Some questions for the Bond 24 press conference

Bond 24 logo

While no date has been set, it’s still expected there’ll be a news conference held for the start of production of Bond 24.

We still stand by our idea that it may be best to even take questions. But that’s not likely to happen. So, here’s our suggestions for questions to ask the producers, cast and crew.

For Sam Mendes: You said in April that you came back to direct Bond 24 because “I felt there was a way to create the second part of a two-part story.” Given that both Skyfall’s villain and M were killed, what does that mean?

A question that depends on what the press release says: Is it really true that Neal Purvis and Robert Wade worked on the script? The involvement of Purvis and Wade was reported by Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail over the summer. Given Bamigboye’s record of 007 scoops being proven correct, it’s pretty assumed that is what happened.

But nothing has been said officially since MGM announced in November 2012 that John Logan would write Bond 24 and Bond 25.

It’s possible the press release that probably goes out at the same time will reference Purvis and Wade. If it does, this rephrased question could be used:

In November 2012, MGM announced John Logan was writing Bond 24 and Bond 25. What happened to change this? Why bring Messrs. Purvis and Wade back?

For Michael G. Wilson: Mr. Wilson, you’re in your early 70s now. Do you plan to continue on in your present capacity? Or might you retire?

For Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli: Skyfall did $1.11 billion in worldwide box office. Are you confident Bond 24 (or actual title if that has been released) can perform the same or better?

For Sam Mendes: Skyfall was shot digitally. Bond 24 is to be shot on film, according to your director of photography. What’s the reason for the change?

For Wilson and Broccoli: What’s the progress on your planned movie about Edward Snowden?

For Sam Mendes: Will the gunbarrel be at the start of the movie this time?

Damon back as Bourne: JB vs. JB

bourne poster

Matt Damon TOLD E! ONLINE that he’s returning to the role of Jason Bourne with Paul Greenglass again directing.

The movie would be made next year for a 2016 release, according to the E! Online interview. Does that mean we’ll once again get some James Bond “trash talk”?

Damon made three Bourne movies from 2002 to 2007: The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. The latter two were directed by Greenglass.

In the 2000s, Damon wasn’t shy about criticizing Bond. For example, there’s this 2009 quote from a Miami Herald interview via The Huffington Post.

Damon called Bond an “imperalist, misogynist who goes around swilling martinis and bedding women and killing people. He’s repulsive.” He made almost identical comments in 2007 (also using the “imperalist” and “misogynist” gibes), ACCORDING TO THE DAILY MAIL.

At one time, Bourne was very much on the minds of the makers of James Bond movies. THE NEW YORK TIMES in October 2005 quoted executives it didn’t identify that “the model” for recasting the 007 role with Daniel Craig was the Bourne films.

The resemblance between the Bourne movies and Bond came with Craig’s second 007 film, Quantum of Solace. The movie utilized the services of Dan Bradley as second unit director, the same job he held on the Bourne movies. It had a lot of rapid camera movement, particularly in the first 20 minutes, similar to the Bourne series.

Since then, with 2012′s Sam Mendes-directed Skyfall, the Bourne-isms faded. Greenglass interviewed Mendes about Skyfall in 2012.

Bond 24, again with Mendes at the helm, is scheduled for a fall 2015 release. So it will be out well before Damon’s next Bourne effort. Still, given that Damon is an outspoken actor, it’ll be interesting to see if we hear more from Damon on the JB vs. JB comparison.

REVIEW: Interstellar (2014)

Interstellar poster

Interstellar poster

Normally, this blog wouldn’t review a science fiction movie. But some James Bond fans fancy the notion of Christopher Nolan directing a 007 film (while others despite it). And Interstellar’s director of photography Hoyte van Hoytema has been tapped to photograph Bond 24, to be directed by Sam Mendes.

A number of reviews have discussed at length Interstellar being inspired by the Stanley Kubrick-directed 2001: A Space Odyssey. That influence is undeniable. But Nolan appears to have done other homages.

One is based a 1979 movie by journeyman director Gary Nelson, which more than once referenced Dante’s Inferno (Google it and the answer should be evident. Additional clue: it had a John Barry score). Another, of two small figures fighting amid a barren landscape, seems to be composed similarly to a famous shot in director William Wyler’s 1958 Western film, The Big Country.

What’s more, books also play an important role in Nolan’s film. For example, the camera lets you see a Charles Lindbergh biography, reinforcing the movie’s notion of exploration and adventure. Actually, the importance of books goes beyond that, but we won’t mention more to avoid spoilers.

