Bates Motel IMO was excellent and another example for Cuse‘s premium worth.
Yes, I‘m Purvis, Wade and Cuse.
Bates Motel IMO was excellent and another example for Cuse‘s premium worth.
Yes, I‘m Purvis, Wade and Cuse.
The wig changes are one thing, it’s the heights I struggle with. At best I can only do two. I have to choose, I can be either Purvis and Wade or Nolan and Nolan
you win the internet!
The inherent ambition in the Craig era has no doubt proven to be its downfall. Craig is a first-rate dramatic actor so the producers have felt the need to make the Bond films more than popcorn flicks. Worked well with CR - which had an unusual but first-rate story. But as we now see it hasn’t really quite worked out in the long-run. (Count me among those who think Skyfall overrated.)
As our own Dalton notes, so much of the Craig era has been a mishmash of poorly conceived ideas. Therein lies the problem. By trying to make the films more than they had been, the producers (and writers, and directors) expanded the franchise beyond its confines, not realizing that what many felt was a restriction was in fact its natural shape.
Precisely because Bond (and to a certain extent the formula) can’t really change, the whole dramatic arc, i.e. exploring Bond’s psyche, is doomed to failure. The films have become too serious and ambitious for their own good. Just how many times can Bond and M have trust issues? How often can Bond go rogue? How many crises of conscience can Bond have?
It’s no coincidence that in the older flicks, the Bond women carried the dramatic baggage: often their conflicted relationships with the villain (Tatiana, Domino, Solitaire, Andrea Anders, Melina Havelock, Octopussy, Stacey Sutton, Kara, Lupe); sometimes with Bond (Tatiana, Anya Amasova, Octopussy, Kara). Ah, the good old days.
Say what you will about the merits of the film TMWTGG, but I think the Bond-Scaramanga-Andrea triangle much more dramatically fascinating, weighty and better written than the half-baked human hearts nonsense in the last three Bond films. And I dare say anyone truly being honest with themselves will find much of anything in the last three films as dramatic, sincere, or as well written as the Mr. Big - Solitaire reveal scene in LALD (“Solitaire, why? I treated you well. You lacked for nothing.”)
Don’t believe me? From Anthony Lane’s review of Thomas Harris’s “Hannibal Rising”:
There is a puff of grand delusion here, of the sort to which all thriller-writers are susceptible. Compare “The Friends of Eddie Coyle,” an early novel by George V. Higgins, with the bulky solemnities of his later work; or, for that matter, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” with more recent le Carré like “The Night Manager” or “The Constant Gardener.” At some point, each man started to hear that he was so much more than the master of a genre (as if that were an ignoble thing to be), and responded to such flattery by expanding his fiction beyond its confines, not realizing that what he felt as a restriction was in fact its natural shape. That is how a writer loses thrust and form[.]
Well, personally I like a little ambition. So I hope they keep striving to make the weight that Fleming’s bond often portrayed a solid backbone of the movies.
When the only heart a franchise has is the sequence in which similar events unfold, then once the novelty wares off you’re in sinking sand.
They certainly can’t depend upon the ‘why do I do this job’ question and the ‘going rogue’ narrative with every outing (as is currently the case), but it’s early days if they’re really staying the course.
If they continue to cast actors as opposed to stars, for chops as opposed to looks, then they’ll continue to attract interesting writers and directors. And although there’ll be hiccups and failures overall they’ll create something with more depth and therefore more variety.
Sounds great. But what depth can Bond sustain?
He cannot be too doubtful about his profession or himself.
He already (from the Connery era onwards) defies authority when he deems it necessary.
He has experienced private life being too dangerous for his partners.
He enjoys life because his could be short.
Really, what else is there for Bond to contemplate? Especially when he needs to stay the way he is, otherwise he is not Bond anymore.
The depth comes from the relationships he has; with women, friends and enemies. These have always been glossed over until recently. The first meet with Q in national gallery is the kind of depth these relationships can evoke; the kind that makes the characters real rather than cartoon. That doesn’t mean losing the fantasy and thrills, it just means they posses more jeopardy if we’ve gotten under the character’s skin.
Problem is that theyre writing relationships - the scenes that illustrate them - to facilitate a theme, such as age, doubt, revenge, morality. Hence the story lumber along under the burden of contriving everything to fit this grand idea.
