The Bondies: James Bond Academy Awards

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Tonight is Oscar night, so there’s no better time than now to create my own James Bond-type of Academy Awards. These are my personal choices, with a side-note… *if any James Bond movie was nominated for an Oscar, they automatically got nominated in that specific category for my Bondies.

Image result for james bond oscars roger moore cubby

 

Best Picture
Casino Royale

From Russia With Love

Goldfinger

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Skyfall

And the winner is… Skyfall 

 

Best Director
Martin Campbell (Casino Royale)

Lewis Gilbert (The Spy Who Loved Me)

Guy Hamilton (Goldfinger)

Sam Mendes (Skyfall)

Terence Young (From Russia With Love)

And the winner is… Sam Mendes (Skyfall)

 

Best Actor
Pierce Brosnan (The World Is Not Enough)

Sean Connery (From Russia With Love)

Daniel Craig (Casino Royale)

Timothy Dalton (Licence To Kill)

Roger Moore (For Your Eyes Only)

And the winner is… Daniel Craig (Casino Royale) 

 

Best Actress 

Judi Dench (Skyfall)

Eva Green (Casino Royale)

Olga Kurylenko (Quantum Of Solace)

Sophie Marceau (The World Is Not Enough)

Diana Rigg (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)

And the winner is… Judi Dench (Skyfall)

 

Best Supporting Actor

Pedro Armendariz (From Russia With Love)

Javier Bardem (Skyfall)

Christopher Lee (The Man With The Golden Gun)

Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale)

Robert Shaw (From Russia With Love)

And the winner is… Javier Bardem (Skyfall)

 

Best Supporting Actress

Judi Dench (Casino Royale)

Famke Janssen (Goldeneye)

Grace Jones (A View To A Kill)

Lotte Lenya (From Russia With Love)

Berenice Marlohe (Skyfall)

And the winner is… Judi Dench (Casino Royale) 

 

Best Adapted Screenplay
Casino Royale” by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade

“From Russia With Love” by Richard Maibaum

“Goldfinger” by Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn

“Live And Let Die” by Tom Mankiewicz

“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” by Richard Maibaum

And the winner is… “Casino Royale” by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade 

 

Best Original Screenplay
“Goldeneye” by Jeffrey Caine and Bruce Feirstein

“Licence To Kill” by Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum

“Skyfall” by John Logan, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade

“The Spy Who Loved Me” by Christopher Wood and Richard Maibaum

“The World Is Not Enough” by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade

And the winner is… “Skyfall” by John Logan, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade

 

Best Cinematography
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Michael Reed)

Skyfall (Roger Deakins)

Spectre (Hoyte van Hoytema)

The Spy Who Loved Me (Claude Renoir)

You Only Live Twice (Freddie Young)

And the winner is… Skyfall (Roger Deakins) 

 

Best Costume Design
Goldeneye (Lindy Hemming)

Skyfall (Judy Temime)

Spectre (Judy Temime)

The Spy Who Loved Me (Rosemary Burrows)

You Only Live Twice (Eileen Sullivan)

And the winner is… Skyfall (Judy Temime) 

 

Best Film Editing
Casino Royale (Stuart Baird)

Goldfinger (Peter Hunt)

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (John Glen)

Quantum Of Solace (Matt Chesse and Richard Pearson)

Skyfall (Stuart and Kate Baird)

And the winner is… Casino Royale (Stuart Baird)

 

Best Makeup Team
Diamonds Are Forever

Die Another Day

Spectre

A View To A Kill

You Only Live Twice

And the winner is… Spectre 

 

Best Production Design
Goldfinger (Ken Adam)

Spectre (Dennis Gassner)

The Spy Who Loved Me (Ken Adam)

A View To A Kill (Peter Lamont)

You Only Live Twice (Ken Adam)

And the winner is… You Only Live Twice (Ken Adam)

 

Best Original Score
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (John Barry)

The Spy Who Loved Me (Marvin Hamlisch)

Skyfall (Thomas Newman)

Tomorrow Never Dies (David Arnold)

You Only Live Twice (John Barry)

And the winner is… On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (John Barry)

 

Best Original Song 

“Live and Let Die” by Paul and Linda McCartney

“For Your Eyes Only” by Bill Conti and Mick Leeson

Nobody Does It Better” from “The Spy Who Loved Me” by Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager

“Skyfall” by Adele and Paul Epworth

“Writing’s On The Wall” from “Spectre” by Sam Smith and James Napier

And the winner is… “Nobody Does It Better” from “The Spy Who Loved Me” by Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager 

 

Best Sound

Goldfinger

Diamonds Are Forever

Octopussy

Quantum Of Solace

Skyfall

And the winner is… Quantum of Solace

 

Best Visual Effects
Diamonds Are Forever

Goldeneye

Moonraker

The Spy Who Loved Me

Thunderball

And the winner is… Moonraker 

 

Best Documentary Feature
Becoming Bond

Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007

Happy Anniversary 007: 25 Years of James Bond

The James Bond Story

The World Of James Bond

And the winner is… Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007

 

Best Documentary Short
Double-0 Stuntmen

Inside Die Another Day

Inside The Living Daylights

Inside On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

The Music of James Bond

And the winner is… The Music of James Bond

 

Best Foreign Location 

Egypt (The Spy Who Love Me)

Greece (For Your Eyes Only)

India (Octopussy)

Japan (You Only Live Twice)

Switzerland (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)

And the winner is… Japan (You Only Live Twice) 

 

Best Title Credits 

For Your Eyes Only (Maurice Binder)

Quantum of Solace (MK12)

Skyfall (Daniel Kleinman)

The Spy Who Loved Me (Maurice Binder)

A View To A Kill (Maurice Binder)

And the winner is… The Spy Who Loved Me (Maurice Binder) 

 

Best Stunt Sequence 

Car chase (Quantum of Solace)

Eiffel Tower jump (A View To A Kill)

Parkour chase (Casino Royale)

