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My Thoughts on SPECTRE


It’s been a while since SPECTRE hit theaters. I wanted to give the world a chance to see it before I gave my immediate reactions. But here they are. Now, I haven’t seen it since Nov. 5., this is definitely just the completed-sentences-version of what I wrote the next morning after viewing.

Bond Girls. This film did not deliver.

Monica Bellucci / I don’t even know her character’s name because it was such a pointless part of the film—After all the hype about her, and especially her age, it was so not worth it.  She was, like, a hot second of the film. And it was an entirely unaddressed story line that had really no purpose to the film. Sure James got info from her, but it wasn’t imperative that she be the one to offer it. In fact, it didn’t even make sense that she had the info, since she wasn’t with the man and she wasn’t part of the organization. Instead, it felt like “I’m throwing the old broad one last pity fuck because she’s gonna die.” Also, his “I’ll get Felix Leiter to save you” line was bullshit, too, and felt like they had to drop his name for when the character came back in a movie or two. Uh, no. This did no work, at all.

Lea Seydoux / Madeleine Swann—I feel like they were trying to make her the new Tracy di Vicenzo // Vesper Lynd, but without any of the development. Tracy and Vesper were movie-long seductions, to some degree, and Bond had to work hard to earn them. In return, they are the only two women to leave a franchise-wide impact on him. But Madeleine is all cold and calculated, and then when Bond’s getting tortured and she tells him she loves him… it was super fucking strange. It didn’t make sense. It didn’t develop. Then at the end of the movie she’s looking at him like it’s her or the job and he tosses his gun over the bridge. NO. Not only do I see nothing that actually connects them, Bond threw his life away (twice!) for women and it didn’t work out–I don’t think he’d do it for this girl. He actually wouldn’t throw his gun away if he cared about her, because, uh, HIS WIFE GOT SHOT. Besides all that, she’s entirely unmemorable. I don’t recall her having any serious style.

MI6 Agents. A mixed review.

Money Penny really wins this one, trotting around with Q and trying to help save James. She’s fierce and I love the attitude she’s been given and the way she tries to help it. It fits well with the history of her character in the films.

M. Harrumpf. I need to watch the movie again to see how I feel about him. He didn’t stand out to me, but I don’t know, the film wasn’t one that was going to give him a lot of room to shine. He’s got this anger/frustration with Bond that contradicts with his supporting of him even after Bond breaks the rules, but that’s on-point with Bernard Lee’s portrayal of M, so I’m OK with him for now.

Q was a little less arrogant in this film, and a little more friendly. I’m OK with that, but I don’t love it, either, because to do this they sort of had to sacrifice that attitude of his from Skyfall and instead made him a bit of the cat-owning-blundering-nerd stereotype. Previously, Q was unapologetic. I liked unapologetic Q. But I also liked that Q left the office and went to bat for Bond, which felt very License to Kill-style Desmond Llewelyn, and I loved it.

The bad guys. I liked them, and I wanted more.

Max Denbigh // Andrew Scott I knew he was evil form the get-go when he stood with the bad guys at the announcement of the film cast. I wish we could have had more time with him, because he immediately felt like he had to be a villain’s sidekick. That was frustrating, because you never really had time to develop a false sense of him being on MI6’s side.

Mr Hinx // Dave Bautista was the triumphant return of the henchmen of old that I was so ready for. But he only got to use his fucked up thumbs once. ONCE. He disappeared too early in the film. He should have made a comeback after the car crash, that’s what good henchmen do.

Franz Oberhauser/Blofeld // Christoph Waltz didn’t lose his hair in the epic fire. There was an epic fire, and the man retained his hair. WHY WASN’T HE BALD. HE GOT THE SCAR, WHY WASN’T HE BALD? And in the realm of other questions that left me hanging regarding him: Why did the film let him get caught? WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CAT? I think Waltz was creepy and combative, and I want to see him reprise the role in the future. I think the bullshit brain drill was exactly the type of over-the-top weapon of villains’ of old.

The plot and story and execution. Welcome back.

First, let me say, I’m so glad they found their humor again. I know Craig, in an interview when he got started, said that it was going to be impossible to be funny with the role because Austin Powers ruined it. But I didn’t realize how much I missed the dumb stuff. When Bond told the guy, “Stay!” I was gleeful.

Mad, mad props to the opening scene. I loved the Day of the Dead parade. I sort wish there had been some sex in the hotel room, a cut away, and then Bond sneaking out on to the balcony to go over the guy and have the madness ensue, but it was still a spectacular opening. I actually got a little motion sick with the helicopter stuff.

