'No Time To Die' finally arrives in cinemas
Speaker 1: (00:00)
The latest James Bond film, no time to die opened earlier this month. And KPBS Sinema junkie host Beth OCHA, Mondo continues her exploration of the devil of seven universe. In part two of her podcast, she is joined by spy aficionados, Gary Dexter, and Jeff quest. And this excerpt, they discuss the women in the bond franchise.
Speaker 2: (00:21)
Speaker 3: (00:34)
Welcome back in part one of our discussion of bond James Bond, we left off discussing the formulaic elements that we expect in a double oh seven movie. One of the things we've come to expect our bond girls. Now the franchise has received considerable criticism for its depiction of women. Often being called sexist, chauvinistic, and even downright misogynistic from our current perspective, many of the early bond films do have cringe-worthy moments like this from Goldfinger.
Speaker 4: (01:01)
I'd find you in good hands. Felix, Felix, Leiter Felix. Say hello to drink? I didn't say goodbye to Felix man talk.
Speaker 3: (01:16)
Oh, and just for emphasis, didn't get a slap on the butt from bond while such behavior would not be tolerated in a film today. This was 1964, and bond was never meant to be a role model presented for people to imitate. So to ask those early films from more than a half a century ago to reflect today's attitudes is a bit unfair. And let me put this into a context from the perspective of a four-year-old girl in 1964, Mary Poppins, in my fair lady, where the top box office draws that year Doris Day was being pushed on me as a modern woman role model. And the Beverly hillbillies and petticoat junction were the top rated TV shows. That's a pretty bleak landscape for images of women. So yeah, I'm much more comfortable with galore and Diana Riggs, Tracy DB and Kenzo as my sixties era role models the Doris Day. So now let's hear from Jeff and Gary on the legacy of the bond girls to lead us into Jeff's comments, here's Ursula and dress emerging from Jamaican waters to reveal the very first cinematic bond girl in 1960 twos. Dr. No
Speaker 5: (02:21)
Looking for shells. No, I'm just looking, stay where you are. I promise I won't steal your shells. I promise you, you won't either. What's your name, honey writing.
Speaker 6: (02:38)
I think we've seen bond over the years struggle. Right? Cause I think it, it was very black and white back in the sixties. The way they could play these characters, I think a little bit more. And as times have shifted, I think there's been tension and how to, how to have bond interact with some, the female characters that they bring in and especially more recently. And I think it's hard because it, they want to play with that formula. They want to keep that formula in place, but it's less and less palatable to have an kind of Sean Connery era style in, in modern times. And I agree with that, you know, I think there's been some, you know, you had Michelle Yao as, as one of the bond female characters.
Speaker 7: (03:25)
What'd you pause yourself over there. You were pretty good with that hook. It comes with growing up in a rough neighborhood. You were pretty good on the bike. Wow. I'm not growing up at all. Don't get any ideas, Mr. BARR, just off the cuff. I said we might link up close to each other. Thanks for watching my hand.
Speaker 6: (04:07)
The bond female characters, uh, Halle Berry, I think they were different and the way that they were trying to portray them with, uh, Brosnin
Speaker 8: (04:16)
The office thing, CIA NSA. Hello. We're on the same side. We're after the same thing. Jorah does world peace, unconditional love and a little Fred with the expensive acne
Speaker 6: (04:30)
More recently, you know, you see with Daniel Craig, they've done some different things, especially in casino Royale where they're trying to make this a darker character and give some more nuance to some of the people that they're bringing in. Some of the female leads.
Speaker 9: (04:46)
Well, the cutoff is dude, you went to Oxford to wherever naturally think human beings dressed like that, but you were, it was such disdain. My guess is you didn't come from money and your school friends never let you forget it, which means you were at that school by the grace of someone else's charity and the chip on your shoulder. And since your first thought about me rent, orphan, that's what I'd say. I like this spoken thing. And that makes perfect sense. Since then, my six looks for maladjusted, young men give a little thought to sacrificing others in order to protect queen and king.
Speaker 6: (05:21)
Okay. So I think it's a delicate dance that they've been walking. And I don't know if they've been successful all the time, but I appreciate their struggle with it.
Speaker 10: (05:30)
Yeah. I guess one, of course the thing that we've seen go away mercifully is the, uh, is the casual violence against the female characters. I'll do worse than that. If you don't tell me you're doing,
Speaker 7: (05:45)
I don't know what you mean.
