Logan Lucky, despite good reviews, flops

Logan Lucky poster

Logan Lucky, the heist movie with Daniel Craig in a key role, flopped its opening weekend in the U.S. despite favorable reviews.

The Steven Soderbergh-directed film generated $8 million at more than 3,000 screens, according to Exhibitors Relations, which compiles box office data.

The No. 1 movie for the weekend was The Hitman’s Bodyguard at an estimated $21.6 million, Exhibitors Relation said in a separate Twitter post.

Logan Lucky is an ensemble movie, with Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and Katie Holmes among the cast. Craig got an in-joke billing, “Introducing Daniel Craig as Joe Bang.”

The movie got a 93 percent “fresh” rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website that compiles reviews. Craig was among those praised by critics.

For example, Anthony Lane of The New Yorker described Craig as being “on a hollering vacation from his stern-visaged duties as James Bond, that his mood exalts the whole enterprise.”

Another critic, Adam Graham of The Detroit News, wrote that Craig was the main asset of the film.

“Craig is usually so stoic on screen — has his James Bond ever smiled? — that you forget that Craig has any sort of charisma behind his perma-scowl, but here he’s having so much fun that he casually makes off with the movie,” Graham wrote.

Logan Lucky, of course, was the movie Craig was promoting last week when he announced he’d play 007 again in Bond 25. On Aug. 15, he told radio stations no decisions had been made but then said he was returning as Bond on CBS’s The Late Show.

Meanwhile, Logan Lucky will probably do OK financially. Its budget was only a reported $30 million and “was financed via foreign advances and presales,” according to Scott Mendelson of Forbes.com,

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Favorite of 007 scribes: Roger Moore safari suits

Roger Moore in Moonraker

Being a movie critic or writer about movies involves making observations and expressing opinions in the most witty way you can.

When it comes to James Bond films starring Roger Moore, the term safari suit it too tempting for some scribes to pass up.

Here are a few examples that have come up over the years.

STUART HERITAGE, THE GUARDIAN, JULY 5, 2010: “James Bond actually died long ago, when Roger Moore strapped himself into his first male girdle and started wheezing around in a safari suit.”

ANTHONY LANE, THE NEW YORKER, NOV. 16, 2015: “By custom, (James Bond films) have been stacked with beautiful people, and tricked out with beautiful objects, but the outcome was often unlovely to behold, with a gaucheness that ran far deeper than Roger Moore’s safari suit.”

MICHAEL HANN, THE GUARDIAN, OCT. 3, 2012: “Instead, (The Man With the Golden Gun’s) setting is just a background, as if the film were just a Duran Duran video with extra guns and safari suits.”

SIMON REYNOLDS, DIGITAL SPY, MAY 28, 2017: “When Roger Moore found out he was not only older than his Bond Girl co-star Tanya Roberts but older than her mother too, he knew it was time to hang up the safari suit.”

HELEN O’HARA, THE TELEGRAPH, AUG. 19, 2015: “Talk tailoring in the movies, and most will think immediately of James Bond, the super-spy with impeccable taste in practically everything. From Roger Moore’s safari-wear to Daniel Craig’s shawl-collar cardigan and chukka boots (a look modelled on Steve McQueen), he’s rarely to be found underdressed.”

JONATHAN SOTHCOTT, GQ.COM, MAY 20, 2014: “More recently, the hardcore Bond fans who were so vocal in their condemnation of Roger Moore’s playboy Bond have softened in their views, perhaps because Moore has become a bona fide national treasure, or perhaps because some of his Bond films are actually amongst the best in the series once the blinkers come off. Even his safari suits are beginning to become style touchpoints.”

For more information, check out The Suits of James Bond website’s 2015 infographic about about the actor’s “Infamous Safari Jackets and Shirts.”

The real-life Operation Goldfinger

A natural inspiration for the name of a U.S. secret operation.

There’s a new book out about the relationship between the United States and gold. It includes a passage out a real-life secret operation dubbed, naturally, Operation Goldfinger.

The book is One Nation Under Gold: How One Precious Metal Has Dominated the American Imagination for Four Centuries by James Ledbetter.

An excerpt from the book appeared in this month in The New Yorker magazine. That excerpt specially explores Operation Goldfinger, a 1960s U.S. effort to increase the gold supply.

Background: By the mid-1960s, the gold standard for the global economy was under severe strain. The U.S. government decided it needed more of the precious metal and needed to look in unlikely places.

Naturally, the name of the third James Bond film, released in 1964, was an inspiration for a project name.

Here’s an excerpt.

 

The government would end up looking for gold in the oddest places: seawater, meteorites, plants, even deer antlers. In an era during which people wanted badly to believe in the peaceful use of subatomic energy, plans were drawn up to use nuclear explosives to extract gold from deep inside the Earth, and even to use particle accelerators to try to change base metals into gold.

