Sunday, June 28, 2009


I have taken part, for a second time, in StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Smackdown. The year is 1983, and Heavens to Betsy there's much to love here. The chick from SilverScreener fave Carrie, Cruella De Ville, the woman who made me believe in life after love, a tiny woman, and Alfre Woodard. Kick-ass.

I'll tell you what, I am a big fan of the performances by Cher (Silkwood) and Linda Hunt (The Year of Living Dangerously). I am not a big fan of Amy Irving in Yentl.

Head on over to StinkyLulu and check out what went down.

I have to say, if there's one thing I've learned from this experience, it's this: 1983 kind of blows. True, Linda Hunt got the Oscar she so richly deserved, and Silkwood's cool, but overall? Cross Creek is dull, Yentl is a joke, and though I freeking love The Big Chill, why was Glenn Close that film's sole nominee? Especially when Meg Tilly, Mary Kay Place, Tom Berenger, and (emphasis on him) William Hurt gave such amazing performances? What a bizarre year.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Casting Coup: Diamonds Are Forever

I have been awful about keeping up with Bond Month. It's been a whole eleven days since my last post. Good Lord, doing this in the middle of a busy thesis cycle was not the best idea I've had. But I guess another part of it was my reluctance to get into Diamonds Are Forever, a novel which I remembered mainly for the boredom I felt while reading it.

But how unfair that is! For during a reread of it, I realized that Diamonds Are Forever has one of the better character arcs for a Bond Girl. Tiffany Case, simplified into a ditzy (borderline retarded) bimbo in the film, is interesting in that she is only one of three Fleming-era Bond Girls to actually matter to Bond. She's a tough gal, the victim of a vicious gang rape when she was sixteen, an event that left her uninterested in men. Until Bond, of course, who actually comes off as a sweetheart in this one. He's naive to the way things work in non-tropical America, underestimates his opponents, and tries to resist falling for Tiffany because he doesn't want to use her feelings as a way to plumb for information.

The main plot is sort of interesting: Bond is assigned to close a pipeline of diamond smuggling from South Africa to the United States. The main villains are forgettable, twin brothers who smuggle diamonds or whatever. The henchman are the more interesting characters this time around, including homosexual hitmen Wint and Kidd and hunchbacked between-man Shady Tree. This is also the first look we get of Felix Leiter after the shark attack in Live and Let Die. Outfitted with a false leg and hook, Leiter is no longer with the CIA, but an employee of Pinkertons Detective Agency. Still kick-ass, though.

Diamonds Are Forever is also one of the few novels that could work just as well in the present as it did back then. No need to change things around to accomodate this Bond, no need to up the stakes to reflect the 21st Century -- just a simple smuggling scheme that Bond must stop. True, there are none of the diamond satellites of the film, nor is there a Blofeld in drag. But I guess those are sacrifices I'll have to make.

Featuring: James Bond, Felix Leiter, M, Miss Moneypenny, Loelia Ponsonby, Ronnie Vallance (for more on these characters, check here and here)

Who is He: One of Vallance's men. He takes Bond to London's House of Diamonds to meet the mysterious Rufus B. Saye. Dankwaerts, an expert on diamonds, soon realizes that Saye, head honcho of the H of D, knows either very little or absolutely nothing at all abotu diamonds -- just whether or not they sell.

My Choice:

Danny Webb (Valkyrie, The Upside of Anger)
Talented, but not well-known, so he's undistracting. He could play up the smug revelation beautifully.

Who is He: A cab driver working with Leiter. He becomes Bond's ally and personal driver in Las Vegas, though he is hospitalized after a car wreck that leads to Bond's kidnapping.

My Choice:

Erik Estrada (TV's CHiPS, TV's Sealab 2021)
Estrada can sell the charm and regular guy-ness Ernie possesses. He looks like he can be comfortable in any situation, whether it be driving Bond, hoodwinking hoodlums, hospitalized. Ernie gets a lot of quick-witted dialogue, too, and I feel Estrada is a man who can really clip a sentence.