Skiing off a cliff (The Spy Who Loved Me)

Skydiving without a parachute (Moonraker)

And the winner is… Skiing off a cliff (The Spy Who Loved Me) 

 

 

 

MOST BONDIES WON:

Skyfall 7

Casino Royale 4

The Spy Who Loved Me 3

Moonraker 1

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service 1

Quantum of Solace 1

Spectre 1

You Only Live Twice 1

 

MOST NOMINATIONS:

Skyfall 13

The Spy Who Loved Me 11

Casino Royale 9

From Russia With Love 7

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service 7

Goldfinger 6

You Only Live Twice 6

Quantum of Solace 5

Spectre 5

A View To A Kill 5

For Your Eyes Only 4

Goldeneye 4

Diamonds Are Forever 3

The World Is Not Enough 3

Licence To Kill 2

Live and Let Die 2

Moonraker 2

Octopussy 2

Die Another Day 1

The Man With The Golden Gun 1

Thunderball 1

Tomorrow Never Dies 1

Dr. No 0

The Living Daylights 0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movie Review: A VIEW TO A KILL

It’s been nearly 33 years since the release of A View To A Kill. At that time, it was critically panned and didn’t do as well as it’s predecessor (Octopussy). It’s taken three decades for AVTAK to go from “worst Bond movie ever” to “I guess it’s enjoyable in a campy kind of way.” The film is one of the wackiest in franchise history, and having the oldest James Bond actor ever (Roger Moore was 57!) gives it an even odder feel. I saw this movie in the theater when was 7, so even though I know it is a poorly made flick, I do enjoy it on some level.

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Even before we get to the gunbarell, we see a disclaimer that reads: “Neither the name Zorin, nor any other name or character in this film, is meant to portray a real company or actual person.” Was there a real life villain named Zorin? Is AVTAK a true story?Apparently, there was a real fashion design company known as Zoran Ladicorbic Ltd. The gunbarell gives us the exact same one Roger Moore did for The Spy Who Loved Me, eight years earlier. No disrespect to the late great Sir Roger Moore, but his looks certainly had changed and it was time to do a new gunbarell shot. I guess some Bond actors have it in their contracts: I do only one gunbarell shot and they get used for all my movies!

The movie opens up in Iceland pretending to be Siberia. 007 has been sent to locate the frozen body of 003 and recover a microchip connected to the Soviet Union. What ensues is a terrific ski chase scene that gets ruined by Bond inventing snowboarding, while “California Girls” plays during the action. More on that later, trust me. The stunts in this pre-title action sequence are very impressive, even though Roger Moore’s stunt man does all the work. After Bond escapes into his floating glacier submarine with a young lady for some sex-time (five days to Alaska!), we get one of the best Bond songs ever. Duran Duran was a pretty hip choice for 1985. Even though the song doesn’t fit the usual type of Bond song, for some reason it just works. Although, the name of the song should have been called “Dance Into The Fire.”

Bond returns to London to have the microchip analyzed. It’s quickly discovered that it’s a copy of one designed to withstand an electromagnetic pulse and made by government contractor Zorin Industries. Bond and the MI6 team take a day in at the races and spy on Max Zorin (Christopher Walker) and his androgynous bodyguard May Day (Grace Jones). Zorin is French, German, Russian and has an American accent. Ummm okay.

Next we see Bond at the Eiffel Tower having lunch with a French detective who specializes in horse racing. This man, who is so French that he is Pepé Le Pew in human form, has been investigating Zorin’s horses. May Day kills him with a poison-tipped butterfly (look, just go with it) and Roger Moore’s stunt double chases her all the way up the Tower, where she parachutes off it. This is another moment in the movie where the ballsy stunt keeps this movie interesting. After a silly car chase around Paris, that sees Bond’s car ripped apart, Bond ends up visiting Zorin’s luxury horse stable and palace in the French country side. Sir Godfrey Tibbett (Patrick Macnee), a racehorse trainer and MI6 agent, has been assigned to be Bond’s sidekick. He’s posing as Bond’s butler, while Bond is posing as a potential horse buyer named… wait for it… James St. John Smythe. More on this ridiculous alias later…

For some reason Bond forgets all about microchips and believes that Zorin’s horse was drugged and the movie spends about 45 minutes focusing on the shady business of horse ownership. At Zorin’s place, Bond meets a mysterious, beautiful woman named Stacey (Tanya Roberts) and discovers that Zorin has written her a check for $5 million. Later that night, Bond and Tibbett break into Zorin’s lab and learn that he is implanting adrenaline-releasing devices in the horses through microchips! See it all ties together, sort of. Bond has a really weird sex scene with May Day, Zorin identifies Bond as an MI6 agent and then has a horse race against Bond. All this time before, May Day failed to recognize Bond as the man who chased her around the Eiffel Tower. May Day kills Tibbett by choking him (she is freakishly strong), and then she and Zorin believe that Bond is dead after they attempt to drown him in a car.

The KGB confronts Zorin for killing Bond without their permission, because they feel Zorin still belongs to them. Keep an eye out for a really young Dolph Lundgren in this scene.  Zorin unveils to a group of investors his plan to destroy Silicon Valley which will give him a monopoly over the microchip industry. We are done with the horse plot.

Bond is off to San Francisco where he learns from a CIA agent that Zorin could be the product of medical experimentation with steroids performed by a Nazi scientist who is now Zorin’s physician. Bond then investigates a nearby oil rig owned by Zorin and while there finds a sexy KGB agent recording Zorin’s conversation about his evil plans. Bond is able to steal the recording off her after shagging her in a Japanese bathhouse. Bond tracks down the woman he met briefly at Zorin’s in France named Stacey Sutton. She’s the one that Zorin attempted to pay off to purchase her family’s oil business.

