Sunday, December 03, 2006

Miscellaneous: Any Bonds Today?

It takes more than box office for a movie to become a genuine phenomenon. I learned Casino Royale reached that stage from my regular perch in Seattle’s finest bar. Not because three people marched in and ordered Vesper cocktails, but because I discovered such people have been coming in since the movie opened. Seattle’s best barmen were ready with the drink’s history, while I pitched in by clearing up some confusion regarding the earlier, allegedly comic version of Casino Royale. I do what I can to make myself useful.

The 007 fervor won’t die down. Writers Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Lee Goldberg are just the latest to have listed their Bond favorites; Lee’s gone so far as to rank the title songs.

I’m not prepared to do likewise. Beyond a handful of generalizations, rating the Bond movies is such fine work that it requires the use of an electron microscope. Herewith, however, are those generalizations.

Connery is tops. (I am prepared, on the strength of Casino Royale alone, to grant Daniel Craig the #2 slot.) From Russia With Love is a notch better than Goldfinger. The thing everybody loves about You Only Live Twice – the volcano hideout – is the reason I don’t care for the movie. Diamonds Are Forever is the kinkiest Bond film. I really should watch it again.

Yes, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a damned good movie.

The Spy Who Loved Me is Roger Moore’s best. The nuclear sabotage at the circus plot in Octopussy may be my favorite 007 storyline (Frederick Forsyth told a similar yarn in The Fourth Protocol, which became a movie starring ... Pierce Brosnan), but I can never remember how it ties in with the movie’s actual villain Louis Jourdan. A View To A Kill has the dumbest title and the highest inverse theme song/movie quality ratio.

Timothy Dalton makes a very underrated 007, and The Living Daylights is perhaps the most underrated Bond film. But I don’t like his second outing, Licence to Kill, at all.

Brosnan was a fine Bond, but he’s even better when he riffs on the character in other movies like The Tailor of Panama and The Matador.

As for the theme songs, I’m with Lee. There are the obvious winners (including k.d. lang’s “Surrender” from Tomorrow Never Dies), and then there’s the rest. I’d rather talk up the parody Bond songs. The runner-up is Weird Al Yankovic’s theme from Spy Hard, complete with mock title sequence.

But the champ is Robbie Williams’ “Man For All Seasons” from Johnny English. “So charismatic/With an automatic/Never prematurely shooting his load.” Noel Coward couldn’t top that.

Miscellaneous: Link

All the year-end Oscar hopefuls in the pipeline, and what movie am I most excited about? Hot Fuzz, the latest from the Shaun of the Dead team. It even has Timothy Dalton in it. Here’s the trailer.