Gillian Anderson and the Would-Be James Bonds

Gillian Anderson as James Bond? The English bred actor, of The X-Files and the BBC’s The Fall (and the current star of Broadway’s Streetcar Named Desire), has been thrown in the ring as a contender for the next wave of Bond films, thanks to a poster twirling around Twitter (above). She tweeted “It’s Bond, Jane Bond. Thanks for all the votes. (And sorry, don’t know who made poster but I love it!) #NextBond.” There’s already a petition to make this happen. As of this writing, 6,368 people have signed it.

Before we spill our lemon peel martinis and invite the fanboy wrath, it’s important to note that Idris Elba (The Wire, Luther, Beasts of No Nation) has endured rampant speculation for years about courting or being courted for the role once Daniel Craig steps aside (which he might despite being offered 68 million euros for two more films). White Brit Tom Hiddleston’s name has also been thrown in the mix, but it’s Jamie Bell (of dancey pants “Billy Elliot” fame) that’s most recently been in talks for the role. Given young Bell’s resemblance to Craig, it suggests the franchise may be taken into origin story territory.

Of both Anderson and Elba, Scott Mendelson smartly writes “I would rather (if I have to chose just one option) see these actors not fighting for one would-be action franchise but rather getting their own action franchises on (relatively) equal footing as the 007 series.” This rings more sensible, given that our nostalgia for Bond my be akin to our nostalgia for a lot of things that are bad for us that we still cling to, like misogyny and overdone franchises.

File this with the stacks of arguments for women and minorities to be given equal screen representation, in case Anderson and Elba’s charisma alone isn’t reason enough to give them their own iconic characters to play. Hell, we could even make them a team. If we’re going to have franchises, shouldn’t they be led by actors we can fall head over heels for? You can’t separate Indiana Jones from Harrison Ford, but years from now our current franchises and their shoe-fillers will be forgotten.

 

The New ‘James Bond,’ Or Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

They’ve done it. They’ve ruined Bond.

A feat previously inconceivable, Hollywood has taken one of Western culture’s immortals and killed him. The Blockbuster industry has made the impossible a reality; they’ve sucked dry all of the verve from the most interesting man in the world, leaving him a bag of breathless bones—a sketch of his former self.

I really must applaud those responsible for so wholly committing to the complete destruction of the icon whose line, “shaken, not stirred,” has slipped from millions of lips. In true Bond-villain fashion, the writing team couldn’t be contented by a merciful, quick assassination; no, over nearly three hours, they chopped him into bits one predictable line at a time until he was not even a specter of himself.

007 is my favorite spy (because I know so many). I formed my attachment to him while studying in England, and for several years of my life, my foremost aspiration was to eventually become a Bond girl (one of the few who survived, if at all possible, though I’d take what I could get). While walking to the subway a few weeks ago, one of my friends who had never seen a Bond film asked me how I could be a feminist and still enjoy the deplorably objectifying series. The answer was simple in my logic: as a feminist, I have the right to like what I do, just like anyone else. That includes Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir, Lena Dunham and Toni Morrison, and James Bond and Nicki Minaj, and that’s not wrong.

My problem with Spectre has nothing to do with its treatment of women. Yes, Daniel Craig robbed the cradle with Léa Seydoux, her baby face contrasting the deep crevasses in his. But I’ve gone for older men, and I’d be a hypocrite to call out the maturity gap everyone seems to dwell on, citing Hollywood’s apparent ageism and misogyny as sources of adversity for actresses. What I will say is that, while age is just a number and shouldn’t define relationships, chemistry means more. Craig looks like he feels creepy when he barely grazes Seydoux without any sense of the debonair Bond whose strength and weakness are women. Funnily enough, the only time he eases into that seething, sensual bachelor is while seducing widow Lucia Sciarra, played by the beautiful Monica Bellucci, who’s four years Craig’s senior.

