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Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

Continuing excellent work, chrisno1!  ajb007/cheers  I must say, it's quite eerie how your views of the films generally mirror my own...you may need to hire some security...   ajb007/amazed  ajb007/biggrin

"Blood & Ashes"...AVAILABLE on Amazon.co.uk: Get 'Jaded': Blood & Ashes: The Debut Oscar Jade Thriller
"I am not an entrant in the Shakespeare Stakes." - Ian Fleming
"Screw 'em." - Daniel Craig, The Best James Bond EverTM

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Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS
20/10/08

Ian Fleming’s short story The Living Daylights has James Bond refusing to kill a female sniper during a dangerous defection. The action takes place across three days at the Berlin Wall and it is a reflective, if slight tale. Here the basic premise of that story is blown up into a perplexing tale of drug running, diamonds, defections, assassinations, arms dealing, KGB power struggles and the Afghan war. That the film holds together at all is due in no small part to Timothy Dalton’s remarkable debut as 007.

Roger Moore had slid the slippery slope for one or two films too many and on his retirement and Dalton’s eventual appointment, there was hope that James Bond may return to something like his old self. He certainly does and The Living Daylights is the most down to earth and gritty adventure for some time, although the production team do have difficulty shaking off the legacy of seven fairly trivial escapades.

But firstly, lets consider Dalton’s portrayal of James Bond. We are introduced to him during a training exercise in Gibralter. It all goes horribly wrong, but there is a refreshing no-nonsense attitude on view here. Dalton’s Bond doesn’t utter a word during his retaliatory killing of a Soviet infiltrator. When he does reveal himself as “Bond, James Bond” he is abrupt, businesslike. This Bond has attitude. He smokes and he drinks, he’s an angry Bond, a slightly arrogant Bond with an old fashioned lack of respect for authority.

We get this impression from the off, when, in aiding the defection of  General Koskov, he scowls through a conversation with his contact Saunders, a brilliant Thomas Wheatley, who he clearly considers a man out of his depth. They irritate each other and the pair are excellent here and in later scenes when Saunders uncovers some vital information. Bond shows grudging respect for this slightly pompous functionary and a display of rashness, followed by controlled anger at his death is wholly believable. Bond recognises good work and reliabilty when he sees it. Hats off to Dalton’s good work in letting us see it also.

Saunders’ role replaces that of the female victim, for there is only one woman for Bond in this movie, the cellist and supposed assassin Kara Milovy, played with just the right ammount of innocence and bewilderment by Maryam D’Abo. Kara is a pawn in a bigger game she doesn’t understand. Her confusion is well represented, first in a daring escape from Bratislava and then a dreamy day in Vienna, where she clearly falls in love with Bond. What makes these scenes so impressive isn’t D’Abo, who is adequate at best, but Dalton who is playful, teasing and romantic, even down to his smile and a twinkling eye. He’s so plausible that we can’t tell if he’s falling in love or not. He keeps us – and Kara – guessing, something Connery didn’t even bother to achieve in similar scenes in From Russia With Love. Curiously their relationship appears to be chaste; this is a very sexless Bond.

The early goings on in Eastern Europe are the best part of the film, recalling some of Bond’s earliest cinematic adventures and doffing the cap to Ian Fleming’s originals with some recognisably traditional goings on. Even a car chase with a few too many smart stunts and not enough chasing can’t ruin this segment of the film.

Not so the trio of histrionic villains, led by a ridiculous Jeroen Krabbe as Koskov, a Russian General who acts like a spoilt schoolboy, and Joe Don Baker as Whitaker, an American arms dealer who resides in a castle in Tangier. He isn’t your usual mad scientist, merely a fake general with a mercenary army. These are awful roles matched by terrible performances. Andreas Wisniewski’s killer Necros has the most success, but even he’s a pale imitation of previous Bond psychos and ends up playing accidental security guard to a ticking bomb. It’s something when the most realistic bad guy turns out to be one of the good guys and John Rhys-Davies is commanding as the new head of the KGB, Pushkin.

This over the top triune does have a masterplan, but it takes us an awfully long time to find out what it is, and when we do the action has switched to Afghanistan and becomes less interesting. Bond and Kara escape from a Russian air base and fall in with some jolly rebels, who help Bond save the day. It’s fairly comic strip stuff and doesn’t sit well next to a humourless scene where Bond and Kara witness the futility of war as they pass through a devestated village. This is as close to the real world as James Bond has ever got and it makes uncomfortable viewing in what is essentially escapist entertainment.

There is still time for an attack on the air base with lots of explosions, death and destruction, though this battle seems to have been created as a device to ensure Bond and Necros fight to the death suspended on a bale of opium outside an airbourne transport plane. Heart in the mouth stuff this. Yet other than Necros’ fatal fall from grace, the baddies don’t put up much of a fight. Bond’s elimination of Whittaker, in a scene reminiscent of the movie version of Callen, is uninspired, while Koskov isn’t even killed, miraculously escaping a head on collision between a jeep and an airplane. Is he so lovable the producers wanted to bring him back for a rematch, like Jaws? Thankfully not.

There is a tendancy in The Living Daylights to over do things. The climax is protracted and several scenes and characters could have hit the cutting room floor. There is, for instance, no need for Felix Leither and the CIA to be involved. Additionally the concluding assembly of all the principal characters at Kara’s solo debut is unwelcome. The writers have forgotten the film is about James Bond, not Kamran Shah, General Gogol et al.

Happily this doesn’t detract from something of a return to form for 007. It isn’t the best of Bond’s and the production values, with a nod of gratitude to the stunt arranger and composer, are not the greatest. However both script and direction are markedly improved on recent efforts. It’s less tongue in cheek, more serious and while not particularly malicious, it isn’t without violence. Ultimately, it’s Timothy Dalton’s clipped delivery and astute playing that ensures the film stays edgy and close to it’s slight, but reflective, Ian Fleming roots.

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Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

LICENCE TO KILL
20/10/08

Something has changed in the world of James Bond. While cinema’s greatest secret agent has always been tough and resiliant, he’s also had a wry smile and a sparkle to his eye, suggesting that he’s well aware of the absurd nature of his predicament. Sadly, in Licence To Kill the mocking under current beneath Bond is missing. In its place is a deadly serious display of revenge and recrimination.

Certainly the film has its fair share of exciting set peices, but they are strung together with little or no consideration of how to construct a decent story. There are so many chapters to this tale it becomes disjointed and leaps between its big bangs and fights with manifest unease. Bond is hunting Franz Sanchez, a South American drug lord, the mutilator of his best buddy Felix Leither and murderer of Della, Felix’s newly wed bride. The screenplay is strong on motive, but the background story of cocaine and stinger missiles and TV fundraising is confusing beyond belief.

To be fair, writers Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum have tried to inject some of Bond’s creator into the film. From Live And Let Die we see Bond infiltrate the warehouse where Leither was ripped to pieces by a shark; from Diamonds Are Forever we have the staged managed blackjack game; and from the short story The Hildebrand Rarity we have the Wavekrest yacht, its owner Milton Krest and a mistress who is beaten with a shambok cane. Unfortunately rather than using these as a spring board for the story, the writers insert them into the action and Fleming’s Bond is left floundering.

Most of all, Licence To Kill is an unsettling film because of Timothy Dalton. His first crack at Bond was full of subtlety and grace. This timeout he rarely shifts from a grim, determined facade. He may point out that it’s a man’s world, but we can see on the face of his female accomplice she is hardly impressed. He is even asked by the masochistic mistress Lupe “Do you men know no other way?” It makes uncomfortable viewing. At the end of the film he’s left bruised, battered and barely standing, but we don’t have a lot of sympathy for him in his victory;  he hasn’t made us care very much.