Keep in mind, Bond is now pretending to be a London financial journalist named James Stock. Bond and Stacey head to S.F. City Hall to review Zorin’s files. However, Zorin and May Day catch them. Zorin and May Day set City Hall on fire and frame Bond for a murder. Bond and Sutton escape the burning building and get in a fire truck. What happens next is Bond and Stacey (who breathlessly says the name James a lot) are in a fire truck chase vs the cops from an unseen Police Academy movie that took place in San Fran.

Bond and Stacey sneak into Zorin’s mine and discover his dastardly plan is to detonate explosives beneath the lakes of the San Andreas fault. This will cause a massive flood and will destroy the Silicon Valley area. Bond and Stacey are spotted and chased by May Day. Zorin then sets off the explosives drowning his workers, and those who aren’t drowned are shot by him. When May Day realizes that Zorin has betrayed her, she helps Bond remove a large final bomb by placing it onto a handcar and pushing it out of the mine. May Day stays on it to make sure the handbrake doesn’t move and once outside, the bomb explodes, killing her and destroying Zorin’s dreams of controlling the microchip industry.

Zorin, who had already escaped in his blimp, abducts an oblivious Stacey. Bond grabs hold of the mooring rope and hangs on for dear life. Zorin tries to knock Bond off the rope by having him crash into the Golden Gate Bridge, but Stacey attacks Zorin, and Bond is able to tie the rope to the bridge. Sutton flees and joins Bond out on the top of the bridge, but a crazed Zorin pursues them with an axe. Zorin and Bond fight on the bridge and it climaxes with Zorin falling to his death in the waters of San Francisco Bay. Before his fall, Zorin lets out a tiny chuckle that is quite amusing to me. Zorin’s mad doctor attacks Bond using sticks of dynamite (I guess blimp owners carry that?!) but Bond cuts the cable free, which causes the Nazi doc to drop the dynamite in the cabin. The dynamite explodes, destroying the blimp.

Q goes spying on 007 and finds Bond and Stacey making love in the shower of her home. Roger Moore ends his 7th and final Bond movie in the shower, with a woman almost 30 years younger than him, and his last words as 007 are “oops I dropped the soap”. If this doesn’t sum up A View To A Kill, I don’t know what else does.

Image result for a view to a kill shower

 

Bond’s coolest moment? Roger Moore’s James Bond is at his charming best during Zorin’s party.

Bond’s most embarrassing moment? Clearly it’s snowboarding to a cover of a cover of the Beach Boys classic “California Girls”. This might be the most embarrassing moment in the 55 years of Bond movies. Even for this movie, this was over the top.

Bond’s best line? The morning after having sex with May Day, Zorin asks Bond how he slept, to which Bond says “A little restless, but I got off eventually.”

Best acting performance? Walken is a good villain in a Trump meets Stewie kind of way, but I think it’s Grace Jones that gives the best performance. She knows she is in a nuts flick, and it suites her perfectly.

Bond’s most “sexual predator” moment? Forcing himself on a young coworker for 5 days from Siberia to Alaska.

Worst line in the movie? Three-way tie between anytime Tanya Roberts says “James” – Each time “St. John Smythe” is said – Whatever nonsense comes out of the mouth of that Uber-French detective.

What I noticed for the first time after watching this for the 98th time? It dawned on me how many hours, maybe days, it took for Bond and Tibbett to record their fake dialogue, when Zorin’s people bugged their room.

Best action sequence? That Eiffel Tower chase is really well shot. It also goes to show you how powerful the Bond producers are. They got to shut down and shoot at this famous world landmark.

Who or what is the title song about? I think it’s about how dangerous Bond’s life is.

Best looking cinematic moment? The climax in San Francisco, on the blimp, with shots overlooking the city and the Golden Gate Bridge.

How could the villain have succeeded? Why does Zorin need to destroy Silicon Valley to control microchips? He’s killing his potential customers, since microchips aren’t made there. He should have just stuck with being an evil horse owner.

Which other Bond actor could have starred in this movie? Roger Moore sticks out like a sore thumb. Duran Duran, Christopher Walken, Grace Jones, Tanya Roberts, a plot about technology… this movie needed a Bond like a young Pierce Brosnan: 1985 Remington Steele.

Does Bond ever think he might die? When he’s being sucked into that underwater propeller, yup.

What would have made the movie better? Besides having a younger Bond actor, they needed to drop most of the horse plot.

What’s in a name? As mentioned before, Bond uses James St. John Smythe and James Stock as aliases.

What’s in a title? A View To A Kill comes from an Ian Fleming short story titled From A View To A Kill, which came from a poem. In the film, May Day and Zorin say the title in a memorable way.

Drinking game: This a twofer. Take a sip of an Americano anytime you hear “St. John Smythe” and Tanya Roberts as Stacey say “James”.

“WTF?!” moment: Roger Moore and Grace Jones in bed together. Here’s a little behind the scenes for you… Jones had a black dildo with her during the sex scene. Moore was not pleased.

Fun fact: David Bowie, Sting and Rutger Hauer were all consider for the role of Max Zorin.

Overall ranking: 20th out of 24.

Review synopsis: I can’t call this the worst Bond movie ever because it knows how bonkers it is and never lets up. The locations are some of the best in the franchise’s history. Roger Moore acknowledged he was too old by this point to be romancing women who had mothers younger than him. He wasn’t long in the tooth. He had tusks! Despite all that, he was always a joy to watch as Bond. Walken and Jones make a formidable duo, while Roberts is the worst main Bond girl ever. Yes, worse than Denise Richards. For all my bad mouthing of AVTAK, if it was on TV tomorrow I would probably watch it again.

 

 

 

 

Has James Bond Ever Truly Been In Love?

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Image result for james bond tracy

On this Valentine’s Day, I’m taking a look at the love life of a man who has enjoyed “a bachelor’s taste for freedom.” This terrific line comes from James Bond himself in the film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In this movie, it is perhaps one of only a handful of times that 007 has fallen in love.

