About that Daniel Craig LAT interview

Daniel Craig’s 007

Daniel Craig, after a five-film run as James Bond, reflected on his 007 run (Casino Royale through No Time to Die) in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Whatever your feelings about those five movies, the LAT interview showed the 54-year-old actor has mixed feelings. An excerpt:

“It’s my fault because I kind of didn’t shut up about the fact that I had all these injuries. I’m pissed off at myself that I ever even spoke about them,” Craig said. “I put way more work into the creative side of those movies than I did into the physical side of those movies. The physical side of the movies was just the job. I had to do it. I trained, learned the fights, that’s kind of my brain not working. The rest of it, the look, the feel, the kind of the temperature of the movies, getting Sam Mendes in to direct ‘Skyfall,’ that’s where the hard work was. Going to the gym is hard work, but it’s not really brain hard work.”

Craig endured numerous injuries. He also had unprecedented input (compared to previous actors employed by Eon Productions) into the plot and other aspects of the movies.

The actor, a year after No Time to Die came out, claims it was his idea for his version of Bond to be killed.

“Two things, one for myself and one for the franchise,” Craig said. “One, for the franchise, was that resets start again, which [the franchise] did with me. And I was like, ‘Well, you need to reset again.’ So let’s kill my character off and go find another Bond and go find another story. Start at [age] 23, start at 25, start at 30.

To be sure, there’s a lot of after-the-fact story telling before and after a movie comes out. “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend,” which is a line from 1962’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance. That’s still the case in the 21st century.

Quotes from Craig’s interviews have split Bond movie fans. Craig fans say that shows why he’s a great actor. Craig critics cite this why he’s selfish.

Whatever. It remains to be seen whether Eon gets on with the business of a post-Craig era.

RE-POST: What 007 and Batman have in common

Adapted from a 2012 post

When following debates among James Bond fans — whether on Internet bulletin boards, Facebook or in person — people sometimes say “try reading Fleming” (or a variation thereof) as if it were a trump card that shows they’re right and the other person is wrong.

Read Fleming. That shows Bond is supposed to be a “blunt instrument.” Therefore, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace are really true to Fleming.

“Read Fleming!” = “I’m right, you’re wrong!”

Read Fleming. That shows Bond is a romantic hero, not a neurotic antihero, therefore, (INSERT BOND ACTOR HERE) was true to Fleming. Meanwhile, (INSERT BOND ACTOR HERE) meant the 007 film series had reached a nadir.

In reality, over a half-century, the Bond films have passed through multiple eras. To some, Connery can never be surpassed and Moore was a joke. Except, the Connery films have more humor than Fleming employed (on the “banned” Criterion laser disc commentaries, Terence Young chortles about how Fleming asking why the films had more humor than his novels). The Moore films, for all their humor, do have serious moments (Bond admitting to Anya he killed her KGB lover in The Spy Who Loved Me or Bond being hurt but not wanting to admit it after getting out of the centrifuge in Moonraker). Other comments heard frequently: Brosnan tried to split the difference between Connery and Moore, Craig plays the role seriously, the way it should be, etc., etc.

Lots of different opinions, all concerning the same character, dealing with different eras and the contributions of multiple directors and screenwriters. Which reminded of us another character, who’s been around even longer than the film 007: Batman, who made his debut in Detective Comics No. 27 in 1939.

Early Batman stories: definitely dark. “There is a sickening snap as the cossack’s neck breaks under the mighty pressure of the Batman’s foot,” reads a caption in Detective Comics No. 30.

Then, things lightened up after Batman picked up Robin as a sidekick. Eventually, there was Science Fiction Batman in the 1950s (during a period when superhero comics almost disappeared), followed by “New Look” Batman in 1964 (which could also be called Return of the Detective), followed by Campy Batman in 1966 (because of popularity of the Batman television show), followed by Classic Batman is Back, circa 1969 or ’70, etc., etc. All different interpretations of the same character.

In the 1990s, there was a Batman cartoon that captured all this. A group of kids are talking. Two claim to have seen Batman. The first provides a description and we see a sequence resembling Dick Sprang-drawn comics of the 1940s, with Gary Owens providing the voice of Batman. The second describes something much different, and the sequence is drawn to resemble Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns comic of the 1980s, with Michael Ironside voicing Batman.

