Tuesday, 31 July 2012

New Skyfall Trailer Is ABSOLUTELY AMA- *faints*

Hot up the ass of the first, better-than-any-film-I've-seen-this-year teaser for Skyfall comes this lengthy trailer, packed with MORE beardy Bond! MORE bad-haired Bardem! And MORE bastard-cool cuff-adjustment than EVER BEFORE!!!!!11 *faints again*

Time to crank down the resolution and pick this baby apart with some crap gags that even ShortList magazine would think twice about printing.

WTAF? Bond's dead? Ah, hang on... this is the rebooted Bond, right? Ergo, Skyfall is a remake of You Only Live Twice. I can't wait for the bit where they make Daniel Craig look Japanese by rubbing Bisto all over his face.

Oh dear. Because M is a senile old biddy she's gone and lost the drive containing the identity of every agent embedded in terrorist organisations across the globe! Don't worry love, the YouTube video's only had one view. Crisis averted, end of film.

Cack-handed liability Naomie Harris (still definitely not Moneypenny, nooooo way) shoots Bond off the top of a moving train, precipitating some kind of Fall from the Sky. There is literally no way Bond could possibly survive this.

TYPO ALERT: It should read "Think on your shins". "Think on your sins" doesn't even make sense!

Someone's blown a hole in the side of MI6, ergo Skyfall is a remake of The World Is Not Enough. M must be sick to the tits of repairing her office walls by now.

Holy shitballs, 'e's only gone and survived that impossible-to-survive Fall from the Sky. "Where the hell have you been?" asks M. "Enjoying Def Leppard," comes the unexpected reply.

Fuck me, that face fuzz is appalling. He looks like he's been rimming a diarrhetic bear.

"You must be joking," says Bond to Q. Ergo, Skyfall is a remake of Goldfinger. Didn't we do all these old school Bond references in Die Another Day? Oh, it's a remake of Die Another Day.

A gun that can only be fired if it recognises Bond's palm print! Why, I haven't seen such a thing since Licence To Kill! Ergo, Skyfall is etc etc.

Oh the James Bond films, how I've missed your conveniently-obscured tits.

Good to see Eon Productions honouring the clause in Javier Bardem's contract which stipulates that he must sport a barnet that makes children point and laugh at him in every film.

It's a little-known fact that somewhere underneath the Thames MI6 have their own version of popular TV show 'The Cube'. They call it 'The Hexagonal Prism' and M always gets to be Phillip Schofield due to the staggering physical resemblance.

I tried this at Oxford Circus station and ended up with fourteen 'Please stand on the right' signs embedded in my scrotum. The irony was, I couldn't stand at all afterwards! Because I also broke every bone in my legs.

Welcome back, Mr Bond. It's good to see you again.

I'm going to choose to ignore for now the slightly tedious throwbacks to previous Bond films, as well as the fact that Daniel Craig only really looks good in about one of these shots, and blindly continue to assert that Skyfall still looks the absolute shizzle. Even though it's almost possible to work out the entire plot from the two existing trailers, I still get a tremor in my trunks thinking about the first time I'll get to see how it all fits together. Nothing does that to me like Bond does and I make no apologies for it. I just hope I won't be asking for any from Sam Mendes come October.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

I Stand Corrected

Apart from CGI Winston Churchill (officially the new double-taking pigeon) and some sloppy daytime / nighttime continuity, this wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting. Thank Christ the rumours about 007 being knighted proved unfounded; I would have burned my Bond DVD collection and danced on the ashes. Then bought the Blu-rays.

In other news, this appeared on US TV during the Olympics opening ceremony, presumably while the Federated States of Micronesia or some other made-up country made their entrance:

Craig's cuff adjustment > Brosnan's tie adjustment.

Friday, 27 July 2012

BlogalongaBond /
The World Is Not Enough:
The Great And Powerful Broz

In 1999 the world found itself barrelling towards an uncertain future full of all sorts of millennium buggery, and the very real possibility that everything and everyone would cease to function when the countdown reached '00. Eon Productions responded to this threat by reassuring us that everything would be fine if we just put our faith in the world's greatest secret agent and a nuclear physicist whose hot pants and huge tits didn't stop her from knowing all there is to know about Yukawa's theories on the stability of atoms.
Gently placing Denise Richards' massive bosons aside for a moment, The World Is Not Enough is a fantastic return to enormously satisfying, thrill-packed Bondery. Thankfully ditching most of its predecessor's Mooreisms, the script is better and the story satisfyingly complex while still allowing for an explosion every eight seconds. In fact as a piece of action cinema it's breathlessly entertaining; this film alone contains some of the best set-pieces in 1990s cinema, and should have convinced the Academy to create a Best 2nd Unit Director category and immediately award it to Vic Armstrong.