To make up for the lack of a soul at the centre of this film, the director John Glen impresses with the thrills and spills, but comes unstuck a number of times when dealing with the convoluted plotting and the vast array of actors on show. Much of what we are viewing doesn’t make a lot of sense, even at close inspection there are numerous plot holes. Worse, in a film pertaining to realism, the characters make an awful lot of bad and ill informed decisions. This is most notable in the mawkish wedding sequence where Felix can’t leave his work alone for a few minutes and Bond, his best man, fails to get him to his wedding on time. Frankly, Bond should stop attending weddings;  the marriages don’t go very well. It’s an immature beginning to a very adult film.

After this shaky start Bond goes free lance and destroys a shipment of drugs bound for Miami. Here he meets Lupe, in the shapely form of Talisa Soto. Lumbered with some fraudulant dialouge, Soto does her best, but she’s an inexperienced actress and fails to give her character more than a shallow depth. You sense Lupe’s attraction to Bond, but the feeling isn’t reciprocated; he rightly points out she rather enjoys the rough stuff. Next Bond instigates a wild west style saloon fight and rescues CIA operative Pam Bouvier, a charmless Carey Lowell, who carries a pump action shot gun, flies a plane and is more than capable in a punch up. You’d think these two would get on like a house on fire, but there’s no warmth in their stern faces and the swift initial love scene is the most unlikely coupling in Bond history.

The film brightens up considerably in the middle third when Bond and Pam travel to Isthmus City, where Sanchez doesn’t just run his operations, he runs the country. Robert Davi is very convincing as Sanchez, who is a vicious hoodlum made good. He enjoys the trappings of his wealth, but retains one foot in the seedy underbelly of his upbringing, hence the plethora of assorted goons he employs, most of whom are no where near as interesting as he is. There is one good killer, Dario, played with suitable blood lust by Benicio Del Toro. But even though this young cherub can cut out a mans heart, he can’t handle himself in a bar fight and his table manners leave a lot to be desired.

The scenes in Isthmus are the most reminiscent of the Bond of the novels. Of particular merit is the first meeting between Bond and Sanchez, a well written scene that serves all its plot purposes and develops the relationship between Bond and his quarry. But it’s downhill from there and the film gets swamped in the machinations of the story. As the killings become more extreme, Bond’s revenge mission becomes unbalanced and the writers construct a second story to try to justify the remorseless blood letting. 

As if to compensate, there is light relief from Q, and the film takes another unexpected turn towards the end when the action moves to a massive meditation centre. This wants to be a throw back to the grand days of You Only Live Twice, but sadly it looks a like cheap imitation Aztec temple. The film seems torn between the earthy roots of the Bond novels and his elaborate cinematic life. At one point Q comments: “If it hadn’t been for Q branch you’d be dead long ago” and promptly hands Bond all the paraphernalia he needs to succeed in his mission.

The uneasy mixture delivers a worthwhile climax, but in breaking the formula, the production team have struggled to provide enough new tactics to win our hearts. Brave, certainly, but like Dalton’s portrayal, its an uneven effort, and the slapstick romantic reconciliation at the end hardly helps us decide. The producers confidently predict that 007 will return; the real issue is we don’t know which incarnation is coming back.

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Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

GOLDENEYE
22/10/08

“Ready to save the world again?” asks 006 of James Bond at the beginning of this rejuvenating encounter with Ian Fleming’s hero. It certainly appears so. James Bond comes back with a bang and if Goldeneye isn’t going to win any prizes for its subtlety it scores points for its enthusiasm and endeavour.

Right from the off this is an attempt to bring Bond back to his spectacular best. The pre-credit sequence starts with a death defying bunjee jump from atop a dam. The remainder of the film doesn’t quite match this magnificent opening, but it has enough memorable moments in it to whet the appetite for the continuation of the series.

James Bond is now impersonated by Pierce Brosnan and he does a reasonable job without giving the impression he’s making much of an effort. He doesn’t really have to as the action moves swiftly from location to location and the dialouge is mostly throw away puns at his own character’s expense. Even M gets in on the act. Now played with venom by Judi Dench, this female head of MI6 likens Bond to a “misogynist dinosaur” and dislikes his “cavalier attitude to life.” She isn’t too far wide of the mark and Bond silently appears to be agree, tipping his boubon and ice towards her in recognition. It does however become one of two repetitive strands of the humour. The other is the sexually suggestive pun – there are twelve in the first four minutes, a ratio almost maintained throughout. By the time Alec Trevelyan, the afore-mentioned 006, has revealed himself as the arch enemy Yannis, and delivers what should be a withering rebuke of Bond’s love of Queen and Country, we’ve lost interest because we’ve heard all the jokes.

As Trevelyan points out, the world has moved on since 1989, but Bond remains unchanged amongst the hi-tech gadgets and space age weaponry. Twice, it is the female computer programmer, Natalia, who infiltrates the enemies programs, while Bond merely plans escape routes and blows things up. As she remarks herself: “What is it with you and motorised vehicles?” Bond still plays the odds at the casino, drives fast cars, fights a good fight and drinks vodka martinis, though he isn't as indestructable as some incarnations. The eventual outcome isn’t never doubt, but the inanity of the proceedings is a lot of fun. Director Martin Campbell keeps a lid on the spectacular goings on and this adventure feels more under control than previous episiodes.

The back room boys provide a project to be proud of. The stunt and special effects teams have a field day destroying communication centres, trains, libraries, satellite dishes and half of St Petersburg’s river district. The latter event is caused by Bond’s illegal requistion of a tank and stands out as it is so unexpected. Editor Terry Rawlings does some quick work, ensuring the pace never slows; the tank moves as fast as a car but is much more deadly. Eric Serra’s incidental music is at its best here. Though it’s never a classic score, he does utilise the erotic main theme, written by Bono and The Edge from U2, to good effect. Tina Turner was a good choice to sing the theme, but I feel the honour has come to her a decade too late. She’s lucky Daniel Klienman’s sexy “fall of communism” credit sequence distracts us.       

Bond’s hired help this time around is Natalia, played with some zest by Izabella Scorupco. One of Bond’s most normal companions, she’s okay amongst the foolishness, but struggles to convince when required to be the audience’s barometer of morality. Her love scenes with Brosnan are disappointing. Bond’s receives minor help from Joe Don Baker’s Wade and Robbie Coltrane’s Valentin Zukovsky, but both roles, while memorable, are too small to make a lasting impact. Coltrane in particular, with his huge bulk and larger than life persona, should have been dealt a better card than this. If anyone was made to be a Bond villain, Coltrane was.

We do have a splendid villainess, the evil black widow assassin Xenia Onatopp, who, inspite of her ridiculous name and implausible method of killing victims, is a great addition to the ranks of Bond bad girls. She is introduced  racing Bond around the French Riviera before they exchange double entendres over the baccarat table. We learn more about Onatopp’s fetishes as first we watch her strangling a man to death with her thighs and then she has an orgasm while slaughtering the technicians at the Severnya Communications Centre. Later she and Bond share an intensely sadistic sexual encounter at a Turkish bath. Famke Janssen’s performance is so sensualy charged that, even when others take centre stage, your attention instictively switches to focus on her, in case she starts scene stealing again, which she often does.

The down side of Janssen’s success is that the other villains appear weak and underwritten. Sean Bean does the best he can as the British traitor, but, despite the addition of a facial scar, he isn’t sinister enough and his reasons for defection are slight. He does however give Bond a good duel to the death at the movies end. There are two more Russians, a general and a computer geek, but neither wholly convince. We have to leave it up to the specialist teams to pull this story along and they all turn up trumps. The climax, filmed at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, is one of the series’ most spectacular. It’s a fantastic location and, coupled with the opening stunt, it bookends the movie nicely.

