We chat quite a bit “problematic faves” here at The Fandomentals, and for good reason. You can enjoy problematic content, so long as you’re aware of those issues. That said, I’ve got one where I’m utterly at a loss to explain my enjoyment at all: Bond, James Bond. It’s a character built on misogyny, and even the “best” movies of the series nearly incomprehensible with the leaps in logic.
Well, I didn’t watch a top quality Bond the other day. No, instead, as a way of getting excited for my trip to New Orleans this weekend, I decided to watch Roger Moore’s debut film, Live and Let Die. In some ways you might consider this a “quintessential Bond film.” Though Sean Connery brought Ian Flemming’s character to life, it was Moore that brought the camp which defines most of the series. But if this truly is representative of the franchise as a whole…then holy shit. My fave is beyond problematic and I’m starting to wonder if it’s only a fave due to Poe’s Law.
The misogyny of this film is a sledgehammer; the racism of this film is a team of wrecking balls continually smashing you in the face. Which I guess isn’t shocking, because it was literally an action film by white people that tried to incorporate characteristics of the “blaxploitation” genre, which had gained popularity in the early 70s. Needless to say its attempts to do so left behind a movie that is offensive to the point of distraction. Seriously, it is impossible to go 2 seconds without thinking, “but this is just so racist!”
And if somehow you can look past every single black person in New York City working together to kill Bond, a fortune teller whose gift is literally fucked away, or the island of ‘San Monique,’ whose dictator utilizes 100% well-researched Haitian Vodou as a means of keeping his opium fields safe, you’re left with a horribly infeasible conflict and so much plot armor, it could make the stakes of Hardhome feel real.
So of course I’m going to take you on a journey through this movie, so that you can share in its wonder with me.
The pre-title sequence consists of three scenes where white people are murdered by black people. First, an MI6 agent sitting behind the UK table at what appears to be the UN is killed when a black hand plugs something funky into the audio port to which his translator headphones are connected. Literally, it’s death-by-headhpones. And we see this other black guy sitting calmly at his table for the great country of San Monique, so we get the impression he knows something.
Over in New Orleans, another MI6 agent is obviously watching a “Fillet of Soul” restaurant, when a funeral procession marches by, all consisting of black people. Like, 50-75 members, maybe? Then another [what race…you guessed it…black] dude walks up and stabs the MI6 agent. The funeral procession picks him up in the coffin, and then it turns into a really fun parade!
Finally, we go to San Monique, where there’s some sort of Voodoo party going on. Maybe some of that Voodoo includes the inexplicable mixing of Spanish and French in the island’s name? But it’s this sort of excited, sex-party atmosphere, a la the maenads in True Blood before I gave up on that show. A white dude is tied to the stakes, and one of the locals dances around while wearing a goat head. He picks up a snake out of a coffin, and kills the guy with it, even though it’s hilariously obvious that this is just a rubber snake he lightly touches to his neck.
Then comes the title sequence, which given Paul McCartney’s song, is easily the highlight of this film. Though is it worth pointing out that even here, the black women all become skulls, while the white women dance around with what is some of the strangest choreography I’ve seen to date?
Cut to Bond in bed with a random woman who is begging for more sex in a thick, Italian accent. Sadly for her, there’s a knock on the door, and M—you know, the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service—just barges in, tells James that there’s work to be done, name drops the three agents who were killed in the field/their locations, and tells him that he needs to start packing. Judi Dench would have never been so stoopid.
Fortunately for James, in addition to being a secret agent, he’s an aspiring barista, so he is able to distract M by making him a latte. Seriously, he froths the milk and everything. Even more fortunately, Moneypenny is a fantastic bro, who helps the random Italian chick (turns out she’s an agent too) hide in a closet until M leaves. She also gives Bond his watch, fixed up from Q, and we learn that there’s a powerful magnet in it. This wouldn’t be important at all, except once they leaves, Bond immediately turns it on so that he can unzip the Italian agent’s dress.
Oh, that reminds me. The puns.
Random Italian Agent: Such a delicate touch.
Bond: Sheer magnetism, darling.
I’ll let you know when we get to my favorite of these. But Bond, you have a fucking mission; go pack!
We then cut to a scene of an airplane landing, interspersed with a fortune teller flipping tarot cards to…describe commercial air travel. Thrilling.
In addition to thinking about the racism of this film every 2 seconds, you’re going to be asking yourself, “but why don’t they just kill Bond??” every 4.
This begins almost immediately. Bond lands in NYC and gets in a taxi to meet up with our favorite CIA agent, Felix Leiter. I guess either from Solitaire’s awesome tarot reading, or the fact that it’s very reasonable for MI6 to send someone to investigate the murders of 3 field agents, Kananga, the man who runs what I can only characterize as the Great Black Consortium (GBC from now on…or da Bad Guys™), immediately knows that Bond is a dangerous man who should be eliminated. So a car that has side mirrors armed with some kind of gun pulls up next to the cab and the shoots…not Bond! They just kill the driver, and that almost kills Bond, but he steers the car to safety.
It’s probably here that I should tell you who “Solitaire” is. She is played by Jane Seymour. She is white, but an honorary member of the GBC. She is a tarot-card reader with mystical powers connected to her “virginity.” Yes.
Oh, something else about this movie: there’s a couple of times that Bond lands himself in some serious scrapes and needs his CIA contacts to pick him up and help deal with the local authorities. But every time this happens, Felix just shakes his head and is like, “oh Bond that rascal,” rather than, I don’t know, show any concern for the implications?
At the CIA hotel, we learn that Kananga’s official job is being the dictator of San Monique. He also has a PhD in something, because people call him “Dr.” They have his embassy bugged, but he’s able to slip the authorities with the same exact method Mary Kate and Ashley use to get away from their parents in Holiday in the Sun.
Anyway, the CIA may not have been able to tell that there was a running tape recorder, but they at least give Bond a lead on the car with the gun in its mirror, which is leased to a Voodoo shop, because of course it is. Bond heads there. The women working behind the desk is black, so that should immediately tip you off that she’s part of the GBC, which is quickly confirmed when he slips out the back of the shop to check out the car, and she contacts *someone* with the message “he’s tailing.”
Anyway, Kananga’s crew (Solitaire and a few henchmen, most notably “Mr. Whisper” and “Tee Hee”) slip into the exact same parking garage, because it’s connected to both a Voodoo shop and an embassy, and drive to Harlem. Bond hails a cab and asks his [black] driver to follow them.
“Man, for 20 bucks, I’d take you to a Ku Klux Klan cookout.”
