Tuesday, August 20, 2019

OFFICIAL: Bond 25 title confirmed as 'No Time To Die'


James Bond Producers, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli today released the official title of the 25th James Bond adventure, No Time To Die. The film, from Albert R. Broccoli’s EON Productions, Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios (MGM), and Universal Pictures International is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation, True Detective) and stars Daniel Craig, who returns for his fifth film as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007. Written by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade (SPECTRE, Skyfall), Cary Joji Fukunaga, Scott Z. Burns (Contagion, The Bourne Ultimatum) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Killing Eve, Fleabag) No Time To Die is currently in production. The film will be released globally from April 3, 2020 in the UK through Universal Pictures International and in the US on April 8, from MGM via their United Artists Releasing banner.

No Time To Die also stars Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Billy Magnussen, Ana de Armas, Rory Kinnear, David Dencik, Dali Benssalah with Jeffrey Wright and Ralph Fiennes.

In No Time To Die, Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology. 

Other members of the creative team are; Composer Dan Romer, Director of Photography Linus Sandgren, Editors Tom Cross and Elliot Graham, Production Designer Mark Tildesley, Costume Designer Suttirat Larlarb, Hair and Make up Designer Daniel Phillips, Supervising Stunt Coordinator Olivier Schneider, Stunt Coordinator Lee Morrison and Visual Effects Supervisor Charlie Noble. Returning members to the team are; 2nd Unit Director Alexander Witt, Special Effects and Action Vehicles Supervisor Chris Corbould and Casting Director Debbie McWilliams.


Friday, August 16, 2019

'The Bond of The Millennium', a book covering Pierce Brosnan's James Bond adventures, is released

For many of us, Pierce Brosnan was our first James Bond. We loved all of his big-screen adventures long before we heard that four actors have previously portrayed the secret agent and that 16 films have preceded GoldenEye, the 1995 blockbuster that placed agent 007 once again as a popular action hero as critics thought he was no match for the modern action heroes. Nicolás Suszczyk was one of those kids that grew up with Brosnan's Bond and he dedicates this book to defend this era, making a thorough exploration of these four films by analyzing the characters and the sociopolitical background of the time in which these productions were released, much as he did with The World of GoldenEye back in June. There is also a chapter focused on the video game adaptations of the Brosnan films, particularly the three original adventures developed by Electronic Arts: 007 Racing, 007 Nightfire and Everything or Nothing. As you wait for the 25th James Bond adventure to arrive, this may be a good reading to remember such an important era in the timeless world of James Bond.

The first time Pierce Brosnan went to the cinema, aged 11, he watched a James Bond film. At the age of 27, he married a James Bond girl. He had the chance of playing James Bond himself at the age of 33 but lost the role due to contractual obligations. He was 41 when he was formally announced as the fifth actor to play James Bond on June 8, 1994, playing the role for a decade in four productions and three original video games. One could say that it was written that at some point of his life Brosnan would play Ian Fleming’s secret agent, and this happened during a particular time where the world was going through many cultural, technological and political changes.

Featuring interviews with stunt performers Sarah Donohue (The World Is Not Enough) and Jean Pierre-Goy (Tomorrow Never Dies), actor Daz Crawford (The World Is Not Enough), screenwriter Danny Bilson (007 Nightfire, Everything or Nothing) and percussionist Pete Lockett (Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day), among many others, this book offers an in-depth look to the era that took the franchise to new heights from the 1990s to the first years of the new millennium, remarking the importance that Pierce Brosnan’s portrayal of James Bond has had to guarantee the continued success of 007 into the 21st century.

Nicolás Suszczyk became a James Bond fan when he first watched GoldenEye at the age of 7 on his native Buenos Aires. As a freelance writer he has contributed in magazines like MI6 Confidential and Le Bond and sites like Ultimate Action Movie Club, From Sweden With Love, Archivo 007 and The Spy Command. He is the editor of the web sites The GoldenEye Dossier, Bond En Argentina and The Secret Agent Lair, which he co-admins with Jack Walter Christian. In 2019 he published his first book, The World of GoldenEye, also available on Amazon stores.

The Bond of The Millennium is now available on Paperback and Kindle formats on the Amazon store.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

'The Russia House': love in the time of glasnost

Based on a 1989 novel by John Le Carré, The Russia House was directed by Fred Schepisi and released on Christmas Day, 1990. It was, along with Red Heat, the last film to be shot before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in August 1991. The cast had great names: Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer as the leading couple, and supporting actors like Klaus Maria Brandauer, James Fox, Michael Kitchen and Nicholas Woodeson.