Midway through Goldeneye, Bond is stranded in a grave yard for Soviet statues and the film makers look to be laying to rest the James Bond of the Cold War. That’s a good thing and if future Bond films are as much fun as this, long may it continue. There’s life in the old dinosaur yet.

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Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

TOMORROW NEVER DIES
22/10/08

James Bond is back to his brilliant best. If Tomorrow Never Dies has faults, and there are several, they are papered over with the splendid staging of set piece after set piece. Not even a Schwarzenegger-ish climax and a dodgy theme song can dilute the thrills and spills on show here.

Having got the retro-ironic comedy out of the way in Goldeye, writer Bruce Feirstein has chosen to piece together all the classic ingredients of a Bond movie and, with director Roger Spottiswoode, has probably created the most complete 007 adventure since For Your Eyes Only.

The plot is very simple: a media mogul has ideas of grandeur and is using nuclear terrorists and an expensively constructed stealth boat to pervert a war between China and Britain. The result will be world domination – of total media rights. It’s an amusing concept that doesn’t bear close scrutiny. The events surrounding it are first class.

Johnathon Pryce is the said mogul, Elliot Carver, and he is clearly based on Rupert Murdoch. He’s a sleek, charmless villain given to bursts of anger and moments of pithy pleasantries. He has a strong arm man Stamper (Gotz Otto), the by now requisite blond psycho, a computer genius Henry Gupta (Ricky Jay) and a trophy wife, Paris (Teri Hatcher), who betrays him. All three meet suitable deaths.

Hatcher’s undoing isn’t shown on screen, but she is executed by the peculiar assassin Dr Kaufman, who has an outstanding contretemps with Bond. It’s a well written interlude, being alternately tense and trifling. Kaufman is clearly a little weird and this makes him all the more believable as a dedicated killer. “I am an outstanding pistol marksman,”  he says, “Take my word for it.” We do. He even congratulates himself: “I am especially good at the celebratory overdose.” Vincent Schiavelli is memorably eccentric.

There is a romantic history between Paris Carver and Bond, but her treachery and demise appear overtly conscious decisions, as if the only way she can escape her husband is by death. The love scene between Brosnan and Hatcher is poor not only because we don’t accept it but because composer David Arnold introduces a stirring melodramtic love theme. Here he overplays his baton hand.

The main Bond girl is Chinese agent Wai Lin, a karate kicking Michelle Yeoh, who has as many gadgets as Bond and doesn’t fall so easily for his obvious smooth talk. She’s a good foil for him, whether effortlessly handcuffing him to a water pipe or escaping from a secret laboratory with infinate ease, while Bond has to shoot and fight his way out. He recieves better help from Q who provides lots of little boxes of tricks and Wade, who returns, but is used as nothing more than a Q substitute. They are both amusing little cameos.

The fun though isn’t with the eager actors or the witty dialogue, it’s with the action and there is plenty of it. The film hardly breaks step, from it’s gripping teaser sequence at a terrorist weapons bazaar to the destruction of Carver’s stealth boat, each set peice trying to top the other. Bond fights four strong men in a soundproof booth; he and Wai Lin both infiltrate Carver’s printing presses and narrowly avoid capture in an exciting chase where they dodge bullets as well as each other; Bond uses his touch pad remote control to drive his new BMW around a hotel car park; Bond commits a halo jump, another piece of wonderfully vertigous filming; Bond and Wai Lin escape Carver’s clutches in Vietnam by leaping from a skyscraper and stealing a motorcycle, only to be chased through the streets of Saigon by cars and then a helicopter. These are all a cut above the usual chaos because the stunts are palpably real and the editing, from Dominique Fortin and Michel Arcand, stimulates the pace with sharpness and restraint. The accompanying music is fiercely high speed.

Tomorrow Never Dies had a troubled production history, but you wouldn’t notice it from watching the results on screen. Like the outstanding example of the formula, Thunderball, we aren’t given time to follow the narrative, as the film delivers the traditional James Bond elements of beautiful people, in exotic surroundings with stunning action. Ian Fleming’s hero, however, is completely lost amongst it all. This is cinema’s James Bond and he’s deadly, he’s glorious and he’s simply the best.

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Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH
22/10/08

Pierce Brosnan hardly broke any acting sweat in his first two outings as 007. The screenplays didn’t call for him to do anything more strenuous than drop pithy comments. This time out writers Bruce Feirstein, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade allow Brosnan to flex his theatrical muscles with a series of scenes that bring to mind some of the very best Bond portrayals.
While Brosnan succeeds, those around him fail. Hackneyed dialouge, one dimensional villains and incomprehensible plotting abound. Sadly Michael Apted’s direction isn’t up to standard, as if he didn’t believe it all either. The action is laboured and the speeches metronomic.

Brosnan’s Bond is much more than a killing machine, he is compassionate and he acts on his emotions; his instincts don’t let him down, he ignores them. When M delivers a rebuke of  terrorism, determined to hunt the murderers of oil baron Robert King, she sounds like the Queen or the Prime Minister; and it is Bond who questions her motives, with a single line censure of his own.  Having stumbled on the connection between King’s daughter, Elektra, and the terrorist Renard, he confronts her, but his certainty is deflected by this determined, forthright and beautiful orphan. We see the confusion in Bond’s eyes. When he is finally forced to kill Elektra, Brosnan is angry, both at her obstenancy and his failure. He sighs and strokes the dead girl’s hair with a repentance that recalls the death of his wife. He is unwilling to discuss his private life with Elektra and when he subsequently declines her guarded offer of seduction, she cuts him down to size. “Who’s afraid now?” she asks; Brosnan’s expression is wonderfully pallid. Unfeasibly Bond eventually takes her to bed, but this time he is the easy conquest and his excuse that he “takes pleasure is great beauty” is one of Brosnan’s less acceptable lines in the film and he delivers it unconvincingly.

Of everyone else, the less said the better. Unaided by some terrible situations, we have Sophie Marceau’s Elektra King, a shallow chief villainess, who looks stunning in a red evening gown, but displays spurious political power while planning a devastating nuclear explosion. Her motives are as unbelievable as Renard’s, a miscast Robert Carlyle, who comes across as an unhinged euthanasia candidate. There’s nothing pleasant about his ultimate undoing and we’re rather pleased to see the end of him. Robbie Coltrane returns as Zukovsky, but the writers are merely trying to make up for past misdemeanours by expanding his role from Goldeneye. We also meet Goldie’s Mr Bullion, whose role is too small to make an impact. He at least looks like a bad guy.

Bond meets these two in a stupid sequence of scenes at Zukovsky’s casino. These feel like an add on, as if the producers insisted there had to be a casino scene. This air of a piece meal construction pervades the whole film. Renard meets his co-conspirators at a firey place called the Devil’s Breath just so he can spout some nonsence about Buddist monks. M rushes to help Elektra King against the advice of her Chief of Staffs, highly unlikely and it isn’t suprising when she is then kidnapped. M’s offices and Q Branch are both needlessly relocated to Scotland – perhaps M really is trying to be the Queen and have an autumn retreat? There is a slow and predictable snow bound escapade with four para hawk sky gliders. There is an equally predictable destruction of a caviar factory by gigantic chainsaws. Most of the exciting stuff happens in oil pipelines and a nuclear weapons depository, yet there are still moments of incredulity before the timely grateful explosions.

