Saturday, November 15, 2008

Where My Quantum of Solace Were the Music and a Burger that Gave me Food Poisoning

For a while now, it has been a matter of principle to watch a Bond movie on the day it releases. And so, avoiding search engines that volunteered information on Quantum of Solace and 'la-la-la-la-la-ing' when news organisations spoke about it, I managed to rush into the theatre with a ticket and a clean slate.

Daniel Craig's the favourite Bond of very few people, but I do rank among this limited number. Most men I know like Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan, and most women I know like Pierce Brosnan, but I think Craig has a certain steeliness and a smirk that make for a decent Bond. I doubt anyone could have the jauntiness and tongue-in-cheek of Ian Fleming's James Bond... maybe someone who looked like the lovechild of Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, and carried the demeanour of Johnny Depp, but the combination does not seem one we can see in the near future. Perhaps an Eric Bana who behaved like Johnny Depp would not be a bad choice...well, leaving permutations of DNA aside, Craig seems a decent Bond, though he does walk with the slight embarrassment any stage actor who is asked to strike rather silly macho poses with enlarged G I Joe guns is bound to have.

Daniel Craig is the kind of man you would not particularly like to introduce to your mother, but you would certainly feel quite happy to introduce to your ex-boyfriend and most definitely your bed. (Though if one were into blonde eyelashes, Boris Becker might be a more appropriate choice. One might make conversation about Wimbledon, one supposes.) But one wonders why his steely look needs to be compromised with false vulnerability. What is the point of getting him beaten up by everything from stray bricks (in the high-definition television ad) to men about as broad across the shoulders as Craig's biscep? With all due respect to Dame Judi Densch, her M and her love-hate relationship with Craig's Bond come across as a rather horrific, forced modern interpretation of Oedipus.

The action in the movie is rather blurry. The excitement of the chase in Casino Royale is missing from this one, because the almost stream-of-consciousness shot changes and close-ups are rather too bizarre to get one's adrenaline pumping. The story structure is not particularly lucid. Of course, it does take off from Casino Royale, but having watched both, I'm still not quite sure what happened in there. The intensity of his love for Vesper should probably have been brought out better, with a clever use of technique, so flashback and contemplation didn't get maudlin, but served their purpose. The revenge he exacts for her murder comes almost as an afterthought.

On the subject of afterthoughts, one must feel rather sorry for Gemma Arterton. Of course, a large portion of the movie must have been censored in India, but the only part of it where she could have looked remotely sexy was when she was found dead...and except for the black sheen of oil that made her skin look relatively smooth, it must have come across as a bit of an anti-climax for the poor girl. I doubt any much-touted Bond girl has been of so little significance and shared so little chemistry with Bond...even when Bond was as unsexy as Roger Moore. The other woman is rather pretty, but in a school-girlish way that makes Craig almost apologetic when he attempts a passionate kiss and comes off with a rather paternal one. Her ostentatious accent is rather an itch under one's skin...could have done without it.

The music, though, is quite wonderful. The opening song 'Another Way to Die' has been decently shot, with the sand artwork, but the visual finesse of the song doesn't quite compare with 'You Know My Name' from Casino Royale. The musical arrangement in the movie was a lot more obvious, because the visuals were not quite as riveting as the previous film. The saving grace of the film, and the communicative factor which indicated to one how one was supposed to feel, was the music. It did Bond the courtesy of being subtle and troubled when his mind was on Vesper and paced up beautifully during the action sequences. Bond and his bete noirs did bear some resemblance to the proverbial frog-in-a-blender, and it was the music which gave one the sense of excitement as they played trapeze on church bell ropes and chandeliers.

Watch if: you're a Bond addict, want to trash a Bond girl, live for music and like writing scathing film reviews, you're fat and want to feel good about ugly Bond women, think Daniel Craig is not quite up to the mark.

Do not watch if: You fancy Daniel Craig and want to keep that intact, watch Bond movies for the semi-pornographic sequences, are an Ian Fleming fan.
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