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wanting to love skyfall

I want to like the new Bond films, I really do. I love the mad chase scenes and the way Bond always somehow manages to catch the baddie, or escape, in style. Last night Stuart and I went to see Skyfall and I was a bit reluctant, because I really hated Casino Royale, and didn't even bother with the one after that. I had a chat in the studio with Gary about it, and he loved Casino Royale, for all the reasons I hated it: it's a 'return' to the original Ian Fleming books, Bond doesn't treat the whole mission like a big joke.

I'm a Pierce Brosnan girl. I know you're not supposed to say that, you're supposed to say Sean Connery was the best Bond. I know, my mother had a real Thing for Sean Connery; I think it may even be a tiny part of the reason I have a Scottish dad. But Stuart got me From Russia With Love on DVD, and I lost any interest in Sean when he was on the train and smacked that chick across the face. Nope, the Bond I know doesn't need to hit chicks, that's an earlier era and it doesn't translate for me.

What I liked about Pierce Brosnan was that he knew the whole thing had a stupid plot and I got the feeling we were doing the joke together. "C'mon, Sarah, let's go pretend we're secret agents and wreak havoc! And get laid a few times, yes, that, too. Perks of the job." I think he has great comic timing, unlike Roger Moore. I can't even watch Roger. When he delivers a sassy line, it just makes him sound like a dirty old man. Blegh. But when Pierce says something very flirty and un-politically correct, I gasp happily at his witty audacity. How does he get away with it?

Hey, what ever happened in Skyfall to that poor lady in Shanghai, the one who was married to the baddie and helped out Bond? She goes through hell, and gets a Bond shagging, but we never even find out what happens. I hope she woke up in a comfy hospital bed with a nice cup of tea laid next to her by sympathetic nurses.

**Edit: The more I think about this part of the film, the less I like it. Boo. Here, read Giles Coran's article, he gets it spot on. No wonder Skyfall makes me feel so uneasy.
Edit 2: Ah, and another good article about the role of Severine by Grummelmaedchen.**

Why don't I like Daniel Craig's Skyfall and Casino Royale? I guess his appearance put me off slightly. He looks exactly like the New Russian mafia types I saw everywhere when I lived in Moscow. Those guys were often buffoon-like, but very seldom funny. Dan's tough and brawny and you can actually imagine him beating up people. I guess that's the thing I don't like. People actually get beat up. And die. But it feels like the film makers haven't earned the right to do this to me. Why should I have to feel real sorrow for fellow Londoners who get shot to pieces and blown up when it's all in the name of a bit of light entertainment? Those bits in Skyfall, where the tube train gets derailed and policemen get shot up on Whitehall: that reminded me very much of the day when Stuart was working in that same building and I couldn't get through to him on the phone after I saw on the Internet that there'd been bomb attacks in central London. That was a horribly unsettling day, I don't think it will ever make me laugh. In The World is Not Enough, Pierce causes a lot of damage on the riverfront, and comes crashing out of MI6, but it's all a lark; I think only a few people get blown aside in an oil explosion, it's not really about pain and death and dying.

Just to add, I sometimes like films about pain and death and dying, but I think I appreciate them when they make me feel it's part of a larger reflection about life and meaning and, oh, I don't know, just not a shoot-'em-up-bang-bang film. I think that's why I didn't like Pierce's last Bond film, Die Another Day. It was the opening title sequence; I didn't like watching Bond get tortured as a decorative effect. Torture isn't pretty, it isn't funny, it didn't even really help along the plot. It made me feel antagonistic for the rest of the film.

But, oh, going back to that river chase scene in The World is Not Enough, I LOVED being able to recognise all the landscape in that. Actually, that's one of the highlights of Bond, seeing familiar places turned into dramatic settings. Stuart and I both did a squee in Skyfall when we saw M being driven down New Cross Road (exactly the same place you see outside the car windows in Last Orders, funnily enough). But in in The World is Not Enough river chase scene, none of it makes actual sense; most of those waterways don't link up in real life. But that's partly what makes it fantastic, it's London as a sort of palette, to pick and choose from to make something happen that's exciting, funny, and so obviously fictional.

