Sam Mendes

One of this fall/winter’s more anticipated films for action junkies is the new James Bond movie, Skyfall. This time around, Bond’s 23rd to be exact, the titular agent is tasked with protecting M and looking cool while doing it. He may also get to slip in a quick shower or two with an attractive woman between all the shooting, running and falling out of things. The official synopsis is here: Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.” Sam Mendes directs Daniel Craig in his third go round as Bond, and they’re joined by Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw. Check below for the new Skyfall teaser that aired during last night’s Olympic Games opening ceremonies. It was a nice pairing with the Bond-themed video featuring Craig escorting the Queen to the games by helicopter before the duo skydived down to join the masses.

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The most striking thing about the new Skyfall trailer is the beauty. Yes, there’s the beast. The brawn. Daniel Craig still looks hulking and dark as James Bond, but the trailer shows off some truly gorgeous shots without giving them all away. That’s what happens when you hire Sam Mendes to direct and Roger Deakins to director photography. The latest entry in the Bond franchise sees M’s past coming to haunt everyone and 007 attempting to kill the people trying to kill him. This time, you know, it’s personal. Now see if you can spot any shaky-cam. Check out the trailer for yourself (as if you’ve bothered to read any of this anyway):

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Merch Hunter - Large

I invite you to imagine a scene for a minute: a handsome man, with the kind of chiseled chin you could sharpen spoons on in an embarrassingly fine suit whose intricate detail blinded three tailors in the making sits at a Texas Holdem table, sucking daintily on a Vesper and with a cigarette lit for ornamentation. A gun presses into his ribs, another comfortably into his calf, and about his person are secreted millions of pounds worth of the British Intelligence Service’s most impressive, and most secret inventions. His smile cuts knowingly across an impeccably handsome face, eyes taking in infinitely more than his lush demeanor lets on as he imperceptibly stalks his prey. He is Bond, and no matter what you do about it, he is always going to be cooler than you. So, why the hell wouldn’t you want to make your life as close to his as possible? Your paunch might say more Gandalfini than Bond, and your social awkwardness would probably be the first, largest stumbling block in your application to MI5, but through the magpie-like acquisition of many fine pieces of James Bond merchandise, you too could pretend like a boss. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s precisely what this week’s Merch Hunter column is devoted to…

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Who has time to trim whiskers when you fighting international terrorists with only bullets and charm? Exactly. No one. Not even James Bond. The proof comes in the first image from Skyfall where Daniel Craig reprises the character with Sam Mendes in the director’s chair. The production also boasts a hell of a cast, including the return of Judy Dench and the inclusion of newcomers like Albert Finney, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw and Javier Bardem. With Helen McRory cast and Maggie Smith rumored, it’s half of a Harry Potter reunion. The steel eyes are definitely there, but Bond looks downright haggard here. Old. Weathered. Hopefully it’s from heavy amounts of ass kicking that we’ll get to see on-screen. [007.com]

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Could a first-look photo be more dull than this? It’s just James Bond sitting poolside, like any other Joe Shmoe. Where’s the excitement? Where’s the guns? Where’s, I dunno, James Bond’s face? This is a photo which could be from almost any type of film, nothing screams “Bond.” It’s such an odd photo to release, but, then again, it’s a still for a film almost a year away. By looking at this photo, a part of me can’t help but to imagine the parody version of Sam Mendes‘s Bond outing, since it only features the character staring down all sad-like. Imagine Bond narrating, “My name is James Bond. This is my neighborhood. This is my street. This is my life. I’m 42 years old. In less than a year, I’ll be dead,” as a whimsical but sad Thomas Newman score abruptly plays over Bond’s snark. If the franchise character gets even an inch mopier than what we saw in Quantum of Solace, I could see it being something along those lines. Or maybe Mendes will get the franchise back on the right track, which I feel fairly confident about. Take a look at Bond seriously debating if he should go back in the pool or not:

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Thomas Newman had his first feature job as an Orchestrator on Return of the Jedi, and has since crafted a career scoring more movies than you can shake a stick at (go ahead, try it). His most recent work includes moving music for Wall-E, The Help, Revolutionary Road and Little Children. He’s got a moderate spectrum of style, but it’s clear he focuses on dramatic, sweeping work. Beyond the third entry on that list, he also composed for American Beauty, Road to Perdition, and Jarhead; it looks like his working relationship with Sam Mendes has brought about a job on Skyfall. According to MI6 HQ, the ten-time Oscar nominee has been hired to maestro some notes for the forthcoming Bond film. Fantastic news all around. His work for Shawshank Redemption might be one of the best scores in modern movies, and anyone who helped make Real Genius should get every job ever. However, this move also means that composer David Arnold, who has worked on Bond from Tomorrow Never Dies through Quantum of Solace will have to skip this one. Apparently, he’ll be unavailable due to his duties with the London Olympics in 2012.

