Best of Craig

Daniel Craig

Although it has yet to be given a title, the 24th James Bond film is edging ever closer to filming. The movie will see Daniel Craig return to play the titular spy for a fourth, and presumably, penultimate time, whilst director Sam Mendes is also back.

We owe thanks to Craig. Despite the Cheshire actor facing huge public backlash when cast in 2006, he has managed to rejuvenate the Hollywood franchise. So what are Craig’s definitive Bond moments?

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Casino Royale Movie Mistakes

Casino Royale Movie MistakesReleased to wide acclaim in 2006, “Casino Royale” was Daniel Craig’s debut as the legendary British agent James Bond. The plot portrayed Bond’s early years in service and the film was so successful that it grossed an estimated $599 million worldwide and Craig has continued in the role ever since.

Nonetheless, “Casino Royale” was not entirely without its faults. There were a number of illogical sequences or filming errors which did a disservice to an otherwise excellent production. Although it doesn’t take anything away from the film as a whole, the following errors will be of interest to any diehard 007 fan.

Airport confusion: In the film, Bond thwarts a terrorist attack on Miami Airport. However, the sequence is actually filmed in the Czech Republic and in these scenes you can see numerous Czech Airlines planes. Unfortunately, Czech Airlines don’t fly to Miami at all! You can however find plenty of their planes at Prague Airport!

Montenegro or Czech Republic? Similar lapses can be seen in the sequences which are supposed to be set in Montenegro, but are actually filmed in the Czech Republic. In one scene, at the back of a restaurant, a public telephone with the Czech Telecom insignia can be seen and when Bond has a drink in the square, there is a sign in Czech for “White Horse.”

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Dream House

Months before its late-September release date, we received notification that “Dream House” would be screened in our area. And then, at the last minute, the screening was pulled. The screening for a movie that starred Daniel Craig, Rachael Weisz, and Naomi Watts…was pulled. That is not a good sign, to say the least. It speaks to a sudden lack of confidence in your product, and the studio has gone into damage control mode in order to preserve whatever box office potential it may still have.

Good call, as it turns out, though that’s not to say that “Dream House” didn’t have a wealth of promise. Will Atenton (Craig) quits his job to spend more time with his wife (Weisz) and kids while writing the Great American Novel, but almost as soon as he’s home, his family is threatened by a mysterious stalker. His neighbor Ann (Watts) is sympathetic, but she’s the only one. Once Will discovers that a mass murder took place in his house, he decides to find out more about the crime in question, only to discover that the trail leads directly back to him.

That’s a pretty damn good setup – the only question is where you go from there, and that is where “Dream House” loses its way. There are a myriad of paths the story could have taken, but damned if they didn’t take the simplest option available. Seriously, the explanation for why things went down the way they did is just head-slappingly dumb, and it kills us that we cannot explain why. Add just one more layer to the story, and this could be one of those “Jacob’s Ladder”-type movies where you never really know what is real and what is fantasy. Instead, they took the easy way out. Sometimes it’s better to keep it simple. This, however, is not one of those times, not when you begin the movie by pulling the wool over the audience’s eyes. If your movie is high-concept, then see it through to the very end.

Anyone who grew up watching M. Night Shyamalan movies – and are therefore always on the look for the hook or the twist – will not miss the clues in “Dream House,” which form a veritable trail of bread crumbs. Hopefully the three leads will make another movie down the road, because goodness knows that under better circumstances, they could create something special. (Universal 2012)

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Bond is coming back; Soderbergh promises he’ll retire

In 1962, a bouncing baby franchise was born when superspy assassin James Bond did in the evil “Dr. No.” Now middle aged and needing a bit of exercise to keep its financial heart pumping after nearly five decades of very hard living, the Bond machine survived the end of the Cold War that spawned it, only to be stalled by MGM’s financial morass. Some thought, “It’s a 22 movie run, more if you count a few non-canonical Bond flicks, give it a rest already.” Today, however, Nikki Finke has word that Bond 23 is officially going ahead with star Daniel Craig and the long-rumored Sam Mendes in tow as director. You’ll have your next serving of Bond with your Thanksgiving turkey in November of 2012, assuming nothing untowards happens in post-production.

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In 1963, a bouncing baby human being was born in Louisiana. 26 years later, director Steven Soderbergh personally gave the modern day independent film movement one of its biggest kickstarts with 1989’s “Sex, Lies, and Videotape.” Now, he’s announcing officially that he’s packing it only two decades into a career that, at least in theory, could go another four or five.

Though Mike Fleming jokingly pre-accuses him of doing a Brett Favre, movie directors are not sports figures, and, to paraphrase Marcellus Wallace of “Pulp Fiction,” their asses really can age like a fine wine. John Huston, who led the kind of life that might have killed a lesser man in his forties, made one of his greatest films, “The Dead,” when he was pushing eighty and about to be dead himself. Old French New Waver Alain Resnais is scheduled to release a movie more or less to coincide with his 90th birthday, and Portugal’s Manoel de Oliveira released “The Strange Case of Angelica” in 2010, the year of his 102 birthday. (He’s supposedly working on another.) Almost no one, except Matt Damon, seems to be taking Soderbergh seriously about this.

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You know what, I’m on board with both moves. James Bond has become far bigger than any one set of filmmakers and, like Sherlock Holmes, Superman, and Mickey Mouse, there’s no reason he shouldn’t keep on chugging along indefinitely in new incarnations. And, given how surprisingly good “Casino Royale” was, I’m willing to let the current James Bond team overcome the disappointment of “Quantum of Solace.” All I ask is for a little more of “From Russia with Love”-era Bond and a little less shaky-cam Jason Bourne.

As for Soderbergh, I’m a fan who admires the fact that he’s unafraid to take risks and make movies that, admittedly, sometimes kind of suck, but always in interesting ways. Re: his impending retirement, I’ve watched too many creators repeat themselves over the years to have anything but respect for his decision. I think it’s possible that we all have only so many stories to tell in a particular way and that, perhaps, when we feel we’re through telling them in one medium, maybe the thing to do is switch to another that might permit new stories to emerge. Later, if we return to the first medium, maybe we’ll then have a new story to tell, or at least an interesting new way to tell it. So, if Soderbergh just wants to spend his life painting, I say, “bless him.” If he gets the urge to start making movies again from time to time and unretires as many times as Frank Sinatra, that’ll be great too. The thing not to do is stagnate.

  

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Another trailer: Close encounters of the cowboy kind

Considering the title and the involvement of director Jon Favreau, whose pre-“Iron Man” background was mostly in comedy, I had assumed it was going to be a science-fiction comedy along the lines of “Men in Black.” I was apparently wrong. Anyhow, watch as Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and a bunch of mysterious whatsits face off in the first trailer for the long-awaited, and apparently quite tense, “Cowboys and Aliens.”

Speaking of tension and Harrison Ford, I’m a little bit afraid to watch what might become Mr. Ford’s rather legendary “Conan” appearance last night, in which most viewers agreed Ford was in some way altered — perhaps by booze, perhaps something prescribed as medicinal.

All I can say is that, if true, it wouldn’t be the first time. L.A. science fiction geeks of a certain age remember a radio interview given by a young Ford and Mark Hamill before the release of the very first “Star Wars” in which the twosome, who apparently were convinced they were the stars of a movie that might, at best, become an obscure cult item, were fairly obviously under the giggly influence of some pretty good cannabis. The late host of Pacifica station KPFK’s  “Hour 25” radio show, Mike Hodel, often said it was a low-point of the program.

  

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