Amph 007 Skyfall

Discussion in 'Community' started by DarthLowBudget, Apr 19, 2010.

  1. The_Four_Dot_Elipsis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2005
    star 5
    But Bond isn't a blunt instrument.

    It's like enjoying a film where Sherlock Holmes is a doofus... which isn't Without a Clue.
  2. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    I was going to say. :p
  3. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    He absolutely is.

    In fact, let's get proof positive:

    "When i wrote the first one in 1953, I wanted bond to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom thing happened; I wanted him to be a blunt instrument..."

    Ian Fleming, April 1962 in The New Yorker.

    In your defense, you like Roger Moore/TMWTGG so you can be forgiven for forgetting Bond has character. :)
    Last edited by Ender_Sai, Nov 27, 2012
    Quixotic-Sith likes this.
  4. The_Four_Dot_Elipsis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2005
    star 5
    ...I despise TMWTGG. And I like a sum total of two Roger Moore films.

    I'm well aware that Bond has character. But the concept of him being a dull, uninteresting man to whom things happen, while fine for Casino Royale, is not what the character is now. Or has been since. He's not a guy who just goes around and kills people willy-nilly, although QoS seems to persist with this. Leaving us to wonder where the progression, beyond continually having a sook about Vesper, has come from.

    Contrast this with the measured, calculating Bond of Skyfall - something closer to what ultimately became Fleming's character.
  5. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    Wait. I got it wrong, someone else like TMWTGG. Apologies!
  6. Quixotic-Sith Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 22, 2001
    star 6
    Thank you, Ender. It's nice to know we're on the same wavelength. ;)
  7. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    I think you have to give credit to QOS' script for making Bond's reaction to Vesper's death consistent with the character's psychological profile. That is; after the systematic betrayal in Casino Royale (Vesper, and Mathis - who was later cleared (And in my view, should never have been implicated by the writers)) Bond wants to close out this chapter as quickly as possible. We have sufficient evidence in the novels to support this behavior.

    For example, in the short story which lends it's name to the film, Fleming wrote that when the quantum of solace in a relationship drops to zero, humanity and consideration of one human for another gone and the relationship is finished. Phillip Masters, whom the Governor is telling the story of to Bond, never exacted revenge on his wife and never recovered fully from her betrayal. Contrast this with the flim's Bond; he, too, suffers from "inconsolable rage" at Vesper's betrayal and he is trying to make sense of things to recover. Clearly he figures it out by the end, in sparing Vesper's boyfriend from death.

    It also touches on a common theme in the novels which Fleming called accidie - Bond is basically unable to derive much joy from life following CR. He goes from being head over heels in love, to losing that dream, to being unable to function following the death of the dream.

    (Therefore, criticising the film for being a sequel to CR only shows that the critic is an unsophisticated boor interested purely in action and not in character and plot; it is precisely because it follows CR that QOS is such a good character piece).

    Bond, in failing to manage and deal with his emotions, slips into revenge mode but he doesn't recognise this until he leave Camille and she points out, rightly, that Bond's prison is internal.

    Bond being a blunt instrument in CR makes sense. Bond being a blunt instrument with zero empathy in QOS makes sense. Bond's humanising and recovery in QOS makes sense. Bond's maturity in Skyfall, makes sense. You cannot view the character in Skyfall in isolation to the other two films, which in themselves form a consistent character arc for Bond - he was never going to learn to be a scalpel without first being a club.
  8. The_Four_Dot_Elipsis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2005
    star 5
    My argument is that you do not need what QoS brings to the table. You can already extrapolate that from CR's conclusion, and then when James Bond with a capital J and a capital B pops up in the next film, you know that the gaps have been filled. I'm not necessarily taking issue with what QoS does in regards to the Bond character as a follow-up to CR, but more the fact that it even exists when it does not provide a conducive atmosphere for a Bond film, and it provides us information on the character that we could well have filled in ourselves.

