Monthly Archives: January 2015


Image via Wikipedia

Well here we are, friends. The last Bond review I’ll have to crank out until the new theatrical release (oh, you thought this whole thing was over? think again! but now you’ll have to go two years between updates or however long it takes for each subsequent release). It only took me just under a couple years to get from Dr. No to this point. Skyfall is actually a really great movie to end this phase of the blog — it’s so self-referential to several previous Bond movies that I think I appreciated it more this time around than the first time I saw it in theaters.

The first sound starts with the opening strain of the Bond theme. And the pre-credits chase scene is Bond 101, with a beautiful woman conveniently driving up a getaway car while KNOCKING OVER ALL THE MARKET STANDS!! And although we’ve come to expect parkour with Daniel Craig, this time we get MOTORCYCLE-PARKOUR!

Adele is such a perfect pick for the Bond theme song — definitely reminiscent of Shirley Bassey in a way I don’t think we’ve heard since… Shirley Bassey.

I’m not sure which reintroduction makes me happier – Moneypenny or Q. Although no one can replace my beloved Desmond Llewellyn, and I fear with new-Q’s quip that exploding pens are a thing of the past, we won’t see any more weirdly dorky gadgets again.

Plot in twenty words or less: A former agent gone rogue is behind the leak of several MI6 agent names. It’s the most self-referential Bond movie.

How it’s aged: This is almost a very silly question to ask, and it’s hard to think about how this movie will be perceived in the future. But the first thing that struck me is that it is very “of its time” — when M sees how her computer has been compromised, she gets a sort of video that seems vaguely inspired by a meme you might see from a mild stew of Anonymous/chan culture/the places on Reddit you’re routinely warned to avoid. Then the terrorist cell starts leaking videos to YouTube — also very familiar.

Random thought — as we’re seeing Bond delve more into the word of what’s arguably signal intelligence, does this mean GCHQ would begin to play a role in the Bond world? I know very little (read: nothing beyond what I can find on Wikipedia) about British security/intelligence apparatus, but in real life would all of the intelligence work we see depicted in Skyfall really happen in the wheelhouse of MI6?

I wonder if it was really weird for British folks to watch all the mayhem happening with the Tube considering the 2005 London attacks deliberately targeted the city’s transportation system.

Something that was just weird and/or WTF y’all: I originally put this in the feminist commentary category, but moved it up here, because there’s precedent for talking about “Bond’s issues with consent and boundaries” in the WTF category:

Ugh, so we’re going to have to get the most problematic scene out of the way first. The rape-y shower scene. And the fact that Bond knows Severin was sold into prostitution as a young child makes it extra jacked up. I don’t really know what else to say about this scene except it really sucks and casts a real shadow on what is otherwise an almost pitch perfect Bond movie.

Obligatory feminist commentary:  Now on to the better stuff.

I really don’t think there’s enough digital ink spilled on the very tender relationship between Judi-Dench-M and Bond. My old boss and I used to talk about this (hi Lee, I know you read this!) and I think it’s a really underrated aspect of Daniel Craig’s turn as Bond. I don’t recall M having any children, and when Bond is addressing her, to my American ears it often sounds more like “Mum” than “M.” When Bond shows up at M’s apartment in Casino Royale, M tells him if he ever does that again she’ll have him killed, but when he does it again in Skyfall, she doesn’t tell him anything except not to sleep there tonight. It’s sort of like Bond knows that however badly he effs up, however lost he gets, he can always stop by the closest thing resembling home. I tend to be a movie-crier, and so I’m sure I probably weeped at M’s death when I first saw this in theaters (and I got a little misty-eyed on re-watch). I have faith in Ralph Fiennes at the new M, but I don’t see him having quite the same connection with Bond.

To say that I am excited by the seeming rehabilitation of Moneypenny, played by Naomie Harris, would be quite an understatement. And luckily it looks like she’ll be around in Spectre. I think her character could be really phenomenal, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Completely hypothetical cultural reference points: When Gareth says “we no longer operate in the shadows,” this seems to be a direct reference to Stella Rimington’s (famous archivist, former MI5 head, and allegedly the inspiration for Judi Dench’s portrayal of M) efforts to be more transparent about MI5.

Also I think the scene in which Dench testifies before a committee is reminiscent of the final scene in The Godfather, which cuts between scenes of unfolding terror and scenes of major gravitas.

Superficial Thing that did not Amuse Me: It’s always really bothered me that you never really see how Bond survives his fall from the train.