But Bond is given plenty to think about as well as blow up, and his relationship with Elektra King (played with alternating brattish arrogance and fragile vulnerability by Sophie Marceau) is among the series' few successfully complex emotional tangles into which he will insist on getting. When that goes tits up and he turns to the nearest vagina to hand, it belongs to the walking punchline that is Dr. Christmas Jones - the series' least popular Bond girl according to people who've forgotten A View To A Kill's Stacey Sutton.

Personally I don't have a problem with Denise Richards; as far as miscast supporting actors go, I have greater issues with John Cleese's disastrous quartermaster-in-waiting. I'm fairly sure that if both actors were to swap roles we would have seen some far more interesting personal relationships developing.
Imagine for a moment a Q-type played by a buxom young hottie: competition for Moneypenny and infinite opportunities for Bond to come up with great lines about where he'd like to put his gadgets (he means his cock). Then imagine, instead of the traditional Bond girl, 007 is teamed up with a fusty old professor who can defuse a bomb without any bother but is incapable of explaining the process without getting his t-shirt wet. Now that would be a bold reboot.

There's no doubt about one thing, though: as his third Bond film, this is Pierce Brosnan's Goldfinger, his The Spy Who Loved Me. It's the film in which he finally worked out exactly who he is.
The Broz is certainly no Timothy Dalton, but by this point he doesn't need to be. He's shrugged off the ghosts of Connery and Moore which haunted his last two performances and he's perfected his own Bond brand: witty, athletic and charming but frequently at the edge of a precipice of anger, disgust and contempt from which he only just pulls himself back on several occasions. In his appointment with the Bilbao banker he clearly means business: a colleague is dead and he wants to know who's responsible. He can't stand the sight of anyone in the room (except perhaps the one with the perfectly rounded figure) and he takes grim satisfaction in taking them out. And as a bonus, he also looks better in specs than certain other Bonds:
There are times when it's frustrating that he didn't push the character that little bit further - his reaction to Elektra's probing "have you ever lost someone you loved?" is a little too subtle, given the series' previous references to his murdered wife - but this is still the pinnacle of his Bondery. He pulls off the awful puns with a roguish charm that deceptively makes you think you could get away with that Christmas / turkey gag yourself (you can't) and he's graceful enough to allow Desmond Llewellyn to carry his final Q scene with class, despite the old codger spouting utter toss; if Q ever taught Bond to "never let them see you bleed", it must have been while the cameras weren't rolling.

Equally convincing and eminently watchable whether he's negotiating payoffs, kicking the shit out of a scrawny Scot or making his sex face in a torture chair, Brosnan is so magnetic as Bond that he made me want to watch every other film he was in during - and after - his time in 007's shoes, so I did. And before long I came to the sobering conclusion that although he was born to be Bond, his presence in anything else is no guarantee of quality; the rest of his filmography is almost uniformly cack. Barring, of course, the magnificent Mamma Mia!.

And there you have it. Feel free to disagree with my assessment of Pierce Brosnan's abilities, but frankly the evidence speaks for itself:
(excluding the titles and the score which are as amazing as ever)

The pre-title sequence
I've had it checked and I can confirm that the film's first fourteen minutes do in fact torpedo all other Bond pre-title sequences clear out of the water. The mini adventure in Bilbao would have been good enough, but the following Thames-based speedboat mayhem is pure gold. Amazing stunts, David Arnold's music having noisy sex with your ears and a perfect location for millennial Bond combine to blow your eyes through the back of your head and into next door's lounge before Garbage strike up a single note.

The submarine stuff
Avoiding the usual final face-off that sees Bond versus an entire army of minions, The World Is Not Enough's climactic 11-minute set-piece aboard a vertical, sinking nuclear submarine (culminating in Peter Lamont's fantastically-designed reactor room) is balls-out brilliant entertainment. Bond and Renard going at it while Denise Richards delivers expository dialogue in a wet, see-through shirt is exciting enough, but I'm a sucker for scenes of people trapped underwater so the tension here is off the flipping chain. That is, once you've got over the fact that a Commander in Her Majesty's Royal Navy doesn't know the difference between the "up" and "down" controls of a submarine.