Speaker 10: (05:49)
It's fairly commonplace in, uh, in the Connery era and even the very early Roger era. Although I know that from interviews with more himself, he found that very distasteful. I think we've had a few decades where it would be the cliche for the actresses that had been given the roles of one, the roles to say, well, I'm going to be a different kind of a bond girl as they used to be known. And then we'd get to the movie and find that well now, unfortunately they weren't that different. I do think that a lot of the villainous, if you like roles or the female henchmen, I'm thinking of Xenia on top, in particular,
Speaker 11: (06:28)
Come on there. That depends on your definition of safe sex. It's close enough,
Speaker 10: (06:39)
Particularly strong characters and, and you know, even placebo, very ambiguous semi villainous.
Speaker 12: (06:45)
Well, why don't you join me? Not hunt duty, Mr. Goldfinger's personal path you are. And uh, just hope personal is that I'm a good pilot period. Well, that's good news. This should be a memorable flight. You can turn off the job.
Speaker 10: (07:05)
They've been stronger and actually more of bonds equals. And I think we're moving to a time now and we'll see how they do with no time to die, where we're finally actually going to see women on a par with bond. We've got a woman of color carrying the double or seven role. And from what we've seen in the trailers, that's going to be, um, a genuine equal
Speaker 12: (07:27)
Speaker 13: (07:29)
No me is probably one of the only few women and also women of color in MSX and in the AA program, the women that you see in this movie will very clearly reflect the kind of women that are in the world today and be in bad-ass is at that.
Speaker 10: (07:44)
I think that's the way it should be going forward. I mean, we don't want bond to be overly realistic, but we needed to be plausible. And I think there needs to be more of a recognition that espionage operations are team efforts and that there will be other significant agents involved. And even going back to the living daylights, when we've seen more of them than most other movies, you don't see a lot of other double lows in bond. The most, you want to focus on bond as our main man, our protagonist and our sort of doorway into that universe. It would be very interesting to see, I think other double O's in a team context, in a bond movie, we may be about to get that. I hope so.
Speaker 1: (08:24)
That was Beth Dak. Amando speaking with Gary Dexter and Jeff quest to listen to the full cinema junkie podcast, James Bond part to go to kpbs.org/cinema junkie.
Daniel Craig's final appearance as Bond was worth the wait. (Spoiler-free review.)
Three delays and 18 months, but the latest James Bond, "No Time to Die" is finally opening in cinemas Friday.
Speaker 1: (00:00)
The latest James Bond film, no time to die. Finally opened in cinemas after a long pandemic delay on the latest edition of cinema junkie host Beth Huck Amando speaks with bond officiant auto Gary Dexter about the final Daniel Craig double oh seven film. Here's that excerpt.
Speaker 2: (00:19)
So Gary, you went to England to see the new bond film. And before we talk about the film itself, tell me a little bit about the atmosphere in England right now.
Speaker 3: (00:31)
It's crazy. The way the nation has embraced bond. This time is very similar to bond mania. In the height of the Connery era, you can throw a stone in essentially and hit some sort of bond tie-in or promotion.
Speaker 4: (00:45)
And I was strong as that fairly strong. Haven't had the time to test it. Probably just be careful. This is
Speaker 5: (00:51)
Going to go brilliant. Great.
Speaker 3: (00:55)
Uh, mega shops have got the Gunbarrel motif on there. They've got prop displays inside. In fact, some of the props that are seen in the film and the portraits of the different AMS London had a gigantic [inaudible] sculpture in Leicester square ahead of the movies to view. And then I guess they moved that over to Al the Albert Hall for the actual premiere. It's really exciting. It definitely has a vibe unlike any bond that I've experienced here in the past,
Speaker 2: (01:22)
We're seeing bond in, what's probably the best conditions with all that excitement and mania going on, and you've already seen it twice. So what's your gut reaction to it?
Speaker 3: (01:33)
It's unique. I've never seen a bond lake. It it's its own beast tonally. It seems very different. That being said, uh, it has callbacks to so many aspects of bond in the past, both a cinematic and literary.
Speaker 5: (01:49)
If y'all, I'll find some tremendous clocks with having those bought savings bonds and a hassle that something terrible villain, if he can use a run light, I let say, or drive a bench and motor car or stay in the Ritz hotel. This all brings the veto back to, ah,
Speaker 3: (02:06)
There's a lot of Fleming that's been left behind over the years, but this one, I think more than any other, certainly at a time when they ran out of original titles to use for the movies anyway, really pays homage and draws directly from a lot of literary bond. It was very exciting.
Speaker 2: (02:24)
Well, I have to say that when I came out of it, I know that a lot of people are talking about the fact that it's almost three hours long, two hours and 45 minutes, but I have to say my first reaction to it was it moved fast and it felt like it had all the classic bond action. And yet it had this emotional weight to it as well, which was both surprising and a great way to wrap up the series.