Now, on to the opening credits + song: I still dislike the song, but the song sort of goes OK with the theme. Which isn’t saying much, but I don’t really like the visuals, either. I liked the parts with the kind of ghostly//inky stuff trailing off women, but the Daniel Craig being so visible is one thing I’ll never like. I appreciated in other Bond openings the way the character, even if obviously an outline of that man, was still blacked out. Still up for any man, any Bond. Oh yeah, the tentacle porn was strange. I also don’t like brining other movies into this opening credit stuff. That absolutely reeks of OHMSS, which was not a successful opening (it didn’t even get its own song), and which wasn’t a successful film/Bond, partially because of its inability to stand on its own (in my opinion). Was “Writing on the Wall” a link to the spray painted “James Bond” name in the old MI6 building?

On that note, I despised the way they brought back all the dead people from Craig’s movies. Why that continuity? Why now? If this wasn’t a send off for Craig as Bond, it’s going to feel really inadequate when Craig goes back to forgetting the past, per usual. It feels like he needs to walk away. I like him as Bond, but given the grievance of bringing up his entire past, and then running off with Ms. Swann, it’s time for Craig to go.

Speaking of Bond’s past… It was an interesting connection between James and the leader of SPECTRE. I liked it, a whole lot actually–more than anyone I’ve talked to it, seems. I like that it sort of gives context to all the earlier films with Blofeld as Bond’s main nemesis. This movie shows it’s personal without discrediting that it’s Bond’s job, with MI6, to battle him.  However, I have to agree that it is a little rushed. Bond just sees this photo and admits to this longstanding (that we didn’t know about) feeling that his brother-from-another-mother is still around? Pishposh. Particularly when these Craig films spend so much time relating to one another. SPECTRE as an organization, sure, that’s sort of pulled through all the movies. But this man? Not at all.

Also, I’m done with the internal intrigue and the drama. I’m sick of MI6 agents being the enemy, and exhausted with Bond threatening to leave and go rogue. Let’s put him back on his desk and let an outside be the villain again, what do you say?

The ultimate decision: a let down.


I hate telling people that. They’re so excited to ask me about it, and I hate being like, “Eh.” In reality, it’s not a let down as a Bond film (that’s only QoS, which is a letdown as any kind of film) but I find it underwhelming in that it doesn’t stand as strong as Casino Royale or Skyfall (which is an admittedly impossible movie to follow). It has so many amazing elements–and we all knew that going into it–that expectations did not meet reality.

That being said, I can’t wait to buy the DVD and watch it again, because it’s Bond and it is still great.




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Sam Smith Sings for SPECTRE: Here’s to Alliteration

Because, it seems, alliteration is all we’ve got.

When are they going to learn that a Bond song that’s not titled after the movie is a really terrible idea? I’ve stated before that for a song to be truly considered, in my opinion, it has to be named after the film title. Not that a film-titled-song is a guarantee of success (most people despise Die Another Day) but I do think it’s essential to creating the perfect theme. Unfortunately, the SPECTRE theme is no exception.

If you haven’t heard it, check out Sam Smith’s WRITING’S ON THE WALL which I know is available on Spotify.


My first thoughts were that the musical score is SPOT ON. Nailed it. Sounds just like it should, especially coming off of SKYFALL. 

Without the musical score, the lyrics fall. Hard. In fact, the pacing and the lyrics feel like they could easily be applied to a Disney movie. Or maybe the next sappy John Legend loves Chrissy Teigen song. Don’t get me wrong–I love both of those possibilities. But they’re not Bond.

I have a few specific problems with the lyrics that I will address.
“I want to feel love” Bullshit. First of all, no. Bond? No. Secondly, remember the time he was married? I thought that sort of cured the love thing. Thirdly, I think there’s some point in one of the books where he talks about falling for all the women he bangs. [If I wasn’t supposed to be doing work for grad school right now, I’d dig out my notes. Maybe later.]

“If I risk it all” Don’t you, always, James? Haven’t you, already? Did you forget Teresa Bond? This is all for Queen and Country. You’re not delivering papers on an especially traffic-y street, my good man.

“When you’re not here I’m suffocating” This is just too much. Unless it’s referring to the job. In which, yes, Bond, you can’t survive without your 007 status. Not for long, anyway, the films suggest.

I’m a little bummed at the content, as well. Given the prominence of Spectre (the organization), the word’s association with ghosts, phantoms, spirits of the past, and all the skulls and imagery that have been produced for the film, that this isn’t more haunting or isn’t hitting at some of those areas. The context we know seems rife for songwriting.