The plodding story doesn’t help and too often the audience is asking themselves, why did that happen? The answers, if they come at all, are unlikely. The list of occurances is numerous. From Denise Richard’s wet t-shirt clothed nucleaur physicist to Elektra freaking out in Bond’s avalanche protection suit. From Q’s sentimental exit to John Cleese’s comedy cameo as his replacement. From Elektra constantly referring to M as M –  she wouldn’t know her MI6 codename! – to her $1m gamble on the turn of a card. From Bond’s impersonation of Dr Arkov to Denise Richard’s lounging around in a mini skirt to entice Zukovsky into his own office. From Bond dislocating his collar bone – although after the fall from the balloon he experienced, you would expect him to break his back – to his subsequent blackmail and seduction of the in-house doctor. Not even 007 would make love on the company premises! But it isn’t the only cringe worthy moment as Ms Richard’s character is called Christmas Jones solely to provide one appalling pun at the film’s end.

That the whole slip shod production holds together at all is some small miracle. It’s a big let down after a fine opening in Bilbao where Bond obtains $5m from a dubious Swiss bank. This scene sets a high standard, but the producers don’t think they’ve done enough and the teaser goes on for another ten minutes, with an admitedly well executed speed boat chase on the River Thames. This sense of one-up-manship and story padding may be due to the influence of each of the  three writers, who are trying to score points, but it doesn’t help the over all result which is confused at best and tacky at its worst.

So we have a bit more nastiness and a bit more nudity, Adrian Biddle photographs the action well and you can’t fault David Arnold’s music or Peter Lamont’s production design, but it’s scant reward for all the money spent. As good as Pierce Brosnan is, he appears to know all is not well. His bemused smile when he meets Denise Richards is matched by her question to him: “Do you want to put that in English for those of us who don’t speak spy?” You need an interpreter for this movie too.

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Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

DIE ANOTHER DAY
23/10/08

James Bond movies have often had a predilection for the preposterous, but this was always tethered to the line that everything you see has been or could be achieved. In the world today we are sending seventy year olds into space, atomic weapons do disappear, satellite technology helps produce computer programed weaponry, stealth planes have been developed; these examples fit in with the more outlandish elements of previous Bond films. There are a few rare exceptions to the rule, You Only Live Twice contains a lot of them, but in Die Another Day there is an invisible car – and I cannot accept it. Not because I can’t see it happening (ha!ha!) but because the execution of the car’s invisibility is abysmal. And so is the remainder of this extremely thoughtless movie.

The premise of Die Another Day isn’t bad, but the writers pack in a tremendous ammount of plot for a slight story. The beauty of Ian Fleming’s novels was the simplicity of the tale, which he expanded with horrific action. Purvis and Wade, who return from the equally tedious The World Is Not Enough, have not learnt this lesson and they are not helped by a director in Lee Tamahori who appears unfamiliar with how to make a decent Bond picture. He blinds and deafens us with bangs, crashes and explosions but this is no substitute for decent content. I could go on about the special effects, the overuse of computer images, the bland almost pale photography, the jump cut editing and the slow motion, but I won’t. It’s just a mess from start to finish.

The film’s teaser is another twelve minute chase scene, tiresome in the extreme, during which Bond wreaks so much havoc you wonder if World War Three hasn’t broken out already. The next three minutes are the most interesting of the film as Daniel Klienman’s fine title design contains scenes of Bond’s torture in a Korean prison. Madonna’s funky stop-start song fits the sequence well.

Bond starts to look a bit like Robinson Crusoe, but he soon smartens up once he escapes. He does this by stopping his own heart. I always knew Bond was a talented agent, but sending himself into a coma is quite a feat. He should have patented the trick, it might have helped poor old Gustav Graves, a villain who suffers permanent insomnia. He’s actually a genetically altered Korean general, but Toby Stephens is pitiful as this spoilt little boy who isn’t funny, intelligent or threatening. He’s aided by an equally pointless group of henchman, one of whom is called Mr Kil, and doesn’t, and another whose face is covered in diamonds, which you think he might have removed, after all they are hardly a disabling injury.

Not even the appearance of Halle Berry, a good looking lass if ever there was one, can spice up this sour concoction. She’s an American agent called Jinx and we first see her impersonating Ursula Andress. It’s one of many throw backs to all the previous nineteen films. When she meets Bond there is supposed to be sexual tension, but it’s unbearably obvious and borders on the indecent. We’ve never seen Bond make love before; we do this time and it’s a disconcerting scene, more Basic Instinct than Dr No. It lacks the good natured humour of the earlier Bonds.

That Halle Berry is out acted by Rosamunde Pike as the deliciously named Miranda Frost is not a suprise as she is given the meatiest role and the best lines. The best scenes belong to Brosnan and Emilio Echevarria as Raul, a Cuban sleeper agent who runs a cigar factory. Their three brief slots recall some of  Fleming’s best writing, like From Russia With Love, On Her Majesty’s and You Only Live Twice, as they both reflect on the world and how they fit into it. There’s a neat touch when Brosnan picks up a book called “Field Guide to Birds of the West Indies” by James Bond, but the tribute is lost to many as we don’t see the authors name.

There’s nothing else of interest to write about, suffice to say David Arnold does a quality job with the music, sampling previous themes, but you have a hard time hearing them under the noisy sound track. I don’t understand what’s happening here. James Bond has become as invisible as his car and no one much seems to care.

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Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

CASINO ROYALE
26/10/08

Casino Royale starts in grainy black and white. James Bond has carried out his first hit, a vicious encounter in a gentlemans lavatory. The traitor in Prague knows it wasn’t easy. “He made you feel it,” he states. Bond is stoic; the second kill is considerably easier and the traitor is dispensed with one bullet. It’s an excellent beginning, recalling the clever, tense openings to the earliest Bond films. There is some mystery to the short gamut. But the questions are unanswered and it doesn’t matter. The purpose is to introduce us to James Bond.

As played by Daniel Craig, Bond is much more than a blunt instrument. Certainly he is cold, ruthless, reckless and determined. But Craig’s versatility gives gravitas to Bond, while exuding considerable charm and, at times, passion. He also has a fine physical prescence.
Craig is excellent as Bond, in a portrayal that owes much to Connery’s formative years, treating other’s possessions with contempt and exchanging barbed, bitter conversations with an equally scornful M. This Bond doesn’t even own a decent dinner suit.

He feels very close to the one written about by Ian Fleming in Casino Royale, his debut and one of his better novels. The writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis have taken a bold step in returning to the source of the Bond series. For all the excitement of recent years, the soul of James Bond has been missing. Barring a few scenes in a few films, any trace of Fleming’s 007 had all but disappeared in the last three decades. That is put right here and the middle section of the film follows the novel much as Fleming wrote it, including passages of dialouge and scenes of torture.

The producers call the film a “re-boot” of the world’s greatest film franchise. If by that they  mean a good kick up the arse, I think they’ve just about it got it spot on. If the producers believe this film genuinely points Bond in a more realistic direction, perhaps even back to his literal roots, then the debate has to remain open. Casino Royale doesn’t quite dispense with cinema’s action packed Bond, but is does re-establish him for modern audiences, who have been fed a seemingly never ending diet of gadgets and sci-fi style plots.

The early scenes around Prague, Madagascar, the Bahamas and Miami, reveal Bond as tough and focussed, if slightly out of control. He takes more of the rough than the smooth – he turns down the offer of a bout of love making in favour of chasing the bad guys –  but still suffers from a sense of the overtly spectacular. There are two long winded pursuits, first around a building site and then, incongruously, Miami airport at night. The first of these is well edited and features some excellent stunt work, particularly from the free-runner Sebastien Foucan. The latter however is pure Die Hard and reminded me of the worst offences of the Pierce Brosnan era.

What makes the scenes paricularly heavy going isn’t just their excessive length,a problem in itself, but the later impression that they are not neccessary to support the story. After forty minutes of Bond chasing small time baddies, the kingpin, Le Chiffre, organises a high stakes poker game in Montenegro. Thanks to Bond’s unintentional involvement, Le Chiffre’s stock market investments lost his terrorist employers millions and he needs to recoup the money. It resembles the story concocted by Fleming, but in the novel Le Chiffre’s profligate spending was entirely self inflicted and his ruse to generate money an elaborate cover to avoid the Russian secret service. Here it is done with full knowledge of his backers, which makes his eventual demise unlikely.