From Dr. No to You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever, Sean Connery’s Bond never falls in love with his Bond girl. He’s usually too busy forcing lesbians and health clinic workers into having sex with him, and occasionally slapping some of his ladies around. George Lazenby’s one Bond movie is On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and yes his Bond does feel something for Tracy. Okay, he does slap her too. Tracy is probably the first bipolar Bond girl, which makes sense considering James Bond has his fair share of psychological issues as well. Most fans agree that Tracy is his one true love because he marries her. But does he really love her, or is he just forcing himself into love? They fall for each other under stranger circumstances, and thanks to Louis Armstrong and a dating montage, we are to believe the ultimate womanizer is ready to settle down.

So there we have it. James Bond is done with all other women. Tracy is his one and only. However, after this sweet courtship clip, Bond goes on his mission and has sex with at least two women, more likely three. The only woman I’m sure he doesn’t screw at the Piz Gloria is Irma Bunt. As Bond fans know, he does marry Tracy, only for her to be killed later on their wedding day thanks to Blofeld and Bunt. Of course Bond loved Tracy very much, but I still don’t think she was his greatest love. More on that later. Oh and a fun fact: George Lazenby and Diana Rigg (Tracy) absolutely detested each other on set.

The Roger Moore era certainly didn’t have any true love in the 70s and 80s. In fact, I think Roger’s 007 bedded the most ladies. He even had some waiting in the closet for him until he was done with another lady (see: Man With Golden Gun). Moore wasn’t as rough a lover as Connery, but his Bond wasn’t loving either. Live And Let Die? Lies to a young girl and takes her virginity. Moonraker? Has sex with Drax’s assistant and gets her killed. Maybe he cared for Octopussy the most, but that just might be because all the other women in the Bond era were old enough to be his daughter.

When Timothy Dalton became James Bond we were in the grips of the AIDS crisis. Was it time for Bond to settle down again? Or at least start using condoms? In Dalton’s first flick, The Living Daylights, after a quickie on a yacht with a bored vacationer, 007 only hooks up with Kara. In fact, for the first half of the movie, our too-cool-to-settle-down hero is kind of put into the “friends zone” by her. Dalton’s second and final Bond movie has him back to basics, although still not too promiscuous.

Pierce Brosnan’s 007 gives the impression that he falls in love very fast, but I’m not buying it. Paris Carver, Elektra King and Miranda Frost are women he has sex with and who eventually die. Brosnan’s acting seems like he knows a backstory full of passion and romance, that the audience isn’t quite in on. He stands and leans over these three dead women in particular in a very odd fashion. Think of Brosnan’s Bond as Moore’s, except his is a little more sensitive. Both men had to deal with two young, regrettable Bond girls in Christmas Jones and Stacy Sutton. So they have that… umm… bond.

Forget about Tracy Bond. Let’s talk about his true love… Vesper Lynd. Casino Royale sees a new Bond (Daniel Craig) start from the beginning of his espionage career. Vesper and Bond instantly hit it off on the train. Thanks to some sharp dialogue in the script, I don’t think we have ever seen James meet his love match like this. She is intelligent, beautiful, witty, sultry, and as cynical and sarcastic as him.

This is what makes Casino Royale one of the greatest Bond movies ever. We believe these two characters are falling in love with each other. Bond is already willing to toss away his young career for her. That’s why her betrayal (spoiler alert: she lies and steals from him) is so gut-wrenching. Bond is shaken to his core and we understand why he never trusts women again. Guys, gals, we have all been there. Heartbreak is real and it takes years to recover from. When James says “the bitch is dead”, we get it. He’s ready to move on, but he will never forget this sickening feeling.

Craig’s Bond doesn’t sleep around as much as Connery or Moore or Brosnan did, but he definitely isn’t monogamous either. Just ask Strawberry Fields and Severine. Well don’t ask them. They’re dead. Look, it doesn’t matter which actor plays Bond because about half his ladies end up dead. At the end of Spectre, we see Bond ride off into the sunset with Madeleine Swann. She told him she loved him after knowing him for about three days. It’s hard to buy a man like Bond, after what he went through with Vesper, to end up with Madeleine. I’m sure in 2019, we will see Craig’s Bond with a new girl(s). Because that’s how we like our James Bond. Someone with an even more complicated love life than our own.

So on this Valentine’s Day, if you don’t have anyone special to love, maybe you should be more like Roger Moore’s James Bond and love yourself.

 

Recasting Bond Movie Roles

Elegant Woman Ready for a Shoot

There have been Bond actors who have been hired and replaced (John Gavin, Pierce Brosnan). Well, the same goes for some Bond girls and villains. Before the next Bond flick  comes out, casting rumors usually fly around. Sometimes there’s a bit of truth to them, but most of the time it’s just bloggers looking for click-bait.

With this in mind, I’m going to go back in time and take some famous Bond movie roles and recast them with actors who may have done as good — if not better — a job than the one who was cast.

I love most of the original casting choices. I’m just going rogue casting director here!

 

DR. NO (1962)

Character: Dr. No (villain)

Actor cast: Joseph Wiseman

Actor considered: Christopher Lee

My choice: Yul Brynner

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THUNDERBALL (1965)

Character: Domino (Bond girl)

Actress cast: Claudine Auger

Actress considered: Raquel Welch

My choice: Suzanne Pleshette

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THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974)

Character: Francisco Scaramanga (villain)

Actor cast: Christopher Lee

Actor considered: Jack Palance

My choice: Ricardo Montalban

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THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977)

Character: Jaws (henchman)

Actor cast: Richard Kiel

Actor considered: N/A

My choice: Arnold Schwarzenegger

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OCTOPUSSY (1983)

Character: Octopussy (Bond girl)

Actress cast: Maud Adams

Actress considered: Sybil Danning

My choice: Kirstie Alley

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A VIEW TO A KILL (1985)

Character: Max Zorin (villain)

Actor cast: Christopher Walken

Actor considered: David Bowie

My choice: Malcolm McDowell

Malcolm McDowell

 

 