It deals heavily with politics, ideals and (of course) espionage, all in the brink of the glasnost led by Mikhail Gorbachov's government in the Soviet Union. Barley Scott Blair (Sean Connery), a British rusophile editor, meets with Dante (Klaus Maria Brandauer) during a writers reunion in Russia, where both agree on the same ideals for world peace, openness and discontent for governments. Some time later, a woman known as Katya Orlova (Michelle Pfeiffer), tries to find Barley to deliver him one of three manuscripts containing sensitive information including nuclear secrets from the USSR. She fails to meet Barley, but hands it in to an associate of him, who -also unable to find him and concerned about the content of the papers- resorts to the British Intelligence. The British find Barley exiled in Lisbon. They convince him to travel to Russia and make contact with Katya in order to get to Dante, verify the information and get the other manuscripts. Barley reluctantly agrees, however things will turn dangerous when he begins to fall in love with Katya.

However, the key of the story relies heavily on love. "Unselfish love, grown up love. Mature, absolute, thrilling love," in the words Barley uses to declare his feelings to Katya. Their story is beautifully written and their love really feels natural, without a sense of adventure or the usual oversexualization that movies have nowadays. In fact, their only sex scene is shown offscreen and both are dressed when they get horizontal. Despite the 28-year difference between Connery and Pfeiffer and not taking advantage of the fact that the Scottish actor was looking impressively good at 60, all the scenes between Barley and Katya have this sense of warmness and caring which gives a sense of authenticity to everything.

Sean Connery convincingly plays the bohemian Barley, an idealist, somewhat anarchist intellectual and jazz lover. The kind of man you would find in a literary club or a library, who enjoys a simple and modest life and has complete disregard for politics or money: "If there is to be hope, we must all betray our countries. We have to save each other, because all victims are equal. And none is more equal than others." Michelle Pfeiffer also did a perfect job portraying a working-class Russian woman, with three children to care for, discreetly dressed and with more sweetness than sex appeal. Likewise, her Russian accent is incredibly convincing and there are a good number of scenes where she talks (dialogue is a big part of the film), so that's an effort deserving a proper recognition. Richard Macdonald's sets for Katya's home showcase how modest her life is: a rather urbane flat with a shower that isn't working properly and she has to fix with a hammer. Those little details also sum up to give a good reflection of the late 1980s Russia which was starting to slowly leave Communism behind. "They just want to be like us," Barley admits to the British agents controlling him.

The Palace Square in St. Petersburg (then known as Leningrad), was one of the scenarios of the film, and director of photography Ian Baker takes full advantage of the wideness of the square and the details of the monuments and statues surrounding the place as Barley meets Dante, another role brilliantly played by Klaus Maria Brandauer who reunites with Connery seven years after the unofficial Bond film Never Say Never Again. "You are wearing grey today, Barley. My father was sent to prison by grey men. He was murdered by men who wore grey uniforms. Grey men ruined my beautiful profession, and take care, or they will ruin you too," the hopeless Dante tells Barley concerned that he might been used by politicians and civil servants, which he doesn't trust at all when it comes to delivering the manuscript, and hopes that Barley can make this information be published on his own without spies and governments in the middle.

Composed by Jerry Goldsmith, the film's soundtrack is a character on itself. A beautiful mix of piano, strings, floute and saxophone which gives the story a special gravitas. In fact, given that there is much talking going on the movie and that at times the pace is quite slow, it is Goldsmith's score that saves it. The main motif of the score, which in the soundtrack album serves for "Alone In The World", performed by Patti Austin (lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman), works beautifully during a scene where Barley takes a train from Moscow to Leningrad and different panoramas of Russia are shown through the window, from the city itself to rural regions and other sights. 

The biggest flaw in The Russia House is perhaps the pacing and structure. There is too much talking and so many words generate confussion. Other things aren't quite clear: the "Russia House" is the informal name of the section of the British Secret Service devoted to watch the actions taking place in the country, basically to spy them, but there is never a satisfactory explaination of this. However, considering the overall beauty of the movie, this can be forgiven. If you want to watch a meaningful romantic movie with elements of espionage and Russian politics involved, this one is certainly recommended.

Nicolás Suszczyk 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Goodbye, Felix - remembering David Hedison (1927-2019)

The week has started on a sad note for many James Bond fans, and for those who spent entire afternoons watching many TV series. We learnt that, at the age of 92, David Hedison passed away. He was the fifth actor to play Felix Leiter in the James Bond films.

Described by Ian Fleming as “the Texan with whom he had shared so many adventures”, Hedison portrayed this idea perfectly in Live And Let Die and Licence To Kill. With his appearance in Bond 25, Jeffrey Wright will break the record playing the role for the third time after Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, but Hedison concluded his life being the only actor who could express that friendly link with James Bond that went beyond work with two different actors that played the same role: Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton.

