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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: James Bond

Nobody does it better: Celebrating 50 years of James Bond films

June 4, 2012 |  3:58 pm

Connery

It's a Bond, James Bond, weekend in Los Angeles.

With Ian Fleming's dashing, debonair and sexy British spy marking 50 years on the silver screen, the American Cinematheque and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art are celebrating the longevity of the film franchise, which has endured five decades, 22 films (the 23rd, "Skyfall," with Daniel Craig, is due this fall) and almost as many leading-man incarnations as Dr. Who.

The celebration begins with the American Cinematheque's "007 at 50: The Complete James Bond Retrospective." The fun starts Friday at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood with the very first Bond film, "Dr. No," starring Sean Connery as 007, and 1963's "From Russia With Love." The retrospective moves Saturday to the Aero in Santa Monica with a double bill of 1964's "Goldfinger" and 1965's "Thunderball." The series continues at both theaters through June 24. http://www.americancinematheque.com

The exhibition "... Is James Bond," presented by LACMA and co-organized with Loyola Marymount University's School of Film and Television, opens Saturday and continues through Sept. 9 at LACMA's Art of the Americas Building. The presentation will feature all 22 unique, boldly graphic and often erotic film title sequences thematically grouped and displayed on a series of 40-inch monitors.

Fourteen of those title sequences were designed by the late Maurice Binder, who was succeeded by Daniel Kleinman for 1995's "GoldenEye."

Film Independent at LACMA will screen a Bond double bill every Thursday evening in July and September. http://www.lacma.org

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-- Susan King

Photo: Sean Connery in "From Russia With Love." Credit: MGM Home Entertainment


Daniel Craig talks 'Dragon Tattoo,' next Bond film 'Skyfall'

December 22, 2011 | 12:46 pm

Daniel craig dragon tattoo
Fans of Daniel Craig can get two scoops of the actor this week in theaters -- in both kid-friendly and decidedly adult form. Craig is the man behind Sakharine in "The Adventures of Tintin" and a crusading Swedish magazine reporter in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." After that, though, you'll have to wait until fall 2012 for "Skyfall," his next iteration as James Bond.

We caught up with Craig on a break from filming "Skyfall" in early December in London, where he had gathered with "Dragon Tattoo" cast and director David Fincher to talk about the film.

In “Dragon Tattoo,” Craig’s Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist fallen from grace due to a libel court case. His life is profoundly affected when he meets Goth über-hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), who attempts to disguise her inner pain via blunt manners, facial piercings and elaborate body tattoos.  

Phantasmagoric, “Matrix" meets H.R. Giger style of opening credits (by Tim Miller’s Blur, of Venice) kick off “Dragon Tattoo” as Karen O belts out a new arrangement of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” “Fincher does that kind of sinister stuff incredibly well, huh?" says Craig, 43, suave in a dark blue navy style sweater and trousers. "Those opening credits definitely give us food for thought in terms of the next Bond.”

The intense British actor has read the Stieg Larsson books thoroughly. Larsson was a politically active, left-wing Swedish journalist, who died just before his Millennium Trilogy was published, starting with “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”  

Q: What captivated you the most about Stieg Larsson’s novels?

DC: I think the essential themes of the books have to do with the politics of sexuality. The main protagonist, Lisbeth Salander, has been beaten down all her life. Still she manages somehow to survive, succeed and even flourish. Lisbeth has a true sense of injustice in the world. Not just for herself, but for other people, too. The man I play in the movie, Mikael Blomkvist, is a true kindred spirit, as he understands injustice and wants to get to the truth of it, just like Lisbeth. Blomkvist and Salander come together at a certain point, and have this turbulent relationship, which is complex, interesting, sexy and funny. The elements of that relationship are featured prominently in the book, and also in our movie.

Q: Why do you think David Fincher and Sony Pictures decided to go forward and re-adapt Stieg Larsson’s trilogy so soon after the original Scandinavian adaptations, which were released only a few years ago?

DC: Because the books are just plain good old storytelling, that’s why. The books are extremely popular globally, and hopefully with this movie they’ll be even more widely read. This was a chance for us to gather a massive talent pool together, and create something very much for the adult market, and yet something that works for the mass appeal market as well. I, for one, was very excited about the idea.

Q: David Fincher is one of those quintessential cinematic masters, with his own unique style, and yet he evokes the feel of perfectionists like Stanley Kubrick. Was the sheer level of craft the main reason you wanted to be in this movie, and work with Fincher?

