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My 12 for ’12: Skyfall & Balancing Bonds…

I’m counting down my top twelve films of the year between now and January, starting at #12 and heading to #1. I expect the list to be a little bit predictable, a little bit surprising, a little bit of everything. All films released in the UK and Ireland in 2012 qualify. Sound off below, and let me know if I’m on the money, or if I’m completely off the radar. And let me know your own picks or recommendations.

This is #11

The wonderful thing about a pop culture commodity like James Bond is the flexibility that the character affords those looking to tell stories using the iconic character. Want to tell a story about high-stakes gambling? We can do that. What about averting a war between China and Great Britain? We’ve got it covered. Want to knock off Star Wars? Why not? How about pitching the character against Fu Manchu? We’re way ahead of you. Bond is flexible, and it’s one of the strengths of the character. Don’t like Roger Moore’s interpretation? Here’s Timothy Dalton. Tiring of Pierce Brosnan? Daniel Craig will be along to kick things into action.

While this makes for a fascinating study of the flexibility and adaptability of a cultural touchstone, it does create a bit of a dilemma when trying to celebrate his fiftieth anniversary. Given that Bond is so many things to so many people, can he be everything at once? Skyfall does an impressive job balancing the old and new, while managing to focus on the character at the heart of one of the most enduring cinematic franchises.

skyfall15

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A View to a Bond Baddie: Aristotle “Aris” Kristatos

To celebrate James Bond’s 50th birthday on screen (and the release of Skyfall), we’re going to take a look at the character and his films. We’ve already reviewed all the classic movies, so we’ll be looking at his iconic baddies, and even at the character himself.

For Your Eyes Only is often overlooked when discussing Roger Moore’s time as the iconic secret agent. Positioned between the camp excesses of Moonraker and the rather disappointing blandness of Octopussy, Moore’s fifth film in the role is arguably the actor’s best. It distinguishes itself from its peers in several ways. Most obviously, it’s a relatively low-key espionage thriller, rather than a spectacular action film. The narrative is driven by mystery and intrigue at least as much as it is by action and adventure. The stakes are relatively grounded when compared to those in Moore’s other films. There’s no planned genocide here, not even the immediate threat of nuclear war. It almost feels like a spiritual companion to the Timothy Dalton films, or the early Sean Connery adventures. And yet, despite the fact its tone feels a little out of character, For Your Eyes Only really feels like it plays to Roger Moore’s strengths. Perhaps the most obvious example of this is the villain, Aristotle “Aris” Kristatos, who serves as the best foil for Roger Moore’s Bond in any of Moore’s seven films.

One to cross(bow) off the list…

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The Six Faces of 007: Roger Moore

To celebrate James Bond’s 50th birthday on screen (and the release of Skyfall), we’re going to take a look at the character and his films. We’ve already reviewed all the classic movies, so we’ll be looking at his iconic baddies, and even at the character himself.

I always feel a little bit guilty when I concede that I am not too fond of Roger Moore’s time as James Bond. After all, Roger Moore seems like a truly wonderful person, and a great ambassador for the franchise. Of all the actors to play the role, he’s the one most likely to appear on television or in print to share stories or anecdotes about he time in the role, to defend the latest lead actor to come under fire, or even just to make some wonderfully wittily self-deprecating remarks. My Word is My Bond is a great deal of fun for any fan of the character and the films. So, to be clear, I love Roger Moore. I just don’t really like him as James Bond.

What’s not to love?

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A View to a Bond Baddie: Alec Trevelyan

To celebrate James Bond’s 50th birthday on screen, we’re going to take a look at the character and his films. We’ve already reviewed all the classic movies, so we’ll be looking at his iconic baddies, and even at the character himself.

Alec Trevelyan stands out amongst Bond’s foes on the big screen because he’s really the first to be constructed explicitly to contrast with Bond. You could argue that many of the outings in the series are more preoccupied with the villain than with Bond himself, and GoldenEye stands out as one of the films most tightly focused on Bond himself. Alec Trevelyan, as such, exists as a more direct mirror to Bond than most of his foes. The bad guy even operates under the code name “Janus.” There are several implied reasons – his knack for treachery and betrayal, the scar on the side of his face. However, it also suggests that Bond and Trevelyan exist as two sides of the same coin.

Smart Alec?

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The Six Faces of 007: Timothy Dalton

To celebrate James Bond’s 50th birthday on screen (and the release of Skyfall), we’re going to take a look at the character and his films. We’ve already reviewed all the classic movies, so we’ll be looking at his iconic baddies, and even at the character himself.

Timothy Dalton’s tenure as Bond is almost as divisive as that of George Lazenby, the only actor to serve a shorter term in the iconic role. However, in the years since Dalton departed the franchise, I’ll admit that I’ve grown quite fond of his interpretation of the British secret agent. Between The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill, I think that Dalton portrayed the most human and most tangible of the character’s screen personas, and I think that he suffers from being cast twenty years too early in the part. Certainly, one can see a lot of Daniel Craig’s whittled-down take on the character in Dalton’s two outings as 007.

Dalton’s taken quite a beating…

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The Six Faces of 007: George Lazenby

To celebrate James Bond’s 50th birthday on screen (and the release of Skyfall), we’re going to take a look at the character and his films. We’ve already reviewed all the classic movies, so we’ll be looking at his iconic baddies, and even at the character himself.

George Lazenby stands out as perhaps the strangest on-screen Bond. He only appeared in a single film before retiring from the role, shortly before the premiere, causing such a crisis that the studio paying a huge amount of money to re-hire Sean Connery for Diamonds Are Forever. His one film, however, stands out as one of the very few movies in the series to give the character Bond a logical character arc, and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service remains one of the most polarising films in the series. I actually think that Lazenby’s tenure is perhaps the one that lends itself best to the “multiple Bonds” theory, as he plays the version of the character harder to reconcile with the other portrayals.

And not just because of that awkward line that closes the opening sequence. There’s a lot here that never happened to the other fellas.

Washed up?

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Non-Review Review: Flightplan

Truth be told, I think part of the reason I have a soft spot for Flightplan is simply because Jodie Foster doesn’t make enough films. She’s an actress who devotes so little time to major releases of late that each of her movies is a gem of itself. That’s not to argue that she shouldn’t spend time with her family or pursue other interests, it’s just an acknowledgement that she’s really one of the best actresses working today and – sadly – works all too infrequently. She’s an actress who can add a high level of quality to what might otherwise be a mundane production, and here she manages to turn a rather disappointing thriller into an enjoyable hour-and-a-half of entertainment.

Aisle watch Jodie Foster in anything...

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