Annakarinaland

Annakarinaland
Anna Karina in Pierre le Fou

2012-11-10

The "Bond Girls" in SKYFALL



Judi Dench as "M"
'Skyfall', which opens November 9 in San Francisco injects new blood into the 50-year James Bond cinema experience. Ever since the magnificent and audacious Judi Dench debuted as head of Her Majesty's Secret Service, James Bond has been in need of a makeover.  Dench's M refers to James Bond as a “misogynist dinosaur” and “relic of the Cold War” (Pierce Brosnan’s Bond in 'GoldenEye') and in 'Skyfall' this scrutiny continues.
Judi Dench, 1968

“Orphaned children make the best agents”, says M, and she is as close to being the mother Bond never had than anyone.

In the opening scene of 'Skyfall', James Bond is in hot pursuit of a French rogue named Patrice, an assassin who works for a master hacker who constructs remote controlled time-bombs. The assassination of M is one of the targets for destruction and Patrice carries the microchip with the names of the others.

Patrice, played by Swedish actor Ola Rapace is the former husband of Noomi Rapace ('The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo') and both actors were promoted for the films by Swedish casting agent Tusse Lande. The Scandinavian influence in James Bond films is historic. Swedish actors have played Bond girls (Britt Eklund, Izabella Scorupco and Maud Adams) and two Danish actors play villains in 'Casino Royale' (Mads Mikkelsen and Jesper Christensen) and 'Quantum of Solace' (Christensen).

The main villain in 'Skyfall', Raoul Silva, is played by Javier Bardem, a former "00 agent" whom M found expedient, as she seems to have done with Bond by allowing an M16 agent to take aim while he struggles with Patrice on a moving train. When Bond and Silva finally meet, he brings up their mutual betrayal and asks Bond if it might be uncomfortable if he had to be touched by a man in the line of duty. “What makes you think I haven’t", retorts Craig in a real update for this “Cold War relic”.
It is not only M who finds Bond ancient, Bond thinks the same, for he challenges the wisdom of the younger equivalent of Q (played by the adorable Ben Whishaw) because of the “spots” on his face. This Q does not instruct about gadgets such as the special pens and watches used by previous Bonds. Instead his expertise is in computers with huge monitors, which should appeal to the under 30 crowd the Bond franchise is hoping to attract. Bond is clearly reinvented in each installment of their 50 year old history.

In this film, we eventually travel to James Bond’s family home, Skyfall, located in Scotland. His parents died in an accident while the young James hid in a secret pathway ("priest hole")  under their house. Albert Finney plays Kincade, the gamekeeper of the Skyfall manor. Casting thoughts went to Sean Connery for this role, which director Sam Mendes considered, but it would have been a nostalgic choice. Sir Sean Connery would probably have turned it down anyway. At any rate Bond's (Connery) Aston Martin is unearthed that debuted in 'GoldFinger' (1963), an artifact from the past that proves itself more than useful.

There are many things that make this Bond film one of the best, Daniel Craig, notwithstanding. Though Craig was sought out by Bond producers for quite a while before he said yes to 'Casino Royale', he is truly far from the dark-haired and tall Bond long associated with the character (excluding Roger Moore). Sean Connery and modern Bond Pierce Brosnan were the best archetypes. Craig already shows signs of aging: a gray beard stubble and a haggard, chiseled face.

After the shooting incident with Patrice, Bond has to prove himself fit for fight and although he doesn’t actually pass the M16 batteries of tests, at least to the unsuspecting public, he makes an excellent display of dastardly agent acumen with vulnerability. This sequence is to Craig’s credit and warms us up to him more than ever, as he is slated to play a few more Bonds.

The casting of Javier Bardem is indeed brilliant and his role as the demented bitter "ex-00" Raoul Silva is delivered with subtle and sarcastic humor, and is as impressive as Christopher Walken’s Max Zorin in 'A View to Kill' (1985).
The 'good' Bond girl Domino (Kim Bassinger) and the 'bad' Bond girl'
Fatima Blush (Barbara Carrera)  in' Never Say Never Again (1983)

Skyfall's Moneypenny


Less impressive are the Bond girls who have minor roles. Doubling as a minxy M16 agent and in the end as the alluring new Miss Moneypenny is the African-Brit Naomi Harris, the “good Bond girl” in a new twist for Moneypenny.  The morose "bad" Bond girl is Bérénice-Lim Marlone (France/Cambodia), who plays Sévérine, Silva’s 'girlfriend' and 'slave'. Typically the 'binders of women' for nice Bond Girls have been white (21 out of 23) and for bad girls women of color or non-Anglo origin, (15 out of 23) with notable exceptions.

The fact that the 'Skyfall ' Bond women of do not play fully constructed characters with onscreen longevity that leave their mark such as Dianna Rigg (UK) as Teresa in 'Her Majesty's Secret Service' (1976) Barbara Carrera (Nicaragua) as Fatima Blush in 'Never Say Never Again '(1983), Grace Jones (Jamaica) as "May Day" in A View to Kill (1985) and Famke Janssen (Dutch) as Xenia Onatopp in 'GoldenEye' (1995) is a notable flaw of the film.

