Monthly Archives: November 2012

My Icons of the Big (and Small) Screen: Part One

Back when she was known as Betty Bacall, Howard Hawks’ wife Nancy saw her on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar and urged her husband to sign up the young star. He took her to Hollywood, changed her name to Lauren and a star was born.  Thrown into To Have and Have Not as her first film opposite Humphrey Bogart where she developed her ‘look’. To cover up her nerves she would have her chin down on her chest and lifted her eyes upwards, audiences fell in love with her, as did her co-star Bogart.

Bacall has always been an icon of mine not just because she is my namesake (although on hearing that’s who my father named me after I sought out to see her in this film), but she used her nerves to work for her making her seem effortlessly cool. Her distinctive low voice, cool dress sense and unmistakable talent make her an icon. Her character “Slim” is clever, sexy and funny. She is more than a match for the hero of the film. And then of course there’s this line:

“You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and… blow.”

Nothing else to say.

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SKYFALL

I have to admit I haven’t seen many James Bond films.  For some reason the franchise has never really stood out to me. Although Bond is suave, cool with plenty of gadgets, the character himself is not that interesting to me. I haven’t found the need to watch more of his adventures or know more about the character.

So it was quite surprising how much I enjoyed Skyfall, the 23rd film of the long running franchise. MI6 is in trouble and new villain Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) is out for revenge, and it seems M (Judi Dench) is right in the centre of it.

There are some spectacular set pieces directed by Sam Mendes. A particularly thrilling opening sequence has Bond tracking a killer round Turkey ending in a nerve wracking fight on board a moving train. Fans of high adrenaline action will not be disappointed. That’s not to say the film is just about the action. I still don’t find Bond the most compelling hero but Daniel Craig is great as the world’s most famous spy and best when he’s interacting with the film’s other main players.

There are great supporting characters, some getting more scenes than others but all leaving you to want to know more about them. Judi Dench gets her chance to shine as M is directly involved in the main plot. Javier Bardem is creepy, intriguing and in some moments surprisingly funny as Silva. Although he’s not exactly sympathetic or likeable you at least understand his motivations rather than just a desire to destroy the world or something. The Bond girls (Naomie Harris MI6 agent Eve and Bérénice Marlohe as  the mysterious Sévérine) are also strong characters in their own right with hints at their own backstories rather than just being there so Bond has someone to flirt with. Also added to the mix is Ben Whishaw as the geeky and slightly arrogant Q, and Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee who both make a good impression in the few scenes they are in.

This is definitely one of the most enjoyable Bond films so far, full of many thrilling scenes and moments of humour thrown in, such as Bond’s first meeting with Silva which manages to be intense and funny at the same time. I might actually look forward to the next instalment in the franchise.

 

4/5 Everyone will be talking about it anyway so you might as well see it and enjoy 50 years of Bond.

 

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