Cinema Junkie Episode 45: 'SPECTRE' And James Bond Geekiness
Bond 24 is sleek, sexy, and more grounded in the real world
Beth Accomando: Bond, James Bond. My obsession with 007 began before I even started kindergarten. I remember using dolls to act out scenes from From Russia with Love and I had a secret agent doll with an exploding attaché case. I played my Goldfinger album so many times that my parents eventually hit it. Welcome back to the KPBS Cinema Junkie podcast. I’m Beth Accomando and today it's all about Bond. My favorite Bond remains the one I grew up with, Sean Connery. And if I could get one wish granted, it would be to have Sean Connery star in On Her Majesty's Secret Service rather than George Lazenby. Then I struggled with the cartoonishness of the Roger Moore Bond, loved him at the Dalton as the interim Bond while the franchise waited for the bland Pierce Brosnan to free himself of his TV obligations. So when Daniel Craig took on the role of James Bond in 2006 in the reboot of the franchise, I was hopeful but concerned, but Casino Royale turned out to be a master for reboot, sending Bond into grittier new modern world and giving us a bit of back story on the agent with a license to kill. The franchise slipped a bit with the next entry Quantum of Solace, but regained its footing with Skyfall. Now the latest Bond hits the screen amid much anticipation. The title of the 24th Bond was announced. It delighted fans because of the memory the name of vote. Female Speaker: Its name is SPECTRE. Beth Accomando: SPECTRE, the acronym for Special Executive for Counterintelligence Terrorism Revenge and Extortion, Ian Fleming's fictional global crime syndicate and terrorist organization. As Bond heads out on his latest adventure, he finds his first clues to SPECTRE in Mexico where things get a little out of hand. Female Speaker: What’s going on, James? There is no one person at MI6 who isn’t talking about it. James Bond: Talking about what exactly? Female Speaker: What you did in Mexico was one step too far that you finished. James Bond: What do you think? Female Speaker: I think you're just getting started. Beth Accomando: We’re more like continuing where you left off as this current series of Bond films pursues an ambitious overarching story arc across what is a planned five films. Ever since Daniel Craig took over the role of 007, the Bond franchise has been moving toward a more grounded John le Carré's style spy thriller and away from the cartoony gadgets of the Roger Moore era. So SPECTRE begins with a sense of modern espionage trying to clean the relics out of its closet. Male Speaker: And in lines of the new information I've given, he’s decided to close down the 00 program. We’ll need it… Male Speaker: You don't know what you are doing. Male Speaker: It’s possible. It's the future and… Male Speaker: You’re a cocky little bastard, aren’t you? Male Speaker: And I'll take that as a compliment. Male Speaker: I wouldn't. This isn't over yet. Beth Accomando: But the move towards realism is a bit tricky, because they don't want to completely walk away from all the fun stuff. So it'll be talky scenes of backroom politics and modern espionage, but then Bond will do something outrageous with effortless grace and give us wink to the camera as if to say the old Bond is not completely gone, but it’s the film strive for a more and more grounded world for Bond to plan. These moments are harder to pull off smoothly. But then there are moments when everything comes together perfectly. Take a fight on a train between Bond and a henchman named Hinx played by Dave Bautista. The scene recalls a fight in From Russia with Love between Sean Connery and Robert Shaw. So the film gets points for paying homage to its roots. And Hinx recalls the iconic Oddjob from Goldfinger, So more geek points. It's also well-staged within a confined setting and mixes brutal action with occasional levity. Everything about the sequence is great. Unlike the action and helicopter stunts that open the film and display some bad CGI in green screen. I do, however, miss that the villain is no longer seem to have grand schemes like robbing Fort Knox. But rather something more nebulous and sinister like controlling global technology, but fortunately some things like Bond’s banter with evil masterminds never quite goes away. Male Speaker: So James, why did you come? James Bond: I came here to kill you. Male Speaker: And I thought you came here to die. Beth Accomando: I don't want to reveal any spoilers. So all I’ll say is that Christoph Waltz, although under-used is great as a villain who sets us up for the next film that will supposedly bring this particular story arc to a close and Craig's contract as Bond. Then the franchise will have to deal with demands for a black Bond after the whole