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Entries in Roger Deakins (17)


Is Skyfall's Oscar Buzz Real or Just Really Convincing Hype?

Though each new James Bond film lands with a media frenzy of sorts, Skyfall's box-office crushing tour of the Globe has even come with Oscar buzz. As an Oscar pundit, at first I felt I needed to do my killjoy duty and remind Bond-fans that the Academy has never been eager to have a martini with Bond, no matter how he orders it. But lately I've begun to wonder if, should the hype not subside much, the world's favorite super spy might finally win a nomination or two again. Two nominations would be a major win for Team Skyfall though the current hype would have you perceive that as a disappointing haul since it suggests that multiple nods and even a Best Picture citation are just around the corner. 

It's this overreaching by fans and the more excitable pundits that keeps forcing me back into Killjoy Corner. But let me repeat: a Best Picture nomination is not happening; Ten spots is not Twenty. And Bond Films aren't even close to the top of Oscar's Favorite Franchises heap anyway. Even with the fast Oscar-dream fade of The Dark Knight Rises and the artistically suspect decision to make The Hobbit into three films, history suggests that AMPAS is more likely to join Bruce Wayne or Gollum in the shadows again than James Bond. 

I should explain with facts (after the jump) before they go out of style again...

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Review: "Skyfall"

This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad

Skyfall arrived on US screens Friday with such multiplex flattening hype that you'd be forgiven for thinking the title literal. The Cubby Broccoli estate, which controls the adventures of the super spy, was pulling no stops for the 50th anniversary installment of the granddaddy of film franchises. We've been inundated with Bond Mania for months now. So you'd think at this point that the actual film would be an afterthought. Not so.

The 23rd official Bond film delivers… and not just the five mandatory goodies no Bond film is complete without: Action (Particularly the Opening Setpiece), Theme Song, International Villain, 007 Himself and the Bond Girl. Unlike most modern franchises, the Bond series favors stand-alone storylines with only the five-pronged Bond template uniting them. Even Bond himself changes though Skyfall happily sticks with Daniel Craig's impossible zombie handsomeness and dangerously erotic icy blues.

Five mandatory goodies and Daniel Craig's sexual pull AFTER THE JUMP...

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Skyfall (The Ultimate James Bond Fan Review)

[Deborah Lipp, author of "The Ultimate James Bond Fan Book", has been counting down to Skyfall right here with 007 lists (best films, songs, femme fatales, secret codes) and after last night's midnight screening, fresh off the presses, her review! - Editor] 

This is one of many reviews of Skyfall I will ultimately write. At some point, there will be a spoiler-laden analysis. At some point soon, I'll see the movie again and have further thoughts. At some point, I'll sleep. But for now, what you're getting is the 10 a.m. review of the movie I left at 3 a.m. So, before I get too punchy or too detailed, here's the part you want to know: You're going to love this movie.

There's a lot to love about Skyfall, but what's going to make you sing its praises is the overwhelming feeling of Bond is Back. MORE...

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007 Things That Excite / Concern Me About "Skyfall"

Hi, all. I'm Deborah Lipp, half of the Lipp Sisters team at the Mad Men site  Basket of Kisses and author of six books, including The Ultimate James Bond Fan Book.*

Between today, which happens to be International James Bond Day, and the U.S. release of the 23rd official James Bond movie, Skyfall (opening November 9th!), Nathaniel has asked me to deliver a series on the subject of James Bond. We'll focus on lists of seven things — any seven things, provided they relate to James Bond, agent 007 of Her Majesty's Secret Service. And, because I'm generous to a fault, I'm going to start you off, this first time out, with a bonus list. So, without further adieu, here are 007 Things That Excite Me About Skyfall as well as 007 Things That Concern Me About Skyfall.

*Note: If you want a copy of the book, please, please contact me directly

007 Things That Excite Me About Skyfall

001 It's a James Bond movie. Let's get serious: If the buzz for the movie was terrible, if Ebert used both his thumbs to pan it, if it got the lowest rating in history on Rotten Tomatoes, I'd still be there on opening night, and probably the next night as well. And maybe the following week. And there would be vodka martinis chilling at home, and I know how to make them right.

It's a James Bond movie. Bond has been with me through my entire life, a guarantee of adventure, excitement, sex, and escape. I am, frankly, addicted to these movies, they are like a drug to me.

002 The return of Q. Bond movies have a tradition, and repeating certain formulaic aspects is a delight. Sure, some people want Thanksgiving without turkey, but some of us love the repetition of form, and for us, the return of a beloved character who has been there from the beginning matters a lot.

Q Trivia, Judi Dench, and terrible blonde villains after the jump

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It's "Action!" for Bond 23 SKYFALL

What a lovely image to wake up to this morning...

Don't you just love clapboards?

Skyfall (aka BOND 23) shooting has begun and here's photographic proof from the official James Bond twitter account @007. Does this mean that Daniel Craig is a liar liar pants on fire since he said at the press conference we live-blogged that they were going to be shooting that very day. Here we are four days later and we see "Day 1". 

...not that movie timelines ever make sense; scene 45 is first!



