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New year, new ideas!

9 Jan

Gosh, it’s 2013 already, and what’s occurring in the experience of Serendipity 3864?

Well, a few bits of interesting news and thoughts here, which I shall communicate in a brief numerical fashion! Continue reading

“How long have we got?” The James Bond blogs: ‘Quantum of Solace’ (2008)

11 Nov

Quantum of Solace is a James Bond film that wants us to forget it’s a James Bond film. Whereas Casino Royale raised our expectations of what a modern Bond film could be, Quantum of Solace seems almost embarrassed to be in the company of the franchise’s other entries; as if it’s determined not to be in any way formulaic or even representative of the series. On one hand this sounds a refreshing proposition; why should a new Bond film be a slave to past expectations and practice? What Quantum of Solace actually does is throw us uncompromisingly and suddenly into the action from the very first scene, and takes bold risks within its economical running time (Quantum harks back to the punchier duration of Dr. No or Goldfinger). These ‘risks’ with the overall presentation, render the film unlike most entries in the series. Difference is often a very good thing, and is welcome, as we’ve seen before with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Casino Royale, to name but two. But alienating your audience in the pursuit of being different, and sometimes sacrificing a clear narrative, is not welcome at all. Continue reading

“The bitch is dead now”. The James Bond blogs: ‘Casino Royale’ (2006)

1 Sep

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As with Timothy Dalton before him, Pierce Brosnan’s tenure as 007 was cut short by circumstances largely out of the lead actor’s control. Although Brosnan had fulfilled his contract for three films and an option on a fourth (which he did fulfil with Die Another Day), the actor was in talks for a fifth instalment, and the general consensus was that the cinema going public would like to see him return in a fifth instalment as well. Continue reading

“Vodka martini, plenty of ice… if you can spare it.” The James Bond blogs: ‘Die Another Day’ (2002)

13 Jun

During the pre-credits sequence of Die Another Day, I realised just how pleased I was to be seeing Pierce Brosnan in the role for a fourth time. He had proved himself a worthy addition to the ranks of Bond actors before him, and there had been none of the perceived failure (from certain quarters) associated with some earlier Bonds (Lazenby especially). Bond can be a fairly ridiculous character in some of the films, but Brosnan had never been anything but convincing, even if  his version of the character was far more removed from Fleming’s original creation than say Dalton or Connery’s interpretations. Perhaps his popularity lies in the ability to combine a bit of that grittiness with some of the light hearted quality of Roger Moore. Die Another Day is the 20th outing in the official series. Although Bond now transcends time and place (as you are not expected to consider this to be a spy who has been on Her Majesty’s secret service since the 1950s and ’60s), Die Another Day goes to some great lengths to celebrate the series’ past, as evidenced by a scene in Q’s workshop where various gadgets from earlier films are in evidence, including the jet pack from Thunderball. The female lead, Halle Berry, also emerges from the sea in homage to Ursula Andress in Dr. No, which is subtle enough to be welcome. All these nods to the past threaten to interfere with the rest of the film but never do, I’m glad to say. The problem with Die Another Day IS the rest of the film. Continue reading

“…never let them see you bleed….and always have an escape plan”, The James Bond blogs: ‘The World is Not Enough’ (1999)

3 Feb

I thought Goldeneye was a good return for Bond after six years absence. I’ve also always felt Tomorrow never dies was a worthy follow up, but not exceptional. For Brosnan’s third outing as Bond, though, we’re in a different league. The World is not enough is a very good entry, and gives Pierce Brosnan an epic adventure in the spirit of Thunderball and You only live twice. Here Brosnan also feels more like the Bond we knew and loved all those years ago. His seduction of his female Doctor while on sabbatical, echoes scenes of Connery at the health farm in Thunderball, and the ski chases are easily some of the best since The Spy who Loved Me. But this never feels like a deliberate ‘greatest hits’ package, unlike some earlier entries, and survives on its own merit as an exhilarating and comic action adventure.
The film has a great title for starters, and like Goldeneye takes its inspiration from a source linked to Bond’s creator Ian Fleming. Whereas Goldeneye was the name of Fleming’s Jamaican hideaway, The World is not enough was Bond’s family motto, as featured in his 1963 novel On Her Majesty’s secret service (and on screen in Peter Hunt’s 1969 film adaptation). Continue reading

“A relic of the Cold War, whose boyish charms, though wasted on me, obviously appealed to that young woman I sent out to evaluate you”, The James Bond Blogs: ‘Goldeneye’ (1995)

9 Oct

After legal wrangles that could have cost ‘Cubby’ Broccoli the continuation of the Bond film series, Bond did eventually return in 1995- after a six-year hiatus. Timothy Dalton stepped down from the role some time before, which was quite a loss for some fans that had warmed to his more Fleming friendly interpretation. Enter Pierce Brosnan, who had almost been Bond some years before until his contract for TV series Remington Steele got in the way. Finally he had his chance to make the role his own.

Brosnan's turn to shoot towards the gunbarrel

Goldeneye (named after Ian Fleming’s Jamaican retreat) is another original story; with enough nods to Bond’s creator to make it feel like a genuine Fleming based 007. Where Goldeneye is radically different to previous films is that is transplants James Bond into the (then) modern world in a way which had never been done before. All aspects of the cold war exist only in past tense, as this had to be a Bond of the new ‘Glasnost’ age. In many ways it feels like a brand new series, a luxury granted by the passing of so many years since Dalton’s second outing. The style has been refined and updated. How much you like this depends on how much you believe the Bond series has a place as a current franchise. ‘M’ is now a woman, played rather marvellously by Dame Judi Dench, and there is a new charming Moneypenny in Samantha Bond (the best name for the job perhaps). Desmond Llewelyn, looking far more aged, is a nice link to the ‘classic’ Bonds, as he reprises his role of gadget master ‘Q’. There is no Felix Leiter, however, despite the film having a role that could well have been Felix. Even if the films don’t directly carry on from each other, Felix was still alive and well (just) at the end of Licence to kill. Continue reading

“He was married once. But it was a long time ago”, The James Bond blogs- ‘Licence to kill’ (1989)

17 Sep

Timothy Dalton’s more intense and serious interpretation of James Bond has won him many fans, as they see his version as the closest to Ian Fleming’s original creation. Of course, many other people found him too dour for an escapist action adventure film, which is also why The Living daylights and Licence to kill are not as light hearted as other Bond films. However, whereas The Living daylights has several things in common with the later Roger Moore films (mainly the cold war era politics), Licence to kill follows a path not trod by any Bond film before. Not until Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, in the 2000s, would any Bond films follow such a vengeful story. In some ways this is the film Diamonds are forever could have been, if Broccoli and Saltzman had decided to do a true tale of bloody revenge following the death of Tracy Bond in On Her Majesty’s secret service. Those fans who were once worried about Quentin Tarantino directing Bond and turning it into a Kill Bill style bloodbath may well wonder what he would have done with the aftermath of Tracy’s death. In Licence to kill, it is Felix Leiter’s new wife Della who is murdered, and Felix himself is seriously injured. Bond is Felix’s best man, who returns to his friend’s home after he realises Felix’s nemesis- the drug baron Sanchez- has escaped gaol and is out to avenge his past failure. He finds the body of Felix’s wife and his friend is also there, but close to death. Continue reading