Observations of a No Time to Die rewatch Part I

One of the many No Time to Die posters

The movie has some nifty image composition/photography.

In the pre-titles sequence, Madeline Swann (Lea Seydoux) writes a secret, burns it and sends the embers into the night air. The camera follows it until the Matera landscape turns to day. Very classy.

Bond isn’t very bright, is he?

Let’s face it, Bond has never been the sharpest knife in the drawer. In Dr. No, he has no real plan for when he gets to Crab Key. In From Russia With Love, he’s easily taken in by Grant’s less-than-sophisticated set up of Kerim and a Soviet agent supposedly killing each other. In the film, Kerim has a knife in his side, hardly the easiest way of killing oneself.

But in No Time to Die, Bond falls for Blofeld’s frame of Madeline. This propels the plot through much of the movie.

That curious music title card

“Music by Hans Zimmer, Score produced by Steve Mazzaro.”

Zimmer, on mulitiple occasions, said the score was a collaboration between himself and Mazzaro. One thinks the the title card should have had a footnote. “Sorry, Steve. We know you did half or so of the score. This is the best we could do.”

Bond knows his Jamaican home has been invaded. Does his outside shower and toothbrushing lead to Safin getting his DNA?

The scene around the 47:00 mark (the scientist who has been working for Safin) suggests so. Then against the scientist substitutes a sample of all the SPECTRE leadership. Hard to tell.

Which M made the bigger mistakes? Judi Dench in Skyfall or Ralph Fiennes in No Time to Die?

Judgment call.

“Come on, Felix. we’ve been in worse than this. Let’s go.”

How many times have Bond and Felix Leiter been in jeopardy *at the same time*? Not many in either the first 20 Eon films or the Craig era. Going back to Kevin McClory’s first Thunderball scripting efforts, there were more attempts to go give Felix more to do.

No Time to Die wins 2 BAFTA awards

No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film, received two awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

The No Time to Die winners, according to a list compiled by Variety, were:

–Editing (Tom Cross and Eliott Graham)

–Rising Star (Lashana Lynch)

The Bond film was also nominated in these categories:

–Outstanding British Film (winner: Belfast)

–Cinematography (winner: Dune)

–Special Visual Effects (winner: Dune)

–Sound (winner: Dune)

Hans Zimmer, who co-composed No Time to Die’s score (with Steve Mazzaro), received a BAFTA award for Dune’s score.

Shirley Bassey, 85, also performed Diamonds Are Forever by John Barry and Don Black. BAFTA tweeted out a clip from Bassey’s performance.

UPDATE: BAFTA also tweeted a clip of Lashana Lynch.

UPDATE II (March 14): The rising star was a fan vote. Still, on Feb. 3, Eon’s official Twitter feed counted it as a No Time to Die nomination. Former Bond continuation author Raymond Benson writes on Facebook the blog should not have counted it as a win for No Time to Die. His comment: “The Lashana Lynch award was not specifically for No Time to Die… she was just “Rising Star,” along with other nominees, not cited for any particular film they were in either. No Time to Die won ONE award.”

No Time to Die receives 3 Oscar nominations

No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film, received three Oscar nominations, the Academy of Motion PIcture Arts and Sciences announced today.

The Bond film was nominated for best song, visual effects, and sound.

Hans Zimmer, the lead composer for No Time to Die, was nominated for Dune instead.

No Time to Die is only the third Bond film to receive multiple Oscar nominations. The others were The Spy Who Loved Me (three nominations, no wins) and Skyfall (five nominations, two wins). The 2021 film is the third consecutive Bond movie to be nominated for best song. Both Skyfall and SPECTRE won in that category.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, had conducted a blitz seeking nominations. There had been speculation that genre movies such as No Time to Die and Spider-Man No Way Home might be included in the 10 best picture nominees.

It was not to be. Neither film was nominated. Here is the list of the 10 nominees:

No Time to Die scores BAFTA nominations

No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film, received six nominations from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

The nominations were:

–Outstanding British Film

–Cinematography

–Editing

–Special Visual Effects

–Sound

–Rising Star (Lashana Lynch)

Hans Zimmer, who co-composed No Time to Die’s score (with Steve Mazzaro), received a BAFTA nomination for Dune. It’s not common for a composer to receive a nomination for two movies.