The incredible suits
Brosnan wears seven Brioni suits throughout the course of the film, and almost every single one of them is perfect (the cream linen suit he wears in Istanbul is just asking for işkembe çorbası to get poured down the front). Wayne Enterprises' Lucius Fox may believe that "three buttons is a little '90s", but when they're sewn onto the jacket of a man who absolutely, positively knows how to wear a suit, the result is timeless.

And finally: The World Is Not Enough was the first Bond film to take advantage of the burgeoning trend in movie marketing for character posters. At last! A chance for those legendary, iconic characters who've been instrumental in shaping the world of James Bond as we know it and who are loved by millions around the world to finally get the recognition they deserved.
All that's missing is his classic quote: "Oh, by the way, do you have the transport documents?"

BlogalongaBond will return with Die Another Day

What the hell is BlogalongaBond? I'll tell you.
Further BlogalongaBondareading here

Friday, 20 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

The Second Coming of Christ has absolutely nothing on the Rising of The Dark Knight. Sure, the former is a hotly anticipated event in some circles, but I bet a trailer for it doesn't get fifty million hits on YouTube. I can't see people making the news by claiming that the reappearance of the Messiah "isn't all that" before they've even witnessed it. And when Jesus finally pops up and starts with all that judging business, don't count on Empire Magazine doing a three-week retrospective of his life on their website.

So has Christopher Nolan - who is basically God if you a) follow this analogy through or b) read any movie website forums - pulled off a miracle? Has he justified the ludicrous hype surrounding his creation's return to cinemas? Well, probably not, but then nothing could. Nolan doesn't really give a shit about fanboy satisfaction, though, and that's why The Dark Knight Rises is a complex, exhausting and flawed but quite brilliant film of breathtakingly epic scale and scope while The Amazing Spider-Man is a desperate-to-please pile of crap.

What Christopher Nolan does give a shit about, as he's said before, is escalation. He was testing the water with Batman Begins, and with The Dark Knight he proved that superhero sequels could be bigger, bolder and braver without sinking under the weight of their own effects, ambition or cast (of both actors and characters). His third Batfilm takes things to such an extent that you wonder if you could cope with a fourth without the assistance of mind-expanding drugs. But while The Dark Knight Rises achieves the near-impossible task of telling a sprawling story worthy of an extended comic book run in 164 minutes, it could still do with a further haircut of twenty minutes or so.

The first hour suffers from a lack of focus caused by the introduction of a host of characters whose motives remain unclear for too long: Tom Hardy's muffled, pumped-up weirdo Bane may be carefully laying the foundations of a master plan or simply carrying out orders for a mysterious higher power; Anne Hathaway's Selina Kyle is a cat burglar with vague connections to corrupt businessmen; Marion Cotillard's Miranda Tate is a clean energy-obsessed businesswoman or something; Joseph Gordon-Levitt's idealistic cop John Blake is doing something or other with orphans; Matthew Modine and a Russian scientist are in there somewhere and Pope off of Animal Kingdom is also up to non-specific shenanigans. And that's not to mention the trilogy's regulars, none of whom seem to have any better idea of what's going on than we do.

As first acts go it's a little draining, and it leaves you in a less-than-ideal condition as you head into the rest of the film. Having said that, it does help you identify with some of the characters on screen who are also in no fit state for what's about to happen. Once all this is resolved - lots of it in satisfyingly unpredictable fashion (you genuinely don't know who will survive and what will be left of them) - and Bane's purpose finally comes into focus, The Dark Knight Rises really gets down to business and everyone gets their moment in the sun. And although he doesn't metaphorically jam a pencil in your eyeballs like the Joker did, Bane is very much the physical threat to Batman we've been waiting for.
I think Christopher Nolan is making a point here

The thrust of the story still has at its heart MacGuffins, cool gadgets and yer standard good-vs-evil business, but in Nolan's universe it all seems to matter so much more. Lives are changed, people are hurt and nothing will be the same again, either within the film or in the superhero genre. Nolan hasn't created a template for all future super-powered blockbusters to follow - God knows we still need well-crafted pop like Avengers Assemble - but he has proved once and for all that sprawling, character-led drama and superheroes aren't mutually exclusive.