Idris Elba hoopla. Writer Anthony Horowitz was quoted as saying Elba was too street and people went crazy. Personally I think casting a Black actor as Bond is just stunt casting to get attention and pretend that the franchise is more hip. Bond is who he is and he's a product of a certain time and I don't think casting a Black actor as Bond works. But what would work is to have Craig's 007 hand the reins over to a new 00 agent who could be Black or Asian or Indian and who wouldn't have the baggage of Ian Fleming's literary character, but who could take the franchise in a bold new direction that I would be excited to see. And I think the franchise is strong enough to make a move like that and stray away from the core stories of Ian Fleming. But Craig is signed on to play Bond one more time and the way this film ended, he absolutely has to stay in order to bring the story arc to a close. The pulling together of all the films is impressive, but sometimes that means there's a lot of explaining to do and that can slow the pace down and feel convoluted and forced. But overall the overarching story line is proving successful. SPECTRE is a sleek stylish entry in the modern Bond films. There's less action, more exposition and a kind of maturing sensibility. It's a solid serious spy film, but still manages to maintain a playful glint in its eye. And for the rest of the show, I'm pulling out an archive from the geek roundtable that I did when Skyfall had just come out. I gathered a couple of friends that I knew would develop Bond fans and I started the program with a montage of clips in people attending a preview screening of Skyfall. Male Speaker: We get started. Male Speaker: Mr.? James Bond: Bond. Male Speaker: Oh yes. Mr. Bond. James Bond: My name is Bond, James Bond. James Bond: My name is Bond, James Bond. James Bond: My name is Bond, James Bond. James Bond: My name is Bond, James Bond. Male Speaker: I like how long the franchise has been going, that’s pretty awesome to be able to see all those different iterations of Roger Moore and Sean Connery and things like that. Male Speaker: They define what every young boy wants to be when they grow up. Male Speaker: Lots of guns, lots of guys, lots of babes. Pussy Galore: My name is Pussy Galore. Male Speaker: You must be dreaming. Female Speaker: We saw James Bond, the Skyfall and it was pretty awesome. Male Speaker: Daniel Craig, a huge man. James Bond: 007 reporting for duty. Male Speaker: Just the [indiscernible] [00:06:56] and physical with the role. Female Speaker: The cars, the cars. Male Speaker: You'll be using this Aston Martin DB5. Male Speaker: One thing that is key to a great Bond movie is a villain that's very theatrical. James Bond: Mommy was very bad. Male Speaker: You watch Bond. You are going to watch in the class. You’re going to have Aston Martin there. You’re going to have a good time. Male Speaker: Don’t worry. 007 always comes back. Beth Accomando: Those were Bond fans, Eric Ruggles, Carlos Angel, David Pam, Aaron McKie and Alex Moscovitch. For the Bond show today, I wanted to bring in two people who could geek out about Bond in the same way I do. And I want to let them introduce themselves. First of all, all the way from Wales: Aled Jones: I'm Jones, Aled Jones. Male Speaker: My name is [indiscernible] [00:07:41]. Beth: And we're here to talk Bond. So the new Bond has rebooted the franchise, which is actually kind of interesting, because they could have easily rested on their laurels. Bond is one of the most successful and long running franchises. They could have kept doing exactly what they had been doing. So it's kind of nice that they gambled a little bit. We just had Bond 23 Skyfall open this past weekend. So I just want to start off by asking both of you what was your impression of Skyfall? Aled, what did you think? Aled Jones: Personally I thought it was the best Bond movie for quite a while. Beth: And Rémy, what did you think? Male Speaker: I thought it was great too and I think exactly along the lines that Aled just said that's the best one that there has been for a long time, yeah. Beth Accomando: Who is kind of the first Bond that you guys grew up with or saw? Male Speaker: The first James Bond movie I saw was the spy who loved me and that was in the theater in 1977 or ’78 around there and I just thought it was the greatest thing I had ever seen. I had never seen this kind of action spy thriller thing done on that scale. Aled Jones: Definitely, when I was growing up for me, Roger Moore was Bond and I don't quite remember the first one I saw, but I remember my father coming home one evening with a VHS recorder and so he came home around 10 p.m. at night and it was a school night and I was only like 11 and he actually called the video store owner who was in the room and he