theladyrose: (Default)
I don't think I could ever beat my friend's review of Sebastian Faulks' new 007 novel, Devil May Care: "Bond in DMC is more passive than a Gaydar bottom."

I wanted to like this book. I really, really did. But it's simply a travesty to have "Sebastian Faulks as Ian Fleming" printed on the cover. Just because a book has the James Bond formula down pat (it's a bad ripoff of Moonraker) doesn't mean that it's a Bond book; Faulks practically takes a connect the dots approach. The villain is marginally more interesting than James Bond. It's supposedly set in the 60's, but it sounds like the modern era with all of the drugs and the technology. And all of the references to Bond's past missions (On Her Majesty's Secret Service, You Only Live Twice, The Man With The Golden Gun) come across as awkwardly inserted, rather than as a continuation of the 007 literary timeline. And don't even get me started on Scarlett and the awkward attempts at political correctness that still leave me feeling insulted as a reader and disappointed. The attempted sex scene made me laugh harder than anything else that I've read in print for some time - and I don't think I was supposed to be laughing. Fleming was a prejudiced bastard at times, but at least you felt connected with the world, however flawed, that he was describing. He has these incredibly jaded observations and idiosyncratic characters that I love, whereas I couldn't find anyone in DMC remotely compelling.

I don't deny that Fleming was classist, racist and sexist, but what makes the Bond novels so compelling is that James Bond still makes a fascinating observer and compelling agent provocateur nevertheless.

I am disappointed that I wasted $6 in getting a used copy at the library.
theladyrose: (Default)
If there is one important thing that I've learned this semester, it's that one should NEVER leave liquids around computers.

Miraculously, just yesterday night my keyboard went back pretty much to normal, except the shift key doesn't work. But hey, I'm not complaining. I do apologize in being slow in responding to comments as I was pretty much denied computer access for the past few weeks, and I forced myself not to procrastinate when working on my paper in the basement computer lab. I've come to appreciate how much we rely on technology to communicate; as I accidentally left my cell phone battery charger back home, someone in theory could have murdered me in my room – my roommate was out in studio for the better 3/4 of this past week – and no one probably would've known. I really don't know how my floormates can get away with smoking the amount of marijuana and drinking and generally partying during finals that they've done; perhaps they realize how screwed they are and have stopped trying.

Speaking of my floormates, I was extremely tempted to pull a Grey's Anatomy and tack up one of my floormate's panties to the floor bulletin board. The laundry room is right across from the bathroom, dears — leaving your thong around the shower head is kind of nasty minus the "kind of."

Thankfully my roommates next year are lovely; we start scouting around for an apartment mid-January. Rumor is the housing lottery belongs to the 4th circle of hell, but now that USC guarantees incoming freshment starting my year two years guaranteed campus housing we're given priority. We still need a 4th roommate – luckily the greatest demand seems to be for 2-person apartments, although there are a fair number of 4-person apartments – but a fellow classmate may be joining us so we'll see.

I've been alternating between periods of dull le Carré-style drudgery and stress-induced hysterical laughter — yes, it's that time of year: finals. It's crazy how long it took me to write the last half page of my consumerism final – I was probably at the same page length for 4 hours because I kept editing a lot and found my brain too worn out to come up with even more analysis to make up for the edits. I can honestly say for the first time since I've been in college I can't wait to be home tomorrow afternoon and give my brain a chance to rest up and do the stuff it wants to do, like finish watching the rest of Danger Man season one. The one little thing I will regret leaving for a month (as eerily enough, most of my friends here live in the Bay Area) are the honey bran muffins from Commons, but I think I can manage ;p

I can't figure out if I've become lazier since coming to college. Seriously, I've been setting new records for how late I've slept in this week alone; today it was almost 5 in the evening just because my body's forced to pay the massive sleep debt accumulated from insomnia. I've been trying to start my papers a week in advance, but I find that I look back on my earlier drafts and realize how much I need to change so I still end up staying up until 3 AM to get them the way I want. Now that I finished my last take-home final at 2 AM today, I finally got around to dumping out the masses of papers I've accumulated over the semester and sorting out the work I want to keep. I've probably sacrificed a small forest in the process, but it was so worthwhile. It's a little scary, the sense of tremendous satisfaction from finally organizing everything. Somehow I'm deluded enough to think that if I have enough self-discipline the rest of the emotional chaos that tends to randomly explode in my face can be tamed.

I've been trying to work on my Casino Royale film review for the past few weeks, but I keep rewriting it as I'm still not quite satisfied with it yet. A more comprehensive soundtrack review is also in the works.