 

TOMORROW NEVER DIES (1997)

Character: Paris Carver (Bond girl)

Actress cast: Teri Hatcher

Actress considered: Monica Bellucci

My choice: Elizabeth Hurley

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DIE ANOTHER DAY (2002)

Character: Jinx (Bond girl)

Actress cast: Halle Berry

Actress considered: Salma Hayek

My choice: Madonna

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CASINO ROYALE (2006)

Character: Vesper Lynd (Bond girl)

Actress cast: Eva Green

Actress considered: Olivia Wilde

My choice: Mia Kirshner

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SKYFALL (2012)

Character: Raoul Silva (villain)

Actor cast: Javier Bardem

Actor considered: Kevin Spacey

My choice: Johnny Depp

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Movie Review: SPECTRE

After the critically-acclaimed, highest grossing Bond movie ever, Spectre was destined to have a difficult time living up to Skyfall. Much in the same way Quantum of Solace had to follow the vastly superior Casino Royale. Despite problems during production (script leaks, Daniel Craig’s noticeable boredom, etc.), there’s still plenty to like about Spectre. Also quite a bit to feel like it underachieved.

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This most recent Bond flick starts out the way God intended. With the classic gunbarrel sequence finally at the very beginning of a Daniel Craig-James Bond movie. The pre-title sequence takes place in Mexico City during the “Day of the Dead.” From the opening one-shot track in the middle of the hectic parade, to a building being blown up, to Bond fighting inside an out-of-control helicopter… this is the best pre-title sequence in the Craig era and IMHO one of the best in the entire franchise. Bond is south of the border to carry out an unauthorised mission to stop a terrorist bombing plot. We later learn Bond’s orders came from his beloved, deceased “mum”/”ma’am”/M (Judi Dench). Bond confronts his prey, Marco Sciarra, grabs his fancy organization ring, and kills him by kicking him out of the helicopter. That leads us to Sam Smith’s dull “Writing’s On The Wall” theme, which won an Oscar for Best Song for some odd reason. The title credits had a little too much soft-core octopus-porn for my taste.

Returning to London, Bond is suspended from field duty by the new M (Ralph Fiennes) for the destruction he caused in Mexico City. M is about to lose his job to wormy Max “C” Denbigh (Andrew Scott), the head of a new privately backed spy agency, that intends to use drones and cameras instead of the pre-historic 00-section.  After a humorous meeting with Q (Ben Whishaw), Bond goes rogue (shocker, right?) and travels to Rome to attend Sciarra’s funeral. He seduces Sciarra’s widow, Lucia, played by the underused Monica Bellucci. She tells Bond all about the mysterious criminal organization that her husband belonged too. Bond uses the ring to infiltrate their meeting, where he witnesses a massive mountain of a man (Dave Bautista) crush a man’s skull and sees a familiar face as the group’s leader. What follows next is an underwhelming car chase through the streets of Rome and Vatican City at night, with Bond’s new Aston Martin vs a Jaguar.

This leader, Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), has an assassination order for the “Pale King”. Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) informs Bond that the Pale King is Mr. White, a former member of the organization’s subsidiary Quantum. Bond asks her to investigate Oberhauser, whom he presumed dead years earlier. Bond finds Mr. White in a snowy village in Austria, where he learns that White is dying. He tells Bond to find and protect his daughter, Dr. Madeline Swann (Léa Seydoux), who will take him to L’Américain. He commits suicide after wishing Bond good luck. Bond goes to the clinic where Swann works and has to rescue her from Oberhauser’s henchmen in a snow-plane vs jeeps battle. 007 and Swann meet Q who explains the links between this Oberhauser fellow and Bond’s previous missions. Yes, all four of Craig’s movies are tied together. Le Chiffre, Dominic Greene and Raoul Silva all worked for the same organization, which Swann identifies as SPECTRE. More later on this reversed engineered plot.

Swann takes Bond to L’Américain, which is not a person, but a hotel in Tangier. They find evidence directing them to SPECTRE’s crater base in the Sahara. Taking a train to a remote station, Bond and Swann encounter that gigantic henchmen. Craig and Bautista engage in a train fight almost as good as Sean Connery vs Robert Shaw in From Russia With Love. It’s one of Spectre’s best highlights. After Bond disposes of the hulking beast, he and Swann go to the base. Oberhauser reveals that he has been staging terrorist attacks around the world, and funding Max “C” Denbigh’s new spying agency in order to control world-wide surveillance. Bond is tortured as Oberhauser and tells Swann all about how when James was an orphan, Oberhauser’s father became his temporary guardian. Believing that young James supplanted his role as son, Franz later killed his father and staged his own death. This timeline gets fuzzy and the movie doesn’t do an adequate job of explaining it all. For some reason, he adopted the new name Ernst Stavro Blofeld based on his mother’s bloodline. He went on to form SPECTRE and make his longterm target James Bond. Or as he puts it… the author of all his pain. Bond uses his watch to blow up the room and escape with Madeleine, destroying the base in a huge explosion and assumes Oberhauser/Blofeld has died in the blast.

Bond and Swann return to London where they meet M, Q, and Moneypenny with the intention of arresting “C” and stopping his spying network from being activated. Swann and Bond are abducted separately, while the rest of the group proceed with the plan. After Q succeeds in preventing the program from going online, a struggle between M and C ends with C falling to his death. Bond is taken to the ruins of the old MI6 building, scheduled for demolition after Silva’s bombing in the film Skyfall. He encounters a disfigured Blofeld, who tells him that Bond must escape before explosives are detonated or die trying to save Swann. Bond goes on a mad search to find Madeleine and they escape by boat as the building collapses. Bond shoots down Blofeld’s helicopter with his Walther and it crashes onto the Westminster Bridge. As Blofeld crawls from the fiery wreckage, Bond confronts him but decides not to kill him because Madeleine has made James a changed man or something. Bond leaves Blofeld to be arrested by M, then walks away from the scene with Swann. After picking up his fixed Aston Martin DB5 from Q, Bond and Madeleine drive off together to start their new lives. An ending that seems to say “Daniel Craig will NOT be back as 007”, but we know better now.