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This might be the kind of casting rumor that some might see as a spoiler so be forewarned. MovieWeb is reporting that they’ve heard through the questionable, pinch of salt-style grapevine that Ralph Fiennes‘s claim that he’s “a government agent,” in the new Bond film Skyfall means a lot more than he’s allowed to say. Their estimation, and confirmation (for what it’s worth) from an insider source at EON, is that Fiennes will be playing M as a replacement for Dame Judy Dench who is bowing out after this installment. Doing the math, that means they’ve gotten a younger M, a much younger Q (Ben Whishaw), and that the whole thing is sponsoring Sesame Street. If this is true, it comes as bittersweet news because Dench and Fiennes are both amazing in different ways. It was refreshing to see a strong female presence commanding respect over Bond, and it’s about to turn back into a Boy’s Club, but there’s no denying the forcefulness of Fiennes. Which is the new fragrance he’ll be putting out next year. Seriously, it’s good news/bad news, but hopefully the movie involves a knife fight between the two of them. Don’t let us down, Mr. Mendes. The people demand a knife fight between Queen Elizabeth and Lord Voldemort.

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The 23rd James Bond movie is going to be called Skyfall, perhaps the most un-Bond name of any Bond film. Not even a hint of noir poetry to it, but when it comes to Bond, this is just a small piece of the puzzle. According to Coming Soon, who hit up a press conference in Britain, the movie’s plot will be separate from both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, but it will still get personal in its own way. A synopsis from the press release reveals, “In Skyfall, Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.” All the new information is comforting, considering the uncertainty the project went through with the financial struggles of MGM. That must seem like eons ago for Sam Mendes, Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench, and the rest of the cast which started filming today. And now, as fans, we wait. Skyfall will hit theaters across the pond in October 2012, and we’ll see it almost exactly a year from now in November.

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The sprawling, globe-hopping James Bond series is not only about to celebrate its 50th anniversary, it’s about to commence filming on its twenty-third film. That’s a lot of spy shenanigans, so it makes sense that, at this point, the movies are going to have to start recycling some locations and scenarios. MI6 is reporting that, to that end, the Bond franchise will be revisiting the city of Istanbul, Turkey to film scenes for the upcoming movie’s big opening sequence. Mr. Bond has already visited Istanbul in From Russia With Love and The World is Not Enough, so this will be his third go-around with the city. Locations used are said to include the city’s historic Sultanahmet Square as well as the waterside and shores of the Bosporus. Add this opening in Turkey with a train sequence to be filmed in India, and the logistics of this Bond film are starting to take shape, just in time for filming to begin in November. Another big piece of that Bond puzzle, in addition to where he will be traveling, is always who the sultry young starlets playing opposite 007 will be. Another report, this one from Twitch, sheds some light on that subject as well. They say they have word that French actress Bérénice Marlohe will be the latest lady to join the ranks of the Bond Girl army. Marlohe has mostly done television to this point, so I’ve never seen anything she’s been in; but her name gives us enough information […]

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Daniel Craig and the James Bond 23 crew are hoping to film a big train stunt in India come this February, but they’ve hit a stumbling block in the form of some red tape being put in front of them by Indian Railways. You see, how the scene was originally written in the script, Bond would have been jumping a motorcycle onto the top of a moving train, scattering a group of people who were riding illegally on the train’s roof, and then jumping to another car that was equally packed with freeloaders. Indian Railways has a problem with this, because they don’t want rooftop train riding encouraged, and they don’t want India being portrayed as having a problem with rooftop train travel. When talking to Agence France-Presse, Indian Railways Minister Dinesh Trivedi was pretty straightforward about the matter, “Rooftop travel is illegal in India and it cannot be encouraged.” He also argued, “There are many trains in India and not all trains have people traveling on the rooftops.” Of course, taking the people off of the roof isn’t a big deal, and director Sam Mendes and crew have already agreed to film the scene with a clear roof instead; but might this not be the end of the problems the film will face trying to shoot in India? Shooting is scheduled to take place starting in February and lasting through March in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and Goa, and they’ve already let officials change one of their scenes. Now that they’ve […]

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It’s been rumored for a while now that Javier Bardem would be playing the villain in the next installment of the James Bond franchise, but that production has been through so much turmoil that it was never a given. Recently, things seem to finally be more official. Director Sam Mendes is on board, things are moving forward, and the film has a solid release date of November 9, 2012. And perhaps because things are finally chugging along for real on the film, Mendes has decided to spill a little bit of info on the casting process while chatting up The Telegraph. Perhaps the biggest news is that he confirmed that Bardem will indeed be in the film, and that he will most certainly be playing the bad guy. Bardem, of course, won an Oscar for his portrayal of iconic screen villain Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, so seeing him put on the villain’s cap in a franchise as big as Bond, and opposite a Bond as dynamic as Daniel Craig, should be a real treat. The other casting announcement that Mendes let loose is that Rhys Ifans will also be joining the cast. He didn’t disclose what sort of role Ifans would be playing, but I don’t think that matters so much, as everything I’ve seen him do he has done exceptionally well. The Telegraph dropped a bit of trivia by pointing out the Ifans and Craig had already appeared together in the 2004 film Enduring Love, […]