Year in Review meme )

Random Casino Royale soundtrack note: I read some silly review that praised Arnold's "passionate love themes." What the heck? Arnold's love themes are remarkably restrained, even minimalistic in orchestration compared to his other, more John Barryesque works. I'm glad that Arnold went for a more subtle approach - you can hear the gradual progression of the slightly icy banter still tinged with a certain chemistry to the gradual realization of their mutual feelings. Craig's Bond isn't really that much of a romantic; despite his professional coldness, he strikes me as the kind of guy who acts on his feelings in relationships, the sort of person who omits to tell the truth rather than lie. Neither of them are gushingly in love, totally engrossed in learning everything they can about the other; they come to implicitly trust each other without asking any questions, which underlies the dramatic tensions of what is left unsaid. The simplistic tonal and harmonic palette in the renditions of the theme reflects that unspoken honesty.

That was basically a really convoluted piece of tripe calling itself writing, but whatever. It's driving me crazy that I can't use parentheses anymore because my shift key doesn't wo.

Anyway, getting back to my original point about Arnold's approach – yes, the "I'm the Money" cue introducing Vesper features a wonderfully lush string quotation of the main title theme, but Arnold (and his orchestrator/conductor, Nicholas Dodd) tends to use richer orchestrations for location introduction cues. Listen to the sudden shift halfway through “Blunt Instrument” when Bond arrives in the Bahamas or 'Welcome to Baku' from The World Is Not Enough, and you'll know what I mean. “I’m Yours” during Bond’s recovery is the most full-bodied use of the Vesper theme, but it's really the official culmination of the Bond/Vesper relationship, and the cue also introduces the gorgeous Lake Como sanotorium location.

Yeah, I'm glad that I finally have the time to get around to working on this review in my newfound free time because there's way too much I want to say.
theladyrose: (Default)
There's nothing I'd like more right now than to write up an initial review of David Arnold's Casino Royale soundtrack. [ profile] blofeldscat wrote a great review and feature about the evolution of Arnold's musical approach, so I'm afraid anything I write will. (For the record, I did get the excerpt about From Russia With Love from your book; I'm still mulling it over and am in the midst of coming up with a response.) My initial impressions of soundtracks tend to be rather cursory and misjudged; I usually dislike/feel indifferent, and then a few weeks later upon the second listening

I am so out of practice. It's pathetic — several months and the terms are starting to slip my mind.

A few brief, crude initial impressions — I'll get back to these later )

Coincidentally enough, I have to put off this review (and finishing up the Elmer Bernstein concert review from two months ago) because I need to finish up my paper about consumerism and James Bond.

With luck, I'll be seeing the movie this weekend.
theladyrose: (Default)
I'm not quite sure why, but I've always been drawn to this particular passage of Ian Fleming's. The man's not John le Carré by any means, but Fleming does have his profound moments amidst the "kiss kiss bang bang" of the Bond novels.

He was amused by by the impartiality of the roulette ball and of the playing-cards — and their eternal bias. He liked being an actor and a spectator and from his chair to take part in other men's dramas and decisions, until it came to his own turn to say that vital "yes" or "no," generally on a 50-50 chance.

Above all, he liked it that everything was one's own fault. There was only onself to praise or blame. Luck was a servant and not a master. Luck had to be accepted with a shrug or taken advantage of up to the hilt. But it had to be understood and recognized for what it was and not be confused with a faulty appreciation of the odds, for, at gambling, the deadly sin is to mistake bad play for bad luck.

One day, and he accepted the fact he would be brought to his knees by love or by luck. When that happened he knew that he oo would be branded with the deadly question mark he recognized so often in others, the promise to pay before you have lost: the acceptance of fallibiity.

[/end tonight's studying]
theladyrose: (Default)
First off, many happy returns to [ profile] latina_business!

I was tempted to make this a real post about what I've been doing the past few weeks but as I'm lazy and there's way too much to talk about, I'm putting it off.

So instead, I present some random thoughts on the upcoming Casino Royale: (more of a rant, to be honest)

What is with the 800 millionth Felix Leiter being brought back? OK, so this is theoretically pre-Licence to Kill, but still, the character had but a fairly brief appearance in the Casino Royale novel; there's no real need to reintroduce him unless he's going to actually be a continuing player in future Bond movies. But the filmmakers haven't been too kind to Leiter; wisely, they've given him a break after Licence to Kill. Leiter's role in the movie has increasingly shrunk over time (with the exception of Licence to Kill) to the point where the modern audience has no idea who the heck Leiter is. Leiter is probably Bond's closest professional friend in the literary canon, butif they're going to do a John Terry as Leiter in the Living Daylights kind of deal (Remember him? Exactly.) then they might as well get some random CIA agent named Marcus Dixon and put him on extraneous wiretapping duty. Casino Royale really isn't the best vehicle for developing the Bond/Leiter relationship.