But forget romance. This series has always been rather thick when it comes to women. Still, Spectre’s issue has nothing to do with gender politics; it is barbarically daft writing coupled with apathetic performances that make for its demise. Critics have condemned Craig’s first three films for their starkness and lack of sensitivity; they say he’s too raw for the role, which is precisely why he’s my favorite. Spectre seemed to assuage these sourpusses with an old-fashioned opening before the first scene and a plot so unrealistic it wandered into stupidity. Things happened without intention or explanation; it felt like writers John Logan, Robert Wade and Neal Purvis piled into a room and brainstormed how best to replicate the Bond of another era, only with less mastery. After all, Craig is not Sean Connery, who was great for the ’60s and ’70s, but would seem silly now. Craig’s whole purpose was bringing Bond into the 21st century, and he’s done so for three movies. Why revert now?

Perhaps Craig knew the script was shit and the result would be malarkey. For whatever reason, he seemed completely uninterested in Bond from the first minute he stepped onscreen. His face throughout resembled a protesting teenager—he would show up to set, but wouldn’t like it. His viral quote about shooting another Bond sequel, “I’d rather break this glass and slash my wrists,” was engraved in his body language. He made it blatantly obvious: he’s done with 007.

In fact, the whole effort felt exhausted. The story was exhausted. The writers were exhausted. Craig was exhausted. I get being exhausted, but then don’t waste your time and mine pushing through the exhaustion for money’s sake. This is my qualm, and why I was so infuriated by Spectre: it’s not alone in ruining a perfectly wonderful piece of fluff by beating it over the head to bleed out as much mindless content as possible. The previews before the show included a Rocky sequel and the new Star Wars. Hunger Games comes out in a few weeks. Almost every notable hit is part of a franchise, most of which have lost any spark they once had.

The saddest part? Everyone involved in Spectre is hugely talented. Logan’s a Tony-winning playwright; Craig’s a stage actor who can make an impact when he wants. The rest of the cast has impressive credits to their names, including Christoph Waltz, who is maniacally droll and unbelievable here, but has proven his acting chops elsewhere. All of this possibility is being wasted because of a few bigwigs who want to make big bucks.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m all for new Bond films if they’re done well, add to the narrative and don’t feel vacant. But if all we get is a skeleton—no flesh or blood—I’d rather skip.

That’s why Spectre sent me on this tirade: it represents where we’re going as a society: lazy, empty and all about the money. The stories we tell are the precedent we know. If our precedent is void of anything but a few blowing booms and tired quips, what’s the purpose of that?

Tom Ford Dresses James Bond, Will Debut First Menswear Collection in London

Finally: The world’s most dapper dressed designer and has joined forces with the world’s most famous secret agent. Today, fashion trade journal WWD announced that Tom Ford has exclusively designed all of delicious Daniel Craig’s wardrobe in the new James Bond film, Skyfall. To keep up with the momentum, Ford will also show his menswear collection in London for the first time in January to coincide with his first British boutique opening. Dude is on a roll!

Although it hasn’t been determined if the designer will show his collection on a runway or in a super exclusive presentation setting, I’m sure that the guest list will feature a who’s who of both the fashion world and Hollywood. 

But back to Bond. Watch the official trailer and a Ford-cloaked Craig below.

Halle Berry Was Totally Cool With Seth MacFarlane’s ‘Boob Song’

You know what the best part of the weekend was? There were no Oscars. But, you know, we’re still talking about them, so here we go: Halle Berry, who presented that long montage about James Bond, has spoken out in favor of Seth MacFarlane’s dumb jokes, particularly the bit where he mentioned seeing a lot of the present actresses’s breasts. "It takes so much to offend me these days after all the things that have been said about me, to me," she told Extra, "so I didn’t feel offended by that boob song." Alright, sure. Was anyone actually offended by it, or were people more like, "This song is trite and childish and also what is sexual about Jodie Foster’s bare breasts in The Accused?" Anyway, one time Halle Berry got paid more money than usual to take her shirt off in a movie, so. 

[via Detroit Free Press]

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Four Quick and Easy Ways to Make the Oscars Less Terrible

Were last night’s Academy Awards the worst in the history of the ceremonies? Well, probably not—they are all kind of bad, aren’t they? But host Seth MacFarlane immediately set the tone with a bit calling his Oscars the worst, and I’m not surprised that by the end of the ceremony most people I know weren’t too pleased with the broadcast. Full of misplaced musical numbers, an awkward appreciation for the film Chicago, a too-long montage of James Bond films (to coincide nicely with the 50th Anniversary box set currently on sale), and a general disgust for itself and its audience, last night’s ceremony proves again that the Oscars need a major overhaul. Here are four ways the producers can avoid these embarrassing and awkward mistakes.