Who is He: A high-pitched, hunchbacked go-between for the diamond operation. He gets the goods from Bond before sending him off to receive "payment" via the racetrack. When Leiter exposes the fix, Shady then sends Bond to Las Vegas to gamble the money back. And of course, what better casino to play at than Mr. Spang's?

Originally played by:

Leonard Barr, stand-up comedian and Dean Martin's uncle

My Choice:

Roger Bart (Hercules, The Insider)
Really, it's his confrontation with Russell Crowe in American Gangster that convinced me. It's that nice balance of high-pitched annoyance and Napoleonic bitchery that is so Shady Tree. Bart could get the humor and daft creepiness of a hunchbacked tough guy who drinks milk.

Who Are They: Two of the most vicious hitmen Bond has gone up against. Wint is the large, fat killer who sucks on a wart on his thumb. He relishes the torture aspect of his job. Like, say, pouring 115-degree mud onto the face of a jockey who displeased the Spangs. Or pistol-whipping a locker room attendant. Or getting out steel-toed boots to kick and stomp Bond. Kidd is silent, but just as deadly. His eyes are soulless and merciless. Partners in crime and in the bedroom, Wint and Kidd truly two of the most dangerous men to ever appear in Bond lore.

Originally played by:

Bruce Glover as Mr. Wint, Putter Smith as Mr. Kidd

My Choices: A familiar face for Mr. Wint; for Mr. Kidd, a Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar), SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (Moulin Rouge!)

Chi McBride (Let's Go to Prison, The Frighteners) as Mr. Wint
Tall and imposing, I can see McBride cruelly taking people down a peg or six. He'd provide a great opponent for Bond.

John Leguizamo (Romeo + Juliet, Spawn) as Mr. Kidd
Small and danerous-looking, I could just as easily see Leguizamo watching McBride do his thing with amusement before taking part in the murder. Good Lord, look at him. He's got a killer's smile.

Who is She: A beautiful blonde who helps smuggle diamonds for Spang. She is thought to be the girlfriend of Seraffimo Spang, the brother who runs things in Vegas. She finds herself reluctantly falling for James Bond. As 007 describes, she is the type of girl who listens to romantic French songs alone in her room while looking at herself in the mirror. One of the sadder, braver, and best Bond Girls in the series.

Originally played by:

Jill St. John, who made redheads boring, and that is truly unforgivable

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Pulp Fiction), BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Actress (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill: Vol.1), Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actress in a Drama (Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Kill Bill: Vol. 2) and Best Supporting Actress (Pulp Fiction), SAG Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Pulp Fiction)

Uma Thurman (Batman & Robin, Dangerous Liaisons)
Beautiful. Badass. Bond Girl. These are all words we should use to describe her (certainly Tarantino thought so). We know she can play tough, be damn cool in a crisis (that line courtesy Easy Virtue), fight with the best. We also know that she is stunning and has such sad eyes sometimes. The chemistry her and Chewie would possess together is just too delicious to consider!

Who Are They: Twin brothers who run the Spangled Mob, the gang smuggling diamonds from South Africa to the United States. Jack is the brains of the operation, running the House of Diamonds in London under the name Rufus B. Saye. He also gives Tiffany anonymous instructions over the phone under the name ABC. Seraffimo runs the casino in Vegas. He is abusive and sadistic, but also obsessed with Westerns. So much, in fact, that he actually buys an old ghost town and a locomotive of his own to play cowboy in. He is seriously crazy.The twins are broad but stumpy, speaking with stereotypical Gangster accents while dressing impeccably.

My Choice: Okay, are you ready for this?
This is the face that immediately popped up when the character of Jack Spang was first introduced.
Academy Award Winner for Best Director (The Departed), BAFTA Award Winner for Best Film (Goodfellas), Best Direction (Goodfellas) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Goodfellas), DGA Award Winner for Best Director (The Departed), Golden Globe Winner for Best Director (Gangs of New York, The Departed), WGA Award Nominee for Best Original Screenplay (Mean Streets) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Goodfellas), Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Director (The Departed)

Martin Scorsese (Akira Kurosawa's Dreams, Quiz Show)
Scorsese isn't that bad on-screen. Oozing capitalistic malevolence in Quiz Show, reflecting the artistic temperament in Dreams, scaring the bejeezus out of me in Taxi Driver, Scorsese is underused as an actor, I feel. Him as a Bond villain only makes sense, and that manic way of speaking he has could only add so much to the crazed, Western-obsessed Seraffimo. A heavy worthy of the fight.