opened the store for me at 10 o'clock at night. I went in and I rented Octopussy. That was the thing I wanted most to see. Beth Accomando: Goldfinger was the first one I saw and I loved those movies. I mean they had action. They went all over the world to shoot scenes. What is it for you that kind of defines the bond experience and makes it something that's so much fun to return to? Male Speaker: I think that’s a sense of it's the first well at least. When I think back to The Spy Who Loved Me, it was the first time that you saw this kind of action adventure kind of spy thing that I used to seeing like on TV, Mission Impossible or The Man From U.N.C.L.E or these kinds of things, but to spend that much money on it and it was like a big lavish production where they could really go forth and have like real great car chases and just spectacular action scenes. I think that's that sort of the, you want to call it, the grandeur or the opulence of staging this kind of production, this kind of spy story with spending that kind of money on it and just really going for it and making it look terrific. Aled Jones: When you boil it down for me, it's no matter who is playing Bond, even whether you like Pierce Brosnan, whether you, and even George Lazenby the fact is you want to be Bond when you're watching the Bond movies. This is for me. You want to inhabit that universe and you want to have those adventures and the film really sells that to you and I think it's just awesome. Beth Accomando: This is the third outing for Daniel Craig as Bond and back in 2006 Casino Royale really gave the franchise a reboot. Tell me how it kind of refocused it or gave kind of revitalization to the franchise? Aled Jones: With Pierce Brosnan, things had got very, very camp and extremely had to endure I think for fans and Casino Royale just brought things back to being a more classic Ian Fleming Bond I think. Things were slightly harsh. The character was dark and Craig embodies that. Beth Accomando: And Male Speaker, how did it kind of reboot the storyline in terms of -- we were getting kind of a back story to Bond? Male Speaker: It was a strange sort of rebooting in that. It carried out very well the one character and his superior. But it was in essence rebooting the Bond character, so he started a new and he saw him earning to become the James Bond that we knew picking up the characteristics of Bond as the movie went on. Beth Accomando: Some people didn't like what Daniel Craig brought to it. But this is also kind of a return to the more literary Bond, isn't it? Aled Jones: It definitely is a return to the more literally Bond in my opinion. If anybody who has read the books, Bond is an extremely tortured character to a certain extent and Daniel Craig really gets that. Beth Accomando: I'm talking with Aled Jones, owner of Moviedrome DVD in Wales and [indiscernible] [00:11:24], Assistant Professor of English and Film Studies at National University. One of the things that's very signature about Bond is the Bond theme. It's something that has been consistent through all these 23 Bond films. Rémy, you’re a musician and tell me if there's something unique about this theme or something that makes it special? Male Speaker: Well, there's sort of two themes that comprised the James Bond theme, the two melodies, the key melodies are first on that very staccato guitar, first half, which is the… that part and in the second half is the… that part. Both of those themes are overlaid on top of what this is what I think is like a really unique part of it is the ostinato and ostinato was like repeated phrase, so it was kind of like a foundation for a melody and that foundation is something very simple for the James Bond theme. It’s just three notes over and over again. It's these notes and it's the same sequence, but something brilliant that the composer John Barry did in arranging those three very simple notes was that it's not just those three notes. He did kind of this calling response thing where he added this little punch after each note so that instead of just this, we get this. See, now we got something different there. We got something different going on that adds this kind of relentless driving quality that really sort of helps to push the theme along, which is really cool. So we got this now. Look at the theme over that. Beth Accomando: I can't hear those notes and now I want to go grab a Bond movie off my DVD shelf. Aled Jones: Absolutely! And the thing about Skyfall that’s amazing is you get the ending in a sense that is the beginning and do you get to hear that like pounding in the cinema right at the end and it’s fantastic. Male Speaker: and Casino Royale did something similar too at the very end when he finally – you go through this whole movie and one of the trademarks of how he says