Give more time to speeches. I get that celebrities can be long-winded when receiving awards. Look at Ben Affleck, for example. Sure, he had the last speech of the night for the top award, but it was blatantly longer than 45 seconds. Meanwhile, those winners in the technical categories looked terrified that they may thank too many people and be publicly shamed in front of an international audience for talking too much. Sure, these people might not be the most recognizable, but their wins show how receiving an Oscar can truly impact a career. Not only is playing them off the stage blatantly rude (underscored with the theme from Jaws, which I’m sure seemed hilarious during the planning stages in light of Seth MacFarlane’s brand of offensive humor), it shows how irrationally we place an importance on fame and money and treat them as the most important artistic merits.

Skip the singing. I love musicals as much as the next guy (hell, probably a lot more than the next guy), but the musical performances last night were atrocious. First of all, it’s quite telling that the medly of songs from the last decade’s movie musicals only included one song that was written for a film; the rest were modern Broadway classics, better fit for the Tony Awards. And given the show’s nearly four-hour running time, cutting the unnecessary musical numbers (such as any of those involving Seth MacFarlane) should be the first thing anyone with a rational mind would accomplish. On top of their awkward nature, they didn’t even sound good. It’s telling when someone like Adele sounds like she’s lost in a sea of pitches and keys.

Figure out the mood. Is this going to a light-hearted, irreverent awards show, or the same old thing we’ve been used to for as far back as we remember? They’ve never really figured out a good balance. But this isn’t the Golden Globes, the awards show “where anything can happen” (read: the one where everyone is drunk by the end of the night). It’s a pretty by-the-book, solemn awards show; that is, of course, why they always manage to get overblown musical numbers in there. And really, we’re giving awards to celebrities. I know how trite that is already, but let’s at least not invite some “edgy” comedian to come onstage and insult them. It’s not a good look.

Avoid trying to be edgy. The Oscars are a marketing tool. It’s a four-hour commercial for serious movies (and the occasional blockbuster, depending on the year) and the people who make them. And then there are actual commercials on top of that. The awards are basically serving as a way to tell Middle America what to see and what to buy. And that’s precisely why the host is so important: he or she should be catering to those people—the majority. Seth MacFarlane seems like an obvious choice; after all, Family Guy and his other animated projects are huge hits, primarily because the comedy is so middle-of-the-road. So what happened last night? Well, for one, Seth MacFarlane isn’t as charming as a human. He was self-deprecating and ridiculed his own jokes after reading them, which only reiterated how terrible they were in the first place. And they were all based on racist, misogynistic, and homophobic tropes. That’s not edgy. That’s just bad comedy. Go for someone who shares that mediocre sense of comedy, but at least keep it positive. I mean, what was Billy Crystal up to last night, anyway?

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The Movies That The New James Bond Movie Is Like

Let’s get the obvious ones out of the way first: The 39 Steps, because trains and chasing a MacGuffin piece of information and the moody moors of Scotland. Then there’s that straight-up Blade Runner sequence in the Shanghai skyscrapers and mirrors and oh man, the neon. Then a guy falls from the hundredth floor or whatever, so the new James Bond movie is also like Die Hard.

The new James Bond movie is mostly like a mix of Batman Begins andThe Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, actually, with one part where a subway train crashes like toward the end of Speed. Remember, when Speed had the train part at the end? Additionally, the end is like Apocalypse Now, pretty much.

You know what else this movie is like? Other James Bond movies. The similarities are endless: guy named Bond, komodo dragon pit, etc. There was the rogue former MI6 agent, just like in GoldenEye—and that was only six Bond movies ago! Man, if there’s one thing you can count on in a Bond movie, it’s that Bond you Bond Bond Bondily Bond, that’s for Bond. “The name’s Bond: Bond Bond.”

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Am I Really Going To Have To See ‘Skyfall’ Now?