The grand idea is better when it evolves organically from writing the story. what we really need are moments that make the characters real - not part of a set piece or trope. You can’t do that without good actors, writers and directors, or else it falls flat, instead of adding texture such as the first Q meeting.
The process of rewriting allows you to flesh out the themes you find the first or second draft throws out there. Then you find the ways to express these threads via such moments, and in turn often reshape the story and it’s actions accordingly.
It takes time and faith in the creative team - something Eon, MGM and Universal appear to be in short supply of. Imo they’ve missed a very creative opportunity losing Boyle (particularly after seeing his first ep of Trust - he can make mediocre material sublime like no one else).
25 is now damage control, so 26 will tell us if Eon are persevering with raising the quality (imo of course) or back stepping to the previous business model.
EDIT: apologies for the stream of consciousness🧐
I’m with secretagenfan on this one. Even Fleming’s Bond wasn’t a particularly deep character; he was just more prone to melancholy and ennui than his screen counterpart. To the extent things do happen in his emotional life, they tend to be things only Fleming had a right to do with him, like marry him to Tracy and make him a widower.
If there is any sense of momentum to Bond’s literary life, a feeling he’s drifting ever closer to a nasty end, it’s because Fleming (and only Fleming) had the power and the right to age Bond, scar him and ultimately kill him. Even if he’s on a bit of “sliding scale” age-wise between CR and TMWTGG, it’s easy enough to picture the literary Bond’s life unfolding in real time. This is not possible in a film franchise unless you’re willing to reboot to an extent Eon so far has not. Would they give Craig a “Logan” if it meant killing off 007, then starting over again with the next guy? I don’t know. But even that would be merely a temporary death, because Bond is too big a cash cow to leave dead. Bond is bigger than Craig: Craig-Bond may “die” but James Bond will live on until he fails to turn a profit.
Given that nothing of any real substance can ever happen to Bond on screen, I’d just as soon they stopped pretending it could.
Um… have you been subjected to any scriptwriting seminar or a personal Robert McKee visit lately? Side effects include wonderful theories without ever having to be detailed enough to work in the real world…
No offense, OddJobbies, but… I consider writing great when it does facilitate a theme. A story without a theme is empty. It can still be fun, but once that theme is found and can be explored in every character and plot point the story really takes shape. SKYFALL in that regard is written pretty well.
Apart from that, time does not really factor in, from my experiences. Projects that were given lots of time in the end did not fare better than those which came together under severe time constraint.
Faith in a creative team - yeah, that’s nice as well. But who would start a production without having faith in that? And which producer/exec would end a production without influencing that team? It´s just part of the game.
As you can see: I have little time for all the high fallutin talk about writing - in the end it´s all about putting something on a page that other people will then interpret, for better or worse. And nothing will re-invent the wheel.
Especially not on a formula-driven film like Bond. Change the formula and you might get something else which is terrific. But it still will be something else.
Bond and Bond films are best when they are broad and of shallow/moderate depth. SPECTRE was a nice retreat from the psychologizing of SKYFALL—the film made nods toward backstory (the conflict between Bond and Blofeld), but a viewer could invest or not as she saw fit. Bond also had his escapes and successes, but for me there was a partial return to the lightness of earlier Bonds (and even a touch of Moore Era humor). For me, this lightness combined with an engaging mise en scene and the pullback from psychologizing made SPECTRE the best of the Craig Era Bond movies and placed it up there with Guy Hamilton’s films.
I must disagree with odd_jobbies when he writes that “what we really need are moments that make the characters real.” odd_jobbies is identifying a trend within film culture for more “real” characters, and yet the best Bond films to my mind provide more in the way of “plausible” characters than real ones. For real characters, I look to John Cassavetes films not Bond movies.
At the end of a Bond movie, Bond wins and the villain is subdued—either permanently or temporarily. To succeed, Bond needs to be the same in most respects with some acknowledgement of the specific cultural circumstances of the time when the movie is/was made—and herein lies the rub. This acknowledgement does call for certain changes in Bond—otherwise he will become a walking anachronism. But does it demand a “psychological” Bond? I think this is the question that the filmmakers will be grappling with as they exit the Craig Era. How to make an assassin for Empire relevant to ticket buyers without overburdening him and his movies with psychology?
