Pierce Brosnan

Mamma Mia!

Last night we went to see 'Mamma Mia!' at the cinema. Now, I like Abba as much as the next 'secure-in-my-masculinity child-of-the-seventies-and-early-eighties' - but I had seen the trailer... and Meryl Streep wearing Dungarees and prancing about didn't fill me with confidence. 'Chick Flick', thought I.

It was, however, good. To my surprise.

Yes, it was contrived, yes it was corny. In a few places it was toe-curling - but nonetheless it was fun. Some of the sequences were genuinely great - Julie Walters in particular stole the show in a few places, notably the 'Take a Chance on Me' number at the end, a very understated start to it... 'Chiquitita' was also well done.

We burst out laughing in a few places. One memorable occasion was when Pierce Brosnan sang for the first time (S.O.S.), unfortunately it wasn't appropriate here - but we just found a singing James Bond to be a little odd. The good thing was that it didn't matter, you get the sense that people just went with it and enjoyed the experience - Pierce Brosnan in particular must have known when he signed on that it'd play on his existing profile.

If you see the film, do stay for the end titles (at least the first part of them). Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters do some Abba numbers in full 70s Abba jumpsuits - joined for 'Waterloo' by Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård. This got a big reaction from the audience. However, Meryl Streep looking out of the cinema screen saying 'Do you want some more?' was clearly not designed for a British audience - we were not dancing in the aisles - we were sitting there waiting for the recorded image to stop trying to be interactive.

It was silly, it was a chick-flick.... but it was also an enjoyable 108minutes.

Do watch out for Cameos by Bjorn and Benny.

Other Websites on this film

My verdict? Leave your dramatic sense at the door, don't expect 'art' - though it's enjoyable in a kitsch way. Stay for the end credits (at least until the credits scroll upward).

Casino Royale

On Wednesday we finally got to see 'Casino Royale' (thank you, 'Orange') This film lived up to the hype. Before we went in, we ranked the Bonds as follows:

  • Connery
  • Dalton
  • Brosnan (perhaps controversial to put Dalton ahead. Brosnan was a more natural Bond, but the films were getting way too silly - and I liked the 'edge' of Dalton)
  • Moore
  • Lazenby (he had bad luck in being the first change of Bond, and in getting OHMSS which was the one where Bond gets married... this script would have worked well with an established Bond, not with a new one)

When we came out, we were debating whether Craig should go above or below Connery. Seriously, he was a damned good, Bond.

Little reliance in gadgets, gentle humour (no Moore-style punning), a real edge to him - and for once a Bond film without major plot holes and things blowing up that have no right to blow up without a judicial application of explosive (yes, Goldeneye, I'm referring to your blowing up of the Arecibo Radio Telescope)

It also stayed pretty true to the spirit and plot of the book, Vesper Lynd, the general mission and so forth. Yes, details varied (the eventual fate of Vesper is similar, but not identical, and there were some added items during the Casino sequences) - but these were not complete deviations from Fleming. Some pieces of background were changed for obvious reasons to do with the geopolitical state of the world today. The scene with Bond and Le Chiffre towards the end was excellently done, and virtually unchanged from the book in the important respects.

Essentially what was on screen was probably the closest to a Flemingian Bond that has been seen to date, with a few alterations to make the film flow better and we loved it. Wonderful stuff.

The audience did, I think, begin to worry at the end of the film that it was being undercut by sentimentalism (OHMSS number 2?), but they turned that around wonderfully.

So, what next?

Now there are no more major unfilmed Bonds, I'd like to see Eon begin to move through the sequence of books in order, making them with this new grittier ethos in mind, perhaps we might get some character development instead of pressing the reset button for each film? Perhaps when we get to OHMSS it might not come as such a complete shock!

This would make the next film 'Live and Let Die'... although the downside of this policy is that 'Moonraker' would be next. Though, who knows? Replace Moore with Craig and it could work!

There are reports that one of the short stories from 'Octopussy and Live and Let Die' could be used as a basis for the next film - or that the end of Casino Royale is setting things up for a sequel. Plot development between films? That'd be nice!