DC: I think David has many similarities with Stanley Kubrick. He’s also clearly been inspired by Alfred Hitchcock, particularly in how he handles dialogue. Fincher’s defining himself as a director, he’s matured a lot in the past 20 years, if you look at the movies he’s done. His movies were always good in my opinion, but his craft has just gotten better over the years, especially the recent ones. I’m a big fan of his, so when they asked me to be involved, it was an easy question to answer. Yes! I’ve wanted to work with David Fincher for a long time.

Q: I understand that the arctic climate wasn’t always kind to you, the rest of the cast or the crew while making “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” in Sweden. Clearly, David Fincher and the studio thought that you really couldn’t stage this kind of Nordic ambience anywhere else, am I right?

 DC: Sure, we all froze our [butts] off. There’s an incredibly rich culture of storytelling in northern Europe, because it’s very dark there a lot of the year. You’ve got to have something to do, while the lights are out. Telling ghost stories and stories about murder and danger are good ways of keeping yourself entertained. That’s been done in northern Europe and the Nordic countries for thousands of years. Being there and filming “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” in Sweden was incredibly important for us all – for the reasons of light, the cold and the general atmosphere. There was absolutely no point of uprooting this story and shooting it somewhere else. It just had to be Sweden, it had to be Stockholm.   

 Q: Since you’re in London, shooting “Skyfall” -– and even looking like 007 right now -– do you still feel as good about the upcoming Bond movie as you did before the shoot?

 DC: Oh yes. It’s a great, fantastic script, and we’re making a very good Bond movie. It’s going to be very special and different, but it’s still very much tied to Bonds of old. I’ve said it over and over again, but I’m very excited about “Skyfall,” and Sam’s [Mendes, the director] doing a wonderful job.

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-- Juhani Nurmi in London

Photo: Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Credit: Merrick Morton/Columbia TriStar

 

 


BAFTA Los Angeles renames award after Bond producer

October 11, 2011 | 12:13 pm

Cubby

The British Academy of Film and Television Los Angeles announced Tuesday that it was renaming its Britannia Award for Worldwide Contribution to Filmed Entertainment in honor of the late Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli, the producer of the James Bond film franchise. Broccoli died in 1996 at age 87.

 The first Cubby Broccoli Britannia Award will be presented to  John Lasseter, the Oscar-winning animator, director and chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. Lasseter will receive the honor at the 2011 BAFTA Los Angeles Britannia Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Nov. 30.

"Cubby Broccoli was the Britannia's first honoree when the awards were originated over 20 years ago," BAFTA L.A. chairman Nigel Lythgoe said in a statement. "By creating a global phenomenon with the longest-running film series in cinema history, Cubby's legacy exemplifies what the Britannia Award for Worldwide Contribution stands for."

Tony Award-winning actor Alan Cumming will host the awards show. The event will air Dec. 4 on the TV Guide Network.

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-- Susan King

Photo: Cubby Broccoli, left, and Roger Moore on the set of "Octopussy." Credit: Danjaq & United Artists Corp.


New James Bond movie coming to theaters next year -- and another maybe not long after that

April 13, 2011 |  5:39 pm

Craig
James Bond fans holding their breath about the fate of the superspy franchise can exhale a little. MGM and Sony have announced a deal under which the companies will co-finance and release the next two Bond pictures.

After numerous false starts, the deal will return Daniel Craig to the screen as the suave if tortured hero on Nov. 9, 2012. (Sam Mendes will direct the new picture, which could also star Javier Bardem in the villain role.) As my Company Town colleagues report, the two companies will share financing costs, and Sony will release the movie in all but a few select worldwide territories; MGM will release the film in the remaining territories.

A second film, known informally as Bond 24, will also fall under the new deal. Details of that are still a ways off, though the deal announced Wednesday offers hope that there will be fewer snags and delays than have afflicted Bond 23. MGM financial issues and other obstacles have led to a long gap between films; there has been no new Bond movie since "Quantum of Solace" was released in 2008.

With the new deal, there is, however, an embarrassment-of-riches question. Sony is also behind "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" adaptation, which also stars Craig. If that movie, directed by David Fincher, takes off, a franchise could be in the offing with Stieg Larsson's other Millennium Trilogy tomes. That would require that Craig, Sony and MGM choose between prioritizing Bond 24 and the second film in the Larsson trilogy.

