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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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Adapting "Guardians" -a screenwriting interview

I especially like that part about how boundaries can be a good thing. Knowing where the plot points have to hit always stops me from wandering aimlessly in my writing. Some may see those thing as cookie cutter but I've always found them inspiring.❞ -Daniel

 

Beauty vs. Beast

Turner & Hooch - 25th anniversary!

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Entries in Sean Connery (7)

Tuesday
Jun172014

We Need To Talk About James Bond's **** in "Goldfinger"

[This article contains 50 year-old spoilers.]

Goldfinger (1964) Directed by Guy Hamilton.

If you're alive and semi-conscious about pop culture you know the James Bond template even if you've never seen one: Action Prologue, superfluous; Bond Girls, multiple not all of whom survive; Locations, multiple across the Globe; Talkative Villains; Impressive Gadgetry; Salty Quips; Fancy-Ass Title Sequence (with its own mandatory template items). Much of that was established or fine-tuned right here in the third Bond film Goldfinger (1964).

But we need to talk about James Bond's cock. By my count, imagination, and visual cross-checking [ahem] he is exceptionally virile, has an impressive rock-hard member, and beds three women in Goldfinger.

And yet...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jun162014

Beauty Vs Beast: Him Freud, Her Jane

JA from MNPP here - The Film Experience is taking a look back at 1964 all this month and so it's the perfect time for our "Beauty Vs Beast" series to take a look at a movie that's turning 50 next month (it was released on July 22nd, 1964) and wades so deep into morally murky waters you're never quite sure which end of the screen you're rooting for (if any), making it perfect for this poll - I speak of Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie.

Starring Tippi Hedren as the titular troubled girl turned to theivery and Sean Connery as the businessman alternately turned on and repelled by that rascally blonde's baser instincts, Marnie's awash in dream symbols (so many snapping purses!) and psychiatry talk - too much of the latter by my count; like Hitch's film Spellbound I  always find his movie's at their least interesting when they're explicitly spelling out his psychological obsessions. Give me the fluid illogic of Vertigo over it any day. But like the keys and key-holes that clutter every other frame of Marnie, the film is most interesting as far as the clues it further offers us towards an understanding of Alfred Hitchcock and his never not fascinating psychological profile. It shuffles some not-before-seen puzzle pieces into place.

Hitch was always putting the audience into morally compromising situations, getting us to side with bullies and lunatics - even his most well-intentioned heroes found themselves doing terrible things (think of the scene in the 1956 remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much where Jimmy Stewart drugs Doris Day without telling her so he can calm her down). But Marnie for me is the tipping point in Hitch's filmography where his characters become almost uniformly unlikeable; there's an angriness (or worse, an indfference) to the last decade and a half of his work (yes even in the so-called comedy of The Trouble With Harry) - it reaches its apex with Frenzy, a film I find exceedingly unpleasant to watch with its cast of shrewish women and sweaty men (it works as a horror film, but it makes me extraneously sad all the same), but the seeds are planted with Mark and Marnie, two people just a little too damaged and bizarre for me to ever find myself rooting for them in any way.

So why not force us to pick?!

 

You've got one week to vote and to sell us in the comments on the frigid blonde or the manly man that's come to beat some sanity into her. Choices, oh choices.

PREVIOUSLY And speaking of choices, with last week's poll pitting Natalie Portman's White Swan against Mila Kunis' Black Swan? Y'all couldn't make one! IT'S A TIE, YOU GUYS. 428 votes, split perfectly at 50/50. I can't even tell you how giddy that makes me - the movie about doubling and dopplegangers split us right down the middle. We look in the mirror and we see all of the faces. We are legion. I'll share to two quotes from y'all since we went both ways:

"Nina only cause I don't think Lily would take the loss as hard." -- SVG

"Team Lily because that fierce little Russki NEVER would have fallen flat on her ass on opening night. Get your shit together Nina!" -- TB

Tuesday
Apr082014

From Russia With Love's Visual Style

On the 50th anniversary of "From Russia With Love"'s US release our friend and James Bond expert Deborah Lipp (she even wrote a book about him!) is here to talk 007...

Sean Connery in "From Russia With Love" released 50 years ago today in the States

After 23 official films and 2 unofficial ones, From Russia With Love, the second James Bond adventure, remains the greatest of them all. Considered an iconic film in many ways, it may surprise the casual Bond viewer to note that certain "iconic" aspects of the Bond franchise were missing from or created in this film.

Let's focus on From Russia With Love's extraordinary visual signature on this anniversary

The first James Bond film, Dr. No, featured the production design of Ken Adam. Adam is justifiably famous. In Dr. No, he designed such sets as the nuclear launch room, and, needing one last set when the budget ran out, came up with an exquisitely simple interrogation room, as perfect as any of his more elaborate work. Adam worked on a total of seven Bond films, creating such sets as Goldfinger's Fort Knox and the hollowed-out volcano lair in You Only Live Twice. He is considered synonymous with the look of James Bond movies, but he didn't do From Russia With Love. He was busy working on Dr. Strangelove—go ahead and revisit the war room scene in Kubrick's film and ask yourself if it doesn't look an awful lot like a James Bond movie.

No, art direction for From Russia with Love was done by Syd Cain. Cain is kind of impressive. Like Ken Adam, he did multiple Bond films and worked with Stanley Kubrick (in Cain's case, on Lolita). 

