Welcome to James Bond Countdown, our resident 007 expert's in-depth analysis of the James Bond franchise leading up to the release of Skyfall this November.
Confirmed: Daniel Craig Returning for More Bond
Fear not, Craig fans. The actor has signed on for Bond 24 and 25, according to a report from Deadline. The news means that Craig will become the third actor to play 007 the longest, right behind Sean Connery and Roger Moore. Clearly, Craig has instilled confidence in Sony who will be cofinancing both films. They are hoping to return to the template of one film every two years — something that went awry during MGM's financial difficulties.
Production company EON and Craig would reportedly prefer a bigger break between pictures for scriptwork and a much needed vacation for the spy star. Apart from the remake of Swedish thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Craig hasn't seen much box office success — demonstrated by Cowboys & Aliens and Dream House. We'll be happy for him to stick with Bond for awhile, and hope that the series will keep attracting writers and producers like Mendes and John Logan.
Global James Bond Day
Bond fans are readying for the London premiere of Skyfall on October 26, but it looks like there's another date moviegoers should circle on their calendars. It was recently announced that October 5 would be Global James Bond Day, featuring a series of 007-related events around the world. Fans can expect the following: "a global online and live charity auction event organized by Christie’s in London, a global survey to discover the favorite Bond film country by country, a film retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, a Music of Bond night in Los Angeles hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and Designing 007: 50 Years of James Bond Style opens at TIFF in Toronto."
That sound you hear is our heads officially spinning, and we love it! Plus, don't forget we have that amazing Blu-ray box set coming our way, and the Bond documentary we told you about last column, Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007. How will you be celebrating Global James Bond Day?
Skyfall Video Blog in Turkey
We got excited watching this Skyfall video blog that takes a look at the film's action-packed opening sequence in various parts of exotic Turkey. We get to see parts of the scene's car chase that leads into a major gun battle in a populated bazaar. Mendes describes wanting to capture the ever-changing city the way it is today, and star Daniel Craig relates how wonderfully welcoming residents were to the cast and crew. Assistant Director Michael Lerman describes the great sense of scope that the country brought to the British-based film. Turkey's mountains, tunnels, beaches and vast landscape look stunning, and we can't wait to watch it all come together.
Adele (Even More) Likely to Sing Skyfall Theme Song and a Few of Our Favorite 007 Soundtracks
We've been hearing rumors about powerhouse singer Adele being the voice behind Skyfall's theme song. The series' musical montages traditionally include an opening number that combines stylish and sexy visuals (including Bond's gun-barrel introduction) with a memorable track, and an "alternative" closing tune. The Adele rumors may be true, as The Sun is now reporting that the Grammy-winning songstress recently visited the famed Abbey Road studios to record with Thomas Newman. He's the man behind Skyfall's sounds.
Last year, the singer slipped up on the Jonathan Ross show when she admitted she would be "recording a theme" soon (refresh your memory in the video above, around the six-minute mark). Later, she started preliminary vocal sessions with producer Paul Epworth. We'd be shocked if the theme vocalist wasn't Adele at this point. With a release date quickly approaching, we're likely to find out more soon. Does the English recording artist have your vote?
Obviously, the best Bond songs evoke the central attractions of the film series: sex, danger and refinement. It takes a certain artistry to be able to transform the Fleming novel titles into something songworthy. Writing a title theme with the chorus "Goldfinger!" could easily faze the wrong songbird — behind the scenes and on the mic. It's no easy task.
The title song is also a sly dissemination of 007 advertising — something we've been seeing in spades with Skyfall. While most Bond tunes contain lyrics referencing the name of the film, 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service does not. The track's popularity amongst fans proves that the "alternative" or closing song holds equal importance when it comes to the overall tone of the movie. Composer John Barry set the early standard for Bond soundtracks, with memorable hooks and big, brassy rhythms that became 007's calling card.