Perhaps his greatest achievement is crafting a cohesive trilogy which successfully and satisfyingly comes full circle, even though that didn't seem to be the intention when Batman began in 2005. If Christopher Nolan had laid out a three-film arc on day one, it's unlikely he would have expected to be making part three on this scale. Yet here we are, and he's risen to the challenge. He's the hero Gotham deserved, and the one it needed.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Friday, 13 July 2012

There's No News Like Old News:
Ben Whishaw Is Q

In an excitable flurry of press releases, tweets and Facebook posts, it was confirmed yesterday - to the surprise of almost nobody, since his agent blabbed it last November - that Ben Whishaw will play James Bond's provider of conveniently mission-specific gadgets Q in forthcoming cinematic orgasm Skyfall.
Now pay attention, 007. This ordinary-looking
briefcase contains Marcellus Wallace's soul.

Why EON have only just decided to officially announce the casting (despite it having been on IMDb's Skyfall page for months) is a mystery. One suspects that it's part of a calculated drip-feed of press-parps to remind us there's a new Bond film coming soon, but maybe it's just that the complex CG wall in the background of all Whishaw's scenes has only just been completed and is finally ready to be shown to the public. Alternatively perhaps they were waiting until they thought everyone had forgotten The Incredible Suit's nearly-three-year-old post in which I suggested that Q should be someone "a lot younger [...] someone who knows all about the latest technology, someone who’s excited by his work and eager to see how it plays out in the field, but takes the piss out of Bond for not being nearly as geekazoidal as he is." Yes, I expect that's it.

Whatever the reason, it'll be fascinating to see what Whishaw's casting brings to the Bond / Q dynamic. Much as I loved Desmond Llewellyn (John Cleese can fuck right off), we don't need to see an octogenarian explaining complex technical equipment to a man half his age any more. We need someone who's rock 'n' roll enough to have played Keith Richards, Bob Dylan and John Keats; someone who probably went to the same casting sessions as Benedict Cumberbatch and Matt Smith and went home empty-handed; someone in specs and a cardy who we can believe might well have developed a pair of trousers that turn into jam. We need a convincing quartermaster. Have we got him?

How the hell should I know?

FACTLET: This is the fifth film Whishaw has starred in with Daniel Craig. If you can name the other four without resorting to the internet you are a massive spoff.

Friday, 6 July 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

I haven't got time to write a proper review of The Amazing Spider-Man because I'm going to Wales in a minute, but let me just say that if you're going to reboot a still-warm film series that everyone over the age of ten still remembers quite clearly, then you'd better have a bloody good reason for doing so. When people like Joss Whedon and Chris Nolan are taking superheroes to places that didn't exist a few years ago, your film needs to do something pretty spectacular with the genre and the character, not just parp out another hour-long origin story followed by a tedious punch-up with a weak, unconvincing CG villain.

The Amazing Spider-Man fails at all of this and more. And I, for one, am not happy about it.

Designing 007

If you can find your way to and around London's labyrinthine Barbican between today and September 5th, and you're a fan of the popular series of films featuring the character 'James Bond', then let me tell you my friends: you are in for the kind of treat that will make you want to find a quiet side room in which to have an absolutely MASSIVE wank.

As part of 2012's ongoing celebrations of fifty years of Bond films, the Designing 007 exhibition has taken up temporary residence at the Barbican before embarking on a three-year world tour that is certain to bring happiness and possibly world peace to everyone on the planet. I inveigled my way in to a press preview yesterday, and it was some of the most worthwhile inveigling I've ever done. And I'm a seasoned inveigler.
You're greeted at the entrance by this rather unconvincing mannequin of a Goldfinger-era Sean Connery rubbing his buttocks up against an Aston Martin DB5 like a horny dog on a nylon carpet. The car itself is clearly gorgeous, but the main attraction here is the three-piece suit, which is a replica of the 1964 version painstakingly recreated by original tailors Anthony Sinclair. They've done a bang-up job; the suit is beautiful close up, as my phone totally fails to demonstrate in this photograph.
Moving into the main part of the exhibition, the first proper room is "The Gold Room", deliberately designed to evoke Ken Adam's set designs from the early Bonds, specifically - and obviously - Goldfinger. An eerily realistic dummy of a gold-painted, naked woman spins slowly on a bed like some morbid display in an Amsterdam shop window, while on the opposite wall are mounted various sketches, storyboards and props. The highlight of The Gold Room is the golden gun from that film about the golden gun. You never really see it close up on screen, so to be able to get within inches of it and see exactly how Scaramanga fit his cigarette case, lighter, pen and cufflinks together is geek heaven.