Equally difficult to understand is the behaviour of Vesper Lynd, Bond’s love interest, here played affectingly by Eva Green. The writer’s retain Fleming’s thread of betrayal, but in expanding the story they have left only one significant indication of Vesper’s love for Bond – at her death she kisses the finger she descibed as being “on it’s own, more of a man than any I have met.” We also have to accept Bond’s love for Vesper with something of an intake of breath, given that their relationship is a prickly one. It is not though devoid of tenderness, as shown by two exchanges which take place in the bathroom of their hotel suite.

The first has them dressing for the opening night at the casino, the second takes place following Bond’s killing of two Ugandan thugs and has Vesper sitting shell shocked and fully clothed under the shower. Director Martin Campbell allows Craig and Green to offer the glances, expressions and sighs that tell us more of their growing relationship than the dialogue, which while clever does not have emotional depth. As in the novel, their most wordy exchanges take place over two meals, but while Fleming used these to develop Bond’s emotions and Vesper’s duplicity, here they are used for some pseudo psycho analysis. Entertaining it may be, character developing it is not.

Mads Mikkelsen is wonderful as Le Chiffre. He is frighteningly calm, an asthmatic who suffers a weeping eye. There is an early scene in Uganda where his stern, solid face speaks volumes about his character. He offers little conversation, he is a powerful, rich man, who will go to any lengths to succeed, including having the arm of his mistress cut off if need be. When he finally confront’s Bond, it is a sweaty raging Le Chiffre, a man whose world has fallen apart, who has lost control.

The other protagonists are Giancarlo Giannini’s Mathis and Jesper Christensen’s Mr White, but while well inhabited by their respective actors, the characters they offer little to the story as a whole. The CIA agent Felix Leither also appears, but is reduced to nothing more than a background figure, and Jeffrey Wright is wasted. Judi Dench does her best work so far as a more irritable M.

The film looks good and Peter Lamont’s interiors are decadent and colourful. Phil Meheux’s photography is perhaps too colourful, the brightness making a weighty contrast to the darkness of the proceedings on screen. It’s well edited and costumed. The score by David Arnold utilises Chris Cornell’s theme song “You Know My Name” to good effect and while he still has a tendancy towards melodramtic strings, he handles much of the action with restraint. Daniel Klienman’s excellent title sequence blends fighting silhouettes, playing cards and roulette wheels, to resemble animated covers of the original paperback novels.

The film ends in Venice, with another untidy action sequence in a collapsing Venetian palace, and the loose ends are almost all tied up. There is however an ultimate, more satisfying finale, as 007  traces Mr White to a gorgeously radiant Lake Como villa and introduces himself as “Bond, James Bond.” The James Bond Theme crashes into the final credits.

There appears to be scope for an immediate sequel to Casino Royale and if the standard of this film can be maintained, James Bond will continue to entertain and enthrall for several more years. Ian Fleming’s now more human hero has at last been returned to his rightful place at the top of the world’s list of super spies and action heros. And long may he stay there.

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Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

chrisno1 wrote:

CASINO ROYALE
26/10/08

Casino Royale starts in grainy black and white. James Bond has carried out his first hit, a vicious encounter in a gentlemans lavatory. The traitor in Prague knows it wasn’t easy. “He made you feel it,” he states. Bond is stoic; the second kill is considerably easier and the traitor is dispensed with one bullet. It’s an excellent beginning, recalling the clever, tense openings to the earliest Bond films. There is some mystery to the short gamut. But the questions are unanswered and it doesn’t matter. The purpose is to introduce us to James Bond.

As played by Daniel Craig, Bond is much more than a blunt instrument. Certainly he is cold, ruthless, reckless and determined. But Craig’s versatility gives gravitas to Bond, while exuding considerable charm and, at times, passion. He also has a fine physical prescence.
Craig is excellent as Bond, in a portrayal that owes much to Connery’s formative years, treating other’s possessions with contempt and exchanging barbed, bitter conversations with an equally scornful M. This Bond doesn’t even own a decent dinner suit.

He feels very close to the one written about by Ian Fleming in Casino Royale, his debut and one of his better novels. The writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis have taken a bold step in returning to the source of the Bond series. For all the excitement of recent years, the soul of James Bond has been missing. Barring a few scenes in a few films, any trace of Fleming’s 007 had all but disappeared in the last three decades. That is put right here and the middle section of the film follows the novel much as Fleming wrote it, including passages of dialouge and scenes of torture.

The producers call the film a “re-boot” of the world’s greatest film franchise. If by that they  mean a good kick up the arse, I think they’ve just about it got it spot on. If the producers believe this film genuinely points Bond in a more realistic direction, perhaps even back to his literal roots, then the debate has to remain open. Casino Royale doesn’t quite dispense with cinema’s action packed Bond, but is does re-establish him for modern audiences, who have been fed a seemingly never ending diet of gadgets and sci-fi style plots.

The early scenes around Prague, Madagascar, the Bahamas and Miami, reveal Bond as tough and focussed, if slightly out of control. He takes more of the rough than the smooth – he turns down the offer of a bout of love making in favour of chasing the bad guys –  but still suffers from a sense of the overtly spectacular. There are two long winded pursuits, first around a building site and then, incongruously, Miami airport at night. The first of these is well edited and features some excellent stunt work, particularly from the free-runner Sebastien Foucan. The latter however is pure Die Hard and reminded me of the worst offences of the Pierce Brosnan era.

What makes the scenes paricularly heavy going isn’t just their excessive length,a problem in itself, but the later impression that they are not neccessary to support the story. After forty minutes of Bond chasing small time baddies, the kingpin, Le Chiffre, organises a high stakes poker game in Montenegro. Thanks to Bond’s unintentional involvement, Le Chiffre’s stock market investments lost his terrorist employers millions and he needs to recoup the money. It resembles the story concocted by Fleming, but in the novel Le Chiffre’s profligate spending was entirely self inflicted and his ruse to generate money an elaborate cover to avoid the Russian secret service. Here it is done with full knowledge of his backers, which makes his eventual demise unlikely.

Equally difficult to understand is the behaviour of Vesper Lynd, Bond’s love interest, here played affectingly by Eva Green. The writer’s retain Fleming’s thread of betrayal, but in expanding the story they have left only one significant indication of Vesper’s love for Bond – at her death she kisses the finger she descibed as being “on it’s own, more of a man than any I have met.” We also have to accept Bond’s love for Vesper with something of an intake of breath, given that their relationship is a prickly one. It is not though devoid of tenderness, as shown by two exchanges which take place in the bathroom of their hotel suite.

The first has them dressing for the opening night at the casino, the second takes place following Bond’s killing of two Ugandan thugs and has Vesper sitting shell shocked and fully clothed under the shower. Director Martin Campbell allows Craig and Green to offer the glances, expressions and sighs that tell us more of their growing relationship than the dialogue, which while clever does not have emotional depth. As in the novel, their most wordy exchanges take place over two meals, but while Fleming used these to develop Bond’s emotions and Vesper’s duplicity, here they are used for some pseudo psycho analysis. Entertaining it may be, character developing it is not.

Mads Mikkelsen is wonderful as Le Chiffre. He is frighteningly calm, an asthmatic who suffers a weeping eye. There is an early scene in Uganda where his stern, solid face speaks volumes about his character. He offers little conversation, he is a powerful, rich man, who will go to any lengths to succeed, including having the arm of his mistress cut off if need be. When he finally confront’s Bond, it is a sweaty raging Le Chiffre, a man whose world has fallen apart, who has lost control.

