Mendes has a new movie project and it’s not Bond 25

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes

Apparently this time he meant it.

Sam Mendes, director of Skyfall and SPECTRE, told the BBC last year that he was “probably” done directing Bond films. Of course, after 2012’s Skyfall, he had said the thought of directing another 007 adventure made him “physically ill.” Mendes apparently took some Alka Seltzer and directed SPECTRE (plus got a big raise). So, naturally, there was some skepticism about his 2015 comments.

However, the Deadline: Hollywood website reported (and other outlets confirmed) Mendes has lined up another directing gig, a movie based on an upcoming book by author Gay Talese.

EXCLUSIVE: Sam Mendes and DreamWorks have captured screen rights to the Gay Talese article The Voyeur’s Motel that got the town all hot and bothered when the April 11th The New Yorker article hit. Mendes will direct and produce with Steven Spielberg a film based on the article and a book that Talese has written. The book, which bears the same title, will be published July 12th by Grove Press. Word is the deal was at or close to $1 million.

The story doesn’t specify when filming might start, much less when the film would arrive in theaters. But the news would seem to take Mendes out of the conversation for Bond 25.

The next 007 film has no release date because, for now, there’s no studio to release it because Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is still seeking a studio partner after Sony’s most recent contract expired.

On the other hand, if Bond 25 gets pushed back to 2019 or 2020, Mendes could be available to direct it.

The 007 film dilemma in 3 minutes

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

As the James Bond film franchise decides what to do next, it faces a bit of a dilemma:

Should it continue to seek more critical respect (Casino Royale and Skyfall) or should it embrace its roots, the way SPECTRE, the most recent 007 film, did?

The last two Bond films were directed by an auteur, Sam Mendes.

In 2012, Eon Productions co-boss Barbara Broccoli told ComingSoon.Net that the franchise didn’t hire journeymen directors: “(W)e’ve never been one to hire directors for hire. We always wanted someone who was a great director in their own right and a storyteller.”

Yet, in the first four movies of the series — which generated some of the most memorable scenes for the franchise — were directed by journeymen Terence Young and Guy Hamilton. Young, in particular, dealt with cost and schedule overruns on Dr. No and From Russia With Love.

Young even had part of his Dr. No fee impounded until costs were recouped at the box office because of the overruns. Bond was a much more modest undertaking in those days.

2012 also saw something that summarizes the divide between respect and tradition.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts wanted to celebrate the 50th anniversayr of the Bond films. So Tom Jones appeared to perform the title song to Thunderball, the fourth 007 film.

The audiences was full of artistes. Yet they seemed to be having as good a time as audiences did in 1965 when Thunderball first came out.

On some occasions, respect and tradition can coincide. Something to keep in mind as Bond 25 undergoes its journey in development. Here’s Sir Tom in 2012:

SPECTRE gets 2 awards from Empire magazine

Empire, the U.K. film magazine gave SPECTRE two awards on Sunday.

The 24th James Bond film received awards for Best Thriller and Best British film. Here’s how Empire announced the news on Twitter.

Here’s a reaction:

And another, this one from Chris Corbould, the special effects wizard.

Daniel Kleinman discusses SPECTRE main titles

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE's main titles

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE’s main titles

The Art of the Title website HAS AN INTERVIEW with Daniel Kleinman, who designed the titles of SPECTRE, the 24th James Bond film, as well as every 007 film since 1995 with the exception of 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

A few highlights:

–Director Sam Mendes was more involved in the titles process than other 007 film directors.

“(S)ome of them are just so busy and aren’t that interested in getting involved in the main title — they leave me to it. And that’s fine by me,” Kleinman said. “But Sam is different. Sam’s a bit more hands-on. He likes getting involved. He’s got his finger in every single bit of it, you know?”

–How he incorporated octopus images (always part of SPECTRE logos, going back to From Russia With Love): “I mean, that’s fairly obvious because the logo of SPECTRE is the little octopus, but that was the key image, the key thing that made me feel that I wanted to have ideas based around it.”

(snip)

“I started thinking about making the octopus more metaphorical rather than literal…So I did some drawings of couples embracing with octopus tentacles coming up behind them or wrapping around them and Sam really liked that.”

–Why he incorporated Daniel Craig into the SPECTRE titles: “(T)he thing with Daniel Craig is that he’s very, very idiosyncratic. The way he moves, the way he looks, the intensity of his presence — it’s very difficult to emulate.”

To view the entire article, CLICK HERE. There are a lot more details, including photographs taken during production of the titles.