he introduced himself as Bond, James Bond, in Casino Royale, you don't get that until the very end of the last line and then, boom, you're struck with that theme and it's just great. It's very iconic. Beth Accomando: Aled, for you, one of the things that defines a Bond movie is the Bond villain and you specifically have something you're looking for from a Bond villain, so tell me what that is? Aled Jones: The Bond villain for me always has an awesome scheme and not only does he have this scheme, but he spends at least four or five minutes detailing the scheme to us the audience and his coconspirators in a sense. Male Speaker: This is my bag, the gold depository at Fort Knox, gentlemen. In it, $15 billion. Aled Jones: Do you think of Goldfinger, of course, as the classic example of this when he has the -- what the Rumpus Room that transform into his scheme room. Male Speaker: Man has climbed the Mount Everest, gone to the bottom of the ocean. He has fired rockets to the moon, split the atom, achieved miracles in every field of human endeavor except crime. Aled Jones: And then he paused after explaining the scheme in detail, Goldfinger kills everyone. Beth Accomando: Now Bond films are also known, of course, for the babes from Dr. No with Ursula Andress emerging from the surf. There's something that really defined what these films are. Do you have a favorite Bond babe? Male Speaker: My favorite really is Tatiana Romanova from From Russia with Love. That was Daniela Bianchi who was -- I think she was a Miss Italy runner-up. Her voice is completely dubbed over in the film, because I guess her accent. But there was something about her just being an innocent regular person caught up in this whole crazy scheme that she played really well I thought. Aled Jones: For me it would be maybe another slightly off-kilter choice, but it would be Diana Rigg in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. I think if you -- you love The Avengers. You know about Diana Rigg. She was also extreme feisty as a Bond girl, possibly the most feisty. It’s just a shame that there was no chemistry between her and -- you think to a sense what I have been, but she really had it down for me and she was just absolutely superb in the role. Beth Accomando: She was fabulous. For me I think because maybe Goldfinger was the first one I saw, but I love Pussy Galore. Honor Blackman who also was in The Avengers, she was in that before Diana Rigg. First of all, she gets to have this porn star name. Male Speaker: It’s a great name, yeah. Aled Jones: It’s great name and it’s a great name. Beth Accomando: One of the things I actually liked about the Bond girls, Bond gets a bad rap for being a chauvinist and for being misogynistic. But if you look at some of the women like Pussy Galore, like Diana Rigg’s character, Pussy Galore ran her own fleet of airplanes. She actually bested Bond a couple of times flipping him and delivering a few karate chops. She was pretty feisty herself. So to me although, yeah, they are set in their particular time and women are not necessarily depicted that well. I know Goldfinger 2 didn't get its little slap on the butt until like [indiscernible] [00:16:26] go away. But for the top Bond girls, they had something special I think. Male Speaker: You tend to look at Bond girls as being furnished to a certain extent. So it's nice when they have something a little bit extra to bring to it. Beth Accomando: And they cast them pretty well too. There are a lot of very hot women. Aled Jones: Yeah, yeah, there's no shortage of hotness in Bond, even like if you look at The Spy Who Loved Me, Barbara Bach, who not the best actress, but she's so ridiculously beautiful that you kind of forget about how a little bit -- and all but, yeah, there's no shortage of hotness going on. Beth Accomando: Okay. The Bond girls we've been talking about have all been the women that Bond pairs up with and generally if they start off that they turn around because of him, Pussy Galore ends up helping him instead of helping Goldfinger achieve his scheme. But I do want to mention one Bond villainess who is my absolute favorite from Thunderball, Fiona, who is played by Luciana Paluzzi and I want to play this clip from her in the film because she is one of the only Bond women that Bond does not turn around to his side. Fiona: But, of course, I forgot your ego, Mr. Bond, James Bond, the one he has to make love to a woman and she starts to hear heavenly choirs singing. She repents and immediately returns to the side of right and virtue, but not this one. Aled Jones: I'd agree with you. She is the ultimate Bond villain as in a sense, because, A, he doesn't turn her. You’re absolutely right. But more than that, she is spectre through and through. She is not even any interest in joining Bond in