Bond 25 – NO TIME TO DIE first trailer + character posters!

I’ve been waiting for this!! After revealing the new title last August, No Time To Die finally has its first trailer… and as a longtime Bond fan, color me excited!!


I personally can’t wait to see what director Cary Fukunaga would do with this 57-year-old franchise, and from what I’m seeing here, it certainly looks promising!

The one I’m most curious about is Lashana Lynch’s character, and this trailer confirms that she is indeed has been assigned as a Double-O while Bond’s away from active duty. Oooh and she’s fierce!

Stay in your lane. You get in my way, I’ll put a bullet in your name.

She also reminds Bond that the world has changed… a way the studio reassure moviegoers that ‘this new Bond movie is woke, guys!’ I had to chuckle a bit seeing how reluctant Daniel Craig says the name ‘Bond… James Bond.’ He doesn’t look too happy to come back from retirement… just like Craig himself who can’t wait for his Bond contract to expire, ahah.

So Christoph Waltz is back as Blofeld, let’s see if they’d redeem his character here after what they did in Spectre where he’s basically playing a clichéd psychopath. And now Rami Malek is the new Phantom of the Opera er, Bond villain named Safin, complete w/ a preposterous accent to go with his eeee-vil plan. Looks like Safin will be one of those baddie with a more global ‘vision’ for his malevolent schemes… not simply a guy on a personal vendetta w/ Bond.

“… your skills die with your body. Mine will survive long after I’m gone.”

Nice to see Léa Seydoux back as Dr. Swann. So is she supposed to be new Vesper? Blofeld said ‘you gave up everything for her’ but there’s talk about her  knowing Safin’s secret… hmmmm, are they alluding to a Stockholm syndrome of some kind as Dr. Swann was kidnapped (presumably by Safin) and Bond had to rescue her? Not sure yet who Ana de Armas is playing, but hey she looks fabulous in a low-cut dress firing out two guns, so that’s all that matters, right? 😉

The cinematography looks gorgeous, plenty of cool-looking shots here. DP Linus Sandgren has worked with Damien Chazelle in La La Land and First Man. Composer Dan Romer is also new to the Bond franchise,  so far the music sounds good to me.


Ahead of the trailer, they released these new character posters… I’d say they look pretty sleek! I like the vintage, art deco vibe of the font, but yet looks very modern overall. Hey even Ben Whishaw gets his own character poster as the quirky Q, but no Ralph Fiennes as M??

Even in his poster Craig looks like he absolutely can’t wait to be done w/ his Bond stint, ahah. Well, I like him in the role, but honestly, I’m pretty ready to see a new Bond myself.

In any case, I am excited for Bond 25. There’s no shortage on the writers apparently… Cary Fukunaga also wrote the script which started with Neil Purvis, Robert Wade, then Scott Z. Burns and Phoebe Waller-Bridge were brought in to make some updates. Release date in North America is April 8, while the UK and its territories will see it first on April 2.


What do you think of NO TIME TO DIE trailer? Let’s hear it!

BOND 25 NEWS – New Title, Synopsis & Release Date

Well, well, well, it’s been a while since last April since we saw the Live Reveal of the cast/crew at Goldeneye, Ian Fleming’s legendary Jamaican villa. Earlier today a tweet came announcing the title AND when we’ll see the movie!

Here it is again in the 16:9 format:

My first reactions is, ‘Hmmm, I thought they’re gonna have another one word title like Skyfall and Spectre, but No Time To Die isn’t terrible, though the word ‘die’ has been kinda overused in this franchise. In any case, I quite like the retro font here and the title plays on the fact that Bond has left service. Well, temporarily anyway, the synopsis tells us he’ll take up the spy mantle when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.

Despite rumors of numerous set problems, the 25th Bond film continues production in Jamaica and Pinewood Studios, UK. I follow director Cary Fukunaga on Instagram and he posts stuff pretty regularly. Last June, they even released a set video featuring Daniel Craig with Jeffrey Wright (Felix Leiter) and Lashana Lynch (Nomi) on set. I for one can’t wait to see miss Lynch being introduced as a female 007 (as I mentioned in this post).

No sign of Rami Malek just yet though, who I think is an inspired choice as a Bond villain. Apparently Malek signed on to do the role on one condition, and it totally make sense given his background.

Per EW, “It’s a great character and I’m very excited,” Rami, who is of Egyptian descent, is quoted as saying. “But that was one thing that I discussed with Cary. I said, ‘We cannot identify him with any act of terrorism reflecting an ideology or a religion. That’s not ­something I would entertain, so if that is why I am your choice then you can count me out.’ But that was clearly not his vision. So he’s a very different kind of terrorist.” 