I believe there is no reason to prove Bond is still relevant. He is a pulp fiction hero everybody knows. People pay to see his adventures because they know what to expect. He is a brand you alter at your own peril.
As for „real characters“: I think that need is made up by reviewers . Nobody really cares actually. At least not the average mass audience. And really: is Nolan‘s Batman more real because he is gloomier? Are the Marvel heroes more real because they have more self-irony?
I guess what is new at the time and what works will entertain. Adam West‘s Batman was a success at the time, so was Kilmer‘s. Audiences did not hunger for their silliness, they just responded to it at that time. Later not so much.
The only changes that made Bond more appropriate for the times were minor: less womanizing, no more smoking.
I think some people might see (or saw) a change in Bond’s relationship to women as something more than minor (for ill or good). Even the change in smoking is culturally significant.
Bond is a "pulp fiction hero" everyone knows, and I enjoyed SPECTRE since I have certain expectations of what makes for me an enjoyable Bond movie, and SPECTRE met those expectations.
Edit addition: I also have expectations for movies and art in general. For one thing: I am expecting that they will comment/reflect on the time of their production, even if they do so by choosing not to comment/reflect (at least on a conscious level). Some people may just expect sensational experience from a work of art, e.g., an adventure movie that is a rollercoaster ride and nothing more. But I do expect more (admitting this is my bias, and also having seen it in many other people both firsthand and at distance).
Part of their success was that they reflect(ed) the anxieties over identity that people feel/felt. Marvel comics, especially X-Men, have a significant following among queer folk since the struggle with their mutant powers is experienced as similar to readers’ struggles with their identities–sexual and otherwise.
Lastly, Adam West’s Batman is the gateway to Nolan’s. The hero is presented satirically (West), and when that vein runs out (it has limited viability), it is time for the self-doubting incarnation. Uncomplicated hero-hood is regarded with extreme skepticism in today’s world (with justification I would argue).
Even then, you have to be careful. I loved that they dropped the excessive bed-hopping of the Moore years to spend time on one relationship in TLD. In retrospect, Kara is not a very interesting character, nor someone you could really imagine Bond staying with long-term, but giving the film time to develop one relationship so a real (if temporary) attachment could form was a welcome and refreshing move. At least from my POV. But how did the press (and maybe fandom) spin it? “AIDS Scare Makes Bond A One-Woman Man!” Hmm…
As far as smoking, it stopped without fanfare and I never missed it. It’s not anything I’d consider important to the character, even if the literary Bond does smoke a thousand cigarettes before breakfast and one of them made for a good prop in Connery’s intro scene back in '62. But when TND had Brosnan denouncing it as a “filthy habit,” it totally took me out of the movie. Only then did I stop and think, “Oh yeah, he hasn’t smoked lately,” followed by, “…but James Bond does smoke, so what’s he talking about?” (Two films later, he lights up a stogie!)
The point being – I guess – that it’s better to make even small changes to Bond in logical, organic ways that aid your story, set a mood or at the very least don’t get in the way. Hitting us over the head with, “Look how progressive we are now” is always a bad move. And in that category, I’d include the “misogynist dinosaur” scene with M in GE (which immediately follows a “sexual harassment” lecture from Moneypenny). Whatever points you get for moving your character forward are rescinded when you’re so clumsily unsubtle about it.
The post stairwell fright shower scene had real substance.
That’s because craig has been given opportunty to be fallible and to bleed. And because we believed in the burgeoning relationship with Vesper because they’re both great actors and were directed with a light touch. No on the nose dialogue and melodrama. More of that pls.
But doesn’t that steer Bond and his films into John LeCarre territory? I regard Bond’s adventures (both literary and cinematic) to be more in the tradition of Baden-Powell’s “jolly larks.” Bond is not going to stay with any of the women he engages with, so why go to the effort to make any relationship involving? Such a move feels deceptive in that an audience is being asked to make an investment in something that the formula demands end when the movie ends. The Swann/Bond coupling at the end of SPECTRE is plausible enough to accept, but not convincing enough that Madeleine must reappear in Bond 25.
