Bond fan workshop “hairdressing and film editing”, Ulan Bator 2006, image (c) ‘Monkeypainter’
On my way to the advanced course ‘Pre-neolithic Cinema in 7454 Easy Steps – Chapter 4: Impact of the Cave Wall’. The usual droves of bondnotbond-protesters clogging up the streets between Salzburg and Liverpool, a considerable percentage of them merrily sloshed on Zero-Seven beverage, White Russians or the evening news. Or any combination thereof. Cabbie thinks it’s helping if he’s hooting at them like mad, so I leave him to his fun, settle back comfortably in the slashed faux leather upholstery and unfold the ironed copy of today’s CommanderBond.net. Right on the front page – above stories about book covers, knotted ties and plots, pictures of mysterious traces in the snow, a colour-enhanced Dorchester hotel and a slightly-older-than-17 Sean Connery – there’s a piece by CBn’s resident West Albion Bromwich supporter, Jacques Stewart, that catches my eye. It’s titled ‘The Reboot of the 007th Minute – DRAFT, DO NOT PUBLISH!!!’, and that’s a most curious title, even for that eccentric guy that puts up their main page stuff.
So I read on…
Time for a reboot.
Casino Royale is good, if long. It bothers to tell a story, rather than simply mine long-exhausted seams. Its 007th minute exemplifies something. Blah blah blah about the dog and overwritten whimsy. James Bond will return in the 007th minute of Quantum of Solace and Jacques Stewart will refer to himself in the third person, because that’s the sort of prat he is. Some nerve to accuse Bond of being formulaic; what a hypocrite. I prefer the ABC game anyway. It learns me spell good.
Ah ah ah, not so fast, poppet.
It’s not that radical, is it? There’s M, there’s gunbarrel (the law), there’s climactic action that goes on well past forever’s bedtime , there’s Bond theme, there are ghastly watches, lovely Aston Martins, booze, ladies of acceptable architecture, dinner jackets, carrrrddds (with the excitement that brings), there’s still an infantile grasp on political and geographical reality and there’s fighting, explosions, destruction, kissing, weak sex jokes and general daftitude.
Disappointing. Not what I was promised.
For at least a year in advance the internet told me – betrayed me, for internet is truth – that Casino Royale would be a disastrous experimental art project starring a deformed, flappy-eared, asexual, trades-faced mendicant dwarf with a head like a Belisha Beacon driving an automatic Fiat Panda, the highlight of which would be witnessing conjoined mutant step-siblings defecating glistening, maggot-riddled pusblistered-stools onto a plate of wilted broccoli. All so very Belgian. Although you might have a view of the sort of “person” what I am, you still can’t imagine how much I was looking forward to watching that. So many profound commentators who knew things stated their predictions as Total Unadulterated Fact. Everyone they knew (might be true, poor souls) agreed with them. Religions kill for such concord. The hu-mil-i-a-tion was going to be fantastic.
What a chuffin’ let-down.
Instead of the guaranteed cataclysm, what Eon put me through was an exercise in finally grasping the bindweed their complacency had let choke the creative development of the series for twenty-five years and – clever, this – not removing it all, a slash-and-burn policy being a step too far, but selecting the bits they actually needed to tell a story, rather than obliged to shoehorn them in. No Moneypenny, no Q, no rubbish that came with both, no complaints from me. Albeit not a perfect film, propelled by a compelling lead performance and evident thought about what they were doing beyond shaking our memories until more money fell out, it’s the closest to a proper film for decades. Story first, statutory Bond bits second: Die Another Day reversed. Disconcerting. Who knew that this was going to happen? Who knew that the internet was so full of expertise about how it couldn’t?
Helmut Schierer @ 2013-08-31