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Bond’s coolest moment? Craig’s Bond is a bitchy, snarky Bond. So I like when he dismisses Tanner’s helping hand off the boat, and when he briskly walks and talks with Moneypenny and barely looks at her.

Bond’s most embarrassing moment? That car chase in Rome has one too many moments that seem out of place in the Craig era. A while back I wrote that Spectre might be Daniel Craig’s Roger Moore 007 movie. Perfect example.

Bond’s best line? Telling the bartender to throw his health drink down the toilet, to “cut out the middle man.”

Best acting performance? Even though he doesn’t rank up there with Bardem’s Silva or Mikkelsen’s Le Chiffre, I think Waltz does his best as the iconic Bond villain Blofeld.

Bond’s most “sexual predator” moment? Having his way with an Italian widow he barely knows. It’s a very Connery move.

Worst line in the movie? Not so much a bad line, but when M says he knows what “C” stands for…”careless”…let’s just say it’s a missed opportunity. Close second is Swann telling Bond she loves him. Not buying it.

What I noticed for the first time after watching this for the 12th time? It’s implied that Madeleine shot Oberhauser when she was a young girl. I believe so.

Best action sequence? It’s a tie between the helicopter fight and the train fight. Sam Mendes is an underrated action movie director.

Who or what is the title song about? I think it’s Sam Smith singing as Bond and expressing on what he has been missing out on in life. It’s kind of a downer.

Best looking cinematic moment? Pretty much everything in Austria, especially Bond on the lake. It looks like Daniel Craig in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo sequel we never got.

How could the villain have succeeded? How about not letting a little kid named James Herbert Bond, who you barely knew, get so under your skin that as an adult you make it your life’s goal to ruin his?

Which other Bond actor could have starred in this movie? Really no one else besides Craig. But he is definitely sleepwalking through this. I’m kind of surprised he is coming back for a 5th movie.

Does Bond ever think he might die? He shows actual fear during the train fight. Bond is throwing kitchen items in a desperate attempt to survive.

What would have made the movie better? This might take a while… drop the foster brother stuff. Stick to the original leaked screenplay which had a Bond vs Blofeld deadly poker game rather than that silly torture room scene. Also, the last line of the script is “We have all the time in the world” which would have set up a reboot of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service!

What’s in a name? No alias in this one, unless you count Bond calling himself Mickey Mouse in Italian.

What’s in a title? Spectre falls in the line of naming the movie after a villain or person or organization. Goldfinger, The Man With The Golden Gun, Octopussy, etc.

Drinking game: Take a drink of this every time the word “assassin” is said. Oh and please add some vodka to it… https://youtu.be/U4V4DK_3-Bc

“WTF?!” moment: Did Moneypenny have sex with Max “C” Denbigh? Who was that dark-haired man in her bed when Bond calls her?

Fun fact: Dave Bautista is quite memorable as the henchman Hinx, yet his name is never said throughout the entire film.

Overall ranking: 11th out of 24

Review synopsis: Spectre feels like the “most Bond” type of flick Craig has done. They check off a lot of boxes and that keeps this from being a poor entry in the franchise. But screwing up plot lines and timelines, which now makes Craig’s final turn in 2019 harder to predict, keeps it from being as great as Casino Royale and Skyfall.

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My Bond 25 Pitch

A few months ago, I gave a very basic idea on what the next Bond movie should look like. This is my official pitch for Bond 25 (2019). A boy can dream right?

*Memo to Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson regarding Bond 25 script ideas. This is an outline of thoughts on the plot, locations, and characters that screenwriters Purvis and Wade can polish up. I know there will be some backlash over the title of the film (Devil May Care), but I think it’s too good of a Bond title not to be used. Throw some money at author Sebastian Faulks, since we will also take some ideas from his novel.

SYNOPSIS:

James Bond must stop a young American billionaire from manipulating crypto-currency and taking control of every nation’s space program.

 

LOCATIONS:

  • Dubrovnik, Croatia (pre-title sequence)
  • London, England
  • Oslo, Norway
  • Lillehammer, Norway
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Kyushu, Japan (climax at Tanegashima Space Center)

  • Title song DEVIL MAY CARE by Lana del Rey. Example: “Million Dollar Man”.

 

GADGETS:

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  • Tesla 2020 Roadster.
  • Bulletproof skiing jacket.
  • Pen with laser pointer, that is an actual laser.
  • Omega watch that can blind enemies for 30 seconds.
  • Tom Ford sunglasses that can be used as a camera/video.

 

MAIN CAST:

Daniel Craig as James Bond 007 – Bond is being pushed towards a desk job and becoming a 00 instructor, since he is always threatening to retire. After this mission he will be replaced by a younger agent. He has recently broken up with his unnamed girlfriend and it’s become common knowledge with the MI6 staff. At the end of the movie, Bond stays as 007 while his potential younger replacement becomes 008.

Adam Driver as Bryce Talbot – The young American billionaire who owns and operates the company Techmera. He has hands in everything from crypto-currency, to social media, to self-funded space exploration. He wears a black glove on his left hand because he suffers from Main de Singe AKA- Monkey’s Paw. His left hand is extremely larger than his right. More like a gorilla hand. He’s shy and has wild mood swings. He intends to steal billions in crypto-currency, and defund every major nation’s space program so Techmera will be the only space superpower.

Alice Eve as Olivia Talbot – The mysterious wife of Bryce Talbot is beautiful and British. She has only been married to him for a couple of years. She and Bond become intimate in Norway, but Bond doesn’t trust her and thinks she is setting him up to be trapped. She turns out to be an MI6 agent deep undercover as Talbot’s girlfriend/fiancé/wife. In fact, she is set to replace Bond as 007 and he will become her teacher. She ends up as 008, since Bond proves he still has what it takes to be a 00 agent.