Eventually, the group of kids gets into trouble and we see the 1990s cartoon Batman, voiced by Kevin Conroy, in a sequence that evokes elements of both visions.

With the Bond film series, something similar has occurred. In various media, you’ll see fans on different sides of an argument claiming Fleming as supporting their view. Search hard enough, and you can find bits of Fleming or Fleming-inspired elements in almost any Bond film. The thing is, the different eras aren’t the result of long-term planning. They’re based on choices, the best guess among filmmakers of what is popular at a given time, what makes a good Bond story, etc.

In effect, both the film 007 and the comic book Batman have had to adapt or die. Fans today can’t imagine a world without either character. But each has had crisis moments. For Bond, the Broccoli-Saltzman separation of the mid-1970s and the 1989-95 hiatus in Bond films raised major questions about 007’s future. Batman, meanwhile, faced the prospect of cancellation by DC Comics (one reason for the 1964 revamp that ended the science fiction era) but managed to avoid it.

None of this, of course, will stop the arguments. Truth be told, things might become dull if the debates ceased. Still things might go over better if participants looked at them as an opportunity. An opposing viewpoint that’s well argued keeps you sharp and might cause you to consider ideas you overlooked.

Haggis found liable in civil rape case, NYT says

Quantum of Solace’s soundtrack. The movie was co-scripted by Paul Haggis.

Paul Haggis, who co-scripted two James Bond films in the 2000s, has been found in a civil trial “liable for raping a former film industry publicist in his Manhattan apartment in 2013,” The New York Times reported on Nov. 10.

Haggis was ordered by a jury to pay the former publicist, Haleigh Breest, at least $7.5 million, the Times reported.

Haggis, 69, worked on 2006’s Casino Royale and 2008’s Quantum of Solace as a writer. The filmmaker also “wrote ‘Million Dollar Baby’ and co-wrote and directed ‘Crash,’ consecutive best picture winners,” the Times noted.

The newspaper said Haggis met Breest “while she worked at film premiere events in New York. In a lawsuit filed in the early months of the #MeToo movement, she alleged that after one such event, Mr. Haggis invited her to his loft in SoHo, where he forced her to give him oral sex, penetrated her digitally and proceeded to rape her.”

An excerpt from the story:

Mr. Haggis’s lead lawyer, Priya Chaudhry, said in a statement that the defense was “disappointed and shocked” by the verdict, accusing the plaintiff’s lawyers of portraying Mr. Haggis “as a monster” and lamenting the judge’s decision to allow testimony from four other women who have accused Mr. Haggis of sexual misconduct.

The $7.5 million figure is for compensatory damages. The jury is to return next week to consider punitive damages, the Times said.

What should happen for Bond 26

Global James Bond Day has come and gone. There were no major announcements made related to the Eon film series.

With that in mind, what should happen with Bond 26 (whenever it comes out)? :

Bring David Arnold back

Part of the 60th-anniversary festivities was a documentary about the music of the Bond films. Watching that documentary, it’s clear that Eon Productions still adores the work of David Arnold.

Yet, Arnold hasn’t scored a Bond film since 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

Sam Mendes wanted, and got, Thomas Newman for his two Bond films (Skyfall and SPECTRE). Cary Fukunaga initially got his choice (Dan Romer). But he was rejected. So we got Hans Zimmer and his multiple enablers.

Zimmer even said the No Time to Die score was a collaboration between himself and Steve Mazzaro. When you sign Hans Zimmer, he’s not an artist. He’s more of a film-music conglomerate.

Next time out, just sign David Arnold.

Get on with it

For the past six months or so, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions have yammered about how hard it is to cast a new Bond.

Come on. Your father/stepfather switched gears and cast new Bond actors on the fly. (See what happened between May 1985 and July 1987.)

Get on with it. By this time, everybody knows about Ian Fleming, and James Bond, and how Fleming can be adapted to movies.

Paul Haggis arrested on sexual assault charges

Paul Haggis, who worked on two James Bond films as a writer, has been arrested in Italy on sexual assault charges, Variety reported.

Haggis was a screenwriter on 2006’s Casino Royale and 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

Here is an excerpt from the Variety story:

According to multiple Italian press reports and a note from the public prosecutor of the nearby city of Brindisi, Haggis is charged with forcing a young “foreign” – meaning non-Italian – woman to undergo sexual intercourse over the course of two days in Ostuni, where he was scheduled to hold several master classes at the Allora Fest, a new film event being launched by Los Angeles-based Italian journalist Silvia Bizio and Spanish art critic Sol Costales Doulton that is set to run in Ostuni from June 21 to June 26.

