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James Bond January in Review

It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these, and I’m not sure I should bring them back – but, hey, it might be nice to have an index of all the James Bond January shenanigans I got up to this January. Let’s start with the reviews  of the 22 films – all of them:

I also did some James Bond related posts in the month. I wondered about the “James Bond is just a codename” theory, pondered what Bond 23 might have in store for the franchise and wondered if Bond gets away with so much because we dismiss a lot of its British nationalism as “quaint”.

Apart from all that, I wondered if the film 300 was actually racist, and dared to suggest it wasn’t. I took a look at Matthew Vaughn’s upcoming X-Men: First Class and superhero nostalgia. I also pondered what Christopher Nolan’s Bane might look like. It was a fun month, and I hope that next month will be just as exciting.

Thanks again to Paragraph Films for throwing the whole “James Bond January” thing together. It was a joy to take part.

Non-Review Review: Casino Royale

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

Casino Royale was breath of fresh air for the Bond franchise. The twenty-first film in the series, it represented something akin to a “back to basics” philosophy, pulling back from the camp excesses of Die Another Day to offer us a version of Bond which was a thriller rather than an action comedy. It’s a familiar pattern for low-key entries to follow over-the-top instalments (after all, the producers followed Moonraker with For Your Eyes Only), but arguably not to the same extent. While other movies made the pretense of operating within the same continuity (with numerous references, for example, to Bond’s marriage from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), Casino Royale was an attempt to completely start from scratch, with a new actor playing a James Bond who was new to his 00-agent status.

What’s on the cards for Bond?

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Non-Review Review: Die Another Day

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

A new watch. Your twentieth, I believe.

How time flies.

– Q and Bond go all meta on us

I next joined Pierce and co at the premiere of Die Another Day in 2002, which marked the 40th anniversary of the series. When asked later what I thought of the film, I merely said “interesting”. In truth I thought it just went too far – and that’s from me, the first Bond in space! Invisible cars and dodgy CGI footage? Please! They gave the public what they wanted, though maybe they too realised there was only so far they could push it before Bond became a caricature of himself, and the funeral directors were called in.

– Sir Roger Moore, who seems like a lovely guy

Truth be told, Die Another Day doesn’t quite deserve the reputation that it has earned over the years. But, then again, I can appreciate A View to a Kill, so what do I know?

Close, but no cigar...

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Non-Review Review: The World Is Not Enough

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

The World is Not Enough is a mess of a film, even by the standards of the Bond films. It proposes some interesting ideas and has some neat concepts, but there’s also some really stupid moments thrown in as well. If Tomorrow Never Dies was Pierce Brosnan doing tribute to later Sean Connery films, this him stuck in homage to Roger Moore – a few smart and emotional moments scattered over a large serving of camp, like vanilla pods mixed into the most bland vanilla ice cream you could imagine. It’s not a terrible film, but it’s so wildly inconsistent that it’s far less satisfying than generally weaker instalments.

That's the crushing weight of expectation, right there...

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Non-Review Review: Tomorrow Never Dies

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

What the hell is he doing?

His job.

– Admiral Roebuck and M watch Bond do the impossible before the opening titles

I have a confession to make. I unapologetically love Tomorrow Never Dies. It’s the first Bond movie I saw in the cinema, with my dad and brother while on a shopping trip up North. I believe the girls went to see Titanic. It’s my first cinematic Bond experience, a perhaps that’s why I am somewhat fonder memory of the film than most – but, even on reflection, I still hold the movie in high regard. I just think it’s the perfect companion piece to the superb GoldenEye. While Martin Campbell’s film was about deconstructing the spy, showing how useless he was in times of peace and arguing he was “a relic of the Cold War” who needed updating and introspection, this Bond film was about how he can do all the cool stuff he used to, even after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Sure, it’s not as deep, smart or sophisticated as the earlier film, but it’s an unashamed throwback to the classic Bond films – and what’s wrong with that?

By the way, how telling is it that – while Bond used to drive a snazzy sports car in the sixties – he drives a family sedan in the nineties?

I'm pretty sure that the only reason Tomorrow Never Dies is because Bond never tried to kill it...

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Non-Review Review: GoldenEye

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

GoldenEye saved James Bond. Bond had wallowed in obscurity for six years by the time that Pierce Brosnan’s first appearance in the role was released. As a kid, James Bond was something that was dead to me. Sure, it came on television from time to time (mostly on holidays) and they filled up a shelf at the videostore, but I always felt like they were something that had happened in the past – like the original Star Wars movies, or any Star Trek films featuring Captain Kirk. Even though I lacked the sophistication to articulate it at the time, I think I felt that the entire James Bond franchise would be reruns for me. There was nothing new happening.

And then GoldenEye was released.

Brosnan is Bond...

And it meant business.

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The Very British Mr. Bond: The Habits of Empire & The American Fixation on Bond

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

James Bond is a peculiarly British phenomenon. He’s a charmingly debonaire socialite with great taste in women and suits, but also a coldly professional killer. I’ve had debates on him where I’ve classified him as a gentleman, a sociopath, a sexist, a piece of nostalgia in a tuxedo, one of the last true cinematic heroes and the very distillation of cinematic class – sometimes within the context of the same argument. Why is Bond so fascinating? What makes him so gripping? Is it perhaps the fact that Bond is, in all his personas, so incredibly British?

Is he mostly armless?

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