P.S. Roger Deakins, eh? Bonus points for Bond on that one, he'll look even better than usual. We interviewed Deakins for True Grit earlier this year... and we're still confused that he's never won an Oscar.


That Barton Fink Feeling Turns 20

Michael checking in.

My first introduction to the brothers Coen was viewing Fargo on VHS at age 16 and nothing since that memorable night has been able to dislodge it as my favorite of their films, although a college-aged love affair with Milller’s Crossing came closest. But even as Marge and Jerry have remained secure on their pedestal, I have returned to none of the Coen brothers films more often than 1991's Barton Fink. Not even the compulsively rewatchable Big Lebowski has kept me coming back more consistently.

So as Barton Fink turns twenty years old (tomorrow), I wonder what it is about the Coen's Cannes-winning, surreal, showbiz fever dream keeps me so fascinated?

I certainly don’t return compulsively to solve mysteries of the story, that’s for sure. The Coens may plot their stories with a Swiss watch precision that suggests all the answers are there if you look hard enough, but the ambiguity the brothers place in their movies is deliberate, and not meant to be puzzled out to a solution. The Coens often feature unanswerable questions prominently in their stories. What did, after all, happen in the hotel room in No Country for Old Men where Javier Bardem seemed to vanish into thin air? What motivated Gabriel Byrne’s character in Miller’s Crossing? What was the meaning of the prologue in Serious Man? Or the epilogue in True Grit?

Written, the brothers say, as they struggled to untangle the plot of Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink is the story of a lefty playwright in the early forties who has one hit on Broadway and promptly goes to Hollywood to sell out only to find himself facing an epic case of writer’s block. Taken simply Fink would earn a place in the canon as one of the most wicked Hollywood satires ever put to film. But, as most everybody knows, Barton Fink cannot be taken simply. At the three quarters mark Fink takes one of the all time most jawdropping plunges into surreality, and audiences to this day are still trying to make sense of it all, from the contents of Barton's mystery box to the beach painting on his wall.

Barton Fink theories are numerous and fun and I could fill a book debating them all. The most obvious of course is that Barton is in Hell. The clues for supporting this range from obvious like the omnipresent heat to subtle like the repetition of the number six in the elevator. Once you start looking for clues you can find them everywhere. On my most recent viewing I just picked up on the suggestive names of wrestling pictures  - “Hell Ten Feet Squared” and “Devil on a Canvas”.

Do you see what happens Larry?"

Then there are the theories about Barton Fink being about the rise of fascism represented by Charlie Meadows with Barton as the intellectual too feeble to notice or stop it. The most glaring red flag in the movie is Goodman’s pronouncement of “Heil Hitler” before he kills one of the detectives which is certainly no accident. But if Goodman represents evil why does he kill the detectives who, with their noticeably German and Italian names, clearly represent the Axis powers? I for one have always read his delivery of "Heil Hitler" as sarcasm before killing the anti-semitic detective, but what does it matter? We should take a cue from the character in Serious Man and “embrace the mystery” or it will lead you in circles like walking an MC Escher staircase.

Once you give up trying to solve what needn’t be solved you can settle in and get the full Barton Fink experience. The film is genuinely hilarious and every word out of Michael Lerner’s mouth as the vulgar studio boss is solid gold. Fink also contains what I consider to be John Goodman’s all time best performance (I know that is saying a lot). Lerner got the nominatio but Goodman would have been my choice to win the trophy that year. And speaking of Oscars, when everyone was bemoaning that Roger Deakins lost an absurd ninth time this year for the cinematography of True Grit they might just as well added that it should have been his tenth, because he was royally screwed out of nod for Fink.

Or maybe you can just forget all that and just groove on all the endless supply of haunting, weird touches the Coens place in every scene of Fink, my favorite being the endlessly humming bell that Barton rings to summon Buscemi’s Chet from the Underworld. There is also the strange dying bird at the film’s end, which is supposedly  just a moment of happenstance caught on film, or the bizarre fact that it is clearly John Turtorro’s voice as one of the actors in the play that opens the film. What are we to make of that?

Slate magazine recently did a retrospective of the Coen’s body of work complete with a poll ranking the films. I was chagrinned but not surprised to see Barton Fink languishing in the lower half of the poll. This is always the way with the connoisseur’s choice. Barton Fink is the Coen’s in their purest most undiluted form, and film’s like that never win the popularity contest. They do however win the test of time as they draw audiences back over and over again to explore their depths.  


ASC Goes to Inception. Oscar Could Be a Nail Biter.

The American Society of Cinematographer's handed their Cinematography prize to Wally Pfister for Inception. Pfister also won the BFCA Critics Choice prize. BAFTA sided with still Oscar-less legend Roger Deakins (interview) for True Grit. Which man will take the Oscar?

Or is The King's Speech just going to win everything in a massive sweeping Royal Love-In? Even if the acting Oscar categories are relatively undramatic this year, there seem to be a few tight races behind the scenes like Best Director (Fincher or Hooper?), Art Direction (Inception or The King's Speech?), Cinematography (Inception or True Grit?) and isn't Score still a toss up but for the aforementioned love-in?