When Casino Royale came out in 2006, Haggis got a lot of credit after taking over from Neal Purvis and Robert Wade in the scripting process.

Haggis’s pages referred to “James,” where most Bond scripts refer to Bond as “Bond.”

With Quantum’s final screenplay credit, Haggis got top billing over Purvis and Wade.

At one point, there were reports that Haggis supposedly contributed to the script of No Time to Die. The final credit went to Purvis and Wade, director Cary Fukunaga, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Haggis received no screenplay credit on No Time to Die.

Mission: Impossible 7 trailer officially released

Paramount released the trailer for Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One today after it had leaked out over the weekend.

The trailer for the seventh film in the M:I series starring Tom Cruise contains some homages to James Bond films such as:

–Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt driving a car with its doors knocked off, similar to Daniel Craig’s Bond in Quantum of Solace.

–Cruise/Hunt driving a small yellow car in a chase, similar to Roger Moore’s Bond driving an extremely small car in a chase in For Your Eyes Only.

–A fight on top of a train, with the participants having to duck when approaching tunnels, a la Octopussy.

–Cruise/Hunt riding a motorcycle off a cliff similar to Pierce Brosnan’s Bond in GoldenEye.

The trailer has some striking images, including an Osprey aircraft in flight and a train locomotive going off a cliff.

Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One is scheduled for release next year, with the following installment coming out in 2024. Originally, the two movies were to have been filmed back-to-back. That was before delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The trailer is below.

Bond 25 questions: What’s up with the U.S.?

No Time to Die poster

No Time to Die is the No. 1 box office movie among non-Chinese-made films. Happy days are here again, right? Well, there may be one nagging concern, the (relative) gap between international and the U.S.

The U.S., even with China emerging as the world’s largest market, remains a pretty big market for movies. Yet, relatively speaking, James Bond’s support in Britain’s former colonies appears to be eroding.

Naturally, the blog has questions.

What do you mean by eroding support?

Here is are the figures during the Daniel Craig era, according to Box Office Mojo:

Casino Royale, $167.4 million, 27.2 percent of the global total

Quantum of Solace, $168.4 million, 28.6 percent of the global total

Skyfall, $304.4 million, 27.5 percent of the global total

SPECTRE, $200.1 million, 22.7 percent of the global total

No Time to Die, $158.1 million, 20.9 percent of the global total.

So?

Some British fans attribute that to Brits having better taste than Americans. These same fans dismiss the importance of the American market at all.

Are you being serious?

Mostly not (though such fans as described above do exist). Rather, it raises the question whether there should be more changes for U.S. Bond marketing versus international Bond marketing.

With No Time to Time, U.S. trailers were different than international trailers. But is that enough?

Remember, Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions said in 2015 that Eon controls the marketing and that studios just execute that plan.

If anybody at Eon is disappointed with the U.S. box office — and no one has said so publicly — they should perhaps look in the mirror.

Anything else?

For better or worse, the U.S. market likes superhero movies more than international markets The No. 1 U.S. movie in 2021 is Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings at $224.6 million. It’s based on a lesser-known Marvel Comics title from the 1970s.

Still, $158.1 million in the U.S. for No Time to Die, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, is nothing to sneeze at and not a flop. Many movies would love that size of box office.

Going forward, though, Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Amazon (which has agreed to buy MGM) may want to ponder Bond’s position in the U.S.

NTTD opens in the U.S. with good news, not-so-good news

BOND: Harumpf!

First the good news: No Time to Die is projected to be the No. 1 movie in the U.S. this weekend.

Not-so-good news: The 25th James Bond film’s estimated weekend take (including Thursday night preview showings) is estimated at $56 million, according to Exhibitor Relations Co., which track movie box office data.

That’s behind the U.S. opening of Skyfall ($88.4 million), SPECTRE ($70.4 million), and Quantum of Solace ($67.5 million). In U.S. terms, No Time to Die’s opening is the lowest since 2006’s Casino Royale ($40.8 million), when movie ticket prices were a lot cheaper.

The U.S. results for No Time to Die compare with an international opening of $121 million last week. That, of course, included the U.K., where going to a Bond movie is part of national pride.