The other protagonists are Giancarlo Giannini’s Mathis and Jesper Christensen’s Mr White, but while well inhabited by their respective actors, the characters they offer little to the story as a whole. The CIA agent Felix Leither also appears, but is reduced to nothing more than a background figure, and Jeffrey Wright is wasted. Judi Dench does her best work so far as a more irritable M.

The film looks good and Peter Lamont’s interiors are decadent and colourful. Phil Meheux’s photography is perhaps too colourful, the brightness making a weighty contrast to the darkness of the proceedings on screen. It’s well edited and costumed. The score by David Arnold utilises Chris Cornell’s theme song “You Know My Name” to good effect and while he still has a tendancy towards melodramtic strings, he handles much of the action with restraint. Daniel Klienman’s excellent title sequence blends fighting silhouettes, playing cards and roulette wheels, to resemble animated covers of the original paperback novels.

The film ends in Venice, with another untidy action sequence in a collapsing Venetian palace, and the loose ends are almost all tied up. There is however an ultimate, more satisfying finale, as 007  traces Mr White to a gorgeously radiant Lake Como villa and introduces himself as “Bond, James Bond.” The James Bond Theme crashes into the final credits.

There appears to be scope for an immediate sequel to Casino Royale and if the standard of this film can be maintained, James Bond will continue to entertain and enthrall for several more years. Ian Fleming’s now more human hero has at last been returned to his rightful place at the top of the world’s list of super spies and action heros. And long may he stay there.

Your best review yet, hopefully you'll be reviewing QOS soon ajb007/wink

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v215/Bbrown/207qoznfl4.gif

35

Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

I certainly will Sweepy, although due to work commitments, I'm not viewing it until the second week of release. It's going to be hard not to prejudice myself by reading all the journalistic reviews. ajb007/insane  Glad you enjoyed reading my efforts; I personally thought my review of TSWLM was pretty good too.  ajb007/martini

36

Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

Where are you seeing it, Chrisno1?  ajb007/smile

"This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

Roger Moore 1927-2017

37

Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

chrisno1, now that you have finished...let me thank you once again.  I printed out each of your reviews and read them during my evening commute (on a train, lest you think I drive while distracted!) over the past couple of weeks.  While you and I differ on a few of the movies (probably most on FYEO, TND and TWINE) your reviews were consistently thoughtful and extremely well-written -- each with a bit of "Fleming sweep" to them! ajb007/martini

Wonderful, entertaining stuff.  Made we want to go back and re-watch them all. ajb007/cheers

Hilly...you old devil!

38

Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

Sorry this has taken me so long! I had a lot od work commitments. Needless to say I did get around to seeing QOS but having written the review, I then wanted to see it again, in case I was too harsh. I don't think I was, so you get to read it pretty much as I originally wrote it.

39

Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

QUANTUM OF SOLACE
12/11/08


After the spectacular commercial and critical success of Casino Royale, the new Bond epic, Quantum of Solace, has become the most eagerly awaited 007 adventure since Thunderball. Rarely has there been such media frenzy about all things James Bond. It is disappointing, therefore, to find the end result does not match the expectation.

Taken at face value, Quantum of Solace is entertaining and a modern filmgoer who is potentially not steeped in “Bond tradition” will revel in the prerequisite chases, fights, gun play, exotic women, even more exotic locations and the general blood and thunder on display. What the film unfortunately lacks is a coherent plot and significant characters, the two important ingredients in the very best Bond films. This is particularly frustrating given how carefully these elements were re-introduced for Daniel Craig’s debut.

The premise of Quantum of Solace appears to be that Bond is out for revenge, hunting the killers of Vesper Lynd, the woman he loved. Bond’s investigations lead him to the shady eco-entrepreneur Dominic Greene, who is a front man for the mysterious criminal co-operative called Quantum. Greene is stock piling water for profit using underground reservoirs in South America and is negotiating land deals with dictators-to-be and the CIA. Bond follows him everywhere, globe trotting to Haiti, Austria, Italy and Bolivia, killing everyone who gets in his way. It’s a relentless, downbeat, serious, soulless affair, accompanied by the merest ripple of humour and a conspicuous lack of irony.

However Bond’s lust for vengeance was never apparent at the end of Casino Royale and the writers make several unsuccessful attempts to introduce the theme. During these uncomfortable scenes, Daniel Craig’s impassive expression and unblinking cold blue eyes become an impenetrable mask that hides any development of Bond’s personality. It isn’t always his fault. Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are so determined to present Bond as a ruthless single minded killer they forget to give him anything personable to say. Craig’s best moments come when he is swapping acid tongued barbs with Judi Dench’s M. He has plenty of opportunity, for this is Dench’s best and biggest turn to date, as once again M joins the jet set in pursuit of her errant operative.

M’s constant presence squeezes out the potential in the other supporting roles, of which there are many. Mr White, Mathis and Leither all return, there is a CIA bigwig, a discredited general, a bent police chief and Vesper’s ex-boyfriend, Yusef. If any of them has anything interesting to say, and most don’t, it’s the odd sentence, inserted to chivvy the story along a little. This drip-drip explanation of everybody’s circumstances doesn’t aid the clarity of events, which is muddled at best. The traditional reveal-all confrontation between Bond and the chief villain does not feature here; in fact the two hardly meet. There is a brief exchange at a party and another at the finale, although we are deprived to witness this conversation.

What this serves to do is underline the fact that Dominic Greene, like Le Chiffre before him, is not the kingpin of the organisation he represents. The element of menace goes missing and subsequently Greene is a poor adversary. He isn’t even a conventional villain, more a businessman with little respect for people’s lives. Mathieu Amalric tries to present him as arrogant and threatening, but only succeeds in making Greene aloof, weasely and slightly pathetic. It’s no surprise he ultimately betrays his conspirators in an attempt to spare his life.

Bond is aided by two beautiful women, but in an almost de-sexed film, they also disappoint. Gemma Arterton has the smaller role as a British consul agent who sets out to entice Bond to bed –possibly on orders, it isn’t clear – by meeting him at an airport dressed in nothing but a raincoat. For her boldness she’s drowned in oil. Olga Kurylenko’s Camille is given a revenge background similar to Bond’s, but despite this connection there is no emotional warmth between the two; her (and his) determined facade destabilises any sexual subtlety.

Like the two actresses the film looks wonderful, being well photographed and designed, particularly Bond’s black and white hotel suite in La Paz and a solar powered resort in the Atacama Desert. David Arnold’s score still owes much to John Barry, but it blends well with the action and is one of his best efforts. Not so the theme song, which is dreadful. During a musical low point, lost for words, the singers perform some obnoxious wailing. Horrible.

This stodginess also applies to the sound and film editing. It’s noisy, brash and difficult to follow. Frequently the dialogue becomes indecipherable under the music or special effects; Bond’s visit to the Opera is an example of this over dubbing and the result confuses rather than clarifies. Similarly the bewilderingly rapid fire editing means we often fail to identify what is happening and to whom. Sometimes it isn’t even clear which person is Bond. These mishaps ruin what should be some excellent early sequences: the pre-title car chase, a rooftop pursuit in Siena and a speedboat joust in Port au Prince. There’s no let up throughout the movie and gradually the action becomes a less diverting blur.

Amongst all the killing and chasing and exploding there’s no time to concern ourselves with Bond and Camille’s plight. There is a rare quiet moment when Bond gets drunk and is consoled by Mathis, yet the scene feels contrived and out of place. I would have expected this discussion to have been between Bond and Camille; when they do talk of their hurt, it is in a scene reminiscent of Honey’s childhood recollections in Dr No and comes not in a moment of calm, but one of crisis. Their dual motivations have also ceased to interest the director, Marc Forster, who is more preoccupied with Bond and M’s furtive mother-son relationship that rears its ugly head again during the films epilogue.