Speaker 3: (02:49)
I agree. I agree. It was, it was very much, um, Daniel's interpretation of bond, um, and keeping really with things that we'd seen from the get go in casino, Royale, you're carried emotional half done like we've ever seen before in the bond. And it was all the better for it. I thought it was very much Craig saying goodbye to his tenure and the character. It reminded me a little bit of Harrison Ford and Han solo Craig's approach to this movie was kind of similar. He wanted a sort of finality to his, his arc. And I think we achieved that to,
Speaker 2: (03:24)
Well, you mentioned these callbacks. And one thing I felt when I was watching it is there were these nice touches. Some of them were very overt and some of them were more subtle, but you get like the very clear reference to honor majesty secret service.
Speaker 6: (03:42)
Speaker 2: (03:49)
And then you get other things that are a little more subtle where he's in Jamaica, which can reference both the location of a couple of bonds. And also the fact that Ian Fleming himself was in Jamaica. So it was like these Easter egg kind of things going on.
Speaker 3: (04:05)
I certainly was. And it, it began from the moment that credits dropped with the doctor, no style dots appearing on the screen. As soon as I saw that, I thought, oh, I think I know where we're going here.
Speaker 3: (04:28)
And as you say, it ran throughout yes, very much the, the loan from Magisters, but also a lot of, um, real frustrations of major cities soundtrack in there as well for, from that point and elsewhere in the movie. And then it was absolutely littered with callbacks. We had a copious amount of Aston Martins, including the BB five has almost become traditional Amanda's this era. But of course we had the living daylights era Aston appearing as well. What I thought was really surprising was the Cuba setting was almost a callback today another day. And I would have thought if you're avoiding callbacks, that would be the one to avoid, but I guess not. So it was embraced everything. I absolutely loved the production design of SAF lab because it was pure. Can Adam. I mean, it was just straight out of it can add and school of design and it was just absolutely fantastic. Would look beautiful on screen.
Speaker 2: (05:24)
One of the things that I enjoyed about this is I felt it moved bond into a more contemporary era in terms of how the female characters were. But without that kind of in your face way, that they did it in some of the Pierce Brosnan ones where, you know, I think em calls them out for being a dinosaur,
Speaker 7: (05:42)
Because I think you're a sexist, misogynist, dinosaur Relic of the cold war whose boyish chums. They wasted on me, obviously appeal to that young woman. I sent out to evaluate you, not quite
Speaker 2: (05:55)
WCM at him for being a chauvinist pig,
Speaker 8: (05:59)
Speaker 2: (06:03)
This was much more kind of organic. You just have female characters who seem to be about to behave in the way we typically expect in a bond film, but then they don't, but they don't do it in this way of this kind of very strident, oh, we're going to make a feminist statement. It's just like, Hey, you expected me to be one thing. And I'm another
Speaker 8: (06:26)
Amanda Bond to, yes, Nomi is highly skilled, slightly cocky. You get in my way, I've offered stability.
Speaker 9: (06:35)
[inaudible] lady in Santiago. I want you to meet
Speaker 8: (06:42)
Hello. You're late
Speaker 3: (06:44)
Very much. So I think none more so than a Adom, his role or character is set up to be extremely depth. See just the way she communicates and where she tells bond and her style. And, um, we find out that, yes, that might genuinely be the character's nature, but it's no reflection on a competency. Yeah, I agree. It was very much defining expectation leading you one way and then taking you somewhere else. It was, it was very, very good. And I, I really enjoyed knowing me as well and the way she interacted with bond and the evolution of the relationship on screen, it was much more credible for a male, female character interaction. She was forthright and a confident character in her own, right, without being sort of obnoxious or, or undermining Bond's fundamental nature, which really can't be to modern era. I think it's got to be bond has to be true to his nature and then confronting and interacting with 21st century women characters. Um, and, and that reality defining the direction that the plot goes in. And I think they did a fantastic job with that. I really enjoyed it.
Speaker 2: (07:58)
Yeah. Because a couple of times we have instances where he thinks women are coming on to him, or he thinks that he's going to be in some sort of sexual situation. And it's completely diffused with a bit of humor and kind of the sense of like, yeah, you're getting a little old and, and this whole kind of trope is going away, but we'll play with it still.
Speaker 9: (08:21)
Speaker 1: (08:38)
That was Beth haka, Mondo speaking with Gary Dexter to hear the full podcast that explores the bond cinematic and literary universe go to kpbs.org/cinema junkie.
I have to confess: At the press screening for the film last month, when the opening music for "No Time To Die" began to play under black on a big screen in a cinema, I got goose bumps.
As a lifelong fan of Bond, I’ve been in a heightened state of anticipation waiting for Bond 25, the final entry in the Daniel Craig cycle of 007 films. I was excited but also sad that Craig’s tenure as Bond was coming to an end. The wait, however, was totally worth it. To summarize Bond’s final mission: it delivers all the action and excitement you expect from a 007 movie but with an unexpected emotional weight. As with "Skyfall," you might even shed a tear.