I’m curious to see how Malek fares as a young Bond villain, let’s hope he’ll do much better than poor Toby Stephens in Die Another Day (which basically the same meaning as No Time To Die?). I guess we’ll find out when the movie opens on Wednesday, 8 April 2020.


Well, what do YOU think about the new title?

Guest Postcasting on St Paul Filmcast – Fave movies we saw in 2019 so far + Female 007 news

Hello everyone!

I thought as we start the new week, I’m doing something different. Yesterday I was guest podcasting at St Paul Filmcast, an awesome & prolific Twin Cities-based entertainment podcast that talks about movies and interviews various filmmakers. I’m privileged that podcaster/graphic novelist Nick Palodichuk invited me to talk about some of my favorite movies we saw in 2019.

Take a listen by clicking the logo below:

At the beginning of each episode, there’s a spot for dedication… I’m dedicating this podcast episode to all my wonderful BLOG CONTRIBUTORS: Laura S., Holly P., Ted S., Vitali G., Vince C. and most recently Andy S. Thank you guys!!

Here’s a sampling of some of the films I talked about in the episode…

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I’ll be seeing Tarantino’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD on Wednesday, so look for my review by this weekend!


Before the episode ended I also got to talk about the recent exciting news that BOND 25 will be introducing a female 007!

I had already talked about some of the things revealed in Bond 25 reveal last April where they introduced Lashana Lynch as one of the new cast members, along with Ana de Armas and Rami Malek. Well, now we know just who she’ll be playing!

In case you haven’t heard, per Esquire UK

“The 25th film opens with Bond (Daniel Craig), retired in Jamaica, being called back to action to fight a new villain. There is a pivotal scene at the start of the film where M says, ‘Come in 007,’ and in walks Lashana who is black, beautiful and a woman. It’s a popcorn-dropping moment. Bond is still Bond but he’s been replaced as 007.”

Now, it’s entirely possible that the fact that Phoebe Waller-Bridge is one of the Bond 25 screenwriters has something to do with this. After all, she is the creator of the hit series Killing Eve where Sandra Oh who’s a woman of Korean descent plays an MI5 agent. Now, to those who are up in arms over this [puh-leeze], 007 is just a spy code name. Yes, there is only going to be one James Bond (and will likely always be portrayed by a white male), but anyone could be assigned to be a 007. I really think this is a step in the right direction for the 57-year-old franchise, while still maintaining status quo.

Now, as for the casting of Lashana Lynch, I’m glad they went with a British-Jamaican actress, as is Naomie Harris who plays Moneypenny. It totally make sense the fact that some parts of the film takes place in Jamaica, a key location for the Bond franchise as the place the franchise was created by Ian Fleming. So they’re going back to their roots, so to speak. Despite all the behind-the-scenes and on-set dramas surround this movie, I’m now even more excited to see what director Cary Joji Fukunaga would do with Bond 25!


So tell me what’s your favorite movie(s) you’ve seen so far? And what do YOU think of the female 007 news?

Musings on #BOND25 news – New Director, Writers + Cast

Ok, as a massive Bond fan, today’s a big day. Somehow I missed the news that they were going to do a LIVE stream right from Goldeneye, Ian Fleming’s legendary Jamaican villa. Yep, the same exact location where Fleming wrote all those 007 novels.

Apparently next week on April 28 the cast/crew will begin to shoot the still-nameless Bond movie and Daniel Craig will be back to reprise his role as 007.

Bond25 cast and crew at the Jamaican LIVE reveal event

Yeah, so much for all those rumors about who’ll be the next Bond. I mean, the 25th Bond film isn’t out in the US until April 8, 2020 (April 3 in the UK and internationally), but of course the rumor mill will continue endlessly.

In any case, below is the video of the Live Reveal, which honestly isn’t the most exciting video despite it being in such a glorious location. Even most of the cast seemed in a rather gloomy mood, and Craig himself struggled to give a shit explain about the enduring appeal of James Bond when he’s asked that question, ha!

Before I get to the cast, well the main things are who’s making the movie. It’s been confirmed that Cary Joji Fukunaga will direct the film. I’ve only seen one of his films, Jane Eyre, but he’s well-known by US audiences since Beast of No Nation (starring fan-favorite for Bond, Idris Elba) and True Detective series. I gotta say the Japanese-American filmmaker is handsome and dapper enough to actually play 007 (that is in a world where someone of his ethnicity could actually be cast as James Bond)

As for the script, longtime Bond writers Neal Purvis & Robert Wade wrote the original script but now they’re bringing in Scott Z. Burns (Bourne Ultimatum, Contagion, The Informant!) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (creator of Killing Eve series). I actually knew that Scott Z. Burns is involved in Bond 25 when I attended a panel honoring him at the Minneapolis St Paul Film Festival (MSPIFF) where he talked about his roots growing up in Golden Valley, Minnesota and went on to be one of the most acclaimed and prolific writer/director in Hollywood. He might be the first writer to tackle Bourne AND Bond, and I for one am excited to see what he’ll bring to the table.