Easy Virtue

Just commented on The Film Experience with the following:

"I am so in love with Easy Virtue that I'm planning on seeing it for a third time this weekend. I don't feel bad about this because Cheri hasn't opened here yet. Colin Firth is absolutely fantastic, Kristin Scott Thomas is her usually stellar self, but the real surprise is the engaging turn by Jessica Biel. God, what a movie."

I could go on and say that the soundtrack is incredible, making the insane but awesome decision to do 1920s riffs on songs like "Car Wash" and "Sex Bomb". That the costumes are absolutely beautiful. That Biel may have found her niche in period comedies. That most of the protagonists are bereft of stereotype or caricature. That it can be just as sad as it is hilarious. I could say all of that and feel a clear conscience.

Stephan Elliot is an odd director, though. So in love with reflections, one could play a drinking game with it. And get trashed within a half-hour. Yet it somehow manages to work.

Go see it. Today, tomorrow, next week. That's not an "or", that's an "and". It's just that good.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Via The New York Times:

"At a press conference Wednesday morning in Beverly Hills, Sid Ganis, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said that future Oscar races will include 10 nominees for best picture rather than five. It’s a dramatic change that is sure to roil future Oscar contests, beginning with the upcoming one set for March 7 at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood."

Oh my God are they serious??? I have no idea how to feel about this one. Some people claim this was always the way to go, others like the nail-biter aspect of five nominees. And what does this do for predictions? Holy crap, what does this do for the Hollmann Awards?

This is flabbergasting. Yeah, it's the way they did things until the Oscars for 1943, but wow. Just wow.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"Don't Get Mad, Get MUSICAL!"

Ah, the musical! Nothing like it in the world, is there? And count me as a fan of the new musical from movie tradition. I don't understand the hate, truly. Look, My Fair Lady is the play Pygmalion with songs, Wicked is based off a novel, Rent is a modernization of La Boheme. Why is staging a film any different (or worse) than musicalizing a stage play? It's bizarre.

Anyway, after first hearing about in the summer of 2006, a musical I've long awaited is finally in existence! From the novel by Olivia Goldsmith, from the film starring Diane Keaton, Bette Midler, and Goldie Hawn: THE FIRST WIVES CLUB: THE MUSICAL!!!

So happy am I. True, I was hoping I would be the one to bring one my favorite films to Broadway, but that's all right. I have plenty of other choices (Nixon, To Wong Foo..., Death on the Nile, etc.). But my God, the caliber of people participating in this is staggering! There's director Francesca Zambello, who directed the Broadway version of The Little Mermaid. The producers have had a hand in bringing Big River and The Full Monty to the stage. And holy crap, the ORIGINAL songs are written by Lamont Dozier and Brian and Edward Holland. You may know a few of the songs they've written. Like, oh, "Stop in the Name of Love" or "Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch" or "It's the Same Old Song" or my own personal favorite, "Come See About Me."

And this cast looks promising! Details are a little vague, but it looks as though Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn and Bette Midler will be replaced by:

Tony Award Winner for Featured Actress in a Musical (Contact): Karen Ziemba (Curtains, Never Gonna Dance, Steel Pier) as Annie
Tony Award Nominee for Lead Actress in a Musical (Dreamgirls): Sheryl Lee Ralph (Thoroughly Modern Millie, TV's Moesha) as Elise
Tony Award Nominee for Featured Actress in a Musical (Falsettos): Barbara Walsh (Big, Company revival) as Brenda

I repeat: Moesha's stepmother is taking on the role originated by Goldie Hawn. How amazing is that?

The only downside I see so far is this: if it's all original, does that mean we won't be getting any Lesley Gore songs? Because if so, damn will I miss this:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Casting Coup: Moonraker

It's interesting, the things that can go wrong in an adaptation. Take, for instance, Moonraker.