    While it might be interesting to actually dramatise this in some way, QoS is not the way you do it at any rate. It is an appendix, a bonus feature on a CR DVD, it cannot function as its own entity and that is indeed a problem for any film. It refuses to be entertaining, despite shoving umpteen-dozen incomprehensible and tone-deaf action sequences down our throat every 5 minutes or so, it lacks any of the oddities that inhabit the universe of Fleming, it owes more to Bourne than to its own heritage, I don't care how many nods to GF and TSWLM it may or may not have.

    As for being interested purely in action and not in character and plot, I would argue that QoS' finest moments are the quiet(er) ones - the Tosca sequence is undeniably the film's high point, even the semi-silent montage shootout that Forster absolutely nails as the capper. Although I think it's inappropriate for a Bond film in some ways, I also am really fond of the Beam/Leiter/Elvis/Greene scene on the plane, but that just brings us back to the fact that Bond has absolutely nothing to do with his adversary despite brushing past him at a party - a fundamentally wrong way to unpackage a Bond film, since ultimately the villain and the Bond girl is where we get the context for every Bond characterisation.

    I have no issues with the idea of putting Bond in that place emotionally, but the execution is dysfunctional and a total mess that forgets to be a Bond film. CR is a shining example of a Bond film, despite departing radically from many of the superficial elements and even giving us a totally different characterisation, but it still has that core drive of a Bond adventure that is well populated (perhaps it too lacks the weirdness, which is why I prefer Skyfall, but still) and allows the character to be refracted through the events of the film. QoS does that a handful of times, but not enough to prevent the film from being a total chore, and then when Bond himself is no fun on top of that, you're committing a cardinal sin. See, Bond is still what I would call fun in something like LTK, the revenge aspect has manifest itself in large-scale shenanigans that isn't taking itself too seriously and remembers that it's still a work of escapism. I think LTK, despite lacking some of the more appealing cinematographic virtues of QoS (I really like Schaeffer's work, I just wish that the shots lasted more than 5 seconds) gives us a far more robust emotional journey for Bond, and you truly feel it in the end, that there is a progression and a sense of accomplishment, winking fish and all.
  9. Merlin_Ambrosius69 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2008
    star 5
    Last night I showed the wife The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). We're slowly making our way through the whole series.

    While certainly prone to the campy excesses of the era, this film is a cut above the two execrable and absurdist films which precede it, and a sight better than its immediate successor, Moonraker, which is a still-campier remake-in-space of this film.

    The Spy Who Loved Me is quintessential Bond, featuring Roger Moore at his best, deploying dry wit – “When one is Egypt one must delve deeply into its treasures.” – and morbid quips – “What a helpful fellow!” – with equal aplomb. But with Moore there’s something different here, too: his curt reaction to Agent XXX’s reminder of his doomed marriage is darkly convincing; his explanation to her regarding the death of her own lover feels fully human, rounded, vulnerable in a way that Connery’s Bond never approached, and which only Lazenby has previously revealed. Physically Moore is at his best here, too, handling many of the fight scenes in medium close-up and demonstrating his hand-to-hand combat skills with surprising quickness and dexterity. With this film, Moore finally comes into his own as 007.

    The cinema on display is technically proficient and creatively inspired, as well: the sequences in Egypt make excellent, intelligent use of locations such as ancient columns, desert dunes and the great slabs of limestone at the pyramid complex. Lighting is generally warm and luminous, but the alternating, cold-hued lights at the pyramids are used to obscure, reveal and vanish the henchman Jaws (Richard Kiel in his most indelible role) quite effectively. And while interest wanes in the second half during an impersonal shoot-out with interminable explosions and flying bodies of third-tier characters for whom we care not a whit, the production design of the vast sub-eating-ship chamber (in which this shoot-out takes place) is as impressive as any villainous lair in the 007 franchise.

    The villain's plot to destroy civilization by forcing captured British and Soviet nuclear submarines to fire missiles at two major cities is a retread of Blofeld's scheme in the 1967 film You Only Live Twice. Also directed by Lewis Gilbert, that film's insidious plot entailed the theft of two space capsules to start a war between the USSR and USA. Both films also feature a vast interior lair, and a climactic assault on a heavily fortified enemy who has taken refuge behind steel shutters.