Rinko Kikuchi as Ayaka Ueno – An agent for Japan’s PSIA. She is Bond’s guide in Japan as they try to uncover Talbot’s plot. She and Bond become lovers. Ayaka has been working for Talbot from the start and has been spying on Bond since his mission briefing in London.

Naomie Harris as Moneypenny – She really ribs Bond about his new “devil may care” attitude about his personal life. She also has some choice words for Bond’s brand of sexism.

Ben Whishaw as Q – After he briefs Bond on the gadgets, they both go meet Talbot and Olivia at a Techmera event.

Rory Kinnear as Tanner – He’s become M’s right hand man more than ever.

Rose Namajunas as Hush – She is Talbot’s bodyguard and MMA trainer. She’s petite but lethal. She and Bond have a couple of tussles.

Tobias Santelmann as Hansen – An assassin in Norway for Talbot. He’s handy with a knife and he and Bond engage in a brutal hand-to-hand knife fight, with Bond winning.

Goran Visnjic as Glosel – An eccentric arms dealer who is shipping weapons of mass destruction in his oil tanker. One of his prize possessions is his pet great white shark. Bond defeats Glosel during the pre-title sequence.

Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter – Leiter shows up in Norway to help Bond with some info. The CIA has been spying on Talbot and his wife Olivia for some time.

Ralph Fiennes as M – He isn’t as hard on Bond in this movie since he thinks Bond is on his way out. He lets Tanner, Q and Moneypenny become Bond’s micromanagers.

 

CREW:

Director- Taika Waititi

Screenplay- Neal Purvis and Robert Wade

Composer- David Arnold

Cinematography- Adam Arkapaw

Costume Designer – Jany Temime

Production Designer – Dennis Gassner

 

ACTION SEQUENCES:

  • Scuba diving, sinking oil tanker during pre-titles in Dubrovnik.
  • Ski chase in Lillehammer.
  • Knife fight in Oslo.
  • Car chase in Tokyo.
  • Climax at Japanese space center.

 

 

 

 

 

Movie Review: DIE ANOTHER DAY

2002’s Die Another Day is the first time we see 007 in a post-9/11 world. While this movie was released about 14 months after the attack, Pierce Brosnan’s 4th and final turn as Bond only hints at the serious world we were living in at the time. The rest of movie comes across as a bonkers Roger Moore-style of Bond flick, mixed with popular action movies of the late 90s and early 2000s.

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When I saw this in the theater and witnessed the first ever CGI bullet being shot at an audience during the gunbarrel sequence, I knew this was going to be a Bond flick that stood out.  The first half of the film is the best Brosnan-Bond movie since Goldeneye. The second half? Less said the better.

Bond surfs his way into North Korea, because when you think North Korea you think surfing. He has taken the place of a diamond smuggler in order to inflitrate a military base. We meet Colonel Tan-Sun Moon, who is illegally trading weapons for African conflict diamonds. Looking at it now in 2018, the idea of having North Korea as the enemy makes Die Another Day seem accidentally ahead of its time.

Moon’s top henchman Zao soon discovers that Bond is a British spy here to assassinate the Colonel. Apparently, someone at MI6 is working with Moon and snitched on Bond. Bond narrowly escapes by blowing up a briefcase full of diamonds, which become neatly embedded in Zao’s face. Bond chases after Moon in a hovercraft through a minefield. This isn’t the best Bond pre-title action sequence since the hovercraft chase looks like two guys driving a bar of soap. At the end of this, Colonel Moon appears to have died, while Bond gets captured by North Korean soldiers and imprisoned by the Colonel’s father, General Moon.

After the bizarre title sequence filled with scorpions and ice water, and Madonna’s nonsense song, we see a long-haired, bearded Bond after 14 months of captivity and torture in his North Korean prison. Brosnan looks more like a well-fed Robinson Crusoe, than a spy who has been through hell. He is traded for Zao in a prisoner exchange involving the Americans and Brits. He is immediately sedated and taken to meet M, who informs him that his 00-status is suspended under suspicion of having leaked information while being tortured. Bond escapes MI6 custody to go find the double agent in the British government who ratted him out.

He swims to Hong Kong harbor and checks into a fancy hotel in a very amusing scene, where he learns from a Chinese agent that Zao is in Cuba. In Havana, 007 gets help from a Cuban sleeper agent. Then Bond meets NSA agent Jinx (Halle Berry), who enters out of the water Honey Ryder-style. After some poorly-written flirting, Bond and Jinx have wild sex. There are knives and fruit and everything! This is the first time we ever see Bond orgasm! Bond follows her to a gene therapy clinic, where patients can have their appearances altered through DNA restructuring. Your move Face/Off!

Bond locates Zao inside the clinic, where he is attempting to become a German man. Yup, it’s starting to get wacky. After the two fight, Zao leaves behind a pendant which leads Bond to a cache of diamonds, identified as conflict diamonds, which bears the symbol of the company owned by a young, brash billionaire named Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens). Graves’ claim to fame and fortune was discovering diamonds in Iceland a year ago.

Back in London, Bond meets Graves and his assistant Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike), who is an undercover MI6 agent. After a cool Madonna cameo, Bond and Graves engage in a sword-fight. Graves loses to Bond in the epic fencing match, and to show what a good sport he is, he invites James to Iceland for a scientific demonstration of his new pet project. M tells Bond of MI6’s doubts about Graves, and Bond is suddenly back to 00-status and headed to Iceland with Frost to investigate Graves. Jinx is also hot on the trail, since the Americans also find Graves fishy.