The eye-popping chess tournament scene in From Russia with Love, in which the chess game takes place on a raised dais above a checkerboard floor mimicking the chessboard itself, is Cain's work. The movie also featured Blofeld's yacht-based lair, extensive scenes on the Orient Express, and location footage in Istanbul augmented by opulent set design. In fact, opulence is a good word to hang on Cain's work, and FRWL is an opulent movie.

Another iconic visual element in Bond films is the title sequence. Title design by Maurice Binder is considered part of the Bond signature, and Binder was there from the beginning. Dancing girls, silhouettes, sinuous animated movement, and the famed gunbarrel sequence were all Binder's designs. He did the title sequences for every Bond film from the first one in 1962 through License to Kill in 1989. Except two: From Russia with Love and Goldfinger. Robert Brownjohn did those. 

FRWL's title sequence features the credits projected on the mostly-nude body of a bellydancer. It's beautiful and so very Bond, so typical of Binder's signature work that you may wonder if Brownjohn wasn't influenced by the first Bond title sequence. He wasn't: Dr. No's titles are a psychedelic explosion of colored dots. Male and female dancing silhouettes come in around the 1.40 mark, and by 2.15 we're into the "Three Blind Mice" sequence—three blind beggars who turn out, as the movie begins, to be assassins. Nope, the sensual body of a woman in Bond titles wasn't made iconic by the iconic Bond title designer. 

From Russia With Love is great for many reasons: Plot, dialog, cast, and locations all play important roles. But the visual style is a key component. How interesting, then, that it stands separate from what we think of as "the" Bond style.

 

Saturday
Mar162013

Can Oscar Sustain His Unlikeliest New Love Affair?

*Not all films discussed here exist outside my head.

Amir here, to obsess about the Oscars because, you know, March is never too early to start doing that around these parts.  Recently, I’ve started to wonder whether Oscar might have started an unlikely love affair with Iran.

Stop laughing and allow me to explain. Oscar took a long while to take notice of Iranian cinema or any of the Iranians who were working in Hollywood. To be fair to the shiny gold man, he wasn’t really spoiled with choices, but still took his time before deciding that Darius Khondji was a worthy cinematographer (Evita, 1996) and Habib Zargarpour’s did fine fx work (Twister, also 1996). Oscar has taken short trips to Iran a few times since then and last year, after watching A Separation, finally decided to stay awhile... in Asghar Farhadi’s house.

No one expected Oscar to go back so soon, especially with no major Iranian films present on the festival circuit, but AMPAS had other ideas. Oscar went back and took one of Hollywood’s golden boys along with him. Famously, they had such a hard time getting out of Iran they had to fake Canadian passports. Britain aside, Oscar doesn’t really embrace any foreign countries two years back to back, let alone a Middle Eastern one. What is happening?

Could this once politically forbidden passion turn into a stable relationship? I turned to the festival circuit, but to no avail. So I've decided to take the intiative and suggest a few projects that might turn the trick again with Oscar. more...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Oct202012

Reader Ranking Announcement: James Bond!

I meant to follow up February's very popular Meryl Streep Reader Ranking with another participatory countdown that's turned over to you! But I've been slow about it. Here's a perfect opportunity. Let's do everyone's favorite spy, James Bond. Deborah has been listing her favorites as we count down to Daniel Craig's third outing as 007, Skyfall on November 9th. 

The official James Bond films as a reminder... 

  1. Dr. No (1962) Connery 
  2. From Russia With Love (1963) Connery 
  3. Goldfinger (1964) Connery 
  4. Thunderball (1965) Connery 
  5. You Only Live Twice (1967) Connery 
  6. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) Lazenby
  7. Diamonds Are Forever (1971) Connery 
  8. Live and Let Die (1973) Moore 
  9. The Man With the Golden Gun (1974) Moore
  10. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) Moore 
  11. Moonraker (1979) Moore 
  12. For Your Eyes Only (1981) Moore 
  13. Octopussy (1983) Moore 
  14. A View To a Kill (1985) Moore 
  15. The Living Daylights (1987) Dalton 
  16. License to Kill (1989) Dalton
  17. Goldeneye (1995) Brosnan 
  18. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) Brosnan 
  19. The World is Not Enough (1999) Brosnan 
  20. Die Another Day (2002) Brosnan 
  21. Casino Royale (2006) Craig 
  22. Quantum of Solace (2008) Craig 

Confession: I have a soft spot for Octopussy (1983) which most people think is terrible, because it's the first Bond I ever saw.How to play along: 

  • Send me a ranked list of every James Bond film you've seen by November 1st with "BOND RANK" in the subject line. Your list could be as short as 3 films or as long as 22 -- I'll take any size list but the lists are weighted to prioritize the readers who've seen the most (just like we did with Streep). If you need help remembering which film is which here's a handy compendium.
  • Bonus Points: If you include a list of your 7 favorite Bond Girls in the e-mail, I'll add more weight to your film rankings if you do.
  • Feel free to include soundbytes. I might publish them if they're relevant to the final rank.
  • Feel free to include links to something you've written about the franchise if you have a blog. I might link them if it's relevant to the final writeup.
  • Depending on your enthusiasm we'll know how Bond crazy we should get in early November when Skyfall premieres.