Ian Fleming's third novel in the James Bond series is my favorite. The villain is debonair and colorful; the girl is an actual, developed human being; the plot is spectacular, leaning more on suspense than on action and sex; and there's a bridge game. It is the finest of the SMERSH-era Bonds, yet it is also the first one that has no connection whatsoever to the Soviets. Both exciting and mature, Moonraker is where Fleming finally got comfortable with the work, and it is here that we first see what he is capable of.

The film version, of course, is notorious for its awfulness. Retaining the book's title and the name of the villain, the 1979 Moonraker is a walking blunder that fails as a Bond film, a suspense thriller, an adventure movie, a sci-fi flick, etc. It's watchable in the same way rubberneckers watch car accidents. It's just...ugh. I cannot believe they turned such a classic novel into such dreck.

When they finally decided to use some of the plot in a Bond film, it was for Number 20 -- Die Another Day, which surely deserved better than what it became. Rosamund Pike and Toby Stephens aside, the film is a mess, but at least it retains certain plot elements of the book: A knighthood bestowed on a British citizen who is actually a foreign menace. Said villain using the device that made him a national hero to destroy his enemies (the good guys). A duel between hero and villain at a country club called Blades (bridge in the book, fencing in the film). Hell, Miranda Frost (the aforementioned Pike) was even named Gala Brand in the original draft! Alas, the film came quite short of hitting the mark.

I guess the problem is the source novel. It just doesn't match the established Bond formula. If they had gone with it before You Only Live Twice, it might have worked, but once insane things like kidnapped space capsules started happening, where else was one to go? While the title refers to Britain's first nuclear missile that Drax is developing, the book is short on action sequences or that sort of intrigue, with Bond and Gala mostly sleuthing about. There are a number of memorable sequences, of course. For instance, Bond fights off Drax's henchman Krebs with a bottle in his room. And, of course, there is the explosion on the beach that sends chalk collapsing on our heroes in an attempt to smother both them and the investigation. As well as the fact that the villain's plan is to send a rocket with an atomic warhead straight into the heart of London. Balls.

But there is no final fight with the villain. All the deaths happen off-screen. Even the juicy details -- the villain's identity revealed to the world, the launching and deflection of Moonraker, the comeuppance -- are all related via a radio broadcast. Yet this actually builds the suspense, since we're right there with Bond and Gala, only knowing through what we hear whether their plan actually worked.

Oh, and how memorable is that final sequence, by the way? Gala and James kidnapped and taken to the radio station powering the Moonraker -- in the heart of London! Escaping in time to deflect the nuclear missile to Drax's private boat in the middle of the ocean! Just as Drax raises the Swastika, revealing himself to be a Nazi agent all along! Not knowing if the plan has worked until the next chapter! God, what a novel!

I'd contemporize the piece, of course, but I like the idea of Drax being a Nazi who has passed himself off as a British POW all these years. Sixty years of formulating a plan, collecting resources, rounding up others sympathetic to his cause. Brilliant. And it would still be a test rocket headed for the heart of London. And it would still focus on the characters, possibly one of the best example sof Fleming's ability to write fully-developed three-dimensional character arcs. More action would be thrown in, of course, but it would remain mostly faithful to the original novel.

Featured in Moonraker: James Bond, M, Bill Tanner, Miss Moneypenny, Loelia Ponsonby, May Maxwell (more on these characters).

Who is He: Assistant Commissioner of Scotland Yard, responsible for the Special Branch, Gala Brand's boss. Down-to-earth and trusting of Bond, the two become friends and allies.

My Choice:

Jack Davenport (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Marple: The Body in the Library)
Davenport has both the authoritative look and the loosey-goosey manner. John Cleese's choice for James Bond, he could certainly fit the suit and demeanor.

Who is He: Chairman of Blades, the private club of which M and Drax are members. Basildon and M become concerned when they suspect that national hero and member in good standing Hugo Drax may be cheating at cards. It is Basildon who suggests M bring someone in, and it is eventually up to him to clear Bond for visitation into the Holy Sanctum.

