Arriving almost stealthily but just in time to prove 2020 isn’t all bad, The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix is a riveting story of loss, genius, addiction and chess.
Smartly and economically written, gorgeously designed and shot, and with an excellent score (by Carlos Rafael Rivera) the series however, is owned lock, stock and barrel by Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Emma).
The actor plays orphan Beth Harmon and the seven episodes detail her meteoric rise through the world chess rankings. Director/writer Scott Frank (Godless) makes full use of Taylor-Joy’s eyes throughout, which seem to sometimes threaten to burn right through the screen. It’s a frequently astonishing performance, one that starts from those eyes and manifests a dark and fascinating inner life for her character. This was clearly a rather special collaboration between the two.
Based on a 1983 thriller novel by Walter Tevis (who also wrote The Hustler, The Colour of Money and The Man Who Fell To Earth), the story moves forward propulsively but never less than thoughtfully and also highlights a complicated but tender relationship between Beth and her adoptive mother, played by Marielle Heller.
The cast is uniformly good, featuring superb turns from the likes of Isla Johnston (as young Beth), Bill Camp (the care home janitor who spark’s Beth’s nascent talent) and Moses Ingram (as Beth’s closest friend, a character we should definitely have seen more of in the narrative).
But this is Taylor-Joy’s show and a great showcase for the young actor. Frank and Taylor-Joy give us a fascinating, magnetic character in Beth, and mostly avoid making her talent magical by highlighting her obsessive and destructive traits.
The Queen’s Gambit feels very much like a piece of classic Hollywood storytelling, yet rises above that with a cool boldness that feels utterly compelling.
The series brings a wonderful, stylish slice of viewing joy (sorry, not sorry) to a pretty awful year.
With the tedious inevitability of an unloved season (there’s one for long time Bond fans), No Time To Die, the 25th film in the James Bond franchise, has seen its November release pushed back for a second time.
Originally slated to release back in April, the final outing for Daniel Craig’s secret agent will now see the light of day on April 21st, 2021, just over a year later. Maybe.
MGM, Eon Productions and Universal were determined to make the November release, but it’s likely the solid but not spectacular box office take of Warner Bros.’ Tenet, along with the ongoing worldwide problems at the hands of Covid-19, have convinced the studios that Bond would need to cool his heels.
“MGM, Universal and Bond producers, Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, today announced the release of No Time To Die, the 25th film in the James Bond series, will be delayed until 2 April in order to be seen by a worldwide theatrical audience. We understand the delay will be disappointing to our fans but we now look forward to sharing No Time To Die next year,” says the official statement.
Wonder Woman 1984 and Black Widow had already delayed their early October and early November releases, respectively, so this latest delay is frustrating but not really surprising. Expect Dune to follow suit shortly and shift from its current Christmas Day release slot.
2020 is destined to be a terrible year for cinemas, so let’s hope things begin to improve in the new year…
The music video has been released for Billie Eilish singing the theme song from the forthcoming 25th entry in the James Bond franchise, No Time To Die.
While the song was originally released back in February, the official music video has been held back until now, due to the film’s Covid-19 related delay.
Now, with the film hitting cinemas in just a few short weeks (you can view the latest trailer here), we can see Eilish being sultry all over clips from the film, highlighting the troubled relationship between Bond and Dr. Madeleine Swann.
No Time To Die, Daniel Craig’s final outing in the tailored Tom Ford suits as 007, directed by Cary Joi Fukunaga from a screenplay by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Fukunaga and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, with a score by Hans Zimmer, and co-starring Léa Seydoux, Jeffrey Wright, Christoph Waltz, Lashana Lynch and Rami Malek, will be with us on 12 November (in the UK and Australia) and the 20th November (for the USA).