Bérénice-Lim Marlone as Sévérine,
We have Ralph Fiennes to look forward to in future Bond films who plays Gareth Mallory, a higher up head of foreign intelligence in Her Majesty’s Secret Service. However, there is not much inner charisma or pointed sarcasm to be found here.

'Skyfall' is set in Shanghai with exquisite art direction in the nightclub where Bond meets Sévérine, and in Istanbul and Fethiye, Turkey. Surrey, England is the site for the makeshift Scottish Skyfall estate (with establishing shots in Glencoe, Scotland and Berkshire, England) and many scenes were shot in London. Raoul Silva's hideout was shot on Hashima Island, Japan.

The art design by Chris Lowe ('Quantum of Solace'), especially in Shanghai, is modern and elegant. The cinematography by Roger Deakins (who worked with Mendes on 'Revolutionary Road') is beautifully executed, combined with the seamless editing of Stuart Baird who worked on 'Casino Royale'.

England’s very own Adele sings the Bond theme song “Skyfall”.

Director Sam Mendes, the mastermind behind 'Skyfall', distinguishes himself by making one of the best Bond films to date. Together with producer Barbara Broccoli, he assembled all the right talent and instructed them in crafting a brilliant film.
James Bond films navigate a time-honored pathway involving a series of challenges that agent 007 skillfully overcomes in exotic places with beautiful women, and in the end a brilliant master villain is caught with a big bang. This is the connaisseur Bond spectator reward and 'Skyfall' delivers on schedule.
'Skyfall' is brilliant gift for the golden anniversary of James Bond films Moira Sullivan, San Francisco - Examiner.com, November 9, 2012


The Malia Generation

2012-11-07

OBAMA WINS!

According to Rachel Maddow, these are all the things we are NOT going to have with Obama in the White House, and Thank the People:


2012-10-21

Rachel Maddow: a necessity for the 2012 presidential election

The election is just 3 weeks away! If you do anything to prepare for how you cast your ballot, follow Rachel Maddow online for her daily analyses of the presidential race; if you listen to anything, listen to her, since she really scrutinizes the media in depth about the issues. Not only does she take a close look at Mitt Romney she also watches  Barack Obama. You can listen everyday to the television broadcast on MSNBC online. 

Sometimes it's hard to believe that Republicans will do anything to roll back the clock, scale back women's rights with fundamentalist religious beliefs, increase the war budget, trash national health care --and all for the sake of not paying taxes to support necessary government programs (such as Medicare and Medical, even Social Security).  This elite group includes Romney who pays 14% tax.

Obama's message to the middle class to study how tax credits benefit only the wealthy should not fall on deaf ears...if it does, we will get the president we deserve for not fighting back.....

The issues are difficult to assimilate. Both sides deny what they say, and use the same attacks against each other.  Maddow's clever and witty style explores the rhetoric and behind the scenes truths of the political pundits. Rachel Maddow sees through this camouflage. It is really important to listen to someone who is not only a Rhodes scholar but one of the most astute political minds today. 

Maddow is a gay activist with a long term partner.  Her doctoral dissertation compared AIDS policies in the California and British prison systems. Her lifestyle is never an issue on the show; politics are. 


Not a Real Tango


Last Tango in Paris, (Bernardo Bertolucci,  Italy 1972)
Brando plays Paul. a grieving widower, consoling himself with distractions for a wife who betrayed him. Bertolucci places him an an empty apartment with red stained rugs and dirty windows. Here he brings a young woman he acquires like a sportscar, to show off, and to play with.

Jeanne is a budding actress disenchanted with her moviemaker boyfriend who frames everything with his thumb and forefinger. She is intrigued by the mystery of a new relationship which is clearly obsessive/compulsive--there are no names, only games.

Underneath this all is a man's raw grief. Brando tearfully smears clean his dead wife's overdone face, and tosses the stinking funeral wreaths. In this moment, and in the end when he sports a silly smile on his face while saluting Jeanne, he is real. For Schneider the film initiated a slew of roles as female lead. Taken under the wing of Bridget Bardot, her dream was to work in arthouse cinema with auteurs--and this was her most memorable role. The film acquired attention for the addictive urgency of their sexual entango-ment, and the film was temporarily banned in several US cities.

Maybe Sharon Stone is right: sex in cinema is interesting because it is so seldom free. But in this film that is not the case, because sex is so heavily entwined with emotional blackmail,depression and mortality-- and not much of a dance at all. Brando and Schneider got this totally correct.

2012-10-07

'Bollywood Sleeping Beauty' enchants audiences at San Francisco's NCTC


'Bollywood Sleeping Beauty' enchants audiences at San Francisco's NCTC


Julian Holmes, Tess Greenham, Regina Leon, Giulia Iaconi-Stewart, and Roman Blum in 'Bollywood Sleeping Beauty'
Julian Holmes, Tess Greenham, Regina Leon, Giulia Iaconi-Stewart, and Roman Blum in 'Bollywood Sleeping Beauty'
©Moira Sullivan

Bollywood Sleeping Beauty

Rating:
Star
Star
Star
Star
Star
The New Conservatory Theatre Center (NCTC) under the direction of Stephanie Temple is renowned in San Francisco for its enchanting plays for youth. Temple’s current production, which she wrote and directed, is 'Bollywood Sleeping Beauty' and runs through October 14 at NCTC.