    An underwater sequence includes Barbara Bach in one of her numerous blue-eyed close-ups, her chipmonk-like face looking perpetually pouty and dazed. Her character, Agent XXX, at first pretends to be shocked, amazed, afraid that Bond’s car is a submarine, but soon it's revealed she knew all along it was a secret spy underwater-boat-car thingy! She was just acting! Ha ha ha ha! This doesn’t quite work. Bach is a bit wooden, but unarguably beautiful, and we’re willing to allow that her character is intended to be somewhat expressionless. Her golden-toned voice – clearly dubbed so as to eke out every ounce of sweetness from her lovely throat – goes a long way towards making her character feel likeable and sympathetic. Somehow she pulls it off, and we’re genuinely affected when she promises to kill 007, out of revenge for his having killed her lover, when their joint mission is over. Only Bond going out of his way to save her life removes this self-imposed geas.

    Again, as with the rest of this gorgeously realized picture, it’s quintessential 007.
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  10. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    "What a helpful fellow" is probably my favorite Roger Moore moment. It genuinely feels like a Connery moment.

    I do take issue with XXX's turn around. For the movie to have really been perfect, it should have ended with the two of them parting, somewhat more comfortable at being allies, but with the wound of XXX's lover still between them and keeping them from a consummation. But, hey, it was the seventies! No chance!
  11. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    @The_Four_Dot_Elipsis; from CR to Skyfall, you have a thousand loose ends which needed tying up. Mr White was clearly not the head of Quantum, as he refers to the people in the organisation as if he were a member, and not as if it was his organisation. These people, through Le Chiffre and Gettler, were able to manipulate people of influence and it was natural Bond wouldn't just let the betrayal go. Nor would MI6 be thrilled that an operation was compromised by this organisation via Vesper, and implicitly by Mathis. QoS needed to happen, whether people like it or not. And if you forgive the hyperkinetic camera nods to the inferior Bourne series, it's a fantastic film.
    Mia Mesharad likes this.
  12. The_Four_Dot_Elipsis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2005
    star 5
    But that's on a sheer plot level, to which I'd argue that we could have simply gone down the path of FRWL's nod to DN and moved on from there with regards to expanding SPECTRE. There could have been reference to Vesper and Bond perhaps not have totally gotten over it (like Pembleton in Homicide never getting over Adena Watson, although you can watch a later episode and hear the reference and not necessarily need to have known what came prior.) I don't see the necessity in having it set an hour later, and effectively being chained to the prior film.

    That being said, they started shooting without a script, and both Forster and Craig had to just make stuff up on the go, so perhaps the fealty to CR is our of sheer necessity, but it's not enough to prevent the film from being a cacophonous mess. My issues run way deeper than just the editing (it's not the camerawork, which is fine). It's that the pacing is so wildly incompetent, characters aren't given enough heft (Camille is no Melina Havelock), and as I've said, it delves into the Bourne-style of delivery far more than just stylistically - the Slate fight scene being the prime example of something where Bond has no relationship with his opponent - it's no better than Hans in YOLT. Since TSWLM has been mentioned recently, we can use the Sandor example, where Bond extracts information from him at the 11th hour, and he's just had to sacrifice a woman to save himself. That is, at the very least, context for the action sequence. The Slate fight has none of that, we don't get introduced to that world - it seems like it's less than 2 minutes since we've left the set of Minority Report MI6, which is only 5 minutes after the tiresome Mitchell chase ("Hi Mitchell." "Thanks Mitchell." "I wonder why we keep specifically identifying Mitchell?"), which itself only has about 3 minutes or so and that arse-trocious White and Keys song separating it from the car chase (which I don't overly mind, because I think Forster gets away with what he's trying to do there).

    It doesn't unpackage itself in the way that a Bond film should, everything feels so damn truncated save the excellent Bregenz sequence, and I continually struggle to see how anyone could find it even remotely entertaining, especially when bookended by genuinely top-notch Bond films. I could go through a blow-by-blow account of what is wrong with the film, including the Bourne-esque questioning of Western powers, but I suspect that would be tiresome for all involved.

