Bond Save the Queen

What a show! This weekend, after 17 spectacular days of sport, London will take a much-deserved bow. In a good old fashion F-you to pre-game poop-pooping by small-minded twits like Mitt Romney, The Games of the Thirtieth Olympiad will be remembered along with the 1992 Barcelona and the 2000 Sydney Games as an Olympics for the ages. And just like both of those aforementioned summer games, the host city, London, was a major reason why these 2012 games were such a success. Light on controversy (badminton not withstanding) these games focused on what the games should, the athletes and the competition, as jolly olde England proved it could host a world-class event in one of the world’s greatest cities. My hats off to everyone involved, including the great Danny Boyle for his extraordinary opening ceremonies. The director put himself on the record saying he wanted to make the “First ever live movie” and by my eyes he succeeded. Yes, at moments the stadium looked like Hobbiton but the good far outweighed the bad. If you told me three weeks ago that The Sex Pistols and The Clash would be part of the soundtrack for the Olympic opening ceremony, I would have told you to bugger off. These ceremonies had it all; we laughed (Rowan Atkinson!), we cried (The future athletes lighting the torch!), it was better then Beijing, a communist spectacle with a cast of thousands in lockstep that no one thought could be topped. And right smack dab in the middle, celebrating his 50th birthday, was Brittan’s greatest hero since Churchill (who also had a cameo), who along with the newest Bond girl stole the show.  Full disclosure, I knew beforehand that Craig, as Bond, would be involved in the opening ceremonies, I just had no idea how. So I was not at all surprised to see everyone’s favorite tux sporting spy entering Buckingham Palace. When 007 took up his post behind a person, clearly meant to be the queen, sitting at a desk with her back to both Bond and the camera, I must admit my heart began to sink. I flashed back instantly to the very last sequence in For Your Eyes Only (1981) where Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, played by Janet Brown, shuffled around her kitchen while croaking horrid lines. Jesus, were they going to get some old actress to turn to the camera, giggle, and give us an “Ohhh James!” while wearing a cheep tiara? But then the actress did turn to the camera and the actress was in fact Queen Elizabeth II herself. I audibly gasped, I’m assuming along with 90% of the UK. The Queen on the other hand was not at all surprised to find Daniel Craig standing behind her. In fact, her face gave no hint what-so-ever that this was anything out of the ordinary as she said “Good evening, Mr. Bond.” That would have been enough. But the Queen then got up and walked past Bond as 007 chuckled to himself in what maybe one of the top five Bond moments every captured on film. It was a window in Craig, the man who simply cannot believe he is playing a scene with the Queen, as well as Bond, who for the first time on film is literally and physically at Her Majesties service. If he had not already, in this very brief moment Craig cemented his legacy as 007 in the mind of the entire world. No ifs, ands, or buts, Daniel Craig is now Bond, James Bond. The helicopter flight, the parachute jump, and the dignified walk by the eight-six-year-old monarch to her box seat were all gravy after the brief exchange between Commander Bond and his Queen. This segment was rightfully the talk of the games and I predict will remain unparalleled in both Bond and Olympic history. The only question left lingering in the air is can Sam Mendes possibly top Danny Boyle’s Bond film? Aint going to be easy. So as these games come to a close I once more stand and raise a martini glass to London. Bloody well done chaps!

The Sky is Falling…

Welp, it’s happening, which is just fantastic news. Like Harold Camping, he of the “Open Forum” on Family Radio who has predicted the end of the world will happen on March 21, 2011 and then again in October 2011, Bond’s death has be nigh several times in the last few year, but the man with the license to kill simply will not die. As it so happen, Bond 23 will be coming out in November of 2012, a year that will mark the 50th Anniversary of Jimmy B’s marriage with the big screen. 50 years and 23 “official” films later and I can’t wait for the two to renew their vows. I will not make a habit out of posting every little news item that comes out regarding the new film because I have zero inside access. Between the twitter account, official press releases, the 50th anniversary celebrants, etc., I’m sure there will be no shortage of Bond news at other corners of the internet for everyone to feast on. However, when I saw the attached photo, proof that this thing is finally flying, I just had to say something. Speaking of flying, Skyfall? Yah? Blog James Blog agrees with the New York Times in questioning the wisdom of the title Skyfall. After the last films doggy title and the sky is falling hysteria around the MGM bankruptcy, well, it just seems a little too on the nose. But hey, Craig is back! We are getting a M centric story! Sam Mendes is the first Oscar winner to sit in the directors chair! Our friend-o Javier Bardem is the baddie! Adele is most likely recording the theme! It’s not a continuation of Quantum of Solace (2008)! And it is the Golden Anniversary, a metal that has been very good for Bond in the past. Well, let’s say on paper it looks like the stars are lining up. And then the photo above! It’s really happen, and for that we say to EON and MGM and everyone else who made this possible, in the immortal words of Prof. Joe Butcher, bless your heart.

From Pepsi With Love

Ain’t singin’ for Pepsi
Ain’t singin’ for Coke
I don’t sing for nobody
Makes me look like a joke
This note’s for you.