My Choice:

Frank Thornton (Gosford Park, Are You Being Served?: The Movie)
A veteran British actor who has been a part of my life since I was a child. Thornton has that old-fashioned British stiff upper lip, the reserve, the snobbery. He and Michael Gambon could have a ball together playing the members of an exclusive, uptight club. The concern for publicity and protecting his members would be executed perfectly with Thornton.

Who is He: A physicist working on the Moonraker project. Walter is but another henchman working for Drax.

My Choice:

Udo Kier (Armageddon, Andy Warhol's Dracula)
Kier is creepy. Like a creepy effing Nazi scientist. Like Dr. Walter. Case. Closed.

Who is He: Drax's "muscle". Distrusting anyone from the outside, Krebs snoops through the rooms and luggage of both Bond and Gala. He and agent 007 get into a fist fight, but Bond uses a bottle to get out of it. Krebs takes great pleasure in torture, especially when it involves a blowtorch and a beautiful girl.

My Choice:

Armin Rohde (Run Lola Run)
A pudgy fellow, Rohde fits the description we are given of Krebs, who mostly seems to be a Peter Lorre type. Rohde isn't too bad of an actor, though I notice he doesn't seem to have done any English-speaking roles. This is fine, though, as Krebs is mostly silent and a German.

Who is She: The Bond Girl. A Special Branch agent working undercover as Drax's secretary. Gala is a fine policeman, engaged to be married, and able to resist Bond's advances (not that he makes many). It is Gala who discovers Drax's plan to bomb London, Gala who deflects the missile to kill Drax, Gala who manages to keep her dignity even as her clothes are blown off by an explosion. Gala, actually, is one of the kick-assiest Bond Girls in history, which just adds to the puzzle of her not being used in a film yet. Bond doesn't always have to get the girl, you know. Example: Quantum of Solace.

My Choice:

Amanda Holden (Marple: 4.50 from Paddington)
In that one program I watched with her, she embodied Gala Brand. Take-charge and professional, but also humorous and sexy. And she never let a man get under her feathers. She did a bango job of it, and she could do very well as Gala.

Who is He: A POW during the Second World War, Drax suffered through amnesia before being identified by his dogtags. Though he remembers little before the war, he has built a name and fortune for himself through savvy investments and overall business skills. A national hero, he is bestowed a knighthood as he prepares completion on the Moonraker rocket. In reality, Drax is Hugo von der Dreiche, a Nazi who stole a British citizen's dogtags on the battlefield. He has been planning his vengeance on England all these years, culminating in the launching of Moonraker with an atomic warhead attached, straight into the heart of London.

Originally played by: BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (The Day of the Jackal)

Michael Lonsdale (The Remains of the Day, Munich)

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Actor (Pelle the Conqueror), Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actor in a Drama (Hawaii) and Best Supporting Actor (The Exorcist)

Max Von Sydow (Minority Report, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Seventh Seal, Awakenings, the upcoming Shutter Island)
Yes, he's old, but isn't it time we have Bond square off someone intellectually? Ejiofor vs. Von Sydow would be kick-ass! Besides, Von Sydw is a wonderful actor, multi-lingual, able to give us various accents. I thought for the longest time he was British or German, but he is Swedish, though he lives in France. Able to give us both the menacing Nazi and the charming intellectual. Von Sydow was a Bond villain before -- he played Blofeld in Never Say Never Again, a non-canon Bond film from 1983 -- and it's time he returned in a bigger, juicier role.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Comments Roundup!

This week (6/5/09 - 6/12/09), here's what you had to say!

From Ben Mekler: Chewy [Chiwetel Ejiofor] for president. I swear we've talked about him for Bond before, right? Otherwise, he is also who I've secretly been picturing in my head as Bond since Melinda and Melinda.

Why yes, Ben, we have indeed! I believe we want Chewy for everything under the sun! Or the moon, too! Melinda and Melinda was severely disappointing!

From Amanda: Chewy and I are deeply in love. Can he join the cast of SBG?

Sure! What is that?

From Caleb: You realize Chewy and [Sophie] Okonedo played a married couple in Tsunami: The Aftermath... right?