any way and also she has a fantastic exit in the movie. But the thing for me that's important about her more than anything else is just her physicality. She's just stunning to look at. Amazing! Male Speaker: It's like she's a female counterpart to Bond and being just the character that owns that role does things his or her own way. Beth Accomando: We talked about the schemes of Bond’s villains, but who is your favorite Bond villain? Male Speaker: I think Goldfinger is definitely the most iconic James Bond villain and probably who I think is my favorite, but one that I want to mention, I don't know if -- there’s a different definition of the word favorite, but Kananga from Live and Let Die, his scheme is to release all these free drugs and this is somehow going to take down all of the other families. It just kind of doesn't make sense, but it's amazing that the film just trends with this and kind of just it's like the Casablanca thing. We just keep pushing out and keep pushing out and because of the pacing, you don't have time to stop and think about it. Aled Jones: For me I think my favorite Bond villain simply because of who he is, is Francisco Scaramanga and that is because it is Christopher Lee. For me having grown up with being British, Lee is an icon of the cinema and he is built to be a Bond villain. It would be the greatest Bond movie, but he's so charismatic in the par and he is a complete social path almost of the [indiscernible] [00:19:20] to a certain extent that he wants kind of Bond to show him respect and I just think he's amazing in the film. Beth Accomando: The one Bond villain and he's not really the head villain is Oddjob. From Goldfinger he's got the hat with the metal rim and he tosses and can break someone's neck and he doesn’t have a single word in the whole movie and to me he was just so iconic and so great. I do adore Oddjob from Goldfinger. I'm talking with Aled Jones, owner of Moviedrome DVD in Wales and [indiscernible] [00:19:47] Assistant Professor of English and Film Studies at National University. So do you have a favorite Bond movie overall? Male Speaker: It's a tough call now. My classic answer is From Russia with Love, but it might be Casino Royale now, the Daniel Craig. I'll go back to From Russia with Love and say that that was the one that really just sort of encapsulated everything. It was before it started to get to sort of outrageous with the gadgets and the campiness and it’s just a very straightforward very solid sort of spy espionage story and the thing about it is that James Bond is really just up until the very bitter end, you're wondering how is he going to succeed, there's that feeling of suspense that I don't get I think from a lot of Bond movies, where he became the sort of super heroic person. You’re never in doubt that he was going to save the day. Aled Jones: I’d agree with that entirely From Russia with Love is I think it's an exceptional Bond film. It’s an extremely different Bond film to a certain extent. But standing up for Roger, I'm going to say that The Spy Who Loved Me for me has everything you could possibly want in a Bond film. It really does hit every mark and if nothing else you should see it for the opening and the stunt going off the mountain is absolutely amazing. Male Speaker: That's one of my favorite moments is, yeah, that ski jump in the beginning is amazing. Aled Jones: I mean Lewis Gilbert talked about like the premiere of it in Leicester Square and nobody had seen it, so there was no knowledge of what was going to happen and the minute Bond went off the mountain, there was just a collective in the audience and then of course you get the massive parachute out. It’s actually replayed in the Olympics. That's how iconic this scene is. Daniel Craig picks up the queen, jumps out of the plane. You get the same thing. It's completely iconic. Beth Accomando: Now talk about an audience reaction, when we saw Skyfall together Midnight screening at the ArcLight, there was one collective response in that film, tell me what that was. Aled Jones: The Aston Martin, it is a classic moment. It is from Goldfinger and, yeah, the minute you see it and of course when you get in the car, there is another iconic moment with Judi Dench. It's a remarkable moment in the film. Beth Accomando: Well, this new film Skyfall really plays nicely off the Bond history and kind of brings it full circle at the end. Is there a favorite moment you had from that? Aled Jones: For me my for a moment in the film, I think, it references the history to a certain extent. I mean the cameraman is fantastic. But I love it when we arrive at the island. They’re happy about them. It’s like emptied out and then we get into the room and you have all these like computers, stripped down computers. It's a – it’s almost like a Ken