Now the cast…

Returning cast are Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Léa Seydoux, Rory Kinnear, Ben Whishaw and Jeffrey Wright.

I pretty much love every single one of those returning cast members. I do miss Dame Judi Dench as M, but Fiennes is terrific as M. I also love Harris as Money Penny, Whishaw as Q and Wright as Felix. A truly solid group there in Bond’s corner.

INTRODUCING new cast members:

Ana de Armas, Dali Benssalah, David Dencik, Lashana Lynch, Billy Magnussen and Rami Malek.

Now, out of the new group, I’m most intrigued by Lashana Lynch and Rami Malek’s casting. I quite like Lynch as Maria Rambeau in Captain Marvel. I didn’t even know she’s British until I saw her speak in this video, super cool! She and Naomie Harris both have Jamaican roots, so this project must be extra special for them.

As for Rami, this is his first high profile role he’s doing since he won an Oscar for Bohemian Rhapsody AND looks like he’s going to play a Bond villain. He said in a video message that “I will be making sure Mr. Bond does not have an easy ride of it in his 25th outing.” 

I know a lot of people are probably excited for Malek’s casting but at this point it’s kind of meh. Yes I like the diverse casting here. He is Egyptian-American and a good actor, but I don’t see the boyish-looking 38-year old as having the kind of gravitas I expect as a classic Bond villain. Heck, it would have been awesome to see Idris Elba as a Bond villain, now THAT’s a guy that could give any Bond actor a run for his money and he’d probably steal all his ladies, too. If they were bold enough, why not someone like Viola Davis as a Bond villain?

In any case, there are rumors that Christoph Waltz would also be returning as Blofeld. Now I like him as an actor, but he’s so rubbish in Spectre I really don’t care to see him again. So I guess it remains to be seen how Malek would fare in the role, I suppose I should give him the benefit of the doubt.

One thing I am excited about is that Bond is returning to his Jamaican roots. Not only did Fleming wrote his Bond novels in Jamaica, but that’s where the entire franchise kicked off as Dr. No with Sean Connery was filmed there in 1962. Barbara Broccoli gave some hints to the plot in the reveal, “Bond is not on active service when the film starts. He is enjoying himself in Jamaica. We consider Jamaica Bond’s spiritual home. He starts his journey here.” According to Fukunaga, they already shot parts of the movie in Norway (due to weather), but they’ll resume filming in Jamaica the following weeks, Matera in Southern Italy and also Pinewood studios in London.


Well, what do YOU think about Bond 25 news? Let’s hear it!

5 Fave Roger Moore Bond Scenes – You will be missed Sir Roger!

I was saddened to learn on Tuesday May 23 that Sir Roger Moore has passed away in Switzerland after losing a battle with cancer at the age of 89. He’s the first 007 actor who’s left us 😦

I hadn’t heard much about him in the past few years, though I remember reading last year that he was open to doing a cameo in a Bond movie and I thought, how brilliant that would be! He’s got such an effortless charm and elegance about him, and this cheeky wit that would make anyone smile even if his (and Sean Connery’s) Bond is the quintessential ‘sexist, misogynist dinosaur‘ that Dame Judi’s M perfectly described in Goldeneye.

I grew up watching Roger Moore Bond movies which I admittedly enjoyed more than Connery versions when I saw them back in high school with my twin brothers. It was practically the only movie franchise my whole family enjoyed together. Moore isn’t my favorite Bond (that would be Timothy Dalton), but his Bond movies are a ton of fun so he will always have a special place in my heart. I mean, nobody could deliver such cheeky lines the way Sir Roger did, he might not have been a convincing killer spy like Daniel Craig but he sure had a killer smile!

Now, a lot of my fave Moore’s Bond scenes seem to involve vehicle chases. And really why not? Bond is all about gadgets, ladies and cool rides and crazy chases right?

So here are five of my favorite Roger Moore Bond moments where he’s never out-shone by even his craziest rides…

I hated the idiotic invisible car in Die Another Day but this Submarine car was brilliant! The thing w/ Moore’s Bond action movies is I never felt like there’s ever any real danger to him or his Bond girl, so it was really in the spirit of fun. I love his cheeky expression as he dropped the fish out of the window when the car went up shore, ha!

