Tag Archives: film

How Casino Royale’s Ending Turns Bond Into Bond

A commenter on Reddit:

“For years after Casino Royale came out, the most common gripe about the movie was the last 20 minutes and how much it dragged compared to the rest of the film.

“The whole point of the film is the last 20 minutes. Everything that precedes that in Casino Royale is just Bond on the clock:

  • International terrorists.
  • Guy who’s financing them.
  • Find a way to stop him from making a ridiculous amount of money off a short-sell.
  • Follow him to wherever he’s going next.
  • Have a run-in with some very unhappy bad guys armed with a machete.
  • Win the poker game.
  • Get rescued (huh?) when the Evil Banker kidnaps you and Vesper.
  • Keep M happy despite a few fuck-ups along the way.

“If the movie ends there, it’s a fine but unremarkable action movie. … The whole point of Casino Royale is to get Bond to the last 20 minutes and then shatter him. So now Vesper’s in the picture and Bond starts to have those first niggling thoughts about what his life might have been like outside government service. … It’s not too late for him to leave MI:6 and do something else if she’ll have him. The last gasp of the old Bond is in the torture scene. Remove Vesper from it entirely and Bond’s modus operandi is fairly straightforward: Torture me, don’t torture me, kill me, don’t kill me … you’re not getting the money either way so fuck you, who cares. Up yours, frogface. The only point at which he evinces actual concern over the proceedings is when he hears Vesper begin to scream. Now he has a reason to care about the outcome, but he passes into unconsciousness without knowing that Vesper’s already cut the deal that saves his life.

“And that’s why Vesper has to die. Past the torture scene, there’s no way to salvage the relationship between them (even though they’re not even in a relationship at that point anyway). She’s handed over the money, extracted a promise to keep Bond alive, and sold out her country for the benefit of a man she believes is going to die if she doesn’t. Fleming knew what he was on about. “Vesper Lynd” is an intentional and close relative to “West Berlin,” the unhappy city with such divided loyalties during the Cold War and no way to fully resolve that division.

“If she lives, the relationship is over, because Bond will never fully trust her again. The small moment after M calls wanting to know what the hell happened to the money is instructive; instantaneous rage, how-dare-she, I-got-played. Alternate-universe Casino Royale is where he rescues her from drowning but writes off the entire experience as “Bitches, man!” He asks himself what the hell he was expecting and go back to doing what he’s always done (albeit in a fouler mood than before). He learns nothing, doesn’t change, and there’s basically no character development of any kind in the film.

If she dies … well, that was the ending we saw.

Casino Royale is the story of where James Bond begins as a character, but he’s clearly been knocking around the business for a while before we enter the narrative. So Bond doesn’t start with the job; Bond starts when the love of his life shatters him for a completely understandable and even somewhat honorable reason and then dies for it. That is the origin story of the empty suit and the dead eyes and the reliance on alcohol just to get through the day. The nihilism and descent into sociopathy comes from his realization of just how trapped Vesper was, and how she felt the only way to expunge the guilt and shame of what she’d done was to take it to the grave with her.

“And then in Quantum of Solace he finds out that she died for nothing.”

Full discussionĀ https://np.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/3qenef/daniel_craigs_james_bond_has_drunk_the_most/cwet3si?context=5

George Lucas’s Bitter Legacy

From a discussion about the quality of the Star Wars prequels:

“Here’s the thing. George Lucas has been simmering with anger for most of his career. His wife was one of the most talented story editors in the business. Bar none. She made concrete changes to the story that really saved the first movie, and had a significant impact on the entire franchise.

Credentials? She worked on Taxi Driver. She worked on two other Scorsese films. She helped Lucas with THX 1138 and American Graffiti and all three Star Wars films, and even pitched in a bit on Raiders. Of the six Oscars Star Wars won, one was hers for editing Lucas’ mess.

But she left George for another man, and somehow he got Hollywood in the divorce. She flips property now.

George Lucas didn’t even direct anything between A New Hope and the prequels. (My theory is there was a divorce settlement that ended around 1996 or so.) In between, his entire career has been milking Star Wars and Indy, both gifts to him from his wife.

So the prequels (and the changes he made to the original) were supposed to prove that he was the genius. To undo some of the influences that Marcia Lucas had on his films and show the fans “the movie I wanted it to be” . In his mind, he had to show that Star Wars belonged to him, and him alone. But the fans hated it. They hated the changes. They hated the Prequels.

Lucas was so salty that he retired and blamed the fans for it. He flat out said there’d never be another film, because he had no ideas. He claims that he always wanted to make documentaries anyway.

Then along comes an even better solution. Disney comes up with just stupid money for the entire fucking thing, so much he can’t pass that up. It’s perfect, sell it all… lock, stock, and barrel, and then give away all the money. Forget passing Star Wars down to his children.