The opening title sequences evolved into proto-music videos with writhing models and bold graphics introducing our secret agent man. Barry's arrangements added that initial oomph to the series, and each subsequent theme resonates with his instrumentals. A lot of the songs were trendsetters for their era and have a tangible nostalgic vibe, which is why shows like Mad Men used OHMSS's "We Have All the Time in the World" to make a memorable impression on viewers. Bond's international adventures took him to some exotic locales that inspired incredible music.
Here's a brief guide to some of our favorite Bond soundtracks:
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
This 1969 film featuring the oft-forgotten George Lazenby in the role of Bond contains one of the worst series songs ever ("Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown?"), but the score is still a standout. OHMMS's grand baselines are loaded with oodles of brass and Moog. It's unforgettable stuff.
Bold, brash and striking with Shirley Bassey belting it out like no one else. Chills!
You Only Live Twice
There's some gorgeous stringwork with a bluesy, mournful trumpet underlying the arrangements. It's a striking integration of pop, classical and jazz. The soundtrack also offers plenty of funk. While the 1967 album contains some cliche "oriental" touches, it's at its best when they read as gentle exotica. YOLT features the amazing "Capsule in Space," which is dramatic, ethereal and instantly recognizable to Bond junkies.
Live and Let Die
We know it's undeniably cheesy, but Live and Let Die's title track is quite effective in the way it dynamically shifts from piano to vocals during the larger arrangements. Once it gets into gear, it's quite powerful. There's a great playfulness surrounding the tempos and styles.
New Coke Zero Commercial: Annoying or Clever?
Does the new commercial for Coke Zero "unlock the 007 in you," or just make you want to tear someone's head off?
Connery Refusing to Take Part in Bond 50 Celebrations
We were sad to read that Bond favorite Sean Connery will not be taking part in any of the 50th anniversary celebrations that are launching across the globe this year in anticipation of Skyfall's premiere. The Daily Mail reported that the 82-year-old actor "accuses the late producers, Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, of paying him 'only one 50th' of the vast earnings they accrued from an estimated boxoffice turnover of £7.5billion (when adjusted for inflation)." If you're from "Amurika," that equates to over 12 billion dollars.
Broccoli's daughter Barbara has since taken over the production company, which doesn't sit well with Connery either, apparently. The paper also states that the actor "refuses to join later 007s Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan on a Blu-ray disc collection of the movies." Connery's publicist has reinforced that the Scottish star is retired and declining public appearances for multiple events, but everyone's blaming the bad blood between the Bond crew.
Skyfall Stills, Plus More on the Villain
Here's one of the new photos from Empire's October issue, featuring a shirtless Daniel Craig with costar Naomie Harris, who plays Secret Service field agent Eve. You're welcome! Exclusive stills feature prominently throughout the new magazine, but we also get to learn even more about Bond's nemesis. "[Silva] is larger than life in one respect but full of surprises — never entirely, at any given moment, exactly what you think it is. Javier takes some risks," Mendes told Empire. "He's an amazing actor, and I think he gives you something you may consider to have been absent from Bond movies for a long time. Silva's up there with the greats, for me, and that's why I worked very hard to persuade one of the great actors of the world to do it... " he said.
Craig also provided some insight into playing his iconic character. "When I’m doing the movie I’m totally single-minded… I keep my energy levels as high as I can all the time. I want to inspire, and be inspired. And I’m lucky enough to work with some incredible people with vast experience," the actor said. "I was standing on top of a train in Turkey with this crew of people, I looked around and I thought, You know, this is the best place to be for an actor. So I kind of give it all I’ve got, and then collapse for a while!" Get inspired, too, by checking out Empire's picture preview.
There are 42 days until the London premiere of Skyfall on October 26, 2012 — commemorating the franchise's 50th anniversary. The Sam Mendes-directed film opens in the U.S. on November 9 and finds Daniel Craig returning to the role of James Bond. The movie also stars a villainous Javier Bardem and new Bond girl Bérénice Marlohe.