Adam set to a certain extent and then down he comes in the elevator and then he gets to have his real bone body moment. Raoul Silva: She sent you after me knowing you're not ready, knowing you would likely die. Mommy was very bad. Aled Jones: And it really is an iconic moment for me for the future. Male Speaker: Going back to that car thing, I mean, that just stands out in my mind so clearly. It sort of doesn't make sense within the context of the film that here's Daniel Craig who just started with a couple of movies ago. So where does the Aston Martin come from? It's from Sean Connery and so in that sense that moment breaks through and is sort of the reference to the history of Bond, not the actual story of the staying of Craig character. It's referencing the entirety of this franchise we've been watching. Beth Accomando: And another thing we have to look forward to as Bond fans is they are putting together a 15th anniversary collection. Tell me what this is all about, because you have a DVD store, what's the appeal of this? Aled Jones: It’s 50 years of Bond if I’m right, but for the first time we get the entire collection on Blu-ray with whole new extras and everything and it really does look and they've even allowed a free little slot in the package for Skyfall to put in, but of course once we move beyond that, then that won’t be the case. But it really does look like a DVD in Blu-ray. They pod a lot of love into and I think fans will love it. Beth Accomando: One of the other things that defined a lot of the Bond films are gadgets. So do you have a particular gadget that you remember and really liked? Male Speaker: I can think of a trio of gadgets that I really love and that I think it would just be great because they're everyday items that I could see myself using every day. One was the grappling hook belt buckle from Golden Eye. One was the attaché case from From Russia with Love. That was packed with all the gadgets. And the other one is James Bond’s magnetic watch from Live and Let Die that also had the BuzzSaw and all kinds of new things packed away in there. Aled Jones: The gadget removed into overdrive in Roger, it really did. I mean he clearly loved that about the franchise and I think if you look towards the end of his movies, I think he is in Octopussy I think. He has a watch that actually has a laser in it. It becomes incredibly ridiculous by towards the end of his era. But if you love gadgets, you're going to look Roger Moore’s Bonds. Beth Accomando: And I have to say the thing I love about the gadgets is not so much the gadgets themselves, but Q. Good Morning, Q. Good morning. This way please. Beth Accomando: Having Q be able to come on and kind of with this tone of like, oh, you have no respect for me. You're going to just demolish my gadgets in the field and but here it is, here's the best we have to offer, but seeing Desmond Llewelyn in all those Sean Connery films that was always a real pleasure for me to see. Q: Now here’s something I want you to use with special care, with special. James Bond: Everything you give me. Q: Is treated it with equal contempt. Yes, I know, but that's an underwater camera. It takes eight pictures in rapid succession by pressing that button down. James Bond: Is that clever? Q: If it can take pictures in the dark with an infrared film, yes. Aled Jones: I think you can see with Skyfall how they’re looking to reboot now. We talked about rebooting and in the Brosnan years, they brought John Cleese as Q kind of Lendl again to this kind of like fantastically kind of over the top element of the movies had then and of course now we have Ben Wishaw, which makes perfect sense. I mean Q is seen as a geek in a sense somebody who would like technology. He is an extremely young actor, but the chemistry that he has with Craig as well as sensational just and you can't wait to see him with him again in the next movie. Q: I’m your new Quartermaster. James Bond: You must be joking. Q: The Walther PPK/S nine-millimeter short. It's been coded to your palm print so only you can fire it. Less of a random killing machine, more of a personal statement. James Bond: Q. Q: 007. Aled Jones: I thought it was a really nice contrast the very young Q that we have now versus the older Desmond Llewelyn Q. And one thing I loved about Desmond Llewelyn’s characterization of Q was sort of that old fussbudget. He's very -- he takes great pride in all these gadgets and doesn't want Bond to wreck them. I'd just love that aspect of him. Q: Now if you take the top off, you’ll find a little red button. Whatever you do, don't touch it. James Bond: Why not? Q: Because you release this section of the roof and engage and then fire the passenger ejector seat. James Bond: Ejector seat? You are joking. Q: I never joke about my work 007. Beth Accomando: And do you have a favorite actor who played Bond? Aled Jones: Shawn I think is most probably people's favorites overall, I think because he was the first. But for me hardly enough, it's Timothy Dalton. Not only did he love Bond, but he also brings to it I think the sense of Ian Fleming's character that if you read the books Dalton really did invest a great deal of time and it's a shame his movies didn't work out, but what I understand he was offered the role in On Her Majesty's Secret Service but he felt he was too young at 18 to take the role. Male Speaker: I think we have to degree with Aled actually. Timothy Dalton is great. The other one I would probably say is and I know this is going against years and years of Sean Connery was the best Bond, Daniel Craig, his characterization is kind of similar to what the Dalton did going back to this literary Bond or sort of the very charismatic, very suave, but also this ruthlessness underneath all that, So definitely Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig for me. Beth Accomando: I still would have to go probably with Sean Connery. He's the Bond I grew up with and I adore him in that part. He's great. And I never actually would have thought anyone could compete with him until I saw Casino Royale. I do love Daniel Craig in the role. But I do feel it is a different kind of Bond. But I’m so thrilled to have survived decades of Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan to be able to really look forward to a new Bond film and we do. We are looking forward to hopefully two more with Daniel Craig, so that'll be Bond 24 and 25. So I want to thank you both for joining me. I've had Aled Jones of Moviedrome DVD in Wales and Male Speaker, Assistant Professor of English and Film Studies at National University. Thank you. Male Speaker: Thanks. Aled Jones: Thank you. Beth Accomando: And, Rémy, maybe you can take us out with a little of Bond’s theme. Male Speaker: My pleasure. Beth Accomando: Thanks for listening to this Bond edition of Cinema Junkie. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or check back every week on my Cinema Junkie blog @kpbs.org/cinemajunkie. Starting Saturday, I'll be in Wales for two weeks for the Abertoir Horror Film Festival and I hope to send some podcast from across the pond. So till our next film fix, I'm Beth Accomando, your resident Cinema Junkie.
Bond. James Bond. My obsession with 007 began as a child and I continue to thrill at the new films, including the latest "SPECTRE" (opening Friday throughout San Diego).
I remember using dolls to act out scenes from "From Russia With Love" and had a secret agent doll with an exploding attaché case. I played my "Goldfinger" album so many times that my parents eventually hid it.
My favorite Bond remains the one I grew up with, Sean Connery. And if I could have one wish granted, it would be to have Connery star in "On Her Majesty’s Secret Service" rather than George Lazenby because then it might have been hands-down the best Bond ever.
Then I struggled with the cartoonishness of the Roger Moore Bonds, loved Timothy Dalton as the interim Bond, while the franchise waited for the bland Pierce Brosnan to free himself of his TV obligations.
So, when Daniel Craig took on the role of James Bond in 2006 in the reboot of the franchise, I was hopeful but concerned.
But "Casino Royale" turned out to be a masterful reboot, setting Bond into a grittier new modern world and giving us a bit of back story on the agent with a license to kill. The franchise slipped a bit with the next entry, "Quantum of Solace" but regained its footing with "Skyfall." Now the latest Bond hits the screen amid much anticipation.
When the title of the 24th Bond film was announced, it delighted fans because of the memories the name evoked. "SPECTRE", the acronym for Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion, Ian Fleming’s global crime syndicate and terrorist organization.
As Bond heads out on his latest adventure he finds his first clues to SPECTRE in Mexico, where things get a little out of hand.
Ever since Daniel Craig took over the role of 007, the Bond franchise has been moving toward a more grounded, John La Carre-style spy thriller and away from the cartoony gadgets of the Roger Moore era. Villains don’t have grand schemes like robbing Fort Knox but rather something more nebulous and sinister like controlling global technology. But some things – like Bond’s banter with evil masterminds – never quite goes away.
"SPECTRE" is a sleek, stylish entry in the modern Bond films. There’s less action, more exposition but also an ambitious overarching story arc. It’s a solid, serious spy film that still has a playful glint in its eye.
Listen to the podcast for a full review as well as a replay of a Geek Roundtable discussion of Bond.