In the 1970s, John Williams received Oscar nominations for both Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He won for Star Wars, beating out (among others) Marvin Hamlisch for The Spy Who Loved Me.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has made a big effort to secure nominations during “awards season.” The Academy of Motor PIcture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) will announce its nominations for the Oscars next week.

Here is the tweet from Eon Productions’ official James Bond account about the nominations.

Non-spoiler NTTD review

No Time to Die logo

This is intended as a very quick review of No Time to Die. No spoilers here but I’m preparing a post that deals with the No. 1 spoiler.

After all this time, was it worth it? Yes, very much so. I am going back and forth whether it’s a B-Plus or A-Minus.

If you’re a fan of Daniel Craig/Bond, you’ll love it. If you don’t care for Craig/Bond, it won’t change your mind.

No Time to Die was in a position to take liberties knowing it would be the last movie featuring Craig, who is adored by Eon boss Barbara Broccoli. Knowing that, you can take more chances. That’s all I will say until later.

The movie is mostly executed extremely well. The score by Hans Zimmer (and Steve Mazzaro) is better than I thought it would be. They even found a way to get Mazzaro into the main titles.

It weaves bits from the title song by Billie Eilish and Finneas throughout. We haven’t experienced that so much since 2006’s Casino Royale, where David Arnold did the score and co-wrote the title song.

As I get older, I tend to appreciate the more talkative scenes more. One of my favorite scenes is when Bond, gone from MI6 for years, goes to M’s office. It’s quite good, with both sides of the conversation getting in their points.

And, for those who were concerned Bond was emasculated in this movie? Well, it didn’t happen. The trailers didn’t give away everything.

The movie mostly moved faster than a film running 163 minutes. It could have tightened some action scenes. But, these days, you can say that about most movies.

Hours after I saw the movie, I began to think about plot holes, questions, etc. But it’s a success when you don’t ponder that during the movie.

My main concern, if you want to call it that, is the movie is too self-referential. To examine that in more detail requires spoilers.

The blog will get to a more spoiler post soon.

Some Bond 25 notes about the official podcast

No Time to Die poster

We’re now two-thirds of the way through the episodes of the official No Time to Die podcast. What follows are some observations.

Steve Mazzaro gets a shoutout: Hans Zimmer has made it known that his work on No Time to Die was in collaboration with Steve Mazzaro.

The Eon Productions publicity campaign has not referenced either Dan Romer (the composer originally chosen by Cary Fukunaga) nor Mazzaro (who Hans Zimmer has described as a collaborator).

But in episode 4, “The Music of Bond,” Zimmer again says he worked *with Mazzaro on the score.

Zimmer said long ago it was a joint arrangement. Meanwhile, I’m puzzled why once Romer was sent away why Eon didn’t get five-time Bond composer David Arnold to fill in.

I suspect it’s because Zimmer is more of a brand name than an actual film composer these days. But, who knows?

Fukunaga says he thought about the score “early on:” This comes up in episode 4. It’s probably true but likely reflects why Dan Romer was (initially) called in.

The similarities between Never Say Never Again and No Time to Die keep multiplying: Haphazard Stuff put together an amusing video about 1983’s Never Say Never Again. Both movies feature an aging James Bond. In Sean Connery’s case, it was a last chance to stick it to Eon co-founder Albert R. Broccoli:

No Time to Die podcast returns

The official No Time to Die podcast returned Wednesday evening U.S. time. The podcast began in September 2020 but went into hibernation after the movie’s release was pushed back into 2021.

The first two episodes are online. The first, Bond in Context leads off with a discussion about how the 25th James Bond film has been delayed three times because of COVID-19. Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions are interviewed about that subject.

Also, “You can also be the first to hear exclusive score from Hans Zimmer released by Decca Records,” according to the episode’s description. The episode runs 44 minutes.

The second episode is titled A Name to Die for: Allies and Enemies of Bond.

“Led by interviews from Rami Malek, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw and Lashana Lynch, we’ll explore what makes a classic supporting character and look back at some of 007’s most iconic nemeses,” according to a description.

James King is the host.

UPDATE: In episode 1, Barbara Broccoli says No Time to Die “is a cinematic masterpiece.” We’ve all heard hype for movies but those are strong words.

Dan Romer talks (briefly) about NTTD

Dan Romer talked very, very briefly about his involvement on No Time to Die on season 4, episode 9 of Score the Podcast.

The composer got into few specifics. He was retained for a time to compose the score for the 25th James Bond film. He was replaced by Hans Zimmer and his fellow composers.