    I'm glad that some people can find joy in that film, I think that's one of the wonders of the Bond franchise - every film has at least one person out there who would rate it as #1 (no, seriously, I've come across people who put DAF, MR, and TND at #1 - lunatics). For me, each viewing has had the film deteriorate in my eyes.
  13. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 7
    haha this is like the huge dissertations on the characterization fo luke skywalker in the eu literature forum
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  14. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    I have to agree. This a series of movies about a guy that has sex and kill people. It's not really sophisticated, guys.
  15. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    Except, Kingsley Amis and Umberto Eco never did dissertations on Star Wars :p

    FDE, I don't disagree that QoS is the weakest of the Craig films, but I have a completely different reaction to it. The Bond/Slate fight to me signifies the accide that Ian Fleming wrote of in Bond's work, and fit with the concept of a "quantum of solace" as defined by Fleming. Bond was single minded in his quest for revenge, and not thinking straight. You see this clearly when he palms the picture of Vepser from the file; outwardly British and stoic, but inwardly not dealing with the situation well.

    M sums it up best with the line about being so blinded by inconsolable rage.

    It's interesting you compare Camille to Melina Havelock. I actually think Camille is the reason why, after the sinkhole in Bolivia, Bond is less volatile. Well, arguably, Mathis' death has this impact. Bond's killed a bunch of people so far and not cared about it (Mitchell, Slate, the Special Branch bodyguard) but he starts to realise that there's a consequence to that recklessness. Firstly, Mathis - whom Bond uses as a human shield! - who dies asking if they forgive each other, and asking Bond to forgive Vesper. Secondly, Camille confirms Bond stopped her from getting her shot at Medrano, and gets insight into Camille's trauma. Hers is greater than his and it adds perspective. Finally, he comes back to find Fields has been murdered and Bond is visibly angry about this. It's a turning point, in which Bond learns to temper his revenge and you see that two people he has ample reason to kill - Greene, and Vesper's "boyfriend" Yusef Kabila - he doesn't. Greene's offed by Quantum (two bullets in the head, remember?) and MI6 take Kabila into custody.

    We also see further development of the Bond/Felix relationship - I really hope we see more Jeffrey Wright as Felix in the future.

    Yeah I just can't see QoS as a bad Bond film. It's flawed, but it's not bad like DAD, any Moore but FYEO, or DAF.
    Mia Mesharad likes this.
  16. Merlin_Ambrosius69 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2008
    star 5
    That you personally don't see the layers of complexity that others perceive doesn't mean those layers don't exist. It means you don't see them.
  17. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    Wocky's just posting.

    Well, trolling. Same same for him. Dude likes Rush Hour.
  18. Merlin_Ambrosius69 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2008
    star 5
    I must say I've really enjoyed the exchange between Ender and Four_Dot. I have to "side" with Ender because I really enjoy QoS, but I do see the point Four_Dot is making about Bond being in mopey/downer mode, and the film not providing the degree of fun and escapism we've come to expect after 40+ years (at the time of its release) of 007 movies. It's true it's a more serious film than the others in the franchise, less concerned with entertainment than with deep character analysis and a gloomy quest for humanity in Bond's soul.

    And yet, even given that, I consistently have fun watching QoS and, quite the opposite of Four_Dot's experience, I find something new to like about it each time I see it. Ender's description of the character arc 007 endures -- groping back towards the light of rationality after the devastation left in Vesper's wake -- is compelling stuff, imbuing a sense of gravitas and emotional vulnerability to the series that I've wanted in my Bond pictures since my first viewing of OHMSS back in the 90s.

    I will further disagree with Four_Dot that the action sequences are a "cacophonous mess"; apart from the scaffolding fight, which I don't think is especially well staged or shot, the action scenes are thrilling, dynamic, whirling and whizzing just as such events would seem in real life. For me the lightning speed of the shots is an homage not to Bourne, but to that most underrated of Bond movies, OHMSS, which I will reiterate is my second favorite 007 film after CR.