At his ice palace in Iceland, Graves unveils a new orbital mirror satellite called “Icarus”. It focuses solar energy on a small area and provides year-round sunshine for crop development. However, it is also a weapon of mass destruction for Graves. Jinx is captured by Graves and Zao, because she is a horrible spy. We learn that Graves is actually Colonel Moon from the pre-title sequence. Not shocking. Not positively shocking. Moon used the gene therapy technology from Cuba. He changed his appearance, creating the identity of Gustav Graves and amassing his fortune from sale of the conflict diamonds. All in less than 14 months! Bond confronts Graves/Moon, but Frost (who Bond shagged the night before) arrives to reveal herself as the traitor who betrayed Bond in North Korea. Bond escapes in what can only be described as a cartoonish CGI action scene, involving melting ice caps and kitesurfing. Bond then returns to the palace in his invisible Aston Martin to rescue Jinx.

Remember when I wrote the first half of this movie was good? The second half of Die Another Day is way too outlandish. It’s so off-the-wall that A View To A Kill is telling it to take it down a notch. Graves uses Icarus to melt the ice palace, which will drown Jinx inside, all while Zao pursues Bond into the palace in his own suped-up vehicle. This Jaguar vs Aston Martin chase across ice is pretty snazzy I must admit. Bond kills Zao by shooting a giant diamond chandelier to fall onto him (more on this later). Bond saves Jinx from drowning in the melted ice palace.

Bond and Jinx pursue Graves and Frost to the Korean peninsula and stow away on Graves’ cargo plane. Graves reveals his true identity to his General father and his plan for Icarus. He wants to cut a path through the DMZ with concentrated sunlight, allowing North Korean troops to invade South Korea. General Moon tries to stop the plan that would certainly lead to nuclear war, but he is murdered via Graves’ electrocution suit and by gunshot.

Bond attempts to shoot Graves, but he is prevented by one of the soldiers on board. In the struggle, a gunshot goes through the fuselage, causing the plane to descend rapidly. Bond and Graves (still in his Electro-Man suit) fight to the death, while Jinx attempts to regain control of the plane. Frost and Jinx then have their own brawl with swords and knives, which is honestly better than the Bond vs Graves/Moon battle. The plane passes through the Icarus beam and is damaged to the point where it is coming apart. Jinx stabs Frost and Bond opens up Graves’ parachute, causing Graves to be pulled out of the plane and sucked into one of its engines. Bond and Jinx escape from the disintegrating plane in a helicopter from the cargo hold, carrying away Graves’ stash of diamonds in the process. After some sexual innuendo, Bond and Jinx make love in a bed full of those diamonds.

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Bond’s coolest moment? Walking into that Hong Kong hotel lobby, not caring how he looks. This could be from any classic Bond movie.

Bond’s most embarrassing moment? Bond kitesurfing away from an avalanche/tidal wave is one of the most embarrassing moments in the entire franchise. Brosnan looked like the only live-action character in an Ice Age or Happy Feet animated film.

Bond’s best line? Bond’s “I’ve missed your sparkling personality.” Followed right by Zao punching him in the stomach and saying “How’s that for a punchline.”

Best acting performance? Rosamund Pike as Frost is terrific in her limited role. You can see the future Oscar-nominee has some real talent.

Bond’s most “sexual predator” moment? Not much to choose from, so I will go with Bond tricking Frost into making out for longer, as if Graves’ goons were still spying on them.

Worst line in the movie? “Yo mama!” should never be uttered in a Bond film. I hope Halle didn’t improvise that.

What I noticed for the first time after watching this for the 89th time? 14 months after 9/11. Bond held captive for 14 months. M saying “the world changed” while Bond was away. All connected.

Best action sequence? I really enjoy the sword fight at the Blades Club. It seems so out of place in a Bond movie, but it’s well choreographed and it never disappoints when I see it.

Who or what is the title song about? Your guess is as good as mine. I’m guessing it has to do with Bond’s survival mentality. But why the hell is Madonna singing “Sigmund Freud…analyze this…analyze this…analyze this…”?!

Best looking cinematic moment? Like I mentioned before, the Jaguar vs Aston Martin car chase on a frozen lake in Iceland is beautiful to watch, even if the action is ridiculous.

How could the villain have succeeded? By not faking his own death. He could have done his entire plan from North Korea. He would still have to kill his father I guess.

Which other Bond actor could have starred in this movie? I guess an in-his-prime Roger Moore makes sense, but this really is perfect for Pierce. He always tried to be a hybrid of Sean and Roger, and you can see it in this movie.

Does Bond ever think he might die? Before the prison exchange with Zao, Bond knows he is about to be shot by the North Korean firing squad. Brosnan does a good job of portraying Bond’s “so this is how it ends” facial expression.

What would have made the movie better? Cut the entire kitesurfing escape and the plane action climax. The movie is too silly for a movie two hours and ten minutes long.

What’s in a name? Bond takes the name (and sunglasses) of diamond smuggler Van Bierk. Notice how Bond is also already dressed like him before taking his identity.

What’s in a title? Die Another Day is one of a handful of Bond titles that has no connection to Ian Fleming or anything related to Bond history. It’s the third and final in the Brosnan-Bond “soap opera” title-sounding flicks: Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day.

Drinking game: Take a sip of your mojito every time a character utters a bad pun. This movie has more bad puns and one-liners than the three previous Brosnan-Bond flicks. #PunAnotherDay

“WTF?!” moment: Bond has the superpower to fake a heart attack! How did he learn this trick? Why did he ever learn how to do this?

Fun fact: Pierce Brosnan suffered a knee injury during the pre-title action sequence, which prompted the production to stop shooting for seven days.

Overall ranking: 19th best Bond movie out of 24 Bond movies.

Review synopsis: This is the 20th official James Bond movie and it came out on the 40th anniversary of Dr. No. They tried to throw everything but the kitchen sink here. The tone shifts, the eyeroll-worthy puns, the embarrassing CGI and an invisible car, didn’t give Pierce Brosnan a proper send-off as Bond. In fact, this movie (despite it being a huge box-office hit) made producers reexamine the franchise. This lead to the much needed Daniel Craig era. With all that said, Die Another Day is still highly entertaining in the same ways A View To A Kill and Diamonds Are Forever are.

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