There’s just something about WRITING’S ON THE WALL that is so soft after vulnerable after the strong, deliberate, willful SKYFALL. Initially it’s off-putting and inconsistent, but I know Smith knows more about the film than we do, so I can’t hate too much for that reason.

Also, I’m just going to say it: the falsetto is distracting. It takes me out of the Bond trance. I wonder how this will work on screen.

All of that being said, if you know Bond themes, you know they are often highly time specific. Songs like SKYFALL and GOLDFINGER and LIVE AND LET DIE are rare, especially when you consider the popularity of Adele and Paul McCartney And Wings. Artists like Madonna, Duran Duran, Garbage, and ultimately Sam Smith, contextualize the film within the world and time it’s produced. That in itself has a value and a place in the Bond Canon.

I admit the song needs to be imbibed in the context of the film, and I look forward to seeing and hearing it in theaters this fall. I like the song enough. I just wish it could have been more.


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What if the world ends?

When you didn’t hear from me after my last post, you probably thought me and a rough-and-rotten labor-camp spawn had let our souls fly, right? [“We Both Go Down Together?” I should have made reference to that song before the trip.]

Well, that would have been romantic. But no, I just literally had the most overworked month of my life. Between developing major spider veins and a new caffeine addiction at the Barn, glueing myself to my desk at the day job, and occasionally having a social life (not even lying), I have had time for absolutely nothing. Sitting down to write the blog never happened. And that’s sad, because the post-trip bliss was pretty surreal, and I don’t feel like I really got to properly share that with anyone. I would have shared it with you, NERers. Only you.

Now we’re in this predicament. I want to write the musical recap of 2012 that I’ve been drafting in my head while driving to work. I still need to tell you about the all-British hottie lineup on my TV this year. Then there’s the trip, of course, and crossing some more stuff off the 26 List. And posting in-depth about SKYFALL and how it rocked my world.

But, you see, the world is ending next week.

And that clearly means there isn’t enough time to do it all, because I’m still working like a maniac. (Which, I should just walk off the job, because why waste my last 7 days not eating, drinking, sexing and Netflixing my way to oblivion?)
In lieu of it all, I’ll give you, vast interwebs, this honest and unbiased suggestion:

If you only have one week left, and you’ve never seen a Bond movie in your life,
pick Goldfinger. 



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December 13, 2012 · 9:52 am

A Bond for the People

This 23rd film premiere coinciding (not accidentally, we are all certain) with the anniversary of the release of Dr. No and 50 years of Bond glory, is really bringing Bond to the masses.

1. Royal Approval 

Like the Queen’s Bond tribute wasn’t enough during the Olympics, the biggest news in this arena is the announcement that Prince Charles and Camilla will be attending the October 23rd Skyfall premiere–and the screening will (fittingly) benefit Charles’ chosen charities: those that support members of the three intelligence agencies – the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), the Security Service (MI5) and GCHQ. How cool is that? Seriously. A franchise that has been glorifying an undoubtedly hard, tragic, and far less glamorous lifestyle for 50 years is going to give back–yes, just a tiny amount–to the families and people who have served.

2. Global Holiday

I told you about Global James Bond Day. Everyone in the world will celebrate the birth of the film franchise and what it’s done for cinema. And this isn’t just some namesake event: “Worldwide events celebrating Bond’s golden anniversary include a global online and live charity auction event organised by Christie’s in London, a global survey to discover the favourite Bond film country by country, a film retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, a Music of Bond night in Los Angeles hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Designing 007: 50 Years of James Bond Style opens at TIFF in Toronto.” Hell yes.

3. A View to a Thrill 

Part of a yearlong celebration of Bond, the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu (England)  has a special exhibit open to the public: Bond in Motion, which features 50 different vehicles from Bond films. Staring at that 1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III three feet in front of you brings Auric Goldfinger that much closer to everyday Bond fans.

4. Favorites from the Fans 

The interwebs are letting Bond-obsessed fans, like me, have our say, too. Which is not only fun, but also pretty great, since we seem to think we know everything and have the best opinions. In conjunction with its Facbeook page (James Bond 007), 007.com is letting fans vote for the Best Bond Movie Ever. Visiting the tab on their page will display 22 film posters that link to video clips and info for each film (a great way to recap if you aren’t trying to watch all the films before the Nov 9 US premier, like me) and let you select which film you think is the best of Bond. They are also posting “Fans Favourite Bond Moments: Between now and the release of SKYFALL we’ll be posting one of your favourite Bond moments every day, with commentary from you, Bond’s biggest fans.” A while back they asked us followers of James Bond 007 to tell them our favorite movie moment. Now, each day they release a clip and commentary from some of the people who wrote in about it. What fun! I’d certainly love to see my favorite clip up there–I suggested Q’s last briefing in The World is Not Enough.