Then we’re treated to a scene where we learn that every single black person in the city is part of the GBC. Literally, random people will stop what they’re doing on the streets and radio in to *someone* “he’s heading east,” or something of the like. Then when Bond gets out of the cab at its destination, a Fillet of Soul restaurant, the cabbie himself tells *someone* “he’s headin’ on in.” So…if the cabbie was working for the GBC, then why did these randos need to file a report too? Or why didn’t the cabbie just kill him?
Instead, Bond gets seated in a booth at the Fillet of Soul, but whoops it’s a trap, and the booth spins around to reveal some kind of like…waiting room? Solitaire is there doing a tarot reading, and we see Tee Hee, the henchman with a hook hand that looks worse than Buster’s from Arrested Development.
Here’s an idea? How about they just kill Bond? Like right now. He’s right there. But nah, Bond simply mills around as if he’s waiting for his appointment at the optometrist’s office. He goes and nudges Solitaire a bit, and poor Jane Seymour. She’s trying to take this so seriously. For some reason all of her cards say “007” on the back of them too, but that’s neither here nor there. More to get him away than anything else, she tells him to pick a card. It’s The Fool. “You have found yourself.” Har har.
Anyway, the doctor is finally in, and it’s this guy named Mr. Big, who literally pops his head out for 3 seconds and tells the guards in the room to “take him out back and waste him.” Actually, sorry, he says “Y’all take this honky out and waste him – now!”
Bond tries to make a joke to Solitaire, but she’s all “this reading is over,” as if this was supposed to be a formal reading in the first place. But after he pesters her a little more, she allows him one card about his future. It’s The Lovers. Jane Seymour acts her face off looking stunned.
Bond is then led into the alley by two GBC randos who decide it’d be really fun to make him walk a 5K before actually shooting him, so of course he figures out how to beat them (he slams a fire escape stairwell in their face). Then another black guy appears, but here’s the twist: he works for the CIA and isn’t in the GBC! Seriously, the movie presents this like it’s shocking information. He scolds Bond for wearing a “white face in Harlem.” Then he tells him that the only man who can pull together so many GBC members is the crime boss named “Mr. Big.”
Which is anticlimactic, because we literally just met Mr. Big 4 seconds ago. He told his henchmen to go waste Bond… Ah, never mind.
So now with a lead in NYC, Bond decides to go…to San Monique. Because Kananga went there? The movie never really explains why a dictator returning to his home is suspicious, but he is traveling with the same guys who were in the Fillet of Soul, so, sure. Fine.
Bond checks into a hotel where Baron Samedi, or the “Voodoo god of cemeteries and chief of the legion of the dead” is a “performer in a little musical extravaganza” for the other guests. Except his entire routine seems to be pointing at people and laughing.
The guy behind the hotel tells Bond that “Mrs. Bond” is already there, and gives him a key. Bond is clearly suspicious so he goes to his room and…strips into a fluffy robe, bathes, and shaves. He also checks the room for bugs (there’s 2), calls and orders a bottle of Bollinger, oh and kills a snake with aftershave that doubles as a flamethrower. Who dropped the snake in? Why did they think a snake was the best way to kill him? Why didn’t Mr. Whisper just like, shoot him (Mr. Whisper is a tubby member of the GBC who was the one driving the car that shot Bond’s cabbie back in NYC, and is now pretending to work for the hotel staff. Did I not mention? Who cares.)?
Don’t worry, now it’s time to get serious, because the door is opening, and someone with a gun is walking in. Bond can’t get to his own in time, so he settles on burning the person’s wrist with his cigar, and then throwing her onto the bed.
That’s right, folks, it’s time to meet Rosie! She claims she was sent by Felix to keep an eye on Bond, but she’s also black, so I’m not sure we should trust that. She also opens with “I guess I have some explaining to do,” as if she’s a naughty school child who is being disciplined by the principal. No, lady, you are an agent who is assigned to be here. Not that it won’t stop Bond from infantilizing her.
Bond decides to try and fuck her, because why not, but she actually rejects him. However, that is immediately recanted when she goes into her bedroom and spots a bowler hat with bloody chicken feathers sticking out of it. She screams that it’s a trap, and then begs Bond not to leave her alone that night.
Okay, pause, I don’t want to shock you, but Rosie is a member of the GBC. She’s a double agent? Like, it’s unclear. She works for Kananga, but I literally can’t tell if she was working for Felix at any point. Bond doesn’t think to call him, and Felix doesn’t think to give him a heads up. Bond gets alerted to her treachery when Solitaire mails him a Queen of Cups card in an “upside-down position.” Well, it actually just falls out of an envelope, but I guess it’s upside-down.
I also cannot tell if Rosie is feigning fear at the hat or not. She is clearly playing Bond, as any GBC member would do, so acting kind of stupid and afraid as a way of seeming innocent would be reasonable for her. Except that the narrative confirms how she is stupid and afraid. So…I’m not sure where this leaves us at all. At the intersection of Racism St. and Misogyny Blvd., I imagine.
And not to belabor the point, but why didn’t Rosie just kill Bond at their hotel after sleeping with him? She was in the perfect position to do that. Isn’t it what the GBC wants? When Mr. Big said “waste him,” that had to be literal, right?
Anyway, Bond and Rosie (who hasn’t yet been revealed as a double agent) set off to check out the place where the MI6 agent died via rubber snake, so they get on a boat captained by a random black dude. The real fun of this movie, by the way, is that you become conditioned to be suspicious of every black person on your screen. Charming. Apparently Rosie is suspicious too, because when she goes below deck to “change” (aka just take off her clothes to reveal a bikini…why did she need privacy for this?) she discovers that the captain is hiding a gun, and when she comes up on deck, it looks like he’s about to strangle Bond with rope. So she tells him to freeze even though she shouldn’t care if Bond dies, right? Then we’re treated to one of the best and least misogynistic lines ever:
“As I was saying, Quarrel, a lousy agent, but the compensations speak for themselves.”
The sex compensations.
Also it turns out that Quarrel (Jr.) is one of the two good black dudes in this movie, and he’s also just some cute fanservice. Oh and Rosie had left the safety on her gun when she was threatening him. Where does her stoopid act end, and her actual stoopid begin? ¯\_(シ)_/¯
So Quarrel’s awesome boating skills take them to Solitaire’s house, which is this sweet mansion on a cliff-face. Inside, Jane Seymour is still showing up everyone else’s acting skills by doing a reading for Kananga about Bond, and having to be shocked and scared when she pulls a Lovers card again. But she covers her own ass to Kananga and tells him it’s Death. It’s at this point we learn that Solitaire’s power is tied to her “purity,” and when the “time comes,” Kananga himself plans to “take it from her,” as he apparently did her mother. I LOVE all of these implications!!!
Meanwhile, Rosie’s double agent act is going horribly, because she’s an actual idiot. Women, amirite? She changes up her story about where the MI6 agent was killed (it’s “down there” now), and Bond being all sneaky and smart suggests that they go fuck in the grass because he’s not in any hurry, despite the fact that she seems to be now. Dude, you’re kind of on a mission.