All of this may be coincidence, but we’re reminded of a comment by the director Stanley Donen in a documentary that nothing in a movie is by chance. He was talking about a famous scene in the musical Singing In The Rain (and how a street stage was made to ensure puddles would form when a rainstorm was simulated). But Donen’s comment is applicable to almost any movie.

Anyway, Nolan likes a big canvas for his films. Interstellar — which takes place on Earth, the solar system and beyond (just like 2001) — is as big as you could want. The story concerns a dying Earth sometime in the future and a last, desperate attempt to ensure mankind can survive, even if it’s not on its home planet.

And yet….

Somewhere in the last third of the movie, Nolan’s story seems to get away from him. Stanley Kubrick, in 2001, made no attempt to explain the movie’s final act. You either went on the ride or you didn’t. Nolan provides striking images but some of his explanations are hard to follow even if the viewer is paying rapt attention.

Interstellar certainly is an emotional film, with a major theme of a father’s relationship to his daughter (and a woman’s relationship to her father). It’s also, technically, a well-made film. Still, there are too many twists in the 169-minute film. Interstellar is by no means a failure, but it seems as if, at some stage, a fresh eye was needed.

Which brings us to one of the reasons for this review.

At first glance, it seems unlikely Nolan will ever get his chance at directing a Bond movie. With Nolan, you have to hire his posse, including his producer-wife Emma Thomas and his screenwriting brother Jonathan Nolan. Christopher Nolan has tremendous control over his projects and it seems unlikely Eon Productions co-bosses Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson would yield the complete control Nolan yields. But who knows for sure?

As for van Hoytema, he delivers interesting images. So he’ll likely do fine on Bond 24. Van Hoytema has confirmed his involvement with Bond 24, according to a STORY on the MI6 James Bond website.

Interstellar, try as it might, is not the second coming of 2001. It’s an interesting attempt to be different than usual fare studios churn out. But, this being the movie business in the 21st century, it still leaves itself open for a sequel. So it’s not that different. GRADE: B-Minus.

New Yorker says playwright tweaking Bond 24 script

Bond 24 logo

The New Yorker, IN A PROFILE OF PLAYWRIGHT JEZ BUTTERWORTH in its Nov. 10 issue, says the writer has tweaked Bond 24′s script, and did similar work on Skyfall’s story.

Here’s an excerpt:

It was early September, and Butterworth, who divides his time between London and a farm in Somerset, had spent the week in conference with Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig, tweaking story lines for the new Bond movie…This was Butterworth’s second Bond; he worked on “Skyfall,” too, making the kind of script changes that his twelve-year-old self, watching the movie at the St. Albans Odeon, would be pleased to see. “You know, like Bond doesn’t have scenes with other men. Bond shoots other men—he doesn’t sit around chatting to them. So you put a line through that.”

The Bond 24 script began with John Logan and then got overhauled by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who delivered their draft in July, ACCORDING TO BAZ BAMIGBOYE OF THE DAILY MAIL.

Bond 24 director of photography chosen, Hitfix says

tinker poster

Hoyte van Hoytema, who photographed films including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, has been hired to be director of photography on Bond 24, THE HITFIX WEBSITE reported.

An excerpt:

BAFTA-nominated cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema has been turning heads ever since his stunning work in the stylish Swedish horror film “Let the Right One In” crossed the Atlantic six years ago. And lately, he’s just getting all the good gigs, having stepped in for Spike Jonze regular Lance Acord on last year’s “Her” and for Christopher Nolan’s right hand man Wally Pfister on the upcoming “Interstellar.” Well, you can add another big pair of shoes for the talented director of photography to fill. With Roger Deakins exiting the James Bond franchise after 2012′s “Skyfall,” we can confirm that director Sam Mendes has tapped van Hoytema to shoot the still untitled 24th installment of the series.

Van Hoytema succeeds Roger Deakins, who received an Oscar nomination for his work on 2012′s Skyfall. Deakins didn’t win and opted to pass on a 007 return engagement for Bond 24.

The Hitfix story was written by Kristopher Tapley, who originally broke the news that Deakins wasn’t coming back for Bond 24 in a post on Twitter earlier this year.

The subject of who would follow Deakins has been a subject of discussion among Bond fans. You can view the entire Hitfix story by CLICKING HERE.