And to a lesser extent, why are they bringing back Villiers, who's essentially the stand-in for M in For Your Eyes Only because Bernard Lee died shortly after Moonraker? Yay for the whole blast from the past thing, but it's kind of weird to do that sort of resurrection when all of the original actors are gone. I'd rather have Robinson of the Brosnan era MI6 staff come back-yeah, he's not original Fleming but he's better than the vast majority of unmemorable MI6 background staffers/allies of recent years. He'snot exactly the most recognizable of Bond's superiors-seriously, more people would probably remember General Gogol or even the Minister of Defence from the late 70's-80's.

And, um, isn't Mathis supposed to be French? Or did I just not read the book closely enough...perhaps he's Swiss/Italian?

On the note of old-school MI6 staff members-oh where oh where is MONEYPENNY?! How can you have an old school Bond movie without Moneypenny? If you can't have that character back, then the least you can do is bring in May, Bond's literary housekeeper...

And why is the only old-school Bond alumni besides Judi Dench (as M, naturally) Tsai Chin?! You probably have no idea who she is anyway-she's the Chinese girl from the pre-titles sequence of You Only Live Twice. Actually, I made an icon of her the other day from virtually the only non-screencap image of her in existence: .

Like Anthony Chinn (no relation, as far as I know of) and many other various bit part Bond alumni she's taking on a totally unrelated role in this film, as far as I can tell. If the filmmakers were trying to go for a vaguely recognizable cameo appearance, they're really targeting the diehard fans.

Though it is pretty cool that they have a relative unknown as Vesper. I must confess that I secretly hoped that Mia Maestro woul get the part-yeah, Vesper's British through and through though she can speak French "like a native," but she seemed so well-qualified for the role in acting ability as well as physical appearance (re: Fleming's description of the character). Hopefully Eva Green can act; I've never seen her in anything before.

Thank God David Arnold is laying off on the techno wall of sound approach for Casino Royale. Hopefully this film will provide him with an opportunity to show off some strong dramatic writing for the Bond/Vesper relationship, i.e. musically develop Bond's relationships and actually have the music reflect the complexities of the storyline after failing to do so for the World is Not Enough. I've always been disappointed with the lack of development of Elektra's theme from TWINE.

Edit: So much for continuity in Bond's past...the current filmmakers seem to be of the persuasion that Bond was lying to impress Moneypenny in You Only Live Twice about doing a first in Oriental languages at Cambridge. At least the website is pretty accurate to Fleming's background of Bond, although they don't seem to mention that Bond owned his first Bentley at age 7 or so!

(I just made up the age, but he was no more than a teen if we are to take Fleming literally.)

Second edit: I lied. If you look under the military records of the online dossier, it does say that he got the first in Oriental languages but also claims that he took classes at Oxford (?!)
theladyrose: (Default)
I can't possibly imagine why people at the gym give me strange looks when I do my Euro history reading while running on the treadmill. Wouldn't it be really boring to stare at the walls the whole time while sweating it out?

The college decision issue is much trickier than I initially bargained for, but I'm hoping to send in my enrollment forms by Monday. I'm having some major committment issues at the moment.

And a few promised On Her Majesty's Secret Service screencaps for dancing_avenger )
theladyrose: (Default)
Number 86 reporting: (thanks for the suggestions!)

I'm in the midst of watching the Danger Man episode "Whatever Happened to George Foster?" and I noticed some interesting parallels:

the Avengers
-So many people named Jones...
-the shot of Peter Jones's casket being lowered reminded me of the dog being buried in "The 50,000 Pound Breakfast" and that other one where Steed pretends to assassinate Mrs. Peel in "The Murder Market"

James Bond:
-the initial exchange between Pauline and Drake reminded me of the Bond-Moneypenny banter.
-Bernard Lee as Lord Ammanford here, M in the Bond films up until For Your Eyes Only
-Certhia breaking into Drake's home is reminiscent of Sylvia Trench doing so to Bond in Dr. No. That, and Eunice Gayson is in the DM/SA episode, "A Man to Be Trusted."
-Scruffy beat-up Drake looks better than scruffy beat-up Connery in Dr. No.
-"Borrowing" a police car-I think that's reused in Live and Let Die?
-"No hard feelings?" (the Living Daylights) after making a man go through a lot of trouble
-Hiding in an apartment (Live And Let Die)
-the girlfight (OK, it's nowhere near as intense as the one in From Russia With Love, but you have to see something of a parallel!)

Is it just me, or is the end credits music a tone higher than normal?


theladyrose: (Default)

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