    So. A hearty thanks to both you gentlemen for gettin' yo' debate on. It's been fun to pick your brain. :cool:
  19. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 7
    jeffrey wright will always be "Peoples" Hernandez for me
  20. The_Four_Dot_Elipsis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2005
    star 5
    There's this dozy play about some mopey git who wants to kill the guy who murdered his daddy. It's not really sophisticated.

    E_S, I don't necessarily disagree with you as to what QoS is trying to do in these circumstances, but I just think that the execution is so bereft of elan that the film stops being the giddy entertainment that it needs to be. While you can definitely see the kernels of what Forster, Haggis, Zeutmer, Craig, and whoever are trying to do, it comes through piecemeal. Contrast with Skyfall, where the themes and rules are established early on in the piece and then extrapolated and interwoven into every sequence, while the film still retains those key escapist components that you need when rendering the world of Bond on-screen.

    Merlin, I guess I just don't know how anyone can sit through that "dogfight" and not want to hurl the remote at the screen with impatience (I'm at the stage where my eyes glaze over after "She likes to think she is"). Still, I suppose nothing's quite as boring as TWINE's submarine finale. Small mercies. The OHMSS comparison is not quite on-point though. I think Glen's work there is refreshing, robust, has a clear visual narrative even with the under-cranked shots, and is very much a part of the cinematic era from which it springs.

    QoS, however, boasts very specifically Greengrass' second-unit guy and one of his editors was brought in to work alongside Forster's dude, Matt Chesse. You can't deny that Bourne is the influence there - they got the very same people in to do it! Problem is, the Bourne films work (not including the latest abomination) because Greengrass along with Barry Ackroyd (or Oliver Wood in Bourne's case, actually) shots in a multi-camera, faux documentary style where they are trying to seek out the action as a documentary filmmaker would. Kathryn Bigelow employed similar techniques when working with Ackroyd on The Hurt Locker if memory serves, to great effect. Marc Forster, however, is a very staid and proper filmmaker, who with the exception of Stay had a very solid and diverse career pre-QoS, but the films are all very... classically shot, you might say. The mix of these two disparate filmmaking styles (Forster appears to have undergone similar treatment at the hands of Brad Pitt on World War Z) gives you something that is neither here nor there. I like the scenes that are classic Forster, that quietly unfold and focus on character, but even in a lot of those cases the writing is so weak and witless that all I'm left looking at is some purdy pictures courtesy of Roberto Schaeffer.

    Perhaps individual Bond films can only really be judged when we look at an actors entire oeuvre, and maybe one day I'll enjoy a viewing of QoS more than the last (I've seen it about 5 times and have no issue with watching it again because I always forget most of it, which I can't say for any other Bond film, even the really horrid ones that scar us with their Grace Jones/Octogenarian Roger Moore shennanigans and Spock!Connerys'), but the last viewing really turned me off it.

    But enough about QoS. Let us rabbit on about the munificent and pristine work of the Kersh on NSNA.

    [IMG]

    Indeed.
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  21. darthcaedus1138 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2007
    star 5
    I feel like if you're going to name the movie Quantum of Solace, at least make a kind of big deal about that concept, which is pretty cool by the way. Doesn't work all that well for a title of a movie, but if it was called out and cogently analyzed, it certainly would've given the movie some more umph.
  22. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    I think I adequately addressed his earlier...
  23. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    I didn't see QoS, but I will forever love it for giving us that fake theme song.

    It's a new Bond for the naughties/because the world's a terrible place
  24. The_Four_Dot_Elipsis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2005
    star 5
    Who knew that a few years later the guy who made that would have directed a semi-cult movie?

    The Cornish song is better than the real one. I do find myself referring to it as Something of Boris more often than not.
  25. I Are The Internets Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 20, 2012
    star 7
    I hated Moonbreaker. I wanted to throw up on the DVD and mail it to Roger Moore's house.