5. Major Media

Because the 50th is garnering such attention, we’ve also seen major American media outlets pickup on the history and premiere. Sure, Bond’s style frequently makes it into men’s magazines, but I don’t think I’ve seen this much heat on the full franchise in quite some time. If you want to know the history behind Bond–and I mean, a whole lot of history, from the life of Fleming, Saltzman, and Broccoli to the upbringing of Connery–check out “The Birth of Bond” by David Kamp in Vanity Fair. It’s incredibly interesting and filled with a lot of fun facts–Roger Moore was supposed to be the first Bond! Fleming didn’t like Connery! There are also connections drawn between Bond and Scooby-Doo and Don Draper, but you’ll just have to read to find out how. Vanity Fair has also recently released staff picks for the best of Bond and a slideshow of images from the franchise–many of which show behind-the-scenes takes with the people not on screen, like Young, Saltzman, and Broccoli. You can also pick up the LIFE special edition (I snagged it yesterday) which has a photo of Connery and Fleming that I just adore.

6. Going Mainstream 

Finally, in one week, all 22 films will be released on blu-ray. Now, I bought the last big box release in college–pre-Craig–so I don’t think I’ll be jumping all over this. But anyone with a blu-ray player (again, not me) should be eating this up. I hope many moms and dads will pass on the “Oh, James!” love to their kids the way my dad did with me.

Although I don’t actually recall what the hype was like with Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace (sorry, I was in college, and excessive sorority life may have dimmed my memories–except the one where I wanted to give up Bond forever at the midnight showing of QoS), I do think that it was nothing compared to this. I am glad, for one, because I think QoS almost ruined Bond–I still don’t own the movie–but also because I hear that some folks gave up after The World is Not Enough (fucking Denise Richards),  and that there are some, God forbid, who don’t know anything about what came before GoldenEye. Let them eat cake, or drink vodka martinis, and get educated!

I guess here would be a good place to tell you that this really is a Bond for the people–even the poor, common American like myself. Not only will I be dressing like leading ladies to celebrate, and sending James Bond postcards for GJBD,  in late October I will be traveling to London. My tickets are already booked for Bond in Motion, and I have more than one free afternoon available to see Skyfall in theaters. I’ll be arriving home just in time for the midnight US premiere, which I wouldn’t miss for the world–jet lag be damned.

After all, you only live twice.

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My dead baby pig

in Anatomy & Physiology honors was named Julien “Ju Ju” Brosnan. His first name was the douchebag Julien from a soap opera for kids we had to watch in my high school French class. His last, obviously, from the sexy Pierce Brosnan.

ON THIS DAY IN BOND HISTORY: 1994, Pierce Brosnan was officially announced as the fifth actor to play James Bond.

Brosnan ushered James Bond into the 90s (and ultimately the new millennium), introducing the character to Generation Y–arguably the first generation of young folk to be acknowledged as consumers, and the first generation to grow up with technology similar to what we have today. I wonder if EON had any idea how that would come into play.

Brosnan’s debut, GoldenEye, was not only the highest grossing film since Moonraker, it was the fourth highest grossing film of 1995. It had been six years since Timothy Dalton portrayed Bond, and it met Gen Y head-on–the first Bond they would know in real time. Parents remembering the earlier films of the series brought their just-barely-old-enough kids to see it–encountering the legend through Brosnan’s handsome balance of wit, smarm, and confidence (a nice change from the over-the-top Moore and the falls-short Dalton).

Yet, even that wouldn’t have meant much without the astounding success of GoldenEye as an N64 game. Every teenage boy with access to an N64 was playing that game. In turn, every teenage girl who wanted to hang with the boys was seeing that game. It gave Bond a new connection to younger generations who didn’t have that nostalgia and loyalty to franchises of the elder generations, but who did have significant market power. Brosnan’s films went on to continually score strong box office results, building from that young base of middle schoolers who grew up shooting Bond’s Walther PPK, called PP7 in-game, in the first-person shooter that defined a decade, if not a generation. (Go ahead, Google “My youth” with “goldeneye 007.” Read dudes wax nostalgic about it.)

Cheers to you, Pierce, my strong and steady #2. Thanks for four delightful films and 18 wonderful years as a Bond (sex) icon.

To celebrate: The best sexual wordplay exchange in the franchise.

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