So whatever, they make out a little, and then Bond decides to pull out his Queen of Cups card, which is a warning that Rosie is a “deceitful, perverse woman. A liar, a cheat.” However, Rosie spots an EVHUL SCARECROW so she knows that the GBC people are watching and gonna kill her if she talks. Bond pulls a gun on her and says he’ll kill her if she doesn’t. She just kind of runs off, clearly terrified. Aaand, runs into the line of another scarecrow which shoots her.
Two things: 1.) She didn’t betray the GBC; she literally ran from Bond knowing he might shoot her in the back, so why did they kill her exactly? and 2.) BOND WAS IN FRONT OF THAT SCARECROW THIS WHOLE TIME. CLEAR SHOT, MAN.
Who cares, because then this happens with Jane Seymour’s hair and nothing else matters for the rest of the movie:
Anyway, I guess because there’s nowhere else to go, Bond breaks into Solitaire’s house, sits in her cool chair, and fucks with her cards…romantically?
She tells him to GTFO, but he says, “oohh ohh, pick a card if you really think I’m meant to go.” So she draws a card and it’s The Lovers. Then they make out, and as they do, it’s revealed that the entire deck is nothing but The Lovers.
Which, 1.) This is rape. I mean, I guess “rape by deception” wasn’t really a thing understood in the 70s, but David O. Selznick figured out that marital rape was a thing in 1939, so suck on that. 2.) Are we meant to believe that Bond bought 78 packs of tarot cards, sorted through all of them, and put together a complete “The Lovers” set, which he then had in his pocket all day? Did he even know they were going to Solitaire’s house?
Anyway, in bed, Solitaire starts to have a little bit of a breakdown because she, you know, just lost her powers and if Kananga finds out he’s going to fucking kill her. Fortunately Bond is really sensitive to her needs:
However, she has these odd emotional fluctuations between being absolutely petrified about her fate, and being absolutely randy and desperate for more of the sex. When Bond tells her that he’s going to take her with him to inspect this MI6 agent’s death (why?), she begs him to get back in bed with her first. Which leads to the absolute best pun in this movie:
Bond: There’s no sense in going off half-cocked.
So the next morning, Bond and Solitaire follow the path of scarecrows that killed Rosie, and we see from a cutaway scene that the GBC is, in fact, watching them. Why are they not shot? Then they hear random flute music, so Bond the SECRET AGENT just marches his ass up and says “hai” to the player. It’s Baron Samedi, btw, without makeup, and apparently Solitaire doesn’t recognize him. And his flute has a radio hidden in it, which I’m pretty sure would have messed with its sound, but whatever.
Meanwhile, Kananga gives the order, “if he finds it, kill him.” That’s very…magnanimous of him considering they’ve been low-key trying to murder Bond for a while now. Is that what Rosie’s job was? To allow Bond to “find it”? What is this plan??
“It,” btw is a crapload of poppy plants hidden under nets. So a helicopter comes to gun Bond (and Solitaire) down, even though Kananga tells everyone that he wants her alive. Then Kananga says, “any cost. Any. Bond must die.” This is brand new information.
Bond and Solitaire run through the poppy fields to a small town, where the local police are all part of the GBC. Though I guess this makes sense because Kananga is literally their dictator. Anyway, Bond steals a double-decker bus, and there’s a wacky chase scene, including some hilariously dramatic music as we pass a sign for “low bridge.” It turns out okay though.
They get back to Quarrel’s boat, and Bond tells Solitaire that it’s all over, and they can go anywhere she wants. “Anywhere they have one of these,” she says, lying back onto a bed. Turns out he’s still a manipulative sack of shit though, because his idea is to go to New Orleans (where that third MI6 agent was killed) to investigate things, and use her as bait, I guess to draw out whatever Kananga connections there might be in that city. Except that the MI6 agent who was killed at the beginning had already been staking out the Fillet of Soul, so it’s not as if there hadn’t been a lead.
Once there, Bond and Solitaire get into a taxi cab without bothering to check, I guess because Bond either figures that he’s walking into a trap and is happy about that fact, or he has learned absolutely nothing since the start of this movie. I know I fall into the latter category. So yeah, turns out the driver is the same exact cabbie as the one in NYC who made the KKK joke. He makes the locks on the door disappear and says that Mr. Big wants to see them because Bond “took something that belonged to a friend of his.” Do you get it? Solitaire is property.
He drives them to this airplane on a landing strip, where a henchman of Mild Importance (who isn’t Mr. Whisper or Tee Hee) tells Bond that he’s going skydiving. Apparently this henchman’s name is “Adam.” I find that hilarious.
Then Solitaire I guess decides to act as though she was kidnapped so she won’t get instantly killed by Kananga, while also using these wiles to give Bond an escape opportunity.
It’s deadly effective. Bond gets away, runs a little, and then finds a small shitty plane that belongs to some kind of pilot school, which he climbs into. There’s this 80-year-old woman inside who was waiting for her instructor, so Bond says he’s the substitute or something. Then there’s another wacky chase scene that ends with the old lady saying a knee-slapping “holy shit.” Like, you can tell the writers were giggling.
We then cut to a scene of Felix patching things up with the owner of the pilot school, because apparently the CIA has never heard of administrative assistants. Hey, remember the good black guy who wasn’t Quarrel from this movie? The one who saved Bond’s white face in Harlem? Well he’s now staking out the New Orleans Fillet of Soul. Except, that same funeral procession of GBC members pops up again, so he dies.
Felix and Bond go to meet him though, and when they don’t see him outside, they just fucking walk into the Fillet of Soul. That they’re supposed to be staking out. Which they apparently aren’t worried about despite Bond’s “nasty turn in the booth” back at Harlem’s Fillet of Soul. In fact, Felix orders them Sazeracs and tells Bond “this is New Orleans. Relax.” YOU ARE TRYING TO STAKEOUT A MOB BOSS CONNECTED WITH AN OPIUM-GROWING DICTATOR.
Felix gets pulled away from the table with a phone call, leaving Bond to watch the singer on stage. Who is implied as being a member of the GBC, because she makes Eye-Contact of Extreme Significance as the table gets lowered through a trap door. None of the people eating seem to give any shits, but as we’re about to find out, they’re consuming opiates. Not too sure why Felix wasn’t worth kidnapping, btw.
Anyway, down below, Mr. Big starts screaming at Bond and demanding if he had sex with Solitaire (“asking for a friend”), because apparently this was the only way to get that information. Also she’s sitting right there, but fuck if anyone bother asking for her opinion.