Lakshimi (Rebecca Hughes), Saraswati (Stella Price) and Parvati (Lena Galinson) in 'Bollywood Sleeping Beauty'.
©Moira Sullivan

Temple has a wonderful ability to put together such endearing tales that her theatre pieces have become beloved by the public for many years. There is always the opportunity for a young child to audition for the program and on October 7 there were several children that looked on in reverence at the older children, most around 15 years.
This story of 'Sleeping Beauty' has been given a Bollywood twist where the young princess Sabeena has become prey to the goddess Kali. The marriage of Sabeena's parents, Queen Dalaja (Tess Greenham) and King Maandhata (Roman Blum) displeased her so much that she is bent on revenge of their first-born. Sabeena starts to fall for Prince Taj (Julian Holmes) just before this unfortunate circumstance is about to come into play.
At 15, the needle of a spinning wheel will mortally wound Sabeena, true to the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty. In Temple’s arrangement, three benevolent goddesses: Saraswati (Stella Price), Lakshimi (Rebecca Hughes), and Parvati (Lena Galinson) watch over Sabeena and arrange that she will merely fall into a deep sleep. This is a slumber not without enchantment. The goddesses create an obstacle map within Beauty’s subconscious to help get her home including the meeting of a black bearded prince, the elephant headed god Ganesha, and a white mustached prince. They are even able to arrange for Sabeena's new love Prince Taj to appear in the dream to accompany her on her journey home. 
This Temple production excels in clever dance arrangements set to Bollywood music with members of the royal family and the goddesses. As in other Temple plays, the young actors double as other characters, such as some of the dream personalities. The incredibly talented Carola Anderson makes the costumes for NCTC youth theatre and in this production the garments of the Indian royalty and dream creatures are stunning.
'Bollywood Sleeping Beauty' is a visionary play that is cinematic like the Indian genre from which the name is derived. The play is an explosion of color, enchantment, dance and music in a journey that clearly appeal to all ages.
The play runs through October 14 at NCTC, 25 Van Ness in San Francisco. 

2012-10-06

Lee Daniels' controversial 'The Paperboy' opens in San Francisco


Lee Daniels' controversial 'The Paperboy' opens in San Francisco


The Paperboy

Rating:
Star
Star
Star
Star
Star
'The Paperboy' is the story of Hillary van Wetter, a bloated Southern sleezeball played by John Cusack who is awaiting the electric chair for killing an obese racist sheriff. While in prison femme fatale Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman) writes him, and soons falls for him. She convinces two newspapermen Ward Jansen (Matthew McConaughey) and Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo) to re-investigate the homicide in order to prove van Wetter’s innocence. Charlotte, Ward Jansen and his brother, Jack (Zac Ephron) visit him in prison in one of the film's raw scenes. 

Lee Daniels' 'The Paperboy'
Lee Daniels' 'The Paperboy'
Cannes Film Festival 2012
Zac Ephron, Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman and David Oyelowo in 'The Paperboy'
Cannes Film Festival

Jack prances around in shorts or underwear as a clearly homoerotic character. Yardley is (erotically) disturbed by him but Jack falls for Charlotte Bless. The seductive blonde with a brittle wig and heavy eye makeup tells Jack she has a dark side where his good looks and nature do not fit.
Van Wetter does nothing but abuse Charlotte from the minute he meets her in prison and when he gets out. As far as the other lead characters, Ward accepts an offer to have sex with some local black men, not the first time, but gets badly roughed up. Macy Gray is Zac’s beloved nanny but that position of privilege soon ends when his father (Scott Glen) starts to see the provincial albeit racist Ellen Guthrie (Nealla Gordon).
The connection between sexism, homophobia, classicism and racism is interconnected throughout the film. 'The Paperboy' no doubt shows the roots of oppression. Cinematographer Roberto Shaefer ('Monster’s Ball') constructs each shot of the misé en scene (composition of the frame) There are also some montage elements by Joe Klotz ('Precious') that will clearly jolt in the spectator. These images are disturbing and pull the film away from the traditional thriller genre, which critics expected.
The raw edges of the film are not entertaining. This lack of feel good put off some of the press at Cannes where it had its international film debut in May, but for others it was a cinematic triumph.
Lee Daniel's 'The Paperboy' is an excellent, well-crafted narrative that seems to turn upside down everything you thought a film might be about set in the south. It opens in San Francisco at the Landmark Theaters at Embarcadero October 5.

2012-08-01

San Francisco's 'Vertigo' chosen best film of all time


San Francisco's 'Vertigo' chosen best film of all time


Kim Novak at Fort Point underneath the Golden Gate Bridge.
Kim Novak at Fort Point underneath the Golden Gate Bridge.
Paramount