He was also the one who had to represent one of the tensest moments written by Fleming on his second Bond novel, Live And Let Die, when Leiter is thrown to a pool full of hungry sharks that mutilate two of his extremities, something dramatically adapted in Licence To Kill and the catalyst of 007’s desire of revenge that would take him to resign to the Secret Service to avenge his friend and his wife Della, killed by the assailants that were after him.

A descendant of Armenians, Ara David Hedistian was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on 20 May 1927. He initiated his artistic career under the name Al Hedison on a number of TV series before reaching fame after playing the mutant star of The Fly in 1958. He later had a role in the original 1960 version of The Lost World and in The Greatest Story Ever Told in 1965, as he played important roles on TV series of that decade like Voyage To The Bottom of The Sea, playing Captain Crane, and the episode ‘Luella’ of The Saint, forming his first friendship bond with Roger Moore.

After an occasional encounter with director Guy Hamilton, the role of Felix Leiter was proposed to him for Live And Let Die, where his friend would be Bond for the first time. There was instantaneous chemistry: Hedison was the Felix who assisted Bond after a “little problem” (the mysterious and surprising assassination of his chauffeur) and had to tolerate the name-calling of the furious Mr Bleeker when Bond destroyed his aeroplane to evade Kananga’s hitmen. He was also the Felix Leiter who shared a tragic destiny who was similar to those of 007: due to the disgraceful consequences of his profession as a CIA and DEA agent, his wife is killed hours after the wedding.

“He was married once, but it was a long time ago”, he had told Della when she was surprised when Bond disregards references to a possible second marriage in a future.

Stripped of one of his legs, bruised and solace-less, Leiter manages to raise a smile when listening to his friend on the phone to inform him that he’ll recover his job at MI6, even after his rebellious attitude of hunting down drug kingpin Sánchez and his criminal empire without the proper authorization, when the US justice didn’t dare to confront him.

Besides his participation in series like Wonder Woman, Charlie’s Angels and Perry Mason, Hedison teamed up with his friend Moore in the films North Sea Hijack and The Naked Face. In 2018 he wrote the foreword for the new edition of The 007 Diaries, which the new Bond had written in 1973 and remained out of print for years: “Roger welcomed me into the wonderful fold of his life. He hosted my life for Christmas in Switzerland and summer in the South of France, always eager to share the spoils of his stardom yet never one to act with exception or snobbery,” he said remembering the actor who passed away on 23 May 2017, the day Hedison turned 90.

We just have to hope both of them are enjoying two Sazeracs watching a choir of angels playing a version of that Paul McCartney song that marked a generation and attracted an even bigger audience to that 1973 film, where Bond was turning into the field of comedy but wasn’t becoming less popular just for that. “Where’s your sense of adventure, James? This is Heaven, relax!” he would say.

Those who have met him, like actor Robert Davi, talked about his sympathy and sense of humour. There are others who didn’t share that luck, but it just takes watching a few seconds of any of his performances to perceive that warmth and kindness that went through the screen. He made us feel that, besides being a friend of James Bond, he was almost a friend of ours. Maybe this is why, despite his advanced age, we are still surprised and saddened for his departure.

So long, great man!

Goodbye, Felix.

Nicolás Suszczyk

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Bond 25: Rejected Title Revealed

It's been two months since the synopsis and cast of Bond 25 had been announced in Ian Fleming's Goldeneye estate in Jamaica, but there is still no title. The thing is... there was one until April 24, the day before the announcement.

Far from being Shatterhand or Eclipse, the fifth Daniel Craig 007 movie was going to be titled A Reason To Die, but Universal and United Artists Releasing decided it wasn't strong enough for a James Bond film. Meanwhile, shooting of the movie continues at Pinewood Studios after shooting in Jamaica and Norway. Later this year, the production will move to Matera.

Agent 007 will drive the classic Aston Martin DB5 and the Aston Martin V8 Vantage from The Living Daylights, and the Aston Martin Valhalla will aslo make an appaerance. Enjoying a retirement in Jamaica, Bond will be back in action to assist Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) on a CIA operation to rescue a kidnapped scientist from a man who can handle a dangerous technology. Léa Seydoux will return in the role of Madeleine Swann from SPECTRE, while Ana De Armas and Lashana Lynch will be the new incorporations with Oscar winner Rami Malek, David Dencik and Dali Benssalah. 