No! But if they had chemistry, then once again I have done well!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Casting Coup: Live and Let Die

Ian Fleming was a man who enjoyed the Caribbean. He wrote all the Bond books in his island home GoldenEye (sound familiar?), and a large majority of 007's adventures are set in -- or involve -- Jamaica, Nassau, Haiti, etc. His first novel, Casino Royale, focused on the French gambling scene, which is all very European and snooty and whatever. The follow-up, though, was set in the good ol' US of A and involved Haitian smugglers and crimelords financing the Russians. Great fun, as it blends swashbuckling adventure, American locales, and island imagery.

Live and Let Die is...odd, to say the least. Fleming takes a weird, semi-Imperialist view towards black people that is not atypical of the time period in which he wrote (after all, this is 1954). Most are simple-minded, everyone speaks jive, reference is made to their "sweet, feral smell" (!!!), and it is noted that they think like animals, whereas the white people think with logic. It's just bizarre and uncomfortable. Even the "good ones" are, t quote Bond, "pretty law-abiding chaps...except when they've drunk too much."

And yet it's a pretty suspenseful story, though I can never remember what the McGuffin is. Mr. Big is apparently after pirate treasure to finance the operations of the Russians, and Bond goes after him partly as payback for the events in Casino Royale. So, despite the treasure hunt being unmemorable and the racism being there at all and the sex scene in the train feeling...awkward -- it's got some great moments. Leiter is fed to sharks, Bond gets his finger broken, every chapter has a henchman get killed horrifyingly. Good stuff, overall. And can we talk about Mr. Big tying Bond and Solitaire to the back of his boat so he can drag them over the reef in shark-infested waters? DAMN!

Now, it is true that race does play an important role in the villain's interactions with Bond. So, how do I face this when I've cast a black Bond? Well, if anything, it builds a more complicated character. For one, it makes more sense to send a black agent into the field on this mission than a white one. For another, here we could explore racial identity and the American idea of "race traitors". Also, it could add some tension between Bond and the FBI man he's assigned to work with. My God, such a detail could only make a so-so storyline into something powerful and amazing!

Featured in Live and Let Die: James Bond, M, Felix Leiter, Bill Tanner, Miss Moneypenny, Loelia Ponsonby (more on these characters).

Who is He: The FBI man who meets Bond in New York. He is essentially running the show and briefs Bond on the particulars. It is also he that sets Bond up with CIA agent Felix Leiter, who he met at Casino Royale.

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Actor (The Visitor), SAG Award Nominee for Best Actor (The Visitor)

Richard Jenkins (Hannah and Her Sisters, Intolerable Cruelty)
I know I've previously cast him as a captain of law. So I typecast. His no-nonsense demeanor could serve well the tension between him and Bond, as would be expected when one man allows another in his turf. And Jenkins in a Bond flick! Could you imagine?

Who is He: The switchboard operator for Mr. Big's operator in Harlem. A collapsed lung prevents him from raising his voice above a whisper, so... I mean, you get it, right? Appears briefly in the novel, becomes one of the lead henchmen in the original film. My version would stay true to the novel.

Originally played by:

Earl Jolly Brown

My Choice:

Leslie David Baker (TV's The Office)
Baker has a low voice, one that would suit the character. As does his physicality. He is a character actor whose presence would not be too distracting, though it would be quite exciting for Bond fans.

Who is He: One of Mr. Big's henchmen. So named because of his eerie, high-pitched laugh, Tee-Hee is the man who breaks Bond's finger during an interrogation in Harlem. Bond responds by throwing him down a flight of stairs and breaking his neck. Because that's how 007 rolls.

Originally played by:

Julis W. Harris (The Taking of Pelham One Two Three [original], the episode of The Golden Girls wherein Sophia runs the recreational activities at a senior center, but in reality she's being watched over by Don Lake so that Dorothy doesn't have to worry about her)

My Choice:

Seydou Boro (Paris, je t'aime)
His brief performance in Paris, je t'aime earned him "best in show" honors in my head. To see him as a worhty adversary to Ejiofor's Bond would be thrilling. Plus he'd be smiling, and that would be cool.