When Bond tells him that he won’t give the info to a lackey, Mr. Big pulls at his face, which we realize is prosthetic, and guess who’s beneath? It’s Kananga! Emboldened by the impressive reveal, he then divulges his entire plan!
I apparently drew this a couple of years ago, but sums it pretty well:
I think the only snag in the plan is the fact that these new opiate addicts wouldn’t know they were addicts? Maybe? It seems like it’s just going in the soul food directly, but I could be wrong and the nuance is just too much for me. Or maybe the plan was always to make really pricey food.
But forget the plan, it’s time to get back to the important stuff: did Bond and Solitaire bone? This time, Bond says he’s a gentleman and won’t say either way. So Kananga decides to test Solitaire, which couldn’t have been done before, apparently. He has Tee Hee take Bond’s hand in his claw, and says that he will lose a finger if Solitaire’s tarot cards can’t tell her what his watch’s registration numbers are. She clearly guesses, and Kananga seems satisfied, giving Tee Hee an Official Nod. Then he tells the dude to take Bond “to the farm.” I assume to kill him.
Want to know something funny? He could have just shot Bond right there. Like 20 times. Bond was even strapped to the chair and had no method of escape.
Once Teehee, Adam, and Bond go off “to the farm,” Baron Samedi just saunters in for no reason, and does his best to annoy Kananga:
But that dude is already upset, because the registration number guess was wrong! And now Solitaire must die, because it was his right to rape her, not Bond’s! But they can’t kill her there; she has to die “at one proper time.”
“The farm” turns out to be a literal crocodile farm (not alligators, because what is geography?), except inside its main building, there’s people packing heroin. Tee Hee is a great tour guide, until he leaves Bond on a tiny ass island surrounded by crocs. However, rather than watch and make sure Bond actually dies, he and Adam just kind of shrug and head inside. Bond hops to safety on the back of the crocodiles’ backs.
Then I guess he wants to say “no” to drugs, because he torches the place, hops in a boat, and drives off. Adam gives pursuit in a car and other rando GBC members find boats of their own.
It’s at this point that we meet Sheriff JW Pepper, the hilarious Louisiana redneck. He pulls over Adam, and is clearly a giant racist dick, but at the same time Adam is trying to kill Bond, so…
Meanwhile, the boat chase cuts over the land right where this ticketing is happening, and JW gets a boat through his cop car (allowing Adam to drive off).
I don’t really know how to explain this chase for the rest of it. Bond is in his boat the whole time, but half the focus becomes JW. He hops in the back of a cop car with two random officers who I think work for him, but clearly hate him.
And frankly, for good reason because he’s an odious person.
This isn’t made better by the fact that JW just starts randomly talking about his brother-in-law, Billy Bob, because Billy Bob has the fastest boat on the river, and Billy Bob will catch them, and literally every other word out of his mouth is “Billy Bob.” Sadly for the actual Billy Bob, Adam knocks him out and takes his boat, which leads to a mildly interesting chase? Ish?
Bond ends up getting away, and Adam blows up in the process.
I wonder if there’s a GPS app that incorporates JW’s catch phrases.
We’re then treated to another scene where Felix shakes his head at Bond, the lovable scamp, rather than like, act as though he narrowly escaped death. Oh, then he casually tosses out “we busted the Fillet of Soul over an hour ago.” WHY DID THIS NOT HAPPEN BEFORE? LIKE RIGHT AFTER BOND WAS TAKEN IN THE HARLEM ONE? IT’S CLEARLY OWNED BY THE SAME PERSON.
Apparently Felix is also omniscient, and knows that Bond needs to go to San Monique again, because Kananga just got on a plane there (maybe in the bust he figures out the Mr. Big connection?). So cut back to the island, where there’s another Voodoo party, but this time it’s Solitaire who is being sacrificed. I guess this was the right time to die. I also guess there’s an argument to be made that her death being a public spectacle to the locals of the island sends a message about the power of Baron Samedi, or something? It’s slightly more logical than how Bond is possibly still alive.
Speaking of, he, Felix, and Quarrel show up on the outskirts of this party. Quarrel is assigned the task of planting explosives in the poppy fields, which I’m really not sure should be in the purview of the CIA or MI6. The Fillet of Soul busts make sense, but this…is almost an act of war maybe? Bond, meanwhile, is to rescue Solitaire. Felix is going to wait on the boat.
So, yeah. Bond saves her by shooting the dude with the snakes who wears the goat head, shooting a wooden dummy of Baron Samedi with oddly working eyeballs (who rose up from a trap door beneath a grave), and then sword-fighting and knocking the real Baron Samedi into a coffin full of snakes. Easy-peasy.
Then, Bond decides to go down through the trap door that Baron Samedi came out of (taking Solitaire with him), which reveals an Underground Lair of Evilness. Actually, not really, it’s just an underground monorail system for the shipment of opium.
Kananga’s got a shitton of men there, so he’s able to capture Bond and Solitaire pretty easily. I should have mentioned that Bond came armed with a shark gun, that has inflating pellets, which Kananga tests out on a couch:
He also dismisses the destruction of his poppy fields with a wave of his hand because “they’re a sturdy plant.” Um…explosives, dude.
Either way, he wants to kill Bond, but this time the best way to accomplish that is to string both him and Solitaire up to a weird lift thing, then cut Bond’s arm in several non-lethal locations, so that his blood drips into the water below. Then, Kananga lets a shark into the room (why did he have this? It’s never explained).
However, Bond’s watch doubles as a razor blade, so he cuts his rope. Then he turns on the magnet and picks up one of his inflating shots from his shark gun. And as he’s slowly doing all of this, Kananga and Mr. Whisper (and probably those guards who were lining the room earlier) are just watching and doing nothing. Logic. Solitaire spends her time clinging to the lift.
Anyway, Bond somehow traps Mr. Whisper inside of a bomb chassis or something?
Then he and Kananga fight and both fall in the water with the shark. Bond forces the inflatable pellet into Kananga’s mouth, and then pushes off his body and climbs out of the water before the shark gets to them. Kananga goes to the surface and takes a breath, causing this to happen:
Solitaire apparently didn’t watch any of this despite being right the fuck there, so she asks Bond what happened to Kananga. “He always did have an inflated opinion of himself.” Suddenly the pun about Xenia’s “good squeeze” is sounding Shakespearean in context. I’m not sure what happened to Kananga’s guards or everyone working under there, but I guess they stopped giving a shit, because Bond and Solitaire just skip on out.
So yay! Mission accomplished! The Lovers board a train so that they can fuck on their way to the 21 Club, where they’re apparently going to meet up with Felix again. However Tee Hee breaks into their cabin and folds the bed into the wall with Solitaire still on it:
He and Bond talk for a bit, and fight for like 5 full minutes, until Bond snips some mechanical wires in Tee Hee’s metal arm, causing it to malfunction and get stuck to the window. Then he manages to throw Tee Hee out the window, which I guess kills him. Bond pulls the bed back out to free Solitaire, and she just goes “well that wasn’t very funny!” because she couldn’t hear anything? Bond removes Tee Hee’s arm from the window for one final pun:
Solitaire: Now what are you doing?
