noted.

Linked listing to chemical/science themed films and programs – thanks to Darcy Gentleman, ACS. 

Russ Imrie blogs on tech, security, and WTFs at supTweet