Page to Screen: Spectre (2015)


based on characters by Ian Fleming


2015 • 148 minutes • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures

Spectre feels like it comes from an alternate timeline: specifically, an alternate timeline where the double punch of Die Another Day and The Bourne Identity had not resulted in a hard reboot of the franchise. In this timeline, Brosnan bangs out another movie; Craig slips neatly and seamlessly into the role after fans mutter about how he doesn’t look like Bond (nerds: we’re the same in every timeline); and the quips and the gadgets are thick on the ground. It’s a simpler and more basic Bond franchise in that timeline. How back to basics are we with Spectre? Let me put this way: there are sexy naked ladies in the opening credits sequence again.

At the end of Skyfall, we saw Bond complete his evolution into a masterless monster; answerable to no one now that the one person who could control him was dead. What those final frames suggested was not that we could now return to business as usual, but that the inevitable attempts to do so by the institutions and infrastructures attempting to utilize Bond could only end in tears and explosions. (Just look at the way he sizes up Ralph Fiennes. He feels equal to that man, and that is dangerous.)

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Saturday Morning Opinions: Five Things I Learned Watching Bond

Tom Richmond's "Secret Agent Men" print

With yesterday’s review of Quantum of Solace, my year-and-a-half long Bondathon has come to an end. What I thought would be a simple string of action films was instead a fascinating look into the mainstream Western psyche in the last fifty years. Between Bond and the Beatles, I learned a lot of things about the twentieth century in 2013. (Pro-tip: start your kids on the Beatles early. The sixties make way more sense with them.) But my education wasn’t all historical context, so let’s take a look at the five things I learned in the course of twenty-three Bond films.

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Page to Screen: Quantum of Solace (2008)

Quantum of Solace
based on characters by Ian Fleming


While I remember Casino Royale coming out to a lot of fanfare, especially critically, I barely remember Quantum of Solace’s release. I mostly remember puzzlement over its title. It’s taken from the short story “Quantum of Solace” and refers to the necessary humanity required to keep a person in a relationship. If it drops to zero, then the relationship cannot hold. Thematically appropriate for this film and for Craig’s brutal Bond, but hardly something you can sing along with while weeping alone in your car. (You don’t do that every time “Skyfall” comes on the radio?) I never made an effort to see it and utterly forgot about the franchise as a whole until Skyfall. You know the rest.

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Page to Screen: Casino Royale (2006)

Casino Royale
based on the novel by Ian Fleming


Casino Royale was the first Bond movie I ever saw and, until I started the Bondathon after watching Skyfall, the only James Bond film I’d seen. My father took me as part of our long-standing agreement to see action films with each other since my mom can’t take the surround sound. I remember being utterly delighted by the opening sequence and offended by the end. This was the year I concluded that the use of the word “bitch” was an instant and unredeemable misogyny bomb; I read Slaughterhouse-Five the same year. In my defense, I was fifteen. Still, I remembered it fondly as my Bond film, my entry-point into the franchise, so I was quite looking forward to revisiting it for the Bondathon.

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Saturday Morning Opinions: 2013 in Review

2013 has been a pretty big year, for both me and the blog. Not only I have I graduated college, completed a publishing program, gotten my first job, and moved across the country, but I’ve also tinkered with my writing style, format, and various features here at the Literary Omnivore to build a leaner, meaner bookish machine. So, for the first time in the Literary Omnivore’s history as my live reading journal, I present to you this year in review on the last Saturday of the year.

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Page to Screen: Die Another Day (2002)

Die Another Day
based on characters by Ian Fleming


Despite my relative unfamiliarity with the Brosnan films before embarking on the Bondathon, I knew about Die Another Day. I heard the theme song on the local top 40 station (Star 94 represent!) in middle school. It was the one with all the CGI. It was the one with the invisible car. It was the one that made Eon realize that they had gone too far, thus the reason Casino Royale is a deliberate reboot, not a soft one like GoldenEye. I both looked forward to and mildly dreaded its reputed awfulness. I ended up just blasting through it in a double bill with The World is Not Enough, because I just had to get out of the Brosnan years before my fondness for the franchise died.

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Page to Screen: The World is Not Enough (1999)

The World is Not Enough
based on characters by Ian Fleming


Throughout the entire process of the Bondathon, I had been looking forward to the Brosnan years, especially when I was struggling for breath during the Moore years. I first experienced conscious thought in a world where Brosnan was Bond; the two could not be separated. I knew, on a gut level, that GoldenEye was a good movie. And even after watching Tomorrow Never Dies, I still held out hope that the next two Brosnan films would self-correct, even though I knew Die Another Day exists. I probably should have listened to my friend Natalya, who would only nod knowingly at me every time I mentioned Pierce Brosnan. Ah, bliss. Or, as it’s often better known, ignorance.

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Page to Screen: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Tomorrow Never Dies
based on characters by Ian Fleming


While checking out a handful of the Connery films at the library, I, all fired up about the Bondathon, told the librarian what I was doing. “Oh,” she said, “Pierce Brosnan was my favorite. I’m just so disappointed that he only made one…”

I wasn’t sure how to respond. On the one hand, I could surprise her with the delightful fact that Brosnan, in fact, made four Bond films, giving her three more movies to watch. On the other hand, now actually having seen Tomorrow Never Dies, she may have been thinking of GoldenEye the way I think of the first season of Heroes and other people think of The Matrix: what a shame they never made another! Sometimes, you must lie to yourself to protect yourself from disappointment.

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Page to Screen: GoldenEye (1995)

based on characters by Ian Fleming


GoldenEye was my first exposure to James Bond. Not the film, mind you, the video game. At the dawn of the millennium, I attended a birthday party of the daughter of friends of my parents. I sat quietly with these girls I didn’t know terribly well, until the mother finally said, “Okay, you can go play with the boys.” I immediately scampered off to the other room, where her brother and his friends were playing GoldenEye 64’s multiplayer mode. Gamer being my identity of choice in my preteen years, I was in heaven. I didn’t even know there was a movie attached to it. Ah, childhood ignorance. Well, there’s certainly nothing like the present to correct that.

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Page to Screen: Licence to Kill (1989)

Licence to Kill
based on characters by Ian Fleming


As an American Anglophile raised by a French Anglophile, I feel I have a pretty good handle on the differences between UK and US spellings. Whenever my mother is writing a letter, she invariably glances up at me and asks me if she spelled something the American way or the English way. “No,” I said last time, “but leave it. It looks classier.” But for some reason, the difference between License to Kill and Licence to Kill kept tripping me up, and not just because MacJournal tells me the latter is wrong. Vowel variations look more or less natural to me, presumably due to aforementioned Frenchness, but consonant replacements creep me out a little for whatever reason. Anyway, the last Dalton Bond, right?

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