I like James Bond. I really do. I don’t, however, cotton to this trend in modern cinema in which Very Serious Directors reboot classic movie franchises, strip away everything that makes then fun and endearing (read: the silliness and the camp and the sex), and then make them long, boring epics with Very Important Actors and scores usually provided by Hans Zimmer and a slew of vuvuzelas. Christopher Nolan made me excited for the prospect that there might never be another Batman movie, and that new Superman movie for which the trailer was too long and only featured Clark Kent, like, driving around a field? (Yeah, that seems FUN.) So I don’t really care that the guy who directed American Beauty (which, in retrospect, everyone should know is a piece of shit) is in charge of this new one. 

But apparently people are enjoying it! All of my friends are tweeting stuff like, "I don’t even like James Bond but I liked Skyfall." Which, you know, is a pretty good indication that I will not like it. Why make a genre film for people who are not fans of the genre? Because doesn’t that make it not a genre film, and just an action movie with a character whose name recognition can carry a lot of advertisers and convince people that making more bloggy lists called "The Best Bond Theme Songs" and "The Ugliest James Bond Girls" is a really good idea? Can’t we, like, either do something NEW or just make it the same as it was before? Is that too hard to ask?

Because, look. Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig’s James Bond is a dour figured compared the groovy (and, let’s face it, funny and personable) guy that Roger Moore and Sean Connery portrayed. Even Pierce Brosnan’s Bond was someone you’d want to hang out with! But nooo, we’ve got to go with the dark and gritty and, honestly? The boring. I can nap at home for free with Adele’s theme song playing on a loop on iTunes. That’s, I must admit, seems a lot more exciting to me.

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Kate Upton Wants to Be the Next Bond Girl

Ever since former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld tapped Kate Upton to cover the debut issue of her hotly-anticipated new magazine, the fashion world has taken a liking to the scantily clad one. No longer limited to Sports Illustrated or GQ spreads, Upton has appeared in a number of international glossies, including Jalouse and Interview, and is the star of November’s Cosmopolitan. This newfound acceptance has given the Victoria’s Secret-blacklisted model some serious superhero-like confidence, so naturally her sights are set on cinema.

In a brilliantly timed plug for the James Bond franchise, which has a new Tom Ford-dressed film rolling out this month, Upton recently revealed to New York Post that she thinks she has what it takes to be a Bond girl. "It’s a very prestigious title, and it would be a very cool role," she explains. "I would need to go through some intense training to learn all the Bond girl moves."

If Upton were to take on the iconic femme fatale gig (and she certainly has the physical attributes to do so; not sure about the acting bit, since all we have to work with are videos of her Cat Daddy-ing for Terry Richardson, eating a messy burger for Carl’s Jr., and cuddling babies and goats for the aforementioned CR Fashion Book), she’d be joining an elite group of predecessors, including Ursula Andress, Famke Janssen, Olga Kurylenko and—Kate’s fave—Halle Berry. Would you watch Upton take on Bond?

Adele Channels Her Inner Shirley Bassey on ‘Skyfall’ Theme

A James Bond film can live or die by its opening-credits theme song. The big, sexy lounge numbers of the Sean Connery era—"Goldfinger," "Diamonds Are Forever"—are as well-known and loved as the corresponding movies that bear those names. Although The Spy Who Loved Me is probably a bottom-tier bond movie, Carly Simon’s "Nobody Does It Better," composed by the late, great Marvin Hamlisch, is one of the best themes in the entire series. And does anybody remember a-Ha’s theme to "The Living Daylights?" Does anybody remember The Living Daylights? No? Exactly. 

Following a rather mixed bag of Bond themes throughout the latter Pierce Brosnan/Daniel Craig era—ranging from Jack White’s explosive "Another Way to Die" for Quantum of Solace to Garbage’s "The World Is Not Enough" to Madonna’s ill-fitting "Die Another Day"—with the upcoming Skyfall comes a return to the more traditional Bond theme. In a sample released today, Adele, who has been charged with the eponymous theme tune for Skyfall, delivers the closest (and most successful) attempt at the old-school Bond number in recent years. It will make you want to partake in something shaken, not stirred.

The full track, which was cowritten by Paul Epworth (who also worked on "Rolling In the Deep"), will be released this Friday, October 5th, at 12:07 a.m. (0:07, get it?) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the character and his martini-drinking, Soviet-warcraft-thwarting, femme fatale-seducing ways. Have a listen to a snippet of "Skyfall" below.