It’s hard to find the moment of comfort, the quantum of solace, for Bond in this film. It probably arrives in the final scene when he disposes of Vesper’s Algerian love knot, but it’s hard to tell. For all the thrills and spills delivered here, James Bond is plunging into a characterless chasm. Having toiled to resurrect Ian Fleming’s hero as a human individual, the producers, writers and director now seem to have forgotten all about him and what makes his adventures special.

40

Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

Wow, here's one for re-vitalising old posts. I was out at the job centre yesterday and passed HMV on the way back, more out of curiosity I popped in - after all they don't sell much music in there anymore, but I purchased a copy of Never Say Never Again on DVD, one of the old ones, I guess coz the cover looks the same as I remember it .I don't even know if it ever got a revamp in the UK, my mate at Blockbusters couldn't track it down, though equally they don't seem to sell many DVDs either.
Anyway, when I did these reviews, I didn'y own NSNA, and despite it not being in the "official" canon, I thought I'd dust it off and give it a look. First time I've watched it for about 10 years or so.
So here, especially for Loeffelholz, who might enjoy it, is my additional extra to Two Weeks of Bondage.
Enjoy the read

41

Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN
12/06/2009

Never Say Never Again opens with a screen covered in see-through “007”s, the camera sweeping across the Florida Everglades. It’s an excellent opening shot and writer Lorenzo Semple Jr wastes no time in introducing us to his James Bond: a tanned, somewhat aged and greying Sean Connery, who is performing a training exercise to justify his position as a “double-O” agent. M remains unconvinced and urges Bond to cut out the “red meat, white bread and dry martinis.” Connery is suitably ill at ease, his disdain for his new boss, played by a pompous Edward Fox, clear in his facial expressions and witty ripostes.

Connery carries this film in much the same way as he whole heartedly takes centre stage in TB, possibly his most natural performance of the ‘60s. The superficiality of his last two Bond efforts is replaced by a knowing authority. Sometimes he looks bewildered at the proceedings, but he deftly fences this off with a series of knowing facial asides and one liners.

Bond’s trip to Shrublands is gently humorous and throughout the film Connery is prepared to mock the image of James Bond he helped to create. His manner is more the naughty schoolboy who got expelled from Eton than the seriously deadly spy; early on his portrayal feels quite close to Fleming’s literary hero, although later on this Bond is hardly ruffled by any of the scrapes he gets into.

None the less Connery is a joy to watch in this film, his twinkling eyes and smile disturbing a stern facade. It’s a mature performance; this is 007 at the end of his career, a man who has seen it all and doesn’t need to be told what to do or say. He is jovial in the presence of Rowan Atkinson’s attaché, brusque with his bosses, tactful with Kim Basinger’s beautiful heroine Domino, playful with a bevy of assorted admiring females (a roll call of British talent including Valerie Leon, Pamela Salem and Prunella Gee) and equally intrigued and amused by his nemesis Maximillian Largo.

Perhaps NSNAs biggest failure is with its chief villain, played by Klaus Maria Brandeur. During the film Largo admits he is crazy and we rather figured that out before hand, but he comes across as a sort of dirty old man, a voyeur who toys with people and their possessions, unable to appreciate what he has. Maybe that is why he joined SPECTRE, here headed by an underused Max Von Sydow.

The true villain of the piece is Barbara Carrera’s Fatima Blush, a black widow assassin determined to kill Bond at all costs. Carrera is wonderful in this role, completely over shadowing Largo. She is both alluring and deadly; each kill is performed with a relish, each failure met with a scowl of anger and her anticipation of the moment is joyous: for instance she dances down a flight of stairs when told to eliminate Bond. Carrera and Brandeur share a wonderful scene moments before this, where, in the casino shadows, they discuss what will become of his mistress; she licks her lips sensually when informed she will kill Domino. When Fatima finally meets her end, director Irving Kirshner shows us her smoking shoes, invoking memories of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Kim Basinger could almost be Dorothy, so out of her depth is her character, but she makes up for this by being gorgeous to look at, wearing as little as possible most of the time and being photo checked in a poster for Helo Saunas. Bond receives a little help from Bernie Casey as an underused Felix Leither and even less aid from Saskia Cohen Tanuei’s Nicole, who isn’t even around long enough to be window dressing.

Nicole’s death scene is one of the best moments in the film, as Bond prowls his cavernous villa chewing over an apple and his thoughts, the sun rising and footsteps echoing in the distance. It’s a well constructed, atmospheric scene, but sadly Kirshner doesn’t give us too many of these. The action is well paced, without being particularly tense or exciting and the prerequisite fights and chases pass by without incident. Luckily there are some good verbal exchanges between the actors to hold our interest; full marks to Semple’s clever screenplay. He’s less clever with the plot which has gaping holes all over the place, but like its predessor, it doesn’t seem to effect our enjoyment of proceedings.

Douglas Slocombe photographs it all in slightly smudgy colours, which suit the goings on, as it’s all a bit tawdry, despite the exotic surroundings and Charles Knode’s well cut suits and gowns. Michel Legrand’s score is at its best when Bond is in France and he evokes the lazy, hazy Riviera lifestyle excellently. His music is less effective during the action and melodrama, often being intrusive and over the top. 

All five gentlemen come up trumps during the tango scene which is beautiful to look at and listen to, moves the plot forward and allows Connery to dance better than he did in TB. It’s curious then that the most bizarre element of the film precedes it: a computer game called “Domination” which is voiced by the Cylon from Battlestar Galactica. NSNA is a curiously timeless film and, along with the hairstyles and glasses, this is one of the few phases of the movie that really dates it. Indeed some of the characters and situations feel as if they could be dropped into any Eon Bond film of the 1980s without so much as a by-your-leave. 

There’s a scene in Nassau that sums the whole affair up, neat, quick, witty and with as little fuss as possible. Bond meets the assassin Fatima first time, she has been water skiing and she apologises for spraying him; “I made you all wet,” she says. “Yes,” comes the unflustered reply, “But my martini is still dry.”

NSNA is cosy, funny and enjoyable. It's something of a guilty delight. Bond saves the day virtually single handed and with the minimum of fuss; he gets the girl and retires. Job done! That goes for Connery too; whose wink to the camera is the final hurrah for his James Bond.

42

Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

chrisno1 wrote:

So here, especially for Loeffelholz, who might enjoy it, is my additional extra to Two Weeks of Bondage.
Enjoy the read

Thanks, chris---I definitely did  ajb007/cheers  A nice writeup; you said it well...though I probably enjoyed Brandauer more than you did!


Cheers!

"Blood & Ashes"...AVAILABLE on Amazon.co.uk: Get 'Jaded': Blood & Ashes: The Debut Oscar Jade Thriller
"I am not an entrant in the Shakespeare Stakes." - Ian Fleming
"Screw 'em." - Daniel Craig, The Best James Bond EverTM

43

Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

Loeffelholz wrote:
chrisno1 wrote:

So here, especially for Loeffelholz, who might enjoy it, is my additional extra to Two Weeks of Bondage.
Enjoy the read

Thanks, chris---I definitely did  ajb007/cheers  A nice writeup; you said it well...though I probably enjoyed Brandauer more than you did!


Cheers!

No worries my friend,
if I ever hit 7k+ posts I will gladly retract my KMB assertion.
Mind you, I think you spelt his name right while I didn't !
chris

44

Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

Nice review, however I'm not sure how much of a hand Semple had in the final product. British writers Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais were brought in for script doctoring, more of a heart bypass in this case I understand.

Oh FFS! Dick Clement rhymes with prick.