Who is He: The man who lures Felix Leiter to a warehouse, only to feed him to the sharks. It is he who leaves the mangled body of the Langley man in Bond's room with the note "He disagreed with something that ate him." Bond exacts his revenge soon after, giving him the same fate Leiter suffered, but without the hope of recovery.

My Choice:

L: Warner Miller (American Gangster)
Miller stood out to me in American Gangster. At least I think it's Miller -- he played the informant, if memory serves correctly. Anyway, I like him, so he gets the honor of being one of the most infamous characters in Bond mythos.

Who is He: Head of Station J in Jamaica, where the climax takes place.

My Choice:

Tom Riley (Marple: Ordeal by Innocence, Return to House on Haunted Hill)
Too young for Bond. Also too pouty-lipped. But I admire him as an actor and do believe that he could pull off the whole secret agent thing, so as a cameo with some importance, he's perfect.

Who is He: Strangways' friend and assistant, a joyful fisherman who teaches Bond how to dive.

My Choice:

Tituss Burgess
Strictly a Broadway actor (The Little Mermaid and the the recent revival of Guys 'n' Dolls), Burgess has the look, the joviality, the cojones for Quarrel. It is one of the most important roles in Bond lore, as we will learn later on.

Who is She: The Girl. A virgin with telepathic powers, she is named "Solitaire" because she will have nothing to do with men. Mr. Big keeps her on hand so she can tell him the "truth" about people he comes into contact with. Solitaire lies upon meeting Bond, then tries to run off with him in St. Petersburg, Florida. They do it, she's kidnapped, he follows, and they are tied to Mr. Big's ship so that they may be pulled over a coral reef. Ouch. Anyway, after all is over, she stays with Bond for a little holiday in Jamaica.

Originally played by:

Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers, Somewhere in Time)

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Hotel Rwanda), SAG Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Hotel Rwanda) and Best Ensemble (Hotel Rwanda)

Sophie Okonedo (Martian Child, The Secret Life of Bees)
Can you believe she's forty?! Damn! Anyway, the beautiful Sophie Okonedo meets my two requirements for Perfect Bond Girl: (1) she must be one of the most beautiful women you've ever seen, and (2) she must be a great actress. She also fixes one aspect of Live and Let Die that I found odd: why would Mr. Big have an all-black gang except for his voodoo priestess? What, is it because white girls are more desirable or something? FUHGEDDABOUTIT! Okonedo is the perfect kind of gal for both the Bond universe and this specific adaptation. God, she's sexy.

Who is He: The Villain. Half-French, half-African. Mr. Big has an unblinking gaze and a boredom with the world, one that may explain his curious hobby. Loves the ladies, and so he owns a number of nightclubs and brothels. Mr. Big is an intense son of a bitch. When Solitaire betrays him, he comes up with the keelhauling punishment (that's the coral reef thing). Little does he know that there is a limpet mine strapped to his yacht. Before he can get them to the reef, the yacht explodes, leaving an injured Mr. Big at the mercy of the sharks and barracuda.

Originally played by:

Yaphet Kotto (Alien, the episode of Murder, She Wrote in which Jessica is suspected of murdering a TV producer)

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (In America, Blood Diamond), Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actor in a Drama (Amistad), SAG Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Blood Diamond) and Best Ensemble (Gladiator, In America)

Djimon Hounsou (The Island, Eragon)
Bonafide badass. More fit and much sexier than the Mr. Big of the novel, Hounsou could actually pose a real threat to Bond. That he has never been cast in a Bond flick before is, to me, inexcusable. Now, he won't be saying lines like "Names is for tombstones, baby." But he would say, I don't know, "It was a displeasure knowing you, Mr Bond." Or something. The point is, he would rock.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I Love TONY Night

I am so thrilled that the three leads who play the title role in Billy Elliot: The Musical just won Leading Actor in a Musical. Amazing. How do you top this?

Stephen Daldry has already won Best Director. I am in full support for its winning The Big One. DO IT!