An "M" room and a "Q" room follow, and they're jam-packed with what I'm fairly certain are every single prop from every single Bond film. EON's archives must have been stripped bare; everything's here from From Russia With Love's gadget-packed attaché case to Bond's medical report from The World Is Not Enough, signed by the frilly-knickered Dr Molly Warmflash.
Without doubt though, the centrepiece of the exhibition is The Casino, which contains about thirty original and replica costumes from the series. All the tuxedoes and posh frocks you remember are here (and one you won't - there's a dress from Skyfall on display) and they're all stunning. To be able to gawp at Sylvia Trench's blood-red dress from Dr. No or Tiffany Case's none-more-seventies Las Vegas outfit from Diamonds Are Forever for as long as I wanted was like cramming about six birthdays into 45 minutes, give or take.

If the exhibition has a fault (actually it has a couple, but more on the other one in a bit), it's that the mannequins that these beautiful creations are wrapped around look a little bit on the ridiculous side. The men's faces all look like the robots from Real Steel, and some of the hairpieces are even less convincing than the ones Roger Moore wore in the 1980s.
Remember the bit in Casino Royale where
Bond balanced a ferret on his head? Me neither

After leaving The Casino, things get a bit disjointed - back in the lobby there's a random glass case of skimpy swimwear, then a separate room of villains' props and costumes before the final room, which can only be accessed by going down two floors in a temperamental lift - and when you get there they're showing the worst bits of Die Another Day.

These minor quibbles aside, I can't recommend Designing 007 enough to any Bond geeks or casual fans out there. It's the finest, most immersive collection of Bond memorabilia I've ever seen and the perfect place to lose a couple of hours wishing you could play with or wear some of this stuff. I for one would fit right into Eva Green's Casino Royale dress for a start. You know, the one she wears while scratching her fanny in the middle of the casino.

Monday, 2 July 2012

God Bless America

In the event that you've heard of God Bless America, it's probably because you saw director and former Police Academy weirdo Bobcat Goldthwait's previous film, World's Greatest Dad, which came out of nowhere two years ago and was a surprisingly good indie dramedy featuring Robin Williams and wankicide. As such you're probably hoping for more of the same. Well, bad news: God Bless America is not surprisingly good, has no Robin Williams and features precious little wankicide. In fact now that I think about it there's no wankicide at all. Not even a small fingering injury.
It's the story of a middle-aged man with a shitty existence whose firm belief that modern life is rubbish sends him on a killing spree, accompanied by a teenage girl with a similar outlook. It begins well, with a gloriously sick fantasy sequence that's designed to shock and amuse in equal measure, but from there on in it has nothing to say that hasn't been said a thousand times before. The only way you might find it original is if you've never seen Network, Falling Down, Natural Born Killers, Kick-Ass or Super, or if you've never read a book by Ben Elton or anything Charlie Brooker's ever written.

Attempting to get the audience on side by pointing out how awful reality TV, religious homophobes, people who talk on the phone in cinemas, noisy neighbours and extreme right-wing talk show hosts are is barely groundbreaking, but God Bless America doesn't even go anywhere new from there. It's as if it realises it doesn't know what else to say apart from "isn't all this stuff shit?", so just keeps saying it until the money runs out. Then it says it some more, in a finale that's been written for a film with a much bigger budget than this one.
Joel Murray (brother of Bill, famous acting sibling fans) as vengeful loser Frank is good value, but Tara Lynne Barr as his whiny, hate-fuelled sidekick is grating and unsympathetic. Considering her role is basically an uncostumed Hit Girl, both she and Goldthwait's script needed to try much harder to beat the competition.

There are some early LOLs, but once it's clear that the film only has one joke, diminishing marginal returns dictate that by the end you're unhappier than when you went in, and that's a less than ideal position for a comedy to be in, even if it is an indie one. Better luck next time Bobcat, but don't worry too much; we'll always have wankicide.