Bond 24 press conference suggestion: don’t take questions

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson

Bond 24 will start principal photography on Dec. 6, The Daily Mail said at the very end of a Sept. 11 story and the MI6 James Bond website wrote in more detail in a Sept. 13 article. That likely means a formal press conference in the coming months.

Here’s a suggestion for those concerned with Bond 24: just don’t take any questions.

Based on the November 2011 press conference for the start of Skyfall production, the co-bosses of Eon Productions, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, don’t really like answering a lot of questions. At that event, more than 10 minutes passed (out of less than 28 total) before reporters were even permitted to ask any.

If you did away with the question and answer part of the press conference, it would hopefully mean some clichés would go away. “The money’s all up on the screen,” or “I could tell you but I’d have to kill you,” for example. They don’t add anything.

Also, not taking questions would lessen (though not eliminate) the possibility of misleading things being said.

Director Sam Mendes, in an April PBS interview, said he cast the part of Bill Tanner in Skyfall when, in fact, actor Rory Kinnear already played the part in Quantum of Solace.

He also said Skyfall was the first James Bond film where characters were allowed to age, a statement that didn’t stand up to much scrutiny. Nor was that his first time saying questionable things. Back when he was in talks to direct Skyfall, Mendes denied it while his publicist confirmed it. Not taking questions would help avoid that.

Some fans think it’s ridiculous journalists should even expect an answer to a question (read one of the comments to THIS POST). They just want to watch the video. It’s also not like the media outlets wouldn’t show up if the movie makers didn’t take questions. They’d be there to record the various comments and get video.

For the reporters, would they miss much if not allowed to ask questions? At the 2011 press conference, the MC mocked the scribes for not asking what Skyfall meant sooner. Then, Barbara Broccoli gave the vaguest of answers.

Is it really a loss to not go through that? Most of the real information about the movie (that Skyfall would be the title, that Judi Dench’s M was being killed off, that Naomie Harris’ character was really Moneypenny, for example) came out elsewhere.

Goldfinger: the first ‘A-movie’ comic book film?

Goldfinger poster

Goldfinger poster

Here’s a thought as Goldfinger celebrates its 50th anniversary. In a way, the third James Bond film may have been the first “A-movie” comic book film.

Before Goldfinger, comic book films existed as serials. Lewis Wilson, father of Eon Productions co-boss Michael G. Wilson, played Batman in a 1943 serial, for example. Serials would run for weeks in 15-minute or so installments ahead of the main feature.

Goldfinger, of course, was based on Ian Fleming’s novel, not a comic book. Still, some Fleming novels seem to draw their inspiration from pulp adventure stories (also a source of inspiration for comic books).

In Fleming’s novel, Goldfinger’s henchman Oddjob was already over the top. With the film, that increased. A gold bar bounced off his chest without causing Oddjob harm. Harold Sakata’s Oddjob crushed a golf ball to show his displeasure with Sean Connery’s Bond. The henchman used his steel-rimmed hat to kill with precision. Oddjob, for a time in the Fort Knox sequence, bats Bond around like a cat playing wth a mouse.

Nor did the comic book style action end there. Bond’s tricked out Aston Martin became the inspiration for “spy cars,” with far more weaponry that a few extras the novel’s Aston had. The deaths of both Oddjob and later Auric Goldfinger could be described as comic book like. It was as if Jack Kirby of Marvel Comics drew the storyboards.

The difference, of course, was this all occurred in a $3 million A-movie where the audience could see the story all in one night.

Goldfinger’s success certainly was felt in the 007 series. In Thunderball, Bond flew a jet pack and in the climatic underwater fight had an oversized air tank that had additional weapons. You Only Live Twice included a helicopter snatching a car with a giant magnet and Blofeld’s volcano headquarters set that cost more than it took to produce Dr. No.

The success of such movies demonstrated audiences had an appetite for such uber-escapist sequences when executied in an entertaining way. You could make the case that Goldfinger blazed a trail that the likes of Star Wars, Indiana Jones and, yes, movies based directly on comic books, exploited.

The path from Connery’s Bond to, say, Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man may be shorter than it appears.

The most obvious sign: director Christopher Nolan, a self-described 007, adapted Bond bits (the Bond-Q briefing evolved into Bruce Wayne getting new equipment from Lucius Fox) into his three Batman movies. Director Sam Mendes in Skyfall returned the favor, saying Nolan’s 2008 The Dark Knight influenced the 2012 007 film.

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