Burt Reynolds at 80: the (could-have-been) Bond

Burt Reynolds and the cast of Hooper in the film's final scene

Burt Reynolds at the end of Hooper (1978)

Feb. 11 was the 80th birthday of Burt Reynolds. For a time, in the very early 1970s, some (such as director Guy Hamilton) thought he could have been a good James Bond.

That wasn’t meant to be, but the actor’s milestone birthday is worthy of a pause for reflection.

Reynolds was a better actor than a lot of his critics gave him credit for. At the same time, for a long time, Reynolds was quoted as acknowledging that he accepted some roles because it would be fun, rather than stretching his acting chops.

Regardless, Reynolds worked his way up. For a time in the early 1960s, he was a supporting player on Gunsmoke as Quint Asper, a half-Indian blacksmith in Dodge City. Reynolds also had a memorable guest appearance on The Twilight Zone, where he played a pompous actor, doing a spot-on impersonation of Marlon Brando.

Reynolds later became the lead actor in police dramas such as Hawk and Dan August.

The latter, which aired during the 1970-71 season on ABC, was a turning point. Not because it was successful, but because Reynolds took a copy of the show’s “blooper reel” with him on talk shows. (See the book Quinn Martin, Producer for more details.) For the first time, audiences could see what his colleagues already knew — Reynolds had a sense of humor.

Reynolds could be serious when he wanted to, such as the 1971 movie Deliverance. But, for some (such as the Spy Commander), one of his best performances — where drama and comedy were required — was 1978’s Hooper.

In that Hal Needham-directed film, Reynolds played the lead stunt man on a James Bond-like movie being directed by an “A” list movie director (Robert Klein). The latter character was based on Peter Bogdanovich, who directed 1976’s Nickelodeon, a film where Reynolds worked as an actor and Needham as stunt coordinator.

In 1978, it was inconceivable that an “A” list director would ever do a Bond movie. So, in some ways, Hooper was a sort-of preview of the Sam Mendes-directed 007 films of the 21st century.

Anyway, here’s a hearty happy birthday for Burt Reynolds.

Caveat Emptor: Tabloid writes of new effort to keep Craig

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Another day, another British tabloid report of 007’s film future. This time, THE SUN is reporting Daniel Craig will be offered the chance to film Bond 25 and Bond 26 at the same time.

The tabloid quotes “a film insider” as saying Craig’s concerns with continuing as Bond is “the amount of time it takes to shoot as he’s away from his family. They hope this way the filming will be shorter.”

Also, according to the story, Bond 25 would end with a cliffhanger.

Here’s why the blog is applying the Caveat Emptor label.

–Originally Bond 24 (later titled SPECTRE) and Bond 25 were supposed to be a two-picture story. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announced in November 2012 that John Logan had been hired to write both. However, before that announcement, CRAIG WAS QUOTED IN OCTOBER 2012 as saying, ““It’s impossible to do a two parter…We can only do them one at a time, they take six months to shoot.”

The two part plan for Bond 24 and Bond 25 was later jettisoned to entice Skyfall director Sam Mendes to return.

Anyway, as it relates to The Sun’s story, if Craig didn’t like the idea of filming a two parter before, why would it appeal to him this time? SPECTRE was a seven-month shoot. Marvel Studios plans a nine-month shoot for a two-part avengers movie coming out in 2018 and 2019.

A Bond movie relies on its leading actor more than an ensemble project like the Avengers. While nine months (or 10, or whatever) would be a shorter time for *two* movies, it also means doing twice the action sequences, etc. Craig suffered a knee injury during SPECTRE’s filming.

–The Sun, over the past two movies, has had some 007 scoops, but not major ones. For example, IN 2011, The Sun said Craig’s Bond would have a beard in Skyfall. It was more like a lot of stubble, but OK, we’ll give them that one. But the major scoops proven to be true for that film and SPECTRE were reported elsewhere.

The king of British tabloid reporters for Bond scoops used to be Baz Bamigboye, but he hasn’t been on the 007 beat for over a year.

REVIEW: a look at SPECTRE’s soundtrack

SPECTRE promotional art

SPECTRE promotional art

By Nicolás Suszczyk, Guest Writer
Thomas Newman became the third composer to do more than one Bond album after John Barry (11 007 scores and David Arnold (five). It happened when Sam Mendes returned for the 007 director chair for SPECTRE, after the success of Skyfall.

With the son of the legendary Alfred Newman being one of Mendes’ favorite musicians, it was almost predictable that Newman would be coming back as well.