(snip)
Operation Goldfinger took the form of hundreds of research projects designed to find gold in places likely and very unlikely. The Roberts Mountains in north central Nevada had long seemed like a promising source of gold, and samples from dozens of areas were taken to search for surface minerals (such as limestone) known to be associated with gold deposits. Other studies were long shots. For decades, various scientists had found traces of gold in coal, and so the U.S. Geological Survey sifted through coal in dozens of locations in Appalachia and the Midwest. The government even took samples from coal ash and “coal-washing waste products received from various industrial plants.” These did not yield gold bonanzas.

There’s quite a bit more to the story. To read the full New Yorker excerpt, CLICK HERE. Also, Ledbetter was interviewed on the June 26 edition of Fresh Air, an NPR radio show. The interview runs about 37:19. Ledbetter begins discussing Operation Goldfinger around the 23:40 mark.

The U.S. went off the gold standard in 1971.

More from Daniel Craig’s New Yorker appearance

Daniel Craig and Christoph Waltz at December 2014 media event.

Daniel Craig and Christoph Waltz at December 2014 media event.

Oct. 12: Updated to include a quote from another website in the eighth paragraph from the James Bond Radio website.

After reviewing more accounts of Daniel Craig’s Oct. 7 appearance at The New Yorker Festival, here are additional points that may be of interest.

Did the actor read Ian Fleming 007 stories?

Lee Pfeiffer of Cinema Retro had A DETAILED ACCOUNT  of what Craig said during his 90-minute interview with The New Yorker’s Nicholas Schmidle. It included this passage:

Craig said that throughout his life he has always enjoyed seeing Bond films but had never read Ian Fleming’s novels.

This differs from comments the 48-year-old actor has said previously. In AN APRIL 29, 2012 STORY IN RETUERS, Craig said he and director Sam Mendes had read the Fleming stories before Skyfall was filmed.

“We were in continued conversation, once Sam agreed to do it,” said Craig. “We weren’t supposed to talk to each other because MGM hadn’t done the deal.

“But we couldn’t shut up. It was a chance for us to reread Ian Fleming, and we started emailing each other, ‘What about this and what about this?’, and that’s how it snowballed.” (emphasis added)

However, THIS JAMES BOND RADIO POST said, “Wilfred (Picorelli, who reported on the event for the website) reports that Daniel said that he had read all the novels and watched all the films.”

OK, let’s say Craig first talked about not reading the novels before being cast, then read them afterward. But then why DID HE SAY IN 2011 that the “name of a Bond film is not about anything. Live And Let Die? Octopussy? What does it mean?”

They’re pretty much explained in the books and sometimes the movies use the titles for characters, such as in Octopussy. If you had read all of the Fleming stories and seen all of the movies, you’d know what (in the short story) or who (in the movie) Octopussy was.

Bond’s attitude toward women: According to the Cinema Retro story, Craig commented about Bond’s attitude toward women.

Asked about long-time criticisms that the character of James Bond was sexist, Craig commented on a clip from “Spectre” in which Bond seduces a character played by Monica Bellucci and pointed out that charges of sexism against Bond were misguided because such scenes are meant to be viewed with a degree of camp.

In 2015, in an interview with a website called The Red Bulletin, Craig described Bond’s attitude toward women this way:

But let’s not forget that he’s actually a misogynist. A lot of women are drawn to him chiefly because he embodies
a certain kind of danger and never sticks around for too long.

Misogynist is defined as “a person who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against women.”

Craig confirmed his Star Wars: The Force Awakens cameo: “Craig verified internet rumors that he was indeed in the latest “Star Wars” movie, playing an anonymous Storm Trooper,” according to Cinema Retro.

Tweets by others in attendance also noted Craig’s comments.

To read the entire Cinema Retro account, CLICK HERE.

The real question about Bond 25

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

UPDATE (9:15 a.m.): Updated with another quote and a link to another video in sixth paragraph below.

Daniel Craig’s public appearance at the New Yorker Festival has come and gone without definitive answers about Bond 25 and his future as 007. But it raised a new, and probably more important, question.

How tired is the 007 film franchise? Is it a momentary slump? Or is a deeper exhaustion?

The James Bond Radio website HAD A POST that INCLUDED A SHORT VIDEO of the Craig appearance. It includes this passage:

“There’s no conversation going on because genuinely everybody’s just a bit tired,” Craig, 48, said. “The producers are just…Barbara (Broccoli) is making a movie. I’m doing Othello, Barbara’s producing that.”

The Broccoli movie is the drama Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, now in post-production. Othello is an off-Broadway production, which has a short run starting next month. When that play is over, Craig will spend much of his 2017 working on Purity, a limited, 20-episode series for Showtime.

One shouldn’t make too much about a couple of comments. Also during the evening IN A VIDEO IN ANOTHER TWEET, Craig also said of playing Bond, “Were I to stop doing it, I’d miss it terribly.”