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New James Bond gets a little closer to the screen

The James Bond musings churn on

-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Daniel Craig as James Bond in "Casino Royale." Credit: MGM


New James Bond gets a little bit closer to the screen

January 11, 2011 |  1:09 pm

Solace
There are still questions about who will actually be handling the release of the new James Bond movie, to be directed by Sam Mendes and starring Daniel Craig. But fans of 007 will be heartened by a press release from MGM on Tuesday that says the production is expected to begin late this year, with the aim of releasing the movie on Nov. 9, 2012.

The film, dubbed "Bond 23," has been hobbled by studio MGM's financial struggles as well as possible script issues that have pushed back production. (The last movie in the rejuvenated franchise, "The Quantum of Solace," came out in fall 2008.) But the reconstituting of MGM in recent months -- more on that from our Company Town colleagues here -- means that things look to be moving forward again. (The release also confirms the involvement of Mendes, who was previously announced as the director but who was not formally on the project during the worst of the MGM turbulence.)

The late-2012 date is a function of Craig's schedule, among other things; he'll need to finish shooting the David Fincher Millennium Trilogy film "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and promote the late-July release of Jon Favreau's "Cowboys & Aliens" before he rolls up his sleeves on the new Bond. (What the Bond shoot will do to Craig's schedule and a potential second film in the Millennium trilogy remains an open question.)

With various entities in contention to distribute and finance the movie, there's still corporate uncertainty around it. And there have been more than a few bumps in the road with Bond before. But those looking for a new installment from the tuxedoed hero can take comfort in knowing that, at least for now, it's scheduled to come out in just about 22 months.

-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Daniel Craig in "The Quantum of Solace." Credit: Sony Pictures

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The James Bond musings churn on. We do too.

August 5, 2010 |  6:05 pm

  Quant
The announcement this morning that Entertainment Weekly would next week be taking on the fate of the new James Bond movie -- on the cover, no less -- in a piece subtitled "The Inside Story of How the 007 is Falling Apart -- And the Battle to Save It" prompted thoughts that the mag has finally unlocked the key to the franchise's future.

Alas, Benjamin Svetkey's piece (which isn't online yet) doesn't come to any hard conclusions (although there's a fabulously entertaining throwaway about an MGM executive proposing that Eddie Murphy play the part, a suggestion not welcomed by Bond producers/gatekeepers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson of EON Productions).

The story mostly recounts the recent history of the rejuvenated franchise, the high hopes that a movie would have already been shooting and the MGM-related financial issues why it hasn't. "For Bond fans, these reports are as ominous as a laser pointed at a groin," Svetkey says of all the stories (including, presumably, his own) about indefinite delays on the next movie.

The piece did engender some grousing from more jaded quarters. "James Bond killed by slow news week," snapped Movieline, suggesting that the consternation over delays is overblown given how franchises such as Batman, Indiana Jones and Star Wars came back stronger than ever after a long layoff.

We suppose this would be a good time to say we have our own bring-our-readers-up-to-speed story in tomorrow's paper (you can read it online here). So, yes, we're part of the problem.

The most interesting piece of info we came across is that the delays are not all about MGM's finances, as much of the coverage has focused on. There are script issues too. Director Sam Mendes was brought in to do some rewriting (he was polishing Peter Morgan, who himself was polishing Neal Purvis and Robert Wade).  But all the creative people and EON didn't see eye-to-eye on the direction the script should take, which, compounded by the financial issues, has contributed to a delay that's made everyone scatter to the wind (Mendes to "On Chesil Beach," Daniel Craig to "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo").

Also interestingly, EON usually develops a Bond script and sends it to the particular studio releasing the movie after they're satisfied with it. They haven't done that yet here.

Of course, script-related delays don't necessarily signal trouble. In fact, they often mean the opposite: the desire to get it right. Anyone who would criticize filmmakers for tinkering too much on the new Bond movie might want to recall that it was precisely deliberateness and a little extra work that many felt was missing in "Quantum of Solace," which was by many accounts hurried into production after the writers strike.

There's little question we'll see a Bond movie sooner or later -- EON has too much at stake, and even if the script gets rewritten and rethought -- heck, even if the delays wear on long enough that someone other than Craig ends up in the title role -- there's every reason in the world to make a new one at some point. Until then, we'll have the Bond articles to read. And write.