Superficial Thing that highly Amused Me: Radio as a useful gadget! What’ll they think of next?! I like the way Bond plays this when the helicopters come to his rescue.

Interesting and possibly dubious thing I learned from Wikipedia: For about half a second Sean Connery was considered for the part of Kincade. Also, Silva’s island lair was inspired by this Japanese island which has a pretty interesting history.

Martini rating: Seven martinis!!! martini-glass-1-32px_blogjamesblogmartini-glass-1-32px_blogjamesblogmartini-glass-1-32px_blogjamesblogmartini-glass-1-32px_blogjamesblogmartini-glass-1-32px_blogjamesblogmartini-glass-1-32px_blogjamesblogmartini-glass-1-32px_blogjamesblog

Administrative information concerning this viewing:

Drinks consumed: Hot tea and Sam Adams White Christmas

Food eaten: Leftover bibimbap

Viewed on: January 18, 2015

Viewing Partner: The Fiance and The Cat


Posted in review. Tagged with .

Quantum of Solace

Image via Wikipedia

So if you’ve ever doubted whether screen writers are worth the dough, or whether you could really just throw a bunch of monkeys on typewriters in a room and get a movie script, look no further than Quantum of Solace. Famous for having a half-baked script thanks to the 2007-2008 writers strike, this movie often ends up in many people’s worst Bond movies list. Look, this isn’t anywhere close to the top 10 Bond films, but I certainly wouldn’t place it at the bottom either. That said, let’s make sure the screen writers don’t have to go on strike again, because a “meh” Bond film is always a sad waste of 100 minutes.

Plot in twenty words or less:  The head of a criminal organization dedicated to overthrowing governments in developing countries is also behind a water privatization scheme

How it’s aged: The first post-credits scene in which the guy was about to be interrogated felt very much like some scenes from several post 9/11 movies or documentaries. Also thought it interesting that there were shots of the crowd minutes after Bond and the guy he was pursuing ran through because you rarely see the after-effects of Bond chase scenes collateral damage.

Something that was just weird and/or WTF y’all: How did Bond get his tux? It seems like he lifted it from an opera performer’s locker, but did he actually have a tux as his costume? Didn’t look like it from the scenes we caught of Tosca

Obligatory feminist commentary: I really appreciated the tender scene of Bond holding Matthis while he was dying, and it struck me that we see this again in Skyfall. Even though Craig is often credited with having an anti-hero swagger, I think he has an inner interior life we only really begin to appreciate in Skyfall. Building on the themes of M as a (reluctant) family figure… When Camille asks whether Greene tried to kill his mother, Bond replies “She’d like to think so” obviously referring to M.

I was trying to remember — I’m not sure if we’ve had any women acting out revenge narratives until now? On final reflection, this was the least amount of sexy times I’ve ever seen in a Bond movie — just some implied romps with Strawberry Fields and a chaste kiss with Camille at the end. Was he still nursing his sadness for Vesper or was it just because this script was a first draft (at best!)…?

Completely hypothetical cultural reference points: M’s debriefer is the Prime Minister from the first episode of Black Mirror. Also, did anyone else think the toppling of caskets off the top of the truck in Port Au Prince was an homage to the New Orleans funeral scene in Live and Let Die…? Obviously Strawberry Fields drowning in oil is the biggest self-referential scene of all time, back to Goldfinger.

Isn’t there another Bond movie where a bunch of people leave in the middle of some big public event? Or maybe some dystopian movie that came out in the last few years? Perhaps I’m having deja vu. I trawled the TV Tropes website in hopes of finding an answer, but came up short. If anyone can solve this riddle for me, I’d be grateful.

Superficial Thing that did not Amuse Me:  How the hell do they free fall through the air out of an airplane and Camille’s high heels are still on?

Superficial Thing that highly Amused Me: Love that M called the Americans’ bluff right away when they said Dominic Greene was not a person of interest — and in the next scene we see the American section chief meeting with him while Felix looks on. No matter how much sheen the American Empire loses, the Brits will never let us forget our inferiority when it comes to Bond movies.

Interesting and possibly dubious thing I learned from Wikipedia:  Amy Winehouse recorded a demo track for the movie

Martini rating:  Three martinis (under this guiding philosophy) martini-glass-1-32px_blogjamesblogmartini-glass-1-32px_blogjamesblogmartini-glass-1-32px_blogjamesblog

Administrative information concerning this viewing:
Drinks consumed: Sam Adams Old Fezziwig ale
Food eaten: Leftover soup
Viewed on: January 4, 2015
Viewing Partner: The Fiance and the cat

Posted in review. Tagged with .