Among the few comments about the Bond film by Romer were these:

“That film was essentially me and my old friend (NTTD diector) Cary Fukunanga. Cary and I will continue to work together. That situation was really amicable at the end. Everybody is trying to do the right thing.”

Romer seemed to indicate the Bond experience was not a bad one.

“You can’t let that kind of stuff stop you from being creative,” he said. “At the end of the day, you’re an artist and you’re making art.

“I don’t announce a job generally until right before it’s coming out,” he added. “The Bond thing leaked….You never know how things are going to go.”

You can listen to the entire episode by CLICKING HERE. Go about one hour, 40 minutes and you’ll get to the brief exchange about No Time to Die.

h/t to reader Patrick Donahue

Bond 25 questions: The unanswered questions edition

Scott Z. Burns

With the debut of the final U.S. and international trailers for No Time to Die, a majority of James Bond fans are jacked up. It’s less than a month before the world premiere.

Admittedly, the blog’s attention is wondering to unanswered questions — which may never be answered. So here goes.

What did Scott Z. Burns contribute to the script? Burns is a high-priced “script doctor” who brought in to work on the script a few months before filming began.

Eon Productions briefly referenced Burns’ participation. Here was a tweet from Eon’s official James Bond feed on Twitter on April 25, 2019.

However, after the Writer’s Guild of America weighed in, Burns was out. Burns is highly paid. It’s doubtful the scribe did nothing.

How much of the score *really* is by Hans Zimmer and how much is by Steve Mazzaro (and others)?

In the advertising materials, we’re told, “Music by Hans Zimmer.” But Zimmer is on record that his colleague Steve Mazzaro did a lot of the work and should get top billing on the music credit. Of course, Zimmer is more of a brand than a composer. Most fans will ignore this, but the blog remains interested.

Why was Dan Romer, the original No Time to Die composer, sent packing?

Romer had worked with director Cary Fukunaga on other projects. Romer was listed as No Time to Die’s composer for a time. Then, all of a sudden, his name was gone. Zimmer’s name was his place.

The conventional wisdom is that Romer’s work was too “out there.” OK, but what does that mean? For that matter, is Zimmer & Co.’s replacement score truly a “Bond” score, a la John Barry, or is it a typical Zimmer piece of work?

How much input did Eon’s Michael G. Wilson have with No Time to Die?

For the better part of a decade, Eon boss Barbara Broccoli has been depicted as *the* leader of the Eon effort. Her half-brother, 18 years her senior, doesn’t get mentioned that much.

Is that true? Is he just collecting a paycheck? Is he taking it easy these days. Or did he make significant contributions to the project.

Questions, questions.

Reminder: Zimmer isn’t the only NTTD composer

Hans Zimmer

I saw some chatter on social media today expressing surprise that No Time to Die’s score is a joint effort.

So this is just a reminder that Hans Zimmer is not the sole composer on No Time to Die’s score. Back in June 2020, Zimmer himself told Variety it would not be. Her is Zimmer in his own words in the Variety interview.

Well, it was surprising, and let me explain why. I’ve known [producer] Barbara Broccoli for a long time, and we’re friends. I never thought we would work together on something like that, so it was surprising just to get the call. And I asked her if it was okay that Steve Mazzaro, who is one of the most fabulous composers I know, could do it with me, because there was very little time. And of course she said yes. Steve should really be the top name on the Bond film. I hope we’ve done it justice. (emphasis added)

Since then, all of the promotional material for the movie only mentioned Zimmer and didn’t reference Mazzaro.

As noted before, Mazzaro did the score for Eon Productions’ The Rhythm Section, with Zimmer producing the score.

Zimmer, of course, is a big name in movie music. Mazzaro? Not so much.

UPDATE: The No Time to Die soundtrack list is released. The MI6 James Bond website has a copy. The 71-minute soundtrack has 21 selections: 1) Gun Barrel 2) Matera 3) A Message From an Old Friend 4) Square Escape 5) Someone Was Here 6) Not What I Expected 7) What Have You Done? 8) Shouldn’t We Get to Know Each Other First 9) Cuba Chase 10) Back to MI6 11) Good to Have You Back 12) Lovely to See You Again 13) Home 14) Norway Chase 15) Gearing Up 16) Poison Garden 17) The Factory 18) I’ll Be Right Back 19) Opening the Doors 20) Final Ascent 21) No Time to Die.