Who doesn’t love the Gondola scene!! It’s the most absurd, ridiculous scene ever but never fails to make me laugh. Again, Moore’s smug expression as he rode that Gondola through San Marco, as everyone’s jaws dropped to the floor, is the most brilliant part about it.

For Your Eyes Only is perhaps my fave Moore’s Bond flicks. I must’ve watched it over a dozen times growing up and THIS Citroen scene is undoubtedly one of my all time fave Bond car chases. My mom and two brothers actually rented a Citroen in Bali once and that thing is really a piece of sh*t, ahah. The idea of Bond riding this yellow rinky dink of a car when his Lotus blew up, riding down a Greek country side with a stunningly beautiful Bond girl as henchmen in Peugeots are hot on their tail… it’s an absolute classic! “Love a drive in the country, don’t you?” Only Sir Roger could deliver it so perfectly!

There have been quite a few ski chases in Bond movies but this one in an Italian Alps is such a joy to watch!! Moore’s cheeky charm is perfectly on display in the Bobsled scene. Man it must’ve been quite a stunt to film this entire sequence, and you could tell in many long shots it’s definitely NOT Roger Moore on the skis, ahah.

Another fun chase involving an exotic ride… this time it’s Tuk Tuk, the famous auto rickshaw in India (we call it Bajaj in Indonesia and they’re mostly dark orange instead of black).

Oh man, my brothers and I had such a blast watching this!! Only Bond would make Bajaj looks cool, ahah. I also love Bond’s Indian ally Vijay (played by professional tennis player Vijay Amritraj, hence he hit one of the henchmen with a tennis racket!) who could match Moore’s charm. That’s another stunt that must’ve taken months to prepare, but the result is another classic Bond scene that fans can appreciate for years to come.


You will be sorely missed Sir Roger. 

So what’s YOUR favorite Roger Moore Bond moments?

FlixChatter Review: Casino Royale (2006)

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This review was part of Mark & Tom’s Decades Blogathon that was published back in mid May. But since July 6 is Eva Green’s birthday, I decided to post it here this week.


I can’t believe it’s been a decade since Casino Royale came out. I just re-watched it this weekend to refresh my memory for the blogathon, though I had probably re-watched it a few times in the last 10 years. It’s still as good as the first time I saw it, and I still would regard it as one of my favorite Bond films… ever. I’ve mentioned Casino Royale so many times here on my blog, in fact it’s one of my fave films of 2000s and one of the 8 films I’d take with me if I were stuck on a desert island.

Like many Bond fans, I too had trepidation about Daniel Craig casting (too blond, too short, etc.) but of course we’re all proven wrong the second he appeared on the pre-credit scene. Craig might not be the most good looking Bond actor (and he is the shortest), but he more than made up for it in charisma AND swagger. Apart from Craig’s brilliant casting, it’s the story that makes this film so re-watchable. It’s not only a great Bond film, it’s a great film, period. An origin story of sort, James Bond goes on his first ever mission as 007, and he didn’t get off on the right foot with M right away. The scene when M berated Bond when he broke into her flat was intense but humorous, a perfect balancing act the film continuously play throughout. It’s not the first time we see the venerable Dame Judi Dench as M, but I must say I LOVE the banter between her and Craig even more.

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A great Bond film has to have an effective adversary and we find that in Mads Mikkelsen‘s Le Chiffre, a cold-looking Scandinavian with a bleeding eye. It would’ve been a silly gimmick if not played carefully, but here Le Chiffre is a cool and ominous villain. The fact that he’s really not a mastermind in the likes of Blofeld or Drax, but the fact that he’s not hellbent in ruling or destroying the entire world is frankly refreshing. He is a banker to the world’s terrorists, and so his only motive is money, like most of real world villains are. And a great Bond film also needs a memorable Bond girl. Well, Eva Green‘s Vesper Lynd is perhaps the hottest cinematic accountant ever. “I’m the money,” she quips the first time she enters the screen and into Bond’s heart. To this day I’m still enamored by the train scene to Montenegro, the way Bond & Vesper banter each other with wit and sexual undercurrents is what Bond movies are all about. Vesper is no Bimbo and that automatically made her a bazillion times more intriguing than bombshells in lesser Bond movies.