By the beginning of October, two tracks from SPECTRE were released through the British radio, disappointing many people as they sounded too similar to Skyfall.

Of course, both Barry and particularly Arnold repeated some of their previous films cues into the Bond film in hand, yet the SPECTRE soundtrack seemed almost a remix of the Skyfall score.

However, when watching the movie, the soundtrack effect grows.

The gunbarrel –back at the beginning for the first time since 2002’s Die Another Day – has a sound reminiscent to Tomorrow Never Dies and The World is not Enough, with the last bars of the James Bond Theme as the blood drips down. It was, unfortunately, discarded from the commercial album, which starts with a track titled “Los Muertos Vivos Están” (The Dead Are Alive).

Track 1 is a pretty cool rendition of the James Bond Theme accompanied by the drums of a Mexican band known as Tambuco.

Something very important to say is that Newman, this time, seems more confident when using the Bond Theme, using it prominently and in full, unlike his previous job where he seemed a bit afraid to repeat his predecessor’s expertise in handling the piece attributed to Monty Norman.

Thomas Newman

Thomas Newman

More effective uses of the James Bond Theme are heard during the last seconds of “Detonation” (track 23) and “Westminster Bridge” (track 24, very similar to Skyfall’s “The Moors”). An unreleased Bond fanfare is heard at the end of the helicopter fight during the pre-credits sequence, with a piano orchestration leading us to Smith’s theme.

As Vauxhall Bridge (track 2) reminds us to “New Digs” from Skyfall (funnily enough, Bond points out the CNS building as “C’s new digs” in the scene), the third track is almost a cut and paste version of “Brave New World,” also from Skyfall. Yet, Newman manages to change the epic Hans Zimmer-esque sound for a lyrical chorus to enhance Bond’s arrival to Rome aka “The Eternal City,” which is the title given to the track.

The use of the chorus, also present in “Backfire” (track 6) and the end titles (track 26) were perhaps the best thing Newman did and one of the strongest points of the score.

“Donna Lucia” (track 4), used for 007’s seduction of Monica Bellucci’s character, reminds us a bit to Die Another Day, particularly the scene where Pierce Brosnan’s Bond is visited by Peaceful Fountains of Desire.

Romantic pieces are Newman’s strong point as he proves in “Madeleine” (track 9) and “Secret Room” (track 13). The piano notes and the strings make us fall in love with the leading lady and feel some empathy for the death of her father, as she observes her childhood photos on Mr. White’s hidden room in an African hotel. A choral version of Madeline’s theme is reprised during the end credits.

The North African sounds combined with Hoyte Van Hoytema’s shots of the train through the desert are perhaps one of the best audiovisual moments in the whole franchise.

Track 15 is the only time when we hear a rendition of Sam Smith’s theme song, “Writing’s on the Wall”. Newman made his own instrumental version (the first minute sounds very similar to the original) for Bond’s intimate moment with Madeleine Swann on the train.

As Bond escapes a horrid torture by Oberhauser, a piece titled “Tempus Fugit” (track 19) is heard for the second time. Closely similar to another track from Skyfall titled The Bloody Shot, this track first appears as Bond fights Sciarra inside an helicopter atop Mexico City, at the very beginning of the film.

Perhaps the least interesting piece is the atonal “Snow Plane” (track 11), where it seems Newman tried to imitate Bill Conti’s For Your Eyes Only disco score. This scene – where 007 chases Hinx and his goons with a plane across the snowy Austria — needed a more John Barry or David Arnold like sound, a closer feeling to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, way more darker.

Apart from that, it was a nice nod of Newman to add a source piece in the score. Track 18, “Day of the Dead”, features Tambuco and has the actual chorus from the festive mourners, cheering up for the “resurrection” of their deceased ones.

Before the end titles, the composer closes with “Out of Bullets” (track 25), which is a very beautiful version of the romantic piano cue from “Secret Room” and “Madeleine”, combined with a lush sound reminiscent to David Arnold’s romantic sounds from his Tomorrow Never Dies and Die Another Day scores.

In conclusion, the SPECTRE score is indeed special and fits with the conclusion of the story opened in Casino Royale, almost ten years ago. A needed criticism has to be made to the way Newman made that cut-and-paste to the Skyfall score (he should have used the cues in a more subtle way), but it indeed achieves the objective of transporting us to the magic atmosphere of the film’s locations –from the lyrical Rome to the exotic Tangier– in a very pretty way.

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