– Neil Young

The Australian recently published an article stating that “One-third of the budget for the next James Bond film is to come from brands that will appear on screen, making it the biggest product-placement bonanza in cinema history. The figure is twice the previous record, held by Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, released in 2002. Lexus, Bulgari and American Express together paid about $20m to appear in the film.” I have a few thoughts about this. The 19 year-old me is outraged, OUTRAGED that the purity of Bond be sold to corporate pigs. He will now pop Fugazi’s “Waiting Room” into the CD player and stomp around his dorm room sucking on a hand rolled Drum while smugly enjoying his own self-righteousness. Indeed, that guy had some very strong ideas about how people earn a living for someone who had a meal card and didn’t pay rent. Needless to say, my ideas about selling out and what selling out is have shifted quite a bit since then. I still have immense respect for the Bruce Springsteen’s, Tom Waits (Waits’??) and Neil Young’s of the world who steadfastly refuse to take a dollar form corporate America but I also have no problems with Bob Dylan making an ad for Victoria Secrete. Mostly because when I think of lace panties the last thing that comes to mind is Dylan, and I think the sly jokester knows this. As the Bard once said, everybody’s got to eat. If someone offered me a few bucks to put their name on this sight, I would happily do so. I’m a huge baseball fan and my team plays at Citifield where hitters can belt the ball onto the Pepsi Porch over by the MoZone and the 15th batter is brought to you by Geico where a 15 minute call can save you up to 15% on your car insurance. Ads are indeed everywhere and almost everyone who has any kind of public presence needs to ask themselves who they feel comfortable taking money from. I’ve come to see the idea of “selling out” as the flipside of the “voting with your dollar” coin. Voting with your dollar is the $ output. I for one will never step foot in a Wal-Mart or buy gas from Exxon or BP. However, I do spend money at Target and fill up at Shell. What’s the difference? Couldn’t any oil company have an accident and destroy the Alaskan or Louisiana coast? Aren’t Wal-Mart and Target both faceless generic monsters that put the local guy out of business? I guess. But it’s my little moral universe and it helps me sleep at night. On the $ input side, I pay the rent by working freelance. As such I have worked for everyone from mom and pop shops to the biggest corporations in the world. However, there are some companies, both big and small, that could offer me the world on a string and I still won’t take the gig. I may not agree with their politics, or their hiring practices or whatever, but I will not take their money. To do so, I would see myself as selling out, IE compromising my principles for money. And that’s kind of how I view selling out in the entertainment world; these artists/studios/sport teams have their own moral compass and litmus tests to determine who they feel good about taking money from and who they don’t. Do I hate the fact that The Who has sold almost every song they ever recorded to one car company or another? Indeed I do but Quadrophenia still rocks. Do I think of Sunkist soda every time I hear “Good Vibration?” Hell and yes, but I still love me the Beach Boys.

But back to Bond. The late, great Jerry Garcia once said “(The Grateful Dead) have been trying to sell out for years, nobody’s buying!” I think the Bond 23 announcement should be viewed through that prism. After all, it was only a few short months ago that MGM’s dire finical straights lead to stories all but writing Bonds obit.  If a $40 million dollar infusion of cash from a car company and a credit card or two means 007 gets to live, I say bring on the sponsors. Besides, the idea is nothing new for EON; Bond has a proud and long history of product placement going back to the promptly featured Aston Martin in Goldfinger (1964). MGM publicly and loudly crowed about the four picture deal they signed to have Bond drive BMWs in the 1990’s. What is new is the amount money involved. 1/3 of a budget is no small thing and I wonder what is going to be given to these folks for such a hefty investment. David Mamet tackles this idea in his wonderful and underappreciated film State and Maine (2000). (Everyone rightly raves about Alec Baldwin in the Mamet scripted Glengarry, Glen Ross (1992) but his turn as a spoiled Hollywood star with a thing for underage girls in State and Maine is just as fantastic. “Everybody needs a hobby” is right up there with “a set of steak knives.”) In the movie, a film crew takes over a small New England town to make a period picture called “The Old Mill.” One of the running jokes deals with the director, producer and screen writer trying to figure out how to work a dot com sponsor into a story that take place in a time long before Al Gore even thought about the internet. And that I think is the nut. Much like special effects, the on screen product placement needs to feel organic to the story and the world created in the film. If the sponsorship stands out in a way that sucks us out of the movie, or somehow compromise the film in some noticeable way, then it’s bad thing. If not, then stop worrying and learn to love Jimmy B flashing the Rolex while drinking a Kettle One vodka martini. My one request, please don’t have Q set up shop in a Wal-Mart.

Hey, speaking of product placement, has everyone discovered Netflix instant streaming by now? I hope so because it just might be the best thing to happen to movies since sound. Anyway, Netflix is making new films available to stream all the time and last night while I was spooling through the menus I saw that all the Bond films are now available for streaming! Freaking awesome, thanks so much Netflix. (Ed. Note, no one at Blog, James Blog has received any compensation from any of the companies mentioned above. Especially not Netflix. Netflix, now with Bond movies at home whenever you want em!)

Apocalypse Bond!

Howdy. I got caught up with the holidays and slacked on the posting front. I promise The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) will be up within a week. (And man, is that a great flick!) In the meantime, MGM and EON have announced that Bond 23 will begin production in late 2011 with Daniel Craig as 007, Oscar winner Sam Mendes directing, and a release date of November 9, 2012. This date, as the AV Club points out, is super important because it means the long awaited Bond flick will squeak into theaters a month before the end of the world. So we got that going for us, which is nice.

The Lion Will Roar

Bond and I have been on hiatus, and for similar reasons. I, like MGM, need money to pay the bills. Granted, not as much as they do, but nonetheless, I must work for my supper. The past five weeks have been a whirlwind tour of this country that have taken me to such exotic locals as Albuquerque, New Mexico, Cleveland, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan. OK, not exactly Bond destinations but we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. But now I’m back, and I’m not the only one. There is some light at the end of the tunnel for MGM and it’s looking more like an exit and less like a fast approaching train. Bottom line: we maybe getting Bond 23 sometime in the next few years. In a more immediate future, I hope to post Diamonds Are Forever (within a week is the goal.) Thanks for visiting and thanks for your patience.