James Bond, 'Slumdog' Or 'Christmas'?

Mark Jordan Legan takes us through reviews of Quantum of Solace starring Daniel Craig and Judi Dench, Slumdog Millionaire about a Mumbai orphan who wins on the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and Christmas Tale, a French film about mental illness starring Catherine Deneuve.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

This is Day to Day from NPR News. I'm Madeleine Brand.

ALEX COHEN, host:

And I'm Alex Cohen. As the holidays approach, the major studios start unleashing their bug guns like "Quantum of Solace," perhaps the strangest- ever James Bond title. Here to tell you what the critics think of the film itself and two other movies, here's Mark Jordan Legan with Slate's Summary Judgment.

MARK JORDAN LEGAN: Director Danny Boyle is truly eclectic. He's directed everything from the zombie movie "28 Days Later..." to "Trainspotting," to the children's film, "Millions." And now, he brings us the comedy "Slumdog Millionaire," about a teenage slum kid who blazes through India's version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" And just when he is a day away from winning it all, everything goes wrong.

(Soundbite of movie "Slumdog Millionaire")

Mr. MADHUR MITTAL: (As Salim) Mahman's(ph) guys are after us. We just have to escape.

Mr. DEV PATEL: (As Jamal Malik) Ayah(ph).

Mr. MITTAL: I left a message for you at work.

Mr. PATEL: (As Jamal Malik) There was no message.

Mr. MITTAL: (As Salim) I definitely left a message.

Mr. PATEL: (As Jamal Malik) There was no message. There was no message! There was no message! I will never forgive you.

LEGAN: The critics will never forgive you if you miss this one. The New York Post raves: just may be the most entertaining movie I've ever labeled a masterpiece. The Chicago Sun Times cheers: breathless, exciting, heartbreaking and exhilarating. And Variety called "Slumdog Millionaire" a blast.

In limited release is "A Christmas Tale." This dramedy stars Catherine Deneuve as part of a highly dysfunctional family that tries to get together for the holidays despite deep, running secrets and resentments that may bubble to the surface at any moment. In French, with English subtitles.

(Soundbite of movie " Un conte de Noel")

Unidentified Man: (French spoken).

(Soundbite of fistfight)

(Soundbite of woman shrieking)

(Soundbite of laughter)

LEGAN: See, families are the same all around the world. The critics love "A Christmas Tale." The Village Voice finds it a heady plum pudding of a movie, over-rich yet irresistible. And the Wall Street Journal applauds a long and probably funny and very beautiful film.

And last but not the least, "Quantum of Solace." With a title like that, you know we're talking about the latest Wayan Brothers' comedy. No, it's the new James Bond movie, and Daniel Craig is back as Bond, quantum-ing and solacing and, well, just being good old 007. Judi Dench also stars.

(Soundbite of movie "Quantum of Solace")

Dame JUDI DENCH: (As M) Vesper's boyfriend, Yusuf Cabirra(ph), the one who was abducted in Morocco, the one she was trying to save, his body was washed up on the beach in Ibiza. His wallet and ID were in his pocket.

Mr. DANIEL CRAIG: (As James Bond) Well, that's convenient.

DBE DENCH: (As M) Quite. Which is why I did a DNA check on a lock of his hair found in Vesper's apartment. It's not him.

LEGAN: Overall, the nation's critics are shaken and stirred. The Hollywood Reporter promises: Moviegoers seeking an adrenalin rush will be well-pleased. The Austin Chronicle shouts: It delivers the goods in bloody high style. And the Seattle Post-Intelligencer calls it one of the year's better action films. Not bad for the 22nd installment in this powerful franchise. "Quantum of Solace" gets its title from a Bond short story by creator Ian Fleming, but shares no similarities with the plot. There are only a few Bond story titles left that haven't been used for the films, but it's hard to imagine they'll use them.

(As movie announcer) James Bond in "The Hildebrand Rarity," or see Agent 007 in "The Property of a Lady."

Hm, depending on your point of view, kind of makes you long for "Octopussy," doesn't it?

COHEN: Special agent Mark Jordan Legan is a writer living in Los Angeles.

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