Bond Talk After Dark
The Bond news beat is a lonely one indeed these days. With no announcements or hints about Bond 25, with even the tabloids quieting down, one can get kind of anxious - a reporter with nothing to report is a sad sight to behold. So here’s a column to get some stuff out of my system. Nothing below is worthy of an entire post, so submitted for your approval in these wee hours are the following thoughts, links, odds and ends that have been on my mind this week. It might become a regular thing, and it might not. Life is unpredictable!
Let’s talk about that lack of news real quick. People are going crazy speculating why all is quiet on the Bond 25 front. The most logical explanation I’ve heard so far is that with Logan Lucky coming out in August, Eon is lying low in order to let Daniel Craig have this moment (and holy cow, what a moment it looks like). The theory goes that Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson are graciously (or shrewdly) giving Craig's colorful (and award-worthy?) role in Steven Soderbergh's film the spotlight, waiting until after the movie has performed to make any announcement - one way or another - about Bond 25. It’s the move of a producer looking to play nice with their star, I think. I hope.
I’m reading this fascinating Bond anthology book called Licence Expired: The Unauthorized James Bond. See, Ian Fleming’s literary creation recently fell into public domain in Canada, and an enterprising publisher seized the moment to produce a collection of 007 stories written by a whole slew of new voices. I might cover the book more fully when I’m finished with it, but for now I’ll say the writing is quite good, even if some of the authors’ impulses lean toward the indulgent, fanfic end of the spectrum here and there.
The stories seem to be arranged chronologically, with the first story extrapolating on the canonical “trouble with a maid” that got young Bond kicked out of Eton. The final story involves an orderly in a convalescent home who relishes the fantastical tales of sex and adventure told by one particular steely-gazed resident during his sporadic moments of lucidity. There’s lots of flavors in between, including one serious mindfuck of a retcon/mash-up that will have you watching James Bond title sequences in an otherworldly new light. Anyway, I’m still reading this book and it’s not legal to sell it outside of Canada, so good luck with that.
Also on the “great Bond writing” tip, there’s a blog called The Caves of Altamira that’s been doing a SPECTACULAR scene-by-scene analysis of Casino Royale. The author is up to his ninth entry, and it’s a meaty, insightful, engaging, and clear-eyed breakdown of the 2006 film. I’m seriously envious of both the writing and the endeavor. Highly recommended.
I stumbled upon Anthony Lane’s review of Spectre well after the fact, but writing this good is evergreen. "A thug let loose in a daydream." DAMN.
Matt Mira and Matt Gourley are resurrecting the James Bonding podcast - with a twist. Their original run was 34 episodes spread across three years; on August 1st, they premiere on the Earwolf network - and they’re going weekly. I’m excited for their return - the Matts are legit Bond fanboys, but they’re also gifted comedians and come at this stuff with the right approach of sincerity and humor. Readers of this site might want to tune in to the premiere, as Matt & Matt will have a guest with whom you might be familiar.
I think Florence and the Machine should do the Bond 25 theme song. If we aren’t going to go back to Shirley Bassey for one more, let’s at least send Craig off with a powerhouse voice.
Bond 25 titles I've seen floated by fans, and one I came up with (I'll let you figure out which is which):
The Garden of Death
All the Time in the World
Any of these would be acceptable, but I'd like to see Mr. Craig get at least one super-long Bond title before he retires.
I don’t claim to have any inside intel here, but I just want to throw out the fact that fashion designer Tom Ford, who’s created all of Daniel Craig’s 007 suits (and some of his casual wear) since 2008, has created and released this cream-colored safari jacket.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Bond 25, whenever it gets here, will almost certainly contain a dedication to the late Sir Roger Moore. I can think of no better way to remember the man than to have Daniel Craig loping through a tropical tourist destination in this thing. I think it’s what Sir Roger would have wanted.
While we’re on the topic of things we want to see in Bond 25, stay with me for a second. There’s a weird anniversary trend this year: it’s the 50th anniversary of You Only Live Twice; the 40th anniversary of The Spy Who Loved Me; and the 20th anniversary of Tomorrow Never Dies. What do these three films have in common? They’re the only three movies in which we’ve seen Commander Bond in his Royal Navy dress uniform.
What an odd, but also kind of cool, bit of trivia! Omega, who’ve supplied 007’s wristwatch since 1995, have kind of backed into this triple anniversary as an excuse to release a really terrible special edition Seamaster, and every Bond fan I know who’s seen it has reacted in horror.
007’s product placement deals haven’t always been subtle, but at least the actual watches were? Kind of? This thing, though - not actually from any particular film, the tacky 007 logo on the second hand, those bright colors - just...no.
The watch is a misfire, but the level of fan vitriol I've seen about it speaks, I think, to a deeper issue. We don’t just hate the watch; we hate that there’s a new Bond product tie-in we don’t want. Sure, like the films themselves, there will always be another one. But it's also true that we only get so many, and with its garish colors and its flimsy connection to the franchise, this thing is taking up valuable space on our finite Grail-chasing timeline. And its existence means one less cool collectable in the world. It’s a weird thing to get mad about, but there it is. Some people will buy it anyway. The real pissed-off Bond nerds will buy it while also hating it! That's a thing! We all have our lines in the sand with this stuff. I thought the exploding watch from Spectre was cool as hell, but it was in Spectre, so it didn’t move my needle one bit. Ah well.
But back to what we want to see in Bond 25. The more annoying takeaway from this occasion is that Daniel Craig is missing his chance to suit up in Commander Bond’s uniform in 2017, breaking that fun anniversary cycle. One could argue that Lazenby and Dalton weren’t in the role long enough to warrant suiting up in the Naval uniform, but Craig is due! Maybe next year…