James: Just being disarming, darling.
End movie. Cut to the front of the train where Baron Samedi is sitting and laughing. I’m not sure if we’re actually supposed to think he survived, but it is what it is.
This…this franchise goes beyond “problematic fave,” right? I mean, I’d hardly call it a fave. In truth, I have no idea how it is that I sat through this two-hour movie enjoying every second of it, but I did, I really did. And I’d happily put on The Man with the Golden Gun to watch JW’s triumphant return. So I’m just going to chalk this up to ironic enjoyment, and only be slightly paranoid if I find myself in any booths during my trip.
Images courtesy of United Artists
The Fandomentals 2018 SAG Awards Primer
In the past few months, we’ve seen the opinions of everyone from the Television Academy to the Hollywood Foreign Press to the nation’s biggest critics. But have you ever wondered what actors in Hollywood think of each other? Well the SAG’s, the babiest brother of the major film awards shows, will answer that very question.
The Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (you see why we abbreviate) has been putting on their own awards show since the ancient and far-off year of 1995. Despite its youth compared to most other awards shows, the nods it gives (voted on by members of the union) are sometimes the best indicators for success when the Academy Award nominations come up. As such, we at the Fandomentals want to make sure you are kept abreast of the nominations for this year, as well as give our own take on who should, shouldn’t, and will win this year. As with the Golden Globes, the Fandomentals Head Film Critic Jeremiah Sherman will weigh in on the movie end of things, while I will be picking up the slack on the television end. This year will also be the first year that the SAG’s will have a host, the wonderful Kristen Bell.
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Timothée Chalamet – Call Me by Your Name as Elio Perlman
James Franco – The Disaster Artist as Tommy Wiseau
Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out as Chris Washington
Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour as Winston Churchill
Denzel Washington – Roman J. Israel, Esq. as Roman J. Israel
Who Will Win: Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour. Jeremiah: Oldman all but disappears in his performance of Winston Churchill. It’s not just the makeup it’s the overall fact that when you look at Oldman’s Churchill, you’re hard pressed to find any trace of the Oldman we know. It’s the type of performance actors adore; disappearing into the character.
Dan: He was our preferred pick at the Globes, where he took home the trophy. So far he has swept nearly every award that has this category, and I doubt that this will change for the SAG’s.
Who Should win: Honestly, Oldman should win. Of the actors nominated his performance is actually the best out of all of them. It should be made clear the remarkableness of Oldman’s performance is not just its chameleon-like aspect but in its ability to make us believe it. It’s a stunning piece of craftsmanship that should be rewarded.
Who Got Snubbed: Jeremy Renner for Wind River. I don’t know if I think his Corey Lambert should win, but it is hands down the best performance I’ve ever seen Renner give. The haunted, stoic, and angry character is typical of Renner; but here he fills Lambert with longing, sadness, and confusion. Renner’s Lambert feels like the first real performance he’s ever given. That alone deserves at least a nomination.
Outstanding Performance by a Female in a Lead Role:
Judi Dench – Victoria & Abdul as Queen Victoria
Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water as Elisa Esposito
Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri as Mildred Hayes
Margot Robbie – I, Tonya as Tonya Harding
Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson
Who Will Win:
Frances McDormand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Jeremiah: McDormand gives a gutwrenchingly honest portrayal of a grief-stricken and hell-bent matriarch in a small, fictional Midwestern town. It’s a potent performance and will most likely be lauded by her fellow actors, especially since they adore her. It helps that she’s won a Golden Globe for this role and has been putting in a strong showing on the awards circuit. Rightfully so, as she’s consistently one of the best yet somehow underappreciated actress working today.
Who Should Win: Sally Hawkins for The Shape of Water. One of the more subtly daring performances. With almost no words, outside a lovely musical number, Hawkins conveyed to us a complete and fleshed out character. The relationship between Elisa and the Creature works in large part because of Hawkins’ deft handling of the material.
Who Got Snubbed: I know you’re expecting me to say Kristen Stewart for Personal Shopper and rightfully so. Even though she totally got snubbed, so did Danielle MacDonald for Patti Cake$. Her Patricia Dombrowski was a fierce and optimistic dream chaser. Patti’s obstacles are not end-of-the-world roadblocks, they are, everyday minor setbacks. Through it all, MacDonald gives us a performance that has us clapping our hands and stomping our feet when she takes the stage.
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Steve Carell – Battle of the Sexes as Bobby Riggs
Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project as Bobby Hicks
Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri as Sheriff Bill Willoughby
Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water as Giles
Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri as Officer Jason Dixon
Who Will Win: Steve Carell for Battle of the Sexes. It’s not based on anything except Carell’s Bobby Riggs was wonderfully layered. A man beset by his lesser angels while also being, shockingly, one most keen cultural observers, and a seemingly inexhaustible daring self-promoter. Battle of the Sexes was never as good as it should have been but it wasn’t awful, and that’s due in large part to Carell’s Bobby Riggs.
Dan: As much as I loved Carrell, I have a sneaking suspicion that Hollywood’s need to reward shitty white dude characters will help continue Sam Rockwell’s dominance in this category. Even though Woody Harrelson puts in a better performance, Rockwell’s “redemption” arc seems to be resonating with the film world.
Who Should Win: Willem Dafoe’s Bobby from The Florida Project pulled off one of the most infamously difficult aspects of acting: he doesn’t appear to be acting. Of course, he’s acting, but his Bobby is free of any theatrical artifice or mannerisms. Even though there’s no noticeable difference between Bobby or Dafoe, the actor himself is nowhere to be seen.
Who Got Snubbed: Patrick Stewart for Charles Xavier in Logan. Logan was far and away the single best departure from the ho-humness that plagues the superhero genre. Stewart as Professor X gives a blistering and honest performance as a man in the final stages of his life. Unusually for a genre that is normally cavalier in its treatment of death, the tragedy of mental deterioration and death is made uncomfortably real by Stewart’s portrayal.
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Mary J. Blige – Mudbound as Florence Jackson
Hong Chau – Downsizing as Ngoc Lan Tran
Holly Hunter – The Big Sick as Beth Gardner
Allison Janney – I, Tonya as LaVona Golden
Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird as Marion McPherson
Who Will Win: Laurie Metcalf for Ladybird, if for no other reason than because I think the Guild feels a kinship with Metcalf. She’s a working actress getting a second wind in her career. I think the Guild will want to reward her for what is one of the best performances of the year.