Oh, and I should point out, that stunt where Dan and that blond hacker dude in Skyfall go sliding down that middle bit of the Underground escalators? Well, VERN AND LETTUCE DID IT FIRST. Ha ha. I've even been reworking a cover for the paperback version of Vern and Lettuce that features this scene, but I only just realised that now it's going to look like a quotation from Skyfall. Nope. But well, why not? That's the fun of Vern and Lettuce, letting them run around London and wreak havoc. I guess there might be a bit of Bond in that.

And now I can't get the Skyfall song out of my head. Thanks, Adele...



( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 29th, 2012 11:30 am (UTC)
Heh! Thank goodness, all I've heard so far is people gushing about Skyfall. Having read your reasons, I think I'd be completely on your side.

Except I'll never know, as having got to the age of 44 and never seen a Bond film, I don't intend to start now.
Nov. 29th, 2012 11:32 am (UTC)
Ha, glad someone thinks like me! :) I don't have any problem with people liking it, there's some amazing photography in there, and the chase scenes are AMAZING. But something about the tone of it just really puts me off, and I feel nostalgic for the Pierce Brosnan silliness. I didn't read the Ian Flemming books, so I don't really care if the film is faithful; I don't have a lot invested in it that way.
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 29th, 2012 12:22 pm (UTC)
No! We do not see this! I think she lives and goes to a nice care home with padded walls and kittens to play with.
Nov. 29th, 2012 12:21 pm (UTC)
Whatever happened to that lady ? She died. Javer Bardem shot her when Bond wasn't able to shoot the glass off her head. Don't you remember ?

I didn't really like this one, but I liked Casino Royale, and I have mixed feelings about Quantum of Solace.

I'm actually much more disturbed by movies who show explosions and killings as entertaining and fun. They seem to be passing a message that a building blowing up is of no more consequence than a bunch of fireworks. Shouldn't we be showing fighting and wars as the grim horrible things they actually are ?

The same applies to Bond : What kind of agent gets a license to kill ? People with a predisposition to violence, in other words psychopaths. In Casino Royale, when his first plan fails and he sees no other way to stop the bad guy, he grabs a steak knife and runs across the Casino to end this in a way he understands : through murder. and Daniel Craig plays a mean psychopath. Not someone you're supposed to like, but a kind of beast you can help being fascinated with. Also a reminder of the kind of people employed by our governments to kill those they devided needed being killed.

It's interesting you thought he looked like a Russian gangster. A friend of mine thinks he looks like Vladimir Putin. I don't quite agree because in my opinion Putin has a round-shaped face adn Craig a square-shaped face, but I see the ressemblance.

That being said, there are lots of plot holes in this movie, namely :
- The bad guy is obviously a top-notch hacker, well versed in high technology, and he didn't think of searching Bond for trackers or radio-signalling devices ? And nobody at MI6 found that strange and suspected that maybe he wanted to get caught ?
- Hipster Q gets hold of the laptop of said top-notch hacker, who already managed to get control of the whole MI6 computer network from the outside, and what does he do ? He plugs that computer into the main network !
- Also an encryption method that can be deciphered by the person who invented it is actually a pretty bad method.
Nov. 29th, 2012 12:27 pm (UTC)
Agree with you on all those plot holes! The hacking stuff, it could have been way better done.