Last week, Prince Charles visited Pinewood Studio to greet Daniel Craig, Naomie Harris, Lashana Lynch and Ralph Fiennes as they were shooting the scenes on M's office. The film, directed by Cary Fukunaga, will be released on April 8, 2020.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Book Preview: 'The World of GoldenEye', by Nicolás Suszczyk

As the silver anniversary of GoldenEye is around the corner, Nicolás Suszczyk, co-editor of this site, gives you a unique tribute to the 17th James Bond film. Set for June 8, 2019, the 25th anniversary of the day where Brosnan was officially announced as the fifth James Bond actor in London, the book will cover the generational impact of the 1995 film and the huge success of its many official and unofficial video game adaptations, starting with 1997’s GoldenEye 007 for Nintendo 64. At the same time, the filmmaking process of the film and the relation of the story with many historical events as the Cold War, the betrayal of the Cossacks at Lienz in World War II and the 1991 coup against Mikhail Gorbachov will be thoroughly covered.

GoldenEye was much more than the debut of Pierce Brosnan in the role of James Bond. It was the film that saved the series after facing six years of an uncertain future, and the title is now a popular legend among gamers thanks to the huge success of the Nintendo 64 video game adaptation. In the eve of its 25th anniversary in 2020, this book offers a comprehensive analysis on one of the best Bond films ever released and the impact in popular culture that brought a new generation of Bond fans, in a craze that was very reminiscent to the waves of Bond mania from the 1960s. The creative process behind the film, the emergence of a relatively unknown international cast, and the influence of the Cold War in the story are just some of the themes this comprehensive analysis of the 1995 film will address to prove GoldenEye is, many times, an overlooked classic.
The book is set to be released on June 8, 2019, by Amazon Publishing, to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Pierce Brosnan's announcement as James Bond. Print and ebook versions will be available.

Nicolás Suszczyk has been a James Bond fan since the day he first watched GoldenEye, aged 7, on his native Buenos Aires. A freelance writer, he has contributed for many Bond and movies related web sites and publications like MI6 Confidential and Le Bond, from the French 007 Fan Club. In 2011, he founded The GoldenEye Dossier, a tribute for his favourite James Bond film, which is set for a major update in 2020. He also manages Bond En Argentina, a site dedicated to the releases of Ian Fleming's fictional hero in his country, and co-admins The Secret Agent Lair, a blog dedicated to the fictional spies of cinema and literature, with Jack Walter Christian. The World of GoldenEye is his first book.

The book will be primarily promoted on The GoldenEye Dossier's Twitter account (@gedossier007), the official hashtag to be used is #GoldenEyeWorld.

Visit the book's official site at: https://goldeneyedossier.wixsite.com/goldeneyeworld

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Daniel Craig is joined by Rami Malek, Ana De Armas, Léa Seydoux and Jeffrey Wright in the yet-untitled Bond 25


JAMAICA, APRIL 25, 2019 – GoldenEye in Jamaica. James Bond Producers, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli today confirmed the start of principal photography on the 25th official James Bond film begins on 28 April 2019. From Albert R. Broccoli’s EON Productions and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios, the film is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga and stars Daniel Craig, who returns for his fifth film as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007.

Metro Goldwyn Mayer will release the 25th James Bond feature film domestically through their United Artists Releasing banner on April 8, 2020; through Universal Pictures International and Metro Goldwyn Mayer in the UK and internationally from April 3, 2020.

Director Cary Joji Fukunaga confirmed the returning cast, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Jeffrey Wright and introduced Ana de Armas, Dali Benssalah, David Dencik, Lashana Lynch, Billy Magnussen and Rami Malek.

Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.

The 007 production will be based at Pinewood Studios in the UK, and on location in London, Italy, Jamaica and Norway.

Wilson and Broccoli commented, “We’re thrilled to return to Jamaica with Bond 25, Daniel Craig’s fifth instalment in the 007 series, where Ian Fleming created the iconic James Bond character and Dr No and Live And Let Die were filmed.”

Written by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade, Scott Z. Burns with Cary Joji Fukunaga and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, other members of the creative team are; Director of Photography Linus Sandgren, Editor Tom Cross and Elliot Graham, Production Designer Mark Tildesley, Costume Designer Suttirat Larlarb, Supervising Stunt Coordinator Olivier Schneider, 2nd Unit Stunt Coordinator Lee Morrison and Visual Effects Supervisor Charlie Noble. Returning members to the team are; 2nd Unit Director Alexander Witt, Special Effects and Action Vehicles Supervisor Chris Corbould and Casting Director Debbie McWilliams.

Spectre, the 24th James Bond film, was a global box office hit, opening #1 in 81 territories around the world, including the U.S., and earning $880 million at the global box office. The film broke a new all-time box office record in the UK with the biggest seven-day opening of all time at $63.8 million. Skyfall, the 23rd film in the series, earned $1.1 billion worldwide.

The start of production launch of Bond 25 was streamed live on the official James Bond channels: 007.com, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and the video is now available on demand on all of these sites.