Who Should Win: Mary J. Blige for Mudbound. A film that was all but buried by Netflix. It could have died a quiet death if not for Blige’s scathing turn as Florence Jackson. Blige conveys strength and vulnerability even from behind a pair of dark sunglasses. A wife and mother who sees her family fortunes crumble before her only to see them rise from the ashes is a tour de force for any actor. But for a first-time actor? It is astounding.
Who Got Snubbed: Tiffany Haddish in Girls Trip. A comedic force-of-nature, Haddish’s Dina was a vulgar loudmouth who was still more human than caricature. Much has been said about the grapefruit scene, but little is said about the scene after. Dina takes her friends into her room, kneels, and leads them in prayer. An act of simple faith that isn’t part of a larger message. Haddish’s Dina is such an astounding comedic creation because she is a complete creation, with beliefs and ideas, and not just comedic foibles.
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
The Big Sick – Adeel Akhtar, Holly Hunter, Zoe Kazan, Anupam Kher, Kumail Nanjiani, Ray Romano and Zenobia Shroff
Get Out – Caleb Landry Jones, Daniel Kaluuya, Catherine Keener, Stephen Root, Lakeith Stanfield, Bradley Whitford and Allison Williams
Lady Bird – Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Lucas Hedges, Tracy Letts, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Laurie Metcalf, Jordan Rodrigues, Saoirse Ronan, Odeya Rush, Marielle Scott and Lois Smith
Mudbound – Jonathan Banks, Mary J. Blige, Jason Clarke, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Rob Morgan and Carey Mulligan
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Abbie Cornish, Peter Dinklage, Woody Harrelson, John Hawkes, Lucas Hedges, Željko Ivanek, Caleb Landry Jones, Frances McDormand, Clarke Peters, Sam Rockwell and Samara Weaving
Who Will Win: Lord help me I think it may be Three Billboards Outside, Ebbing Missouri. Deeply flawed but incredibly acted, it tries in vain to wrestle with the human complexity and the notion of justice. It’s burdened by the whiteness of its cast, and it’s narrative cowardice when dealing with racial issues. It has four women characters, but only one of them is given anything interesting to do or say. The others are merely decorative assets for their male counterparts. Needless to say, I’m betting SAG will just love all the great performances in this movie and overlook the inherent narrative flaws.
Who Should Win: The Big Sick is a movie I didn’t love, but it is a movie I liked a lot. I will say that it has a fantastic cast and it serves the movie well. Michael Showalter has nothing to say visually, but he is smart enough to stack his cast with heavy hitters. Kumail Nanjiani, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Zoe Kazan, Anupam Kher, and Zenobia Shroff make The Big Sick as powerful and poignant as it is. The script by Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon gives the whole cast grade A meat to sink their teeth into. Heartwarming and touching The Big Sick works as well as it does because of its cast.
Who Got Snubbed: Before you get your pitchforks and torches ready hear me out, Justice League. Justice League is by no means a masterpiece by any definition of the word, nor is it worthy of any actual awards. BUT the cast made that movie work it’s weird, herky-jerky magic. Collectively they made a series of disjointed scenes and overly produced action sequences work because when they were together the movie was actually kind of fun. Whether it was Aquaman sitting on Diana’s lasso of truth or Batman’s look of gushing love when Superman joins in the fight against whatever the bad guy’s name was, they sold the scene. I’m not saying they deserve the award but they sure as hell deserve a nomination more than Three Billboards Outside, Ebbing Missouri.
Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
Baby Driver, ST-C Robert Nagle
Dunkirk, ST-C Tom Struthers
Logan, ST-C’s Nuo Sun, Gary Hymes, Garret Warren
War for the Planet of the Apes ST-C’s Isaac Hamon, Terry Notary, John Stoneham Jr., Danny Virtue
Wonder Woman ST-C’a Tim Rigby, Marcus Shakesheff, Lee Sheward
Who Will Win: Wonder Woman. While the other films in this category did a great job with their stunts, Wonder Woman not only had a fantastic stunt cast, they also let the stunt actors BE characters. A good chunk of the best stunts in the film were by the Amazons, who were played by an extremely talented and athletic group of women. Rather than let the stunt women stay in the background, Patty Jenkins let them feature in front of the camera and for that, I think the Guild will reward.
Who Should Win: Wonder Woman, again. The beach scene alone is amazing, but it also had some fantastic work during the war scenes as well.
Who Got Snubbed: Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It’s sort of the norm for the SAG’s to snub December release films, but this snub in this category is more surprising. It’s hard to beat Star Wars when it comes to stunts, and Praetorian Guard fight on Snoke’s Ship was as standout a feat of action as any other in 2017.
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
Benedict Cumberbatch – Sherlock: The Lying Detective as Sherlock Holmes
Jeff Daniels – Godless as Frank Griffin
Robert De Niro – The Wizard of Lies as Bernard Madoff
Geoffrey Rush – Genius as Albert Einstein
Alexander Skarsgård – Big Little Lies as Perry Wright
Who Will Win: Alexander Skarsgård. Already a success at multiple shows, and considering the tongue bath that the awards shows have been giving Big Little Lies, this seems like a gimme.
Who Should Win: Sadly, this category isn’t nearly as competitive as most of the others. The closest to Skarsgård in critical acclaim is maybe De Niro, but that’s probably just the built-in bias people have for the man.
Who Got Snubbed: Charlie Cox in The Defenders. A snub that can largely be chalked up to genre bias, Cox had perhaps the strongest storyline in a show stuffed to the brim with them. While Cox wouldn’t win, he’s at least as worthy as Blueberry Pumpkinpatch
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
Laura Dern – Big Little Lies as Renata Klein
Nicole Kidman – Big Little Lies as Celeste Wright
Jessica Lange – Feud: Bette and Joan as Joan Crawford
Susan Sarandon – Feud: Bette and Joan as Bette Davis
Reese Witherspoon – Big Little Lies as Madeline MacKenzie
Who Will Win: The real question is which actress in Big Little Lies will win. Considering there’s no supporting vs. main actress delineation, it could be any of the three. The best bet is Nicole Kidman, who can be counted on to give a flowery speech about female empowerment as she accepts her award.
Who Should Win: Susan Sarandon. While she’s gotten very little love, thanks largely to the sheer dominance of Big Little Lies, I still think Sarandon did a great job in making sure her Bette Davis transcends a simple impression.
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Jason Bateman – Ozark as Martin “Marty” Byrde
Sterling K. Brown – This Is Us as Randall Pearson
Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones as Tyrion Lannister
David Harbour – Stranger Things as Jim Hopper
Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul as Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman
Who Will Win: Sterling K. Brown has been killing it at the awards this year, and his performance justifies that success. And in a category largely filled by more ensemble shows, he seems an easy choice for the Guild’s committees.