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Casino Royale isn’t big on gadgetry, and as a longtime Bond fan, I actually didn’t mind it. It’s got everything else one would expect in a Bond movie – the cars, the exotic locations, the suspense, action and quick wit – it’s all there. Compared to Craig Bond movies, the Roger Moore versions feel more like a drama given how relentless and vigorous all the action sequences are. The opening parkour/free running scene apparently took six weeks to shoot and my goodness, I’m out of breath just watching it! This is one sprightly Bond and Craig did most of his own stunts, so it looks believable that he was the one doing the action in the movie. He reportedly has the injuries to prove it too! The car chase wasn’t overlong, but dayum was it memorable. The scene where Aston Martin missed Vesper by a hair and rolled over multiple times still took my breath away every time I saw it.

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But all of that action stuff wouldn’t have mattered much without a grounding story. I think the last time Bond was genuinely romantic and emotional was On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which was when Bond fell in love. The scene of Bond tenderly comforting Vesper in the shower is one of my favorite scenes in all of the Bond films. There is nothing erotic or sexual in this scene, instead it packs an emotional wallop that makes Bond/Vesper relationship one of the best and most convincing romances in a Bond movie. The love story in Casino Royale is core to the plot and it was woven perfectly into all the espionage intrigue.

Vesper: You’re not going to let me in there, are you? You’ve got your armour back on. That’s that.

Bond: I have no armour left. You’ve stripped it from me. Whatever is left of me – whatever is left of me – whatever I am – I’m yours.

Bond films are known for being an eye and ear candy, and this probably ranks as one of the most beautifully-shot. The scenery in Venice as Bond stroll in the Grand Canal is especially striking, topped off by the intense fight scene in a crumbling house (shot at Pinewood Studios modeled after Venice’s Hotel Danieli). The soundtrack also ranks as one of the best, done by David Arnold with an homage to the legendary composer John Barry. I can’t get over how much I love the track City of Lovers, which I’ve highlighted for my Music Break here. The theme song You Know My Name by Chris Cornell is also one of my favorite Bond songs, and the cards-themed opening sequence is spectacularly-done.

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Per IMDb, this was the first James Bond movie to be based on a full-length Ian Fleming novel since Moonraker 27 years prior. Goldeneye‘s director Martin Campbell helmed the film from a screenplay from Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis. I wish Campbell would be back in the director seat again as his previous two Bond films rate as one of my all time favorites. There’s so much style & sophistication in abundance here, but never at the expense of story & character. What I also love is that the quieter moments in the movie is still just as intriguing as the high-octane action scenes. That poker game in Montenegro is brimming with elegance as well as suspense, whilst showcasing the film’s excellent production design and costume design. Vesper’s plunging purple dress is a real head-turner and I don’t think Craig has looked more suave than in his tuxedo that Vesper tailor-made for him.

I really can go on and on about this movie as it’s really a masterpiece in the 50 years of James Bond films we’ve got so far. It also made me even more dismayed that the recent film in which the plot directly followed this one was such a downgrade. Looking back at Casino Royale‘s fantastic finale with Bond introducing himself to Mr. White, I expected SO much more than what they gave us with Spectre.

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What are your thoughts about ‘Casino Royale’? Does it rank amongst your favorite Bond films?

Five Movies, Five Movie Quotes: Bond Edition

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Hello folks! Films are a visual medium, but without a good story, it’d be more of a music video or visual poetry. So to me, one of the things I remember about the movies is the dialog. This list is sort of inspired by the Five Movies Five Words series I haven’t done in a while, which was started by Josh @ Cinematic Spectacle. We’ll see how long I can keep up with this one, ahah.

In any case, inspired by this awesome Bond podcast on the underrated Bond movie Licence To Kill, I thought I’d start out with the Bond theme. I might or might not have a theme for the next one, we shall see. Favorite quotes isn’t just about the line itself, but it’s the delivery. That’s why I have to start with one of my fave Bond movies starring my all time fave Bond actor!

The Living Daylights

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STUFF my orders! I only kill professionals. That girl didn’t know one end of her rifle from the other. Go ahead. Tell M what you want. If he fires me, I’ll thank him for it.


Licence to Kill

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James Bond: In my business you prepare for the unexpected.
Franz Sanchez: And what business is that?
James Bond: I help people with problems.
Franz Sanchez: Problem solver.
James Bond: More of a problem eliminator.


Casino Royale

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Bartender: Shaken or stirred?
James Bond: Do I look like I give a damn?


Goldfinger

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Pussy Galore: “My name is Pussy Galore.”
Bond: “I must be dreaming.”


Goldeneye

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M: Good, because I think you’re a sexist, misogynist dinosaur. A relic of the Cold War, whose boyish charms, though wasted on me, obviously appealed to that young woman I sent out to evaluate you.


 

Well, that’s it for the first of the series. What are some of YOUR fave Bond quotes?