-- Steven Zeitchik

http://twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

'Photo: Daniel Craig and Olga Kurylenko in "Quantum of Solace." Credit: MGM

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The dragon tattoo who loved me?

July 27, 2010 |  4:35 pm

Craig
Daniel Craig's official commitment to "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" drives home, in case it wasn't driven home enough, just how far away a new James Bond movie is from hitting the screen.

Craig will shoot David Fincher's crime remake after he finishes his current film, "Cowboys and Aliens," with production no doubt stretching reasonably deep into 2011. Even if by some bizarre miracle the MGM quagmire that has sunk Bond #23 can be resolved and development can pick up again, Craig would, at the absolute earliest, not be able to make the new spy movie until late 2011. Which would put it in theaters, also at the absolute earliest, in late 2012, four years after the last Bond movie came out.

And really, even that is a serious long shot; more likely it's much longer before we see the script Peter Morgan helped write hit the big screen.

Besides, even at the most accelerated schedule, it would still mean one of the longest gaps between Bonds in the franchise history. Bond anthologists will recall that there’s been only one delay longer than four years -- a six-year gap between Timothy Dalton's "Licence to Kill" and Pierce Brosnan's "Goldeneye." (The other four-year gap was between Brosnan's  "Die Another Day" and Craig's "Casino Royale.") It would be hands-down the longest gap between Bond movies that star the same actor.

But there's a small silver lining in this for Bond fans. The Ian Fleming franchise and Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy do share some commonalities. Mikael Blomqvist isn't driving Aston Martins or shooting pen guns. But both properties derive from globally bestselling books, involve a likable hero who's frequently on the run, showcase a woman who possesses a not inconsiderable amount of power (at least in the last 20 years of Judi Dench's M) and feature characters who track conspiracies with the help of technology (and a stiff drink). And Blomqvist, at least in Larsson's book, notches a Bond-ian level of female conquests.

Yes, that about ends the similarities. But with James Bond M.I.A., fans will at least find the actor battling evil ... somewhere in Europe.

-- Steven Zeitchik

http://twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Daniel Craig as James Bond. Credit: MGM

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Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by the Los Angeles Times. The Times Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.

A Bond long gone: Pierce Brosnan leaves the iconic spy role ever further behind

April 1, 2010 |  6:00 am

Pierce It's been eight years since Pierce Brosnan last played James Bond, but the actor still sometimes feels he's living in the shadow of the iconic spy.

In a story in Thursday's paper, Brosnan, 56, acknowledged that in the public's eye, he's still "very connected to the image and history of Bond."

"It just lives with you. It permeates your life," said the actor last week in an interview at a Beverly Hills hotel. "And you know that going in, but the reality of it -- the overcoat is really large, and can be quite heavy at times. So you have to break the shackles of that."

Brosnan has certainly thrown his effort into trying to diversify: by the end of the spring, he will have appeared in five radically different films.

His most recent project, "The Greatest," on which he also served as a producer, opens Friday and tells the story of a father grappling with the death of his son. 

Even the star of that film, Carey Mulligan, said she initially identified with Brosnan as Bond.

“He is my generation’s James Bond,” said the actress. “I played the video game of him with my brother on Nintendo 64.”

But "The Greatest" is a far cry from an action thriller. It shares in the serious tone of March's "Remember Me," in which he was embattled in a different kind of father-son relationship with teen heartthrob Robert Pattinson. There has also been Roman Polanski's "The Ghost Writer," in which Brosnan played an emotionally distant former prime minister, as well as his less dramatic turn as a bearded centaur in "Percy Jackson and the Olympians." Later this month, he'll serve as the narrator on the environmental documentary "Oceans."

Continue reading »

Poll: Can Sam Mendes shake up (and stir) the James Bond franchise?

January 5, 2010 |  6:09 pm

QuantumThe prospect that Sam Mendes will direct the new James Bond movie (provided that MGM and/or new owners can finance said movie) has the blogosphere buzzing. Mendes would be following the highly successful and acclaimed "Casino Royale" and the somewhat less acclaimed but still successful "Quantum of Solace."

It’s worth pointing out that some of the best Bond movies, at least for our money, were not directed by the most notable directors (Guy Hamilton directed “Goldfinger”) while some of the more acclaimed directors did some of the more middling or campy efforts (Lewis Gilbert directed  “Moonraker”).

Which makes you wonder how Mendes, who directed the Oscar-winning “American Beauty,” will fare. Which in turns leads us to the below poll.



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