Really, the lady dies? I didn't see that! I thought he shot the glass. Maybe I wasn't watching carefully enough. Boo. She didn't get enough of a last moment then. I wanted her to have a better part, she started off so well. :(

And I agree with you about the violence stuff. The reason I liked the Pierce Brosnan films was that it was so silly, you couldn't even slightly think it was like real government work. But the Daniel Craig films try to give it a little bit more realism and it makes it less palatable, I think, because it makes it even more absurd.
Nov. 30th, 2012 04:40 pm (UTC)
She's shown slouched forwards, supported by the ropes tying her to the broken statue, clearly deceased.
Nov. 29th, 2012 01:19 pm (UTC)
Giles Coren wrote a whole article about that character getting shot, which the times wouldn't run, but you can read it here; http://reciperifle.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/bond-villain.html He wasn't amused either! (I haven't seen Skyfall either; I can see how exciting & ground-breaking the early Bond films must have been in the 60s, but these days SO many people do it better).
Nov. 29th, 2012 01:47 pm (UTC)
Ooh cheers, I'm bookmarking this! (I'll post the clickable link; I don't think my spam filter let you do it) http://reciperifle.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/bond-villain.html
Nov. 29th, 2012 01:52 pm (UTC)
Oh my goodness, that Giles Coren piece is SPOT ON. Makes me even more annoyed about what they did with that poor woman, it's totally true. And his bullet points at the end, all true true true. No wonder I didn't like this film.
Nov. 29th, 2012 02:46 pm (UTC)
Oh my goodness, that Giles Coren piece is SPOT ON. I didn't actually agree with his reading on this. I think Bond made the whisky quip to cover up his true feelings and get the baddie off guard so he could blow away all the henchmen. I also thought his take on Moneypenny was way off; she certainly wasn't demoted to being Bond's secretary, but chose to take a role as PA to the new M - nothing wrong with that. This whold film was better in its portrayal of women characters IMO.

I liked Skyfall and thought it had a good blend of serious action and humour. And Judi Dench is incredible.
Nov. 29th, 2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I liked Judi Dench, too! And I didn't have problem with the Moneypenny thing. But the bit about Severine, the baddy's wife, really bothered me. I agree with your whisky comment, it could have been covering up his feelings. But it felt mostly like bad editing, the way her death felt so unmarked (I didn't even spot she'd died!) and also the way she and Bond are already at it in the shower, without any lead up to it. I didn't even realise she knew he was on board, it was all a bit uncomfortable, and I think Giles Coran put his finger on it. I wonder if they shot more footage of Severine and it got cut.
Nov. 30th, 2012 04:50 pm (UTC)
There's a long tradition of women dying after crossing Bond's path: the Japanese agent in You Only Live Twice, the two sisters in Goldfinger, Tiffany Case in Diamonds Are Forever, the ex who married the media magnate in Tomorrow Never Dies, the female agent in Casino Royale, the double agent in Casino Royale...
Nov. 29th, 2012 01:39 pm (UTC)
My favourite part was the pre-credits chase sequence, and part of me was hoping that the whole film would just be one long chase sequence. Kind of like a live-action version of a Road Runner cartoon...!