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If Bond movies are known for anything, it’s probably their sexy ladies and over the top action. But if they’re known for anything else, it’s got to be globe-hopping adventure. It seems appropriate, then, that reports are coming in about location scouting for Sam Mendes’ upcoming 23rd film in the franchise. According to sources in Mumbai, at least part of Bond’s newest adventure is going to take place in India.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column about movie news. It will not try to sew your face to someone else’s butt. It will, however, make your hind quarters sore. So give yourself over to it — it will be gentle, at first. Fox’s upcoming Planet of the Apes prequel, previously titled Rise of the Apes, has been retitled to give it that ole’ familiar ring. It will now be called Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which should hold until they can figure out a less concise way to title it. Either way, it’s got James Franco, so I’m seeing it.

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Culture Warrior

Modern romance and the movies are arguably dependant on one another, as movies have a long history of affirming the idea(l) of the perfect relationship. Hollywood movies in particular have developed a mastery at the formula of bringing imperfect individuals together into perfect couplehood and framing marriage as the closure of all previous conflicts and difficulties. Many romance movies, thus, teach us what romance and couplehood are or, perhaps more dauntingly, what it should be. That romantic films are a staple in the box offices of commercial movie theaters to reparatory screenings or are marathon’d on television every Valentine’s Day is evidence of our ritual association of considering real-life romances in fictional terms. It is rare that movies, especially Hollywood, seem to do the opposite: reflect the distinction between ideal romance and the ostensible “reality” of relationships in all their complexity, grittiness, slow development, necessary problems, and (most of all) subtlety. Perhaps the most evident turns cinema makes in this direction is in the break-up movie, that rare narrative that situates itself as a disruption from the normal mode of portraying couplehood through representing its antithesis, the dissolution of a couple. The most recent example is Blue Valentine, the great Cassavetes-style, character-driven psychodrama about a couple who continue making the wrong turns and can’t make it work despite, or because, of themselves. Breakup movies from the light – (500) Days of Summer – to the heavy – Blue Valentine – often self-consciously (either by testament from the filmmaker like in […]

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MGM’s financial woes did a number on a handful of films that audiences were truly looking forward to, and with The Hobbit coming together so nicely (and yet, mostly without MGM), it seems as if the time is right for the next Bond installment to start heading down the pre-production path again. The Hollywood Reporter has reported in the barest sense possible that Daniel Craig will return as James Bond for the 23rd film, directed by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes, and written by Bond veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade alongside Academy Award nominee John Logan. The movie will shoot later this year, and attempt to toast martini glasses on November 9, 2012 for a release in everyone’s neck of the woods. All I can say is, it’s about time. Sam Mendes is an amazing talent, and his version of the spy is sure to be something intimate and heartbreaking. Of course, we’ll be planning a list of our favorite twenty-thirdquels in anticipation.

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This past weekend saw the cinematic glory of Resident Evil: Afterlife pushing past security to get into your local theater even though it was moving slower than an instant replay in a curling match. The absolute atrocity of this film raises a lot of questions, but one of the first and foremost is whether or not directors should work with their spouses in a leading role. Paul W.S. Anderson, who thinks Milla Jovovich is as big an action star as Sigourney Weaver, is also married to Milla Jovovich, and while we can’t prove causation for the low marks in her performance here – we can certainly point to correlation. We can also point to 9 more husband and wife teams in order to find out if working with your legally bound significant other is really such a great idea.

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Road to Perdition (2002) This is the life we chose, the life we lead. And there is only one guarantee: none of us will see heaven. Synopsis In the world of Prohibition and mob-ruled financing, there are none more threatening than the enforcers who come to collect. Michael Sullivan is one such man. He is a hit man for Irish mob boss, John Rooney, a man he serves loyally almost as a son. Sullivan’s family stay separate from his nights of enforcement, but, when his oldest son, Michael Jr., witnesses a murder by Rooney’s biological son, Connor, the tables turn on Michael Sr. He takes his son away, and the bond they form on the road becomes just as strong as the revenge building up within the wronged hit man. Why We Love It Director Sam Mendes broke onto the scene of feature film making in 1999 with American Beauty. He had directed a few TV movies before that, but his stamp was made as soon as American Beauty got its release. It won Mendes an Academy Award for Best Director, and amazing feat for any director on his first theatrical film. Three years later, he would return with a film that many consider an underrated gem and even more consider Mendes’ best film to date.

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Another director has tossed his hat into the ring alongside Sam Mendes to direct Oz the Great and Powerful. Disney, choose wisely.

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What Sam Mendes might be doing when he should be directing Preacher.

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James Bond

EON Productions partners Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, the producers of the James Bond franchise, announced today in a press release that they have suspended development on the upcoming Bond 23. Sad times, indeed.

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