For almost 20 years, this has been his life. And when he finally did “choose to run”, he just ended up proving to the world what he’d known in his heart all along. He was a better filmmaker when he was working with the woman who ripped that heart out.

No. It’s easier to burn it down and salt the earth. To disavow any interest (personal or vested) in the franchise and pretend like the entire thing was a lark he never cared about.

via jayman419 comments on Nicholas Cage Praises Hayden Christenson’s Acting In The Star Wars Prequels.

Image of George and Maria Lucas from The Secret History of Star Wars and Marcia Lucas.

A Glorious ‘Benjamin Button’ Takedown

A thorough skewering:

“Written by Eric Roth, writer of Forrest Gump, the thing read as though a studio executive had come to Roth with the conceit – a man ages backwards – and the assignment to turn that conceit into Forrest Gump 2. Mission sort of accomplished. Consider:

  • a southern boy born into a body afflicted with a crippling ailment. Forrest Gump is unable to walk without the use of leg braces. Benjamin Button is born arthritic and dying of old age.
  • both boys gain the ability to walk properly through seemingly miraculous circumstances.
  • both boys fall in love at a young age with the girl who will be their Fermina Daza, loves lifelong and unrequited until one brief moment in young adulthood when the timing is just right. Their paths, of course, again diverge soon after, only to reconnect years later in a situation involving a child.
  • both boys are raised by a parent or parental figures who repeat a single piece of sage wisdom that the boy himself grows up to impart. In Forrest Gump, Forrest’s mother teaches him that “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Benjamin Button, in an unsubtle attempt at creating another catchphrase, has both Queenie and Tizzy, Benjamin’s step-parents, tell him that “You never know what’s comin’ for you.” Both Forrest and Benjamin go on to repeat this motto to others in their lives.
  • both boys grow into dim bulbs of men, “pure of heart” but emotionally naive and so sympathetically vulnerable to the cruelties of the world.
  • both become enlisted in the military, and enter the service of an eccentric commanding officer known primarily by his title and first name. Lieutenant Dan, Captain Mike.
  • both serve alongside ostensibly eccentric fellow officers, introduced by way of a scene that was itself, in Forrest Gump, a takeoff on the original, unironic, scene in Apocalypse Now.

For instance, Forrest Gump is a bit more proactive than Benjamin Button, who passively moves through life without making an active decision until near the end, when he consciously does one of the most despicable things a man can do. He abandons his family. The film, of course, intends for us to continue feeling empathy for Benjamin beyond that point, and so has one of the characters wounded by Benjamin’s decision tell him he was right to do what he did, but his decision never feels right, morally or narratively. The script needs (or, rather, wants) this thing to happen, and so it happens, despite its complete incongruity with what we know of Benjamin up to that point.
One would think the near total passivity of the title character would have been a flaw evident at the screenplay stage (for the record, it was) but rarely have script problems slowed the production of a film once an A-list director has his momentum behind it, pushing it inevitably toward the screen whether ready or not.

And while not the worst film I’ve seen, it remains so thoroughly mediocre, so poorly written and so poorly made, that its arrogance only leaves that much more bitter a taste in my mouth. As a rule, one hopes to judge a film on its merits alone, and not by any hype – any buzz – that might surround it. But the buzz about “the best screenplay I’ve ever read,” the hype and reviews that use words like “epic” and “masterpiece” compel me to take the thing down a notch. It is not a masterpiece. There are, in fact, few films in recent memory that I have detested more.”

Full length epic rage http://www.reddit.com/r/movies/comments/1vd0of/inspired_by_rbooks_what_is_a_movie_you_absolutely/cer6yn2

How ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou’ Changed Filmmaking

A little film history:

“Basically, they were Photoshopping every frame of the movie. That had never been done. Until O Brother. Of course, at that time, editing your movie on the computer wasn’t the absolute-given it is today. Hell, these days, major-ass movies are shot, edited, processed, and projected without ever involving film at all, and for the ones that don’t, DI is standard operating procedure.

Perhaps if it weren’t for the gorgeous color work in O Brother, the movie industry would have held on to the old chemical processes a little bit longer. As it happened, the first major use of DI on a feature was glorious, and nearly everyone was sold on the idea immediately. Virtually the next day, Peter Jackson was extolling the virtues of a DI for his film The Fellowship of the Ring, which was where things started getting really crazy.

“And now, with effectively no exceptions, you see nothing but movies – and TV shows, and everything else – that went through the same process O Brother did fifteen years ago.

Pretty cool, huh?”

Full thread http://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/1wn9z1/o_brother_where_art_thou_grammy_performance_2002/cf401jh