Nov. 29th, 2012 01:47 pm (UTC)
Ha ha! Poor Moneypenny, having to pull the trigger.
Nov. 29th, 2012 02:07 pm (UTC)
I really didn't like that MoneyPenny (which all through the movie I kept calling in my head Agent Slutty) was relegated to a secretary job. That, and Judy Dench being replaced by a man...
Nov. 29th, 2012 02:50 pm (UTC)
was relegated to a secretary job I'll say it again, she chose a desk job instead of field work, and PA to the head of MI whatsit is not a 'secretary job' I thought Moneypenny was a great character; sassy competent and able to hold her own against Bond, and the film set up for the whole Bond/Moneypenny relationship.
Nov. 29th, 2012 03:35 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I didn't have such a bit issue with that, she chose her job. I was more worried if she was going to cut him accidentally with that razor, that was uncomfortable viewing. :p
Alison Mutton
Nov. 29th, 2012 02:38 pm (UTC)
I'd have to agree. I haven't yet seen Skyfall, but I don't like films that are too graphically violent, if it's all a bit cartoony I don't mind, but when we get into gritty realism I get squeamish. I watch a lot of cult British tv from the 60s, the sort where you have to rely on a character to say 'they're dead', because the actor has just been running and is still breathing heavily in the foreground. =P I haven't seen many of the old Bonds, mainly because I don't like them well enough to watch them off my own bat, but I've seen all the Pierce Brosnan ones – my father would take me to the cinema to see them, and the fact that I was six didn't seem to weigh with him at all.... =P – and I much prefer the silly humour and escapism direction.
I didn't manage to get through all of Casino Royale – I wandered in when my father was watching it, but it was too far from the *bizarre* 60s version. I have no idea what was going on in that first one, and it was obviously nothing like the book, but anything where all the characters die and float up to heaven playing ukuleles is better than lots of violent blood-letting from my perspective.
Nov. 29th, 2012 03:35 pm (UTC)
Ha ha! I haven't seen that '60s version!
Alison Mutton
Nov. 29th, 2012 03:52 pm (UTC)
It's hilariously bad. It starts out okay, and sort of degenerates into something that leaves you with more than a suspicion that everyone involved was on something. It begins with David Niven playing Bond, retired and celibate, and everyone attempting to get him back to work by first getting him back to a womaniser. After that I kinda lost the plot.... It ends with a shootout in a casino (naturally) that involves cowboys on horses, seals, laughing gas, bubbles, a monkey, American Indians parachuting in..... (I wish I was joking) and a nuclear explosion.
The trailer is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEnoKqiGJFI and the final scene (dubbed, but it doesn't really matter, you don't know what's going on if it's in English) is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wN3xZAq1gfQ&playnext=1&list=PLFF8C13FA1607256E&feature=results_video
And it was harps and bagpipes, not ukeleles, close enough =P
Nov. 30th, 2012 09:38 pm (UTC)
Oh. My. Word.
Nov. 29th, 2012 03:02 pm (UTC)
Naaah. The best Bond was, and is, David Niven.
Nov. 29th, 2012 03:36 pm (UTC)
OK! Not arguing Brosnan is the best, he's just the one I'm attached to. :)
Nov. 30th, 2012 02:33 pm (UTC)
Best Bond: Timothy Dalton!!!!
Nov. 30th, 2012 04:43 pm (UTC)
Fleming had Niven in mind when writing the books, apparently.
Nov. 29th, 2012 06:27 pm (UTC)
I generally like the series' return to the "grittiness" of the books/early films but those also had a lot of racism and sexism which I would be happy to see gone. The death of Severine, and the clumsy way Bond tried to use it to his advantage, really bothered me. I had sympathy for the character and I think she actually knew she was going to her doom once she met Bond. She asked, "can you kill him?" and Bond replied, "someone usually dies". There seemed to be a fatalism about everything she did after that. I think the movie uses many elements of film noir and this is what makes it interesting beyond just being an action picture, but it wasn't done with much care and there's a lot that is just reinforcing stereotypes, whether it was conscious or not.
Nov. 30th, 2012 08:15 am (UTC)
I agree, the part with Severine could have worked if they'd handled it with more care. Makes me wonder if the editing was a bit rushed or something. (I can imagine the editor with huge rings around the eyes, giving a hollow laugh right now.)
Nov. 30th, 2012 02:30 pm (UTC)
Ugh, thanks for saving me from seeing this film! Casino Royale was just a big fizz of over-stimulation and fake machismo, but I try to stay open-minded about these things for Stephen's sake. Can't even speculate on the rationale behind that creepy sex scene you describe...maybe the writers said to themselves, "Oh, well, every lady wants to sex it up with Bond, so obvs it will just be a jolly nice surprise!" Quoth the Northfield - AIEEEEEEEE!!!!!!
Nov. 30th, 2012 04:54 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! The last couple scenes with that chick are totally Aieeeee. :p
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah McIntyre

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