"This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

Roger Moore 1927-2017

45

Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

Not bumping my own topic as such. I had the fortune / misfortune to watch this movie this afternoon. I was doing a ton of ironing and had nothing else to accompany me for two hours. So here goes, cover your eyes as I review Charles Feldman's 1967 romp Casino Royale....

CASINO ROYALE (1967)
30/08/15

Putting aside the chaotic history of this mind bogglingly bad film, it’s worth a look to appreciate what might have been had Ben Hecht’s original ‘serious’ screenplay been adapted, or at least if some of it had survived to the filming process. It’s probably too late now to fully analyse the ins-and-outs of the production of Charles Feldman’s 007 spoof, but what we can say is that the chaos is up there for all to see on the cinema screen. In this 1967 form, Casino Royale is a genuine movie going disaster. Five directors, none of whom deserve a mention, and at least three credited screen writers, all of whom have done better and also should remain nameless, really ought to be able to do better than this. The worst offence however is that for a spoof the film lacks any strain of humour.

The film starts in a fairly conventional manner. We have a brief, almost unconnected pre-credit scene, followed by a briefing sequence. The latter scene, indeed all those featuring David Niven as Sir James Bond, Britain’s greatest ever spy, a retired aging man who listens to Debussy until the sun sets and pines for the love of his life, Mata Hari, were shoehorned around the original script after the nominal star, Peter Sellers abandoned the project for what can only conclude was professional frustration. Apparently he thought it was a serious adaptation. In fact the scenes which do feature Sellers are far and away the most serious of the film and follow reasonably closely the basic plot of Ian Fleming’s novel.

Here Sellers is a baccarat expert called Evelyn Tremble recruited to impersonate James Bond. One of the best lines in the movie is his introduction to the devious double agent Vesper Lynd: “Isn’t Evelyn a girl’s name?” she asks, “No,” he replies, “It’s mine.” Sellers is rather good, although you always feel he’s tense playing it straight and, when forced to, reluctant to ham it up. He has some excellent scenes with Ursula Andress, who looks even more stunning that she did in Dr. No, thanks to Julie Harris’ gorgeous costumes and being allowed to share her real, beautifully accented voice with the audience. These scenes make perfect sense to the overall narrative and if occasionally they dip further from parody into slapstick, the overriding arc is retained. They are also fantastically well filmed, gaudily bright and flashy.

This is probably the work of Val Guest (supervising director and sequence editor) who was charged with making something tangible of such a mess. There is a dreamily romantic shot through an aquarium, constant close ups of the players’ faces, the best most sparkling dialogue and slow motion is used to heighten the seduction and give full reign to Burt Bacharach’s signature theme, “The Look of Love.” As delivered by Dusty Springfield this is a song which really deserves better than being crammed into such a generally dismal show. 

Later Seller’s Tremble is presented with a raft of daft gadgets, seduced by a young Jacqueline Bisset, beats Orson Welles at baccarat and experiences a hallucinogenic torture. You can tell the producer was trying to salvage a project because Tremble is dramatically killed off mid movie. Many of his scenes and lines are subsequently given to David Niven, who came to the project late.

Frankly this is how the thread of the film begins to unravel. Asked to solve a series of baffling murders, the real Bond, Sir James, refuses to return to help the international espionage society; that is until the heads of four agencies, including M from MI6, are killed off at his country estate. This appears to be an accident perpetrated by M, a fact which defeats all logic and is never referred to. Sir James’s sudden return to MI6 and the several episodes designed to give Niven’s character something to do fail to unsmooth the storytelling - although we do get to meet Miss Moneypenny, played by the wonderfully exotic Barbara Bouchet, who twenty five years before Silvia Saint was the original Czech sex-bomb. Throw into this spiraling mix all those extra 007s and an out of sorts Woody Allen as the diminutive villain Dr. Noah [yes, really!] and you can really tell this one is floundering.

The early scenes set at Castle McTavish are truly awful, condescending and cringe-worthy. Quite how the actors make it through such blatant bad scripting is a miracle. Niven at this point concocts a stutter, which disappears later in the film, and Deborah Kerr delivers her lines with a much too broad and bogus Scots accent when her character is in fact French. Her briefly used Gallic accent is dreadful too. There are a plethora of sexy women all over this Scottish enclave, all of them SMERSH agents, but it’s unclear why they need such elaborate ruses to seduce, discredit and kill James Bond. The ensuing grouse shoot is hopelessly childish and the car chase little better. Both end in huge explosions.

There’s another sequence featuring a female 007, Mata Bond (played with effervescence, and for the most part in bras and panties, by Joanna Pettet ), that takes place in a Dr Caligari inspired house in West Berlin. Here at last we discover that Le Chiffre is short of funds and urgently needs to raise cash, so he’s auctioning compromising photographs to foreign governments. But this information is never transmitted to Tremble. It has to be taken for granted.

These scenes, devised with more care and attention, could play well in a ‘straight’ version of James Bond. Indeed the grouse shoot idea was pinched for Moonraker, and the idea of all secret agents becoming sex maniacs was often chided by Bernard Lee’s M in Eon’s own series. Yet there is something hopelessly flawed about Casino Royale. Basically nothing is very well observed and the humour, when it does arrive, is heavy handed and rather obvious. The deliberately confused plot jumps all over the place and you have to concentrate hard to follow any of it, which doesn’t aid any idea of fun. By the time the cast assembles for a catch all climax at Dr. Noah’s underground lair, things have gotten so bad Woody Allen deliberately loses his voice. His observation that Einstein was considered crazy (“No one said he was crazy,” says Daliah Lavi’s version of 007; “They would if they saw him doing this.”) could almost speak for the whole production.

In fairness, there are some redeeming features. The movie looks good. It’s well photographed and costumed. Orson Welles makes a sterling short-lived villain and delivers his lines with panache. Sellers is good, so is Andress. The soundtrack is at times first-class. In fact by 2015 the movie has a nostalgic feel to it, that unmistakable 1960s razzle-dazzle. Where else could you have dream sequences, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, robots, deadly doubles, cowboys, parachuting injuns and psychedelic mazes all set to the music of Burt Bacharach except in a sixties spy spoof? Unfortunately that means it isn’t James Bond’s territory; it’s really Austin Powers’s.

46

Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

I tried to watch CR67 this afternoon but after fifteen minutes decided to watch CR06 instead  ajb007/lol
After I get some beauty sleep (I will need a good few hours worth) I will be reading your reviews which appear to be excellent  ajb007/martini

1.ohmss  2.cr  3.frwl  4.ltk  5.gf  6.tswlm  7.sf  8.op  9.tld  10.dn  11.lald  12.tb  13.fyeo  14.ge  15.mr  16.yolt  17.tnd  18.avtak  19.sp  20.twine  21.qos  22.tmwtgg  23.daf  24.dad

47

Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

CR67 is worth at least a Watch in my Opinion. It's a curious little Peice of Bond History.

1.On Her Majesties Secret Service 2.The Living Daylights 3.license To Kill 4.The Spy Who Loved Me 5.Goldfinger

48

Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

AlphaOmegaSin wrote:

CR67 is worth at least a Watch in my Opinion. It's a curious little Peice of Bond History.

I've said it before and I'll say it again...I like CR'67  ajb007/martini

It's a mishmash of styles...but it's almost like you have to treat it as several different films all bolted together....

YNWA 96

The Unbearables

49

Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

yes, and you like AWTD  ajb007/insane
We need a puke smiley btw.

President of the 'Misty Eyes Club'.

-------Dalton - the weak and weepy Bond!------

50

Re: Two weeks of Bondage - Reviews

Sir Miles wrote:

several different films all bolted together....

Several REALLY BAD MOVIES bolted together  ajb007/biggrin

President of the 'Misty Eyes Club'.

-------Dalton - the weak and weepy Bond!------