I’m going to be AWOL for a few weeks for personal reasons, but I couldn’t leave without sharing this.
Bond does surprisingly well.
Firstly, I’m not sure I’m buying into all this ‘Empire’ stuff. Empire is a relatively new category the films employ to varying degrees since about GOLDENEYE. It’s a reflection of that other empire we’ve seen crumbling - or we thought we’ve seen crumbling. As such it’s an element of the films depicting our reality as theirs - what all art must do: comment, acknowledge, depict what’s concerning us at this moment in time. Or refuse to and thereby giving a verdict on another level.
But I don’t think the element of the British Empire is central to the films as such. It’s a detail of background that was already mostly a thing of the past when the series started. And it’s even debatable whether Bond would have been such a success if it had been emphasised back then. Empire is today a rather mythical quality mostly championed by people who have no idea what it means in day to day shenanigans and are largely ignorant of its more unsavoury sides.
What Bond of the films* does is fight for a larger and purposefully vague and unspecified entity: the west, the ‘free world’. That’s what made people around the globe gather at theatres in droves, that’s what kicked off the spy craze and started countless Bond-inspired clones: a sexualised, existentialist consumer hero whose paycheque might be drawn on a discrete London City bank working on behalf of the MoD - but who kept nonetheless nuclear annihilation and totalitarian ideologues at bay for people in Paris, Timbuctoo, Tel Aviv or Detroit.
Bond is of course working for Britain - but Britain is here working for the world. That’s the antithesis of any notion of ‘Empire’.
Then there’s the question of relevance…
Frankly, that never much bothered me. Bond’s relevance stems from his adversaries. Bond is a mythical hero in modern disguise, a dragonslayer. And as long as there are dragons out there, real life dragons, there must be a figure to fight and destroy them. We’ve seen plenty of these dragons - cult leaders, dictators, warlords, hate preachers, corrupt and vile, causing countless deaths, endless pain and despair. Bond is the antidote to them, the character able to withstand and push back. Bond is the part of our conscience that wants to go to war against these monstrous characters. And if Bond goes fighting them we don’t have to. Or our children.
This is the quality of the mythical hero, whether Ulysses or Saint George or Beowulf, to give us hope when reasonably hope is in short supply, to provide an example in difficult times when we have nobody but our own resolve. But also to entertain, amuse, distract. Bond’s relevancy stems from the very nature of our world. It’s never really in question as long as things are as they are.
*The books are a somewhat different matter.
Let’s not kid ourselves, it’d take an awful lot of navel gazing for Bond to tread on LeCarre’s toes.
The navel gazing we now have is not an unsightly amount, really. Before Craig we had little more than Brossa sat with a vodka and a silencer, when done well and the likes of the Paris Carver melodramatic seduction, when done badly - really, really badly.
I don’t think that giving Bond substance means he’s not Bond. He’s more Bond if it’s doesn’t well and less Bond if done badly. The talent the Craig movies has attracted has in my book resulted in it being done well more often than not. If it’s done well i think there’s always room for it.
It used to be believed (and still is in this forum) that Bond can only be done in broad strokes, but Craig et al have achieved some very fine brushwork indeed many times. So, yes, more of that, pls.
The two aren’t mutually exclusive, are they? Without one what’s the point of the other?
Sure, you get bashed about in real life and should learn important lessons such as, ‘stop thinking and sit down and write’ and 'avoid the temptation of hyperbole’…
But i guess my rant would prove i haven’t been paying attention. Thanks for pointing it out
Thanks for entertaining link and all the best.
It may be a new category, but it is an old concept and informs the films prior to GOLDENEYE.
I disagree. Empire and its legacies still have effects in today’s world. Just this month India got rid of a Colonial-era law criminalizing homosexuality.
Which provides both advantages and disadvantages on how those entities are defined.
Agreed and beautifully put. But I think on whose behalf the culture’s heroes and dragon slayers are working is an ever more prominent question about which there is disagreement. You write: “Bond is of course working for Britain - but Britain is here working for the world.” I do not think it is quite as cut-and-dried as that. Certainly in America, there are grave doubts across the political spectrum whose interests the government is minding. I do not know if it is the same in Britain, but once people start believing that government is not working on behalf of all, then government-sponsored heroes and agents receive increased scrutiny.