Saturday, June 6, 2009



I don't talk about film school much here, possibly because I like to escape into my own realm now and then. But damn, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't g.d. proud of this. I'm art director for a movie involving magic, stuffed animals, and middle school crushes. This means I have to make stuffed animals, and this is what the Production Designer and I have come up with:

Paco the Monkey, Pyramus the Bear

Pebble the Mouse

Princess the Stegosaurus

Casting Coup: James Bond

And so here we are, ready for the month of June. Ready for some JAMES FREEKING BOND!

But let us not begin with one of the five novels I want to cast. The Bond mythos involves a large number of spies, secretaries, allies and executives, many of whom appear in a number of novels and short stories, even through the Raymond Benson novels of the 1990s. Instead of going through them all as each one appears, it's best we get them out of the way here and now. And no, I shan't go the route of my Devil May Care Casting Coup, wherein I whimped out and just said, "uh, the movie ones are good enough". No, I shall actually tell you who I see in each role in my own mind. And it ain't Daniel Craig.

Who is She: Bond's housekeeper, an elderly Scottish woman with a good heart. She never appears in the films, because only twice have we even seen his flat: Doctor No (1962) and Live and Let Die (1973).

My Choice: Academy Award Winner for Best Supporting Actress (My Left Foot), Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (My Left Foot)

Brenda Fricker (Masterminds, Angels in the Outfield)
I always thought of May as huggable. Aw, look at her. Don't you just want to throw your arms around her?

Who is She: Bond's personal secretary. Eventually replaced by Mary Goodnight in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Crushes on her boss. Never appeared in the films, and much of her personality was transferred to Moneypenny.

My Choice:

Sophie Winkelman (Poirot: Five Little Pigs)
So I saw her in that Poirot episode I mention, and when looking about for the perfect Loelia, I suddenly remembered her performance. Subtle and professional. Good qualities for this role.

Who is He: M's Chief of Staff. Bond's best friend at the office.

Previously played by:

Rory Kinnear (Quantum of Solace), among others

My Choice:

Ben Miles (V for Vendetta, Speed Racer)
Looks good in a suit, and V for Vendetta gave us a look at that bureaucratic side of him. TV's Coupling let us know of us sense of humor and his ability to pal around with the guys. The combination leads to Tanner, who remains professional but holds his own alongside Bond.

Who is She: M's secretary.

Previously played by:

Lois Maxwell (Doctor No - A View to a Kill), Samantha Bond (GoldenEye - Die Another Day), among others

My Choice:

Claudie Blakley (Severance, The Cat's Meow)

Who is He: CIA agent who eventually gets a job with Pinkerton's detective agency. A Texan, born and bred. Tanner may be Bond's best friend at the office, but Felix is Bond's BFF, his bestie for the restie.

Previously played by:

Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace), among others

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Milk), SAG Award Winner for Best Ensemble (No Country for Old Men)

Josh Brolin (Thrashin', W.)
Brolin can do the Southern accent along with the good ol' boy routine that comes with it. He'd be like Jack Lord, the handsome guy Yank of Bond's age who can keep up with 007. I could see him with a hook.

Who is He: Head of MI6. The man Bond answers to.

Previously played by:

Judi Dench (GoldenEye - Quantum of Solace), among others (most of whom were men)

My Choice: SAG Award Winner for Best Ensemble (Gosford Park)

Michael Gambon (TV's The Singing Detective, The Life Aquatic)
A throwback to the father figure of Bernard Lee's days. But I do think gambon can be a little warmer, so he may be even better!

Who is He: Agent 007 with a licence to kill. Loyal to M, as well as to Queen and Country. Enjoys both women and alcohol. Does not enjoy Commies, terrorists, or The Beatles.

Previously played by:

Daniel Craig (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace)

My Choice: Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy (Kinky Boots), SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (American Gangster)

Chiwetel Ejiofor (Serenity, Love Actually)
I'm not trying to be controversial, truly. I know he's not exactly the traditional mold for Bond physically, but otherwise... Look, he's handsome without appearing too caught up in his appearance. He can kick ass and look good doing it. He moves with a certain grace and agility. He's suave and looks good in a suit. How is he not Bond?

That is who I see when I read Ian Fleming, John Gardner, and Raymond Benson. That's who I would like you to see when you see the next casts. But do you? Who would you prefer in these roles? Don't be shy...