Who Should Win: David Harbour. It can be hard to stand out in an ensemble cast, especially when that cast is in a genre show. But Harbour has gotten a good deal of well-earned love for his performance. Transitioning from burned out sheriff to surrogate father finding his feet, Harbour helped Hopper maintain his position as the stable rock amidst the chaos around Hawkins.
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Millie Bobby Brown – Stranger Things as Eleven
Claire Foy – The Crown as Elizabeth II
Laura Linney – Ozark as Wendy Byrde
Elisabeth Moss – The Handmaid’s Tale as June Osborne/Offred
Robin Wright – House of Cards as Claire Underwood
Who Will Win: Elizabeth Moss. Another obvious choice, but this is a great place for the Guild to reward The Handmaid’s Tale for its work and topical importance.
Who Should Win: Claire Foy. She’s been great in both seasons of The Crown, and with the show moving past her it’s now or never to reward her acting.
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson – Black-ish as Andre “Dre” Johnson
Aziz Ansari – Master of None as Dev Shah
Larry David – Curb Your Enthusiasm as Himself
Sean Hayes – Will & Grace as Jack McFarland
William H. Macy – Shameless as Frank Gallagher
Marc Maron – GLOW as Sam Sylvia
Who Will Win: Aziz Ansari. Despite his recent controversies, Aziz has gotten nothing but love for his turn in season 2 of Master of None.
Who Should Win: Anthony Anderson. Not only is he fantastic in his comedic moments, but he also does a good job during Black-ish’s frequent serious discussions of race in America.
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Uzo Aduba – Orange Is the New Black as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren
Alison Brie – GLOW as Ruth “Zoya the Destroya” Wilder
Jane Fonda – Grace and Frankie as Grace Hanson
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep as Selina Meyer
Lily Tomlin – Grace and Frankie as Frankie Bergstein
Who Will Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Thanks to the scary parallels between Veep and some modern-day politics, the character of Selina Meyer has gotten even more accolades than she did in earlier seasons.
Who Should Win: For this category, the inevitable choice is probably the correct one.
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
The Crown – Claire Foy, Victoria Hamilton, Vanessa Kirby, Anton Lesser and Matt Smith
Game of Thrones – Alfie Allen, Jacob Anderson, Pilou Asbæk, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, John Bradley West, Jim Broadbent, Gwendoline Christie, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Liam Cunningham, Peter Dinklage, Richard Dormer, Nathalie Emmanuel, James Faulkner, Jerome Flynn, Aidan Gillen, Iain Glen, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Conleth Hill, Kristofer Hivju, Tom Hopper, Anton Lesser, Rory McCann, Staz Nair, Richard Rycroft, Sophie Turner, Rupert Vansittart and Maisie Williams
The Handmaid’s Tale – Madeline Brewer, Amanda Brugel, Ann Dowd, O. T. Fagbenle, Joseph Fiennes, Tattiawna Jones, Max Minghella, Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski and Samira Wiley
Stranger Things – Sean Astin, Millie Bobby Brown, Cara Buono, Joe Chrest, Catherine Curtin, Natalia Dyer, David Harbour, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Dacre Montgomery, Paul Reiser, Winona Ryder, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink and Finn Wolfhard
This Is Us – Eris Baker, Alexandra Breckenridge, Sterling K. Brown, Lonnie Chavis, Justin Hartley, Faithe Herman, Ron Cephas Jones, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Moore, Chris Sullivan, Milo Ventimiglia, Susan Kelechi Watson and Hannah Zeile
Who Will Win: This is the closest thing the SAG’s have to a “Best Series” award, and it’s a tough race. Game of Thrones is always a contender, as are relative newcomers The Crown and This Is Us. But the most likely winner is The Handmaid’s Tale. Picking up the win at the Emmy’s and the Globes is always a good sign, and it’s doubtful that the chord that the series struck with audiences didn’t also reach the acting community.
Who Should Win: Stranger Things. Out of all of the series nominated, Stranger Things is the series that best represents a truly great ensemble. With this past season featuring great work from the adults (Sean Astin, Winona Ryder, and David Harbour) and the kids (Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, et al.), the series deserves a win. Sadly, it’s probably bogged down by the fact that it IS largely a child cast and good old genre snobbery.
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Black-ish – Anthony Anderson, Miles Brown, Deon Cole, Laurence Fishburne, Jenifer Lewis, Peter Mackenzie, Marsai Martin, Jeff Meacham, Tracee Ellis Ross, Marcus Scribner and Yara Shahidi
Curb Your Enthusiasm – Ted Danson, Larry David, Susie Essman, Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines and J. B. Smoove
GLOW – Britt Baron, Alison Brie, Kimmy Gatewood, Betty Gilpin, Rebekka Johnson, Chris Lowell, Sunita Mani, Marc Maron, Kate Nash, Sydelle Noel, Marianna Palka, Gayle Rankin, Bashir Salahuddin, Rich Sommer, Kia Stevens, Jackie Tohn, Ellen Wong and Britney Young
Orange Is the New Black – Uzo Aduba, Emily Althaus, Danielle Brooks, Rosal Colon, Jackie Cruz, Francesca Curran, Daniella De Jesus, Lea DeLaria, Nick Dillenburg, Asia Kate Dillon, Beth Dover, Kimiko Glenn, Annie Golden, Laura Gómez, Diane Guerrero, Evan Arthur Hall, Michael J. Harney, Brad William Henke, Mike Houston, Vicky Jeudy, Kelly Karbacz, Julie Lake, Selenis Leyva, Natasha Lyonne, Taryn Manning, Adrienne C. Moore, Miriam Morales, Kate Mulgrew, Emma Myles, John Palladino, Matt Peters, Jessica Pimentel, Dascha Polanco, Laura Prepon, Jolene Purdy, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Nick Sandow, Abigail Savage, Taylor Schilling, Constance Shulman, Dale Soules, Yael Stone, Emily Tarver, Michael Torpey and Lin Tucci
Veep – Dan Bakkedahl, Anna Chlumsky, Gary Cole, Margaret Colin, Kevin Dunn, Clea Duvall, Nelson Franklin, Tony Hale, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Sam Richardson, Paul Scheer, Reid Scott, Timothy Simons, Sarah Sutherland and Matt Walsh
Who Will Win: Veep. Most of my reasoning is mentioned in my justification for Julia-Louise Dreyfus’s win prediction, but there’s no doubt her work wouldn’t be nearly as good without the team surrounding her.
Who Should Win: GLOW. A great show that seemed to fly under some people’s radar, it took a much different approach to the 2017’s theme of female empowerment. Mixing funny and emotional as deftly as any Jenji Kohan program, the show had its ensemble pulling double duty as actors and as wrestlers. Sadly, if there’s one thing with less respect than genre, it’s professional wrestling.
Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series
Game of Thrones ST-C Rowley Irlam
GLOW ST-CS Shauna Duggins
Homeland ST-C’s Brian Smyj, Mark Fichera
Stranger Things ST-C Lonnie R. Smith Jr.
The Walking Dead ST-C Monty L. Simons
Who Will Win: Game of Thrones cleans up in technical categories, and have won this six years running. With each season getting bigger and sillier, so have the stunts gotten more impressive to match.
Who Should Win: GLOW. While losing best ensemble would be expected, losing Best Stunt Ensemble will be a bigger disappointment. Unlike other shows, GLOW is almost centered around stunts. It did a great job in having the wrestling look as real as real wrestling, while also capturing some of the painful qualities of it. As well, the cast was trained in professional wrestling, and pro wrestlers like Carlito put in some good work throughout the series.
The 24th Annual Screen Actor’s Guild Awards will be hosted by Kristen Bell, and presented on January 21, 2018, on both TNT and TBS, 8:00 p.m. EST / 5:00 p.m. PST
Tomb Raider’s Second Trailer Shows More of Walton Goggins
Tomb Raider was one of the first and most inoffensive of the many adaptations from video games to the big screen. Was it or its sequel a good movie? Definitely not, but compared to the soul-swallowing muck masquerading as “films” we’ve gotten before and after? I didn’t mind Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider so much.
Still, I’m hoping for better with this entry. Perhaps we can upgrade from forgettable to something at least average? I choose to be hopeful. As I said before, they at least picked the right Tomb Raider games to take inspiration from.
How will it turn out? I admit I have an intense bias towards Walton Goggins, but he gives me hope. This trailer features a lot more of him than the first and establishes a previous relationship with Lara’s father. At the very least I feel I can count on him to deliver a good villain. It looks like Tomb Raider 2013 and seems to focus on the same things. I want to be hopeful.
However, I’ve been burnt by too many video game adaptations and see the same bad signs in this trailer. Why is Trinity trying to cause a global genocide, exactly? It’s not their goal in the new Tomb Raider games. This kind of senseless evil is the kind of thing that sinks a movie. And I’m still upset at seeing no Sam Nishimura. I’ll keep saying it; you can’t adapt Tomb Raider 2013 without a Sam.
We’ll see. I’m a positive person who chooses to be positive. At the very least I think we’ll get a passable movie here. Walton Goggins should assure that much.
Tomb Raider hits theaters on March 16 and stars Alicia Vikander as the iconic Lara Croft.
Video and images courtesy of MGM
‘Paddington 2’ Is The Best Sequel To A Movie About A Talking Bear
Paddington 2 is filled with love, adventure, hidden treasure, jailbreaks, and of course marmalade. Underneath all of this bubble issues of alienation and immigration. All is done with the simple and sincere belief that there’s good in all of us; even in people named Nuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson).
A movie that people of all ages can enjoy is rare. But rarer still is a family movie so visually imaginative and so achingly sincere. Paddington 2 is for all ages but it is without clever innuendos or pop culture references the little ones couldn’t possibly understand. No, instead Paddington 2 mixes in jokes for everyone just by being clever and wry.
Based on a series of children’s books by Michael Bond, Paddington 2 walks a thin line of both not really being designed for a three act structure and somehow fitting perfectly in a three act structure. Paddington 2 never feels padded or bloated, while at the same time it’s not exactly a streamlined movie either.
Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) is trying to raise money to buy a pop up book for his Aunt Lucy (voiced by Imelda Staunton). We soon discover Paddington’s beloved pop up book is actually a treasure map. Written and illustrated by Madam Kozlova (Eileen Atkins) each page contains a clue to her hidden treasure.
Lesser filmmakers would have Paddington and his family, the Browns, traipsing about London in search of the treasure. Thankfully Paul King, and his co-writer, Simon Farnaby, understand that would undermine the very heart of Paddington. Paddington wants the book, not the treasure. The pop up book is a collection of famous landmarks of London. Aunt Lucy has always wanted to come to London and so to Paddington this is the next best thing.
Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant), a hammy has been actor, wants the treasure. He steals the book, frames Paddington, and goes about solving the clues. Poor Paddington is sent to prison. He ends up, as he always does, making friends and making the place a little bit better than when he came in.
King, who directed the first Paddington , once again somehow captures both the visual and emotional whimsy of being a child. With every shot King imbues the story, and us, with a child’s faith in humanity and limitless imagination. Much like the books Paddington somehow or other manages to find himself in precarious situations. In King’s and his camera man’s Erik Wilson’s hands, however, they have the sublime ingenuity of silent cinema.
Wilson’s camera seems alive as he and King frame scenes in such a way as to be almost revelatory. Still, it never pulls us out of the moment. Instead we feel as if we ourselves are reading a children’s book; with each new frame being a new page. A feeling of playfulness begins to develop between us and Paddington 2. We begin to await each scene with something short of baited breath.
Refreshingly when Paddington is locked up, the Browns never despair nor believe Paddington is guilty. There is no third act redemption needed because the mere notion of Paddington being a thief is ludicrous. Instead they set right to work trying to solve the case and clear his name.
Mary (Sally Hawkins) and Henry (Hugh Bonneville) put up posters of the real thief. Their daughter Judy (Madeleine Harris) has started up her own newspaper. She started the paper after her latest break up, replete with an old style printing press. Judy begins to write a series of articles questioning Paddington’s guilt. Meanwhile their son Jonathan (Samuel Joslin), an aficionado of steam engines, wants to help, but wants to do so quietly. He is desperately trying to be cool and being cool means not loving steam engines or trying to prove a bears innocence.
Paddington 2 is so delightful and yet infuriatingly difficult to describe. The difficulty comes from it’s simplicity. I’ve told you the gist of the plot but it doesn’t convey the sheer fun of seeing Paddington try to cut an old man’s hair. Or the gush of joy in seeing prisoners stand up and confess to desserts they know how to bake.
Paddington reacts to everything and everyone with a simple unconditional love. He reminds his neighbor Dr. Jafri (Sanjeev Bhaskar) to not forget his keys while also helping his garbage man study for his hack licence. Paddington does miss his Aunt Lucy though. While he loves the Browns and London he is reminded how different he is. But King never allows this to be overtly broad. Paddington says “My Aunt Lucy…” with a tinge of forlornness mixed with pride that boils down this complex and daunting theme into a simple and digestible emotion.
I haven’t even mentioned the breathless train chase with the Browns, the treasure, or the emotional climax that is so perfect in it’s visual construction it left me breathless. Paddington 2 will not solve all of humanity’s problems. But for a brief while it allows us to hope and believe we can be half as lovely and kind as a little brown bear living in London.
Image courtesy of StudioCanal
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