Still, the way Craig said “just a bit tired” made it sound like he still hasn’t recovered fully from SPECTRE, which wrapped production in mid-2015.

Meanwhile the co-bosses of Eon Productions, who don’t do a lot of interviews, have reason to be tired as well.

Both Broccoli, 56, and her half-brother Michael G. Wilson, 74, have been involved with the series for decades. Both have been at it longer than Eon co-founder Albert R. Broccoli, who spent the last 35 years of his life in Bondage.

If this is a short-term thing, it’s not much of an issue. But if it’s a deeper exhaustion, there are larger concerns than whether Daniel Craig does another James Bond film or not. If Craig comes back all excited to go, it doesn’t mean much unless the rest of the creative team is equally enthusiastic.

Only Broccoli and Wilson can answer the question. All we know is everybody’s a bit tired almost a year after the most recent 007 film was released.

 

Craig tells New Yorker no decision made on Bond 25

Daniel Craig photo opposing Brexit

Daniel Craig photo opposing Brexit earlier this year.

Daniel Craig said Friday night that no decision has been made yet about Bond 25, according to audience members who attended a New Yorker Festival program featuring the actor.

The actor said during the 90-minute presentation that 007 principals, including Barbara Broccoli, the co-boss of Eon Productions, are focused on non-Bond projects.

Craig also denied being offered $150 million to do two more 007 films. He also appeared to contradict director Paul Greengrass, who said earlier this year that Bond producer Barbara Broccoli had approached him about making a Bond film.

Craig, 48, was interviewed by Nicholas Schmidle, a staff writer for the magazine. The New Yorker Festival, being held this weekend, features programs featuring figures in the arts. The Craig program was titled “Beyond Bond.” The actor has starred in four 007 films since 2006.

The Craig interview was tweeted as it unfolded, both by the magazine and some attending. On the subject of Craig’s future as Bond, this was tweeted by the Arts Commented blog.

>

Craig is appearing as Iago in an off-broadway production of Othello that runs from Nov. 22 to Jan. 18. After that, Craig is to be the star and an executive producer of Purity. a limited-run series for Showtime. Purity will consist of 20 episodes, half being telecast in 2017, the remainder in 2018.

The Radar Online website in early September said that Craig had received the $150 million offer for two more 007 movies, something that no other entertainment outlet has confirmed.

The Bond actor also had this exchange about Paul Greengrass, who has directed three Bourne movies with Matt Damon, according to a tweet by Philip Nobile Jr. of the website Movies. Birth. Death.

Greengrass said in July that Broccoli once approached him about directing a Bond film but he could never direct a Bond film.

Craig also said there aspects of the Bond character he liked, according to a New Yorker tweet.

UPDATE (2:20 a.m., Oct. 8): The James Bond Radio website had some in the audience, and HAD A POST. It included two short videos INCLUDING ONE where Craig said the following about the 007 film series: “There’s no conversation going on genuinely because everybody’s just a bit tired.”

1960s U.N.C.L.E. novel cited in New Yorker commentary

David McDaniel's The Dagger Affair

David McDaniel’s The Dagger Affair

This blog doesn’t do politics. However, a political commentary in The New Yorker does utilize spy fiction to make its case about the U.S. presidential election. Specifically, it cites The Dagger Affair, one of the 1960s Ace paperback novels based on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series.

The novel was written by David McDaniel, who came up with an origin for Thrush, the villainous organization opposed by U.N.C.L.E.

The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik, while not referencing The Dagger Affair nor McDaniel by name, uses the novel’s plot to illustrate the commentary about the election.

Here’s the key excerpt, which is the first (long) paragraph of the essay.

Somewhere in a paperback novel from the nineteen-sixties inspired, or willed into existence, by the “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” television series, the brave men of the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement find themselves actually sharing lunch with old enemies as they make a temporary alliance with the evil forces of THRUSH (the Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity—really) in order to defeat an outsider dangerous to both. They have joined forces, despite a century of enmity and countless encounters involving rogue agents and femmes fatales, because together they recognize that both sides—indeed, mankind itself—are threatened by a mad nihilist. (If a twelve-year-old’s memory serves, the nihilist, a super-scientist, has built a machine that negates energy itself.) Everything else, they agree, comes second to this threat. They make a toast, and a truce, to coöperate until the nihilist is defeated.

It should be noted that McDaniel’s novel isn’t canon. In the 1964-68 series, Thrush was just Thrush. However, many U.N.C.L.E. fans have adopted McDaniel’s version. The writer linked Thrush to Professor Moriarty, arch-foe of Sherlock Holmes. But Thrush as an acronym exists only in the Ace paperbacks, not on the show.

The main point of The New Yorker article concerns the relationship between Donald Trump and Mike Pence, the Republican nominees for president and vice president. If you want to check it out, CLICK HERE.