Some context: Venom: Let There Be Carnage (a Spider-Man related movie) had an opening of $90 million last weekend.

To be sure: Comparing No Time to Die (released during the midst of a long pandemic) to earlier Bond films is dicey. No Time to Die’s release was delayed three times because of COVID-19.

On the other hand: U.S. audiences are turning out for movies. For whatever reason, in the U.S., Venom trumps Bond. I never thought I’d type that in a sentence.

I suspect Bond 26, whenever that comes out, will be shoved toward the end of the release dates. (joke/sarcasm)

UPDATE: Deadline: Hollywood reports that No Time to Die’s global box office is $313.7 million including this weekend’s U.S. results.

Not surprisingly, the U.K. paced the international results. Here’s the take from Exhibitor Relations Co.

Bond 21-25 questions: Assessing the Craig era edition

Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace

The Daniel Craig era of the James Bond films is drawing to a close. A thoughtful reader drew my attention to an August 2020 article by the Screen Rant site assessing Craig’s tenure.

Still, until No Time to Die comes out, there’s only so far you can go. Or is that correct? Naturally, the blog has questions.

Was the Craig era really that different? Absolutely.

Ian Fleming’s Bond novels referenced how his creation had relationships with married women. In the Eon film series, M lists “jealous husbands” as a possibility for hiring $1 million-a-hit-assassin Scaramanga in 1974’s The Man With the Golden Gun. But 2006’s Casino Royale was more explicit.

Anything else? The tone often was more violent, in particular a killing Bond performs early in 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

Quantum also had a more political point of view courtesy of director Marc Forster.

Did the Craig era follow earlier Bond films in any way? Yes. The Craig films, like earlier Eon Bond entries, adapted to popular trends in cinema.

In the 1970s, Bond films followed blaxploitation movies (Live And Let Die), kung fu (The Man With the Golden Gun) and science fiction (Moonraker).

In the 21st century Craig movies, the series followed Jason Bourne films (Quantum, including hiring a Bourne second unit director), Christopher Nolan Batman movies (Skyfall) and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (SPECTRE, moving to tie all of the Craig adventures together).

Anything else? Some Bond fans argue Craig is the best film James Bond. No Time to Die (apparently) is the final chapter. No doubt there will be more debate once No Time to Die can be viewed.

Bond 25 questions: The Total Film edition

One of the many No Time to Die posters

This post includes spoilers. Stop reading now if spoilers aren’t your thing.

Total Film this week published a detailed story about No Time to Die. Naturally, the blog has questions

Did Daniel Craig really say No Time to Die’s theme was “love and family”?

He did. Sounds almost like a Fast and the Furious movie, doesn’t it? In this case, Craig told Total Film that Bond’s family is Moneypenny, M and Q with Lashana Lynch’s Nomi “a distant cousin who you’re not sure about.”

One of the most hyped aspects of the movie was how Phoebe Waller-Bridge was among the screenwriters. Any additional details?

Of course. “Phoebe came on, and she injected some brilliance into the situation, and a tone I was really after,” Craig told Total Film.

“What we wanted to do was… not ridicule (Bond). It’s sharing in the fun with the audience,” Craig told the magazine. “But you’ve got to be respectful of what it is.” 

According to Total Film, Waller-Bridge “punched up Ana de Armas’ character Paloma – a fresh-faced CIA field agent who Bond crosses paths with in Cuba – and brought a myth-pricking irreverence to the story.”

What about agent Nomi and her relationship with Bond?

“Bond is going to be Bond no matter what happens,” Lashana Lynch told Total Film. “But it’s about how people react to him. That’s the difference between the earlier films. In this film we are vocal. We are opinionated. We know how to stop [Bond] in his tracks, and to teach him something.”

What about the sets?

“We have really gone out of our way to make some really gorgeous big sets,” says production designer Mark Tildesley. The designer originally was recruited to the film by Danny Boyle, the project’s first director who departed over “creative differences.”

What about Rami Malek’s Safin?

“Safin is pulling all the strings,” Eon boss Barbara Broccoli told Total Film about the character. “He’s controlling all of those megalomaniacs out there. He’s created them.”

What does that mean?

I suppose that in Quantum of Solace that Quantum was BIG. In SPECTRE, SPECTRE was BIGGER. Perhaps Safin is EVEN BIGGER!