The film continues with the narrative started with the reboot of the franchise in 2006 with "Casino Royale" and Craig assuming Ian Fleming's James Bond character. From that film you need to remember Bond's tragic relationship with Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), a woman he fell in love with, quit the service for, and then discovers she betrayed him. She dies in "Casino Royale" and her death and betrayal haunt Bond and color his relationship with Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), a character introduced in "Spectre" as Bond's new love interest.
From "Spectre" you also need to be aware of Blofield (Christoph Waltz), who reappears in "No Time To Die" to enlighten Bond on some history about Swann.
So while you don't necessarily need to re-watch these films before seeing the latest Bond, you do need to know who these characters are for it to make sense.
Bond's final mission
"No Time To Die" picks up with Bond having left MI6 and attempting a life of retirement with Swann. But the first scene we see with them driving happily in a car in a beautiful locale, Bond says "we have all the time in the world." And if you are familiar with "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," then you know this does not bode well.
Bond suspects Swann too has betrayed him and he ends up — after some shenanigans with Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) and a delightful Paloma (Ana DeArmas) — back with MI6 and working, sort of, with a new 00 agent Nomi (an impressive Lashana Lynch).
His nemesis we eventually discover is a man with a vendetta that involves Swann's family history. The man is Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) and like all Bond villains he has an evil plan that involves a high-tech scheme for world domination and wiping out a lot of humanity with increased efficiency.
So there's a lot at stake both personally and globally for Bond.
Creating the Bond universe
Barbara Broccoli, whose father Albert, helped launch the franchise in the 1960s, has done for Bond what Kevin Feige did for Marvel — create a cinematic universe.
When Albert Broccoli died in 1996, Pierce Brosnan was already in place as Bond. But with "Casino Royale," Barbara Broccoli got to exert influence on where Bond could go and saw a chance to reboot the franchise in a fresh direction by fighting to cast Craig and pushing the films into a grittier and more contemporary arena.
Before the Craig Bonds, the franchise gave a collection of films that tapped into the same characters and occasionally referenced other films but never with a real sense of one continuing narrative. But ever since "Casino Royale," we have been following one continuing storyline involving Craig's Bond and while the films have been inconsistent, it has given the films an engagingly new appeal.
I also think Broccoli has been key in getting women us to female characters like Nomi and Paloma. And for this film she is aided by adding Phoebe Waller-Bridge (of "Fleabag") as one of the writers. During Brosnan's era there were attempts to call out Bond for his sexism and antiquated ways but it always felt forced, included solely to deflect criticism. But in "No Time To Die," the film doesn't have characters comment on how women should be treated or depicted, it simply gives us characters who challenge the stereotypes and don't make a fuss about it.
In "No Time To Die," Nomi and Paloma enter the film with all the superficial trappings of a Bond girl (sexy, flirtatious, mysterious) but quickly prove that all are standard assumptions about such women in a Bond film are wrong and they cleverly and humorously shatter the Bond tropes. It also helps that Lynch and DeArmas are just fabulous in the roles and I hope they can come back as the franchise continues.
No time for villains
While I have heard a lot of people complain about the film's nearly three-hour running length, that did not bother me as much as Rami Malek's turn as the film's supposedly central villain Safin.
A great Bond film needs a great villain for Bond to face off against and Malek does not give us that. Waltz, in his brief reprise of Blofield, is far more fun and interesting. Malek's character is supposed to be driven by revenge and loss but we see none of that in his flat, bland performance.
It's a shame that while Bond is surrounded by both old familiar characters we love (Leiter, M, Q, Moneypenny) and new characters that excite us with possibilities (Nomi, Paloma) for his final film, he does not get the final villain that he deserves.
Malek doesn't ruin the film, but he does keep it from being great. In this Craig cycle, "Casino Royale" still ranks at the best (it also in my top three of all Bond films) with "Skyfall" and then "No Time To Die" following closely. "Quantum of Solace" and "Spectre" were the weak links.
But all in all, "No Time To Die" delivered a satisfying resolution to the Craig Bond films.
The script is credited to a large contingent of writers — Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga and Phoebe Waller-Bridge — which may have contributed to its length. But the team does give us a story that gives Bond an emotional narrative that has run through the five films, taking us from his initiation as a 00 agent licensed to kill to a retired agent. For this film they also provide a ton of Easter eggs referencing past Bond films and even Fleming himself. So we return to Jamaica, the location where Fleming created Bond as well as the location for multiple films, there are musical cues from past films, as well as a host of other things that I look forward to uncovering with multiple viewing.
And while Craig’s contract is done and he will not be assuming the role again, the film ends with the assurance that James Bond will return. I’m game to see how.