Welcome everyone to a very special episode of Podcasting Them Softly’s For Your Ears Only series. Today we are going to discuss Martin Campbell’s return to the Bond franchise with CASINO ROYALE. Released in 2006 this was Daniel Craig’s debut as James Bond, based on Ian Flemings’s first Bond novel of the same name. Featuring an amazing cast coupled with Chris Cornell’s show-stopping title song, CASINO ROYALE had a worldwide box office total of 600 million and went on to win a bounty of BAFTA awards and Daniel Craig became the first actor to be nominated for a BAFTA for portraying James Bond.
What makes this episode so very special, is that we are joined with returning guest and one of our favorite filmmakers Wayne Kramer and actress Ivana Milicevic who co-starred in both CASINO ROYALE as Valenka – Mads Mikkelson’s girlfriend, and Wayne’s neo-noir masterpiece, RUNNING SCARED.
Join Frank, Mac and the esteemed Tom Zielinski as they discuss Pierce Brosnan’s final outing as 007 in Lee Tamahori’s DIE ANOTHER DAY. The film also features Halle Berry, Judi Dench, Toby Stephens, Will Yun Lee, Michael Madsen, John Cleese, and Rosamund Pike. The film grossed a little over 400 million at the global box office, which at the time was considered a box office success, yet the producers decided to take the franchise in another direction, released Brosnan, and then cast Daniel Craig to take the series in a new direction. For our next episode in the For Your Ears Only series, Frank and Tom will be joined with filmmaker Wayne Kramer and actress Ivana Milicevic to discuss CASINO ROYALE.
We welcome author and James Bond connoisseur Deborah Lipp to join in our discussion of the 19th 007 picture in the EON series THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, as well as the latest edition of her highly regarded book, “The Ultimate James Bond Fan Book.” Please explore the works of Deborah at her bookshop.
Join Frank, Tom, and Mac with special guest Perrin Spychala as they discuss Pierce Brosnan’s second outing as 007 in Roger Spottiswoode’s TOMORROW NEVER DIES. Released in 1997, the film also features a terrific ensemble composed of Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh, Teri Hatcher, Ricky Jay, Gotz Otto, Vincent Schiavelli, and Joe Don Baker.
Tom and Frank are back with special guest Mac McSharry to discuss Martin Campbell’s GoldenEye, which was Pierce Brosnan’s first outing as 007. Also discussed is the pop culture effect the film had on home video as well as video games along with being a world wide box office smash and how that jump started the franchise. Join us next time as we discuss Brosnan’s follow-up, Tomorrow Never Dies!
Frank Mengarelli and Podcasting Them Softly’s James Bond resident, Tom Zielinski are joined with returning guests film journalist Paul Sparrow-Clarke and novelist and film historian Raymond Benson to discuss John Glen and Timothy Dalton’s final outing in the franchise, Licence to Kill. Tom and Frank will return with their discussion of GOLDENEYE.
Frank and Tom are back to discuss Roger Moore’s final outing as James Bond in John Glen’s A VIEW TO A KILL which features one of the best Bond themes by Duran Duran, and an excellent supporting cast of Christopher Walken, Grace Jones, Tanya Robers, Allison Doody, and Patrick Macnee.
Frank and Tom are joined with special guest Dave Chantry, to discuss the renegade James Bond film, NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN featuring Sean Connery’s return as James Bond, 007. This is a very lively discussion about the often forgotten and criticized Bond film, that features a stellar cast, amazing production, and behind the scenes talent that is some of the finest of the series.
Join Frank and Tom with special guest Mac McSharry as they discuss John Glen’s OCTOPUSSY in all its glory. They discuss Moore’s turn, Maud Adams’ return to the series, and Louis Jordan as well as the behind the scenes production as well as the original source material written by Fleming. Join us next time as they cover Sean Connery’s return as James Bond in NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN.
So what did Martin Campbell’s Casino Royale do for the Bond franchise? Well, I’m not a huge aficionado or scholar of these films like some so I tend to look at each one on its own as an action adventure piece rather than observe how it fits into the jigsaw legacy of this mammoth series, but there’s no denying that this one kind of broke several moulds before it. After the garish 90’s heyday of Pierce Brosnan (I *love* all four of those films to bits) I feel like they just wanted to bring Bond down to earth a bit, distill the aesthetic into something that cleanses too many gadgets and what have you, cast someone darker and more dangerous and blast out a new trajectory for the character. Good plan.
Casino Royale is not only a splendidly exciting film on its own but the best, most impactful and unique 007 film since 1989’s ruthless and underrated License To Kill. Daniel Craig’s James Bond is an angry warrior who fucks up just like the rest of us and is fallible, not some invincible deity in a tux that can’t get hurt, deceived, betrayed or killed without tangible consequences. An early mission sees him tasked by Judi Dench’s then immortal M to infiltrate a high stakes poker game in some swanky French locale and gain information on dangerous arms dealer and terrorist Le Chiffre, played by vicious, predatory Mads Mikkelsen in one of my favourite Bond baddie portrayals. As if he isn’t in enough over his head, he meets the beautiful but equally dangerous Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), the most unique Bond girl since… who knows when. I love that she’s a self aware human being who has her reasons for falling into bed with him instead of just being a pair of tits with a voice as seen in countless entries before. Green has sex appeal for days but what makes her special is that way her eyes smoulder with a fierce independence and unpredictability, making her one of the most fascinating characters the whole franchise has to offer. Also supporting them is the great Giancarlo Giannini as a mentor of sorts for Bond, Jeffrey Wright as CIA operative Felix, Catarina Murino, Isaach De Bankolé, Jesper Christensen, Sebastian Foucan, Tobias Menzies, Richard Sammel, Tyrone the silly fat bastard from Snatch, Russian character actress Ivana Milicevic and Virgin Atlantic CEO Richard Branson of all people, if you look real close.
In terms of scope and staging, this is a kind of unique 007 film because it shirks the standards and ducks expectations. It opens with a spectacular chase like any other in the franchise, which is a monumental sequence in terms of stunt work. But much of the film is spent in the ornate casinos of France and a lot of the action is the casual intimidation and cerebral mind games that go alongside the poker match. There’s nothing quite like Craig and Mikkelsen sat opposite one another in tuxes, Mads bleeding out of his sinister looking dead eye and Daniel smirking at him like he wants to rip his head off, while Green looks on and let’s her ulterior motives simmer on the back burner for later. Cinematographer Phil Meheux takes full advantage of these rich, lushly production designed interior shots as well as the gorgeous outdoor rim of the Mediterranean that we get to see quite a bit of. My only real complaint is a third act that feels like it barrels in from another film; that’s not to say it’s bad or doesn’t work, it’s just a tad unwieldy with the landing and threw me off in terms of tone or climax but I suppose that could have been the intention. I’ll just say that this thing ends in the last possible way you’d expect from a 007, feeling fresh, raw and off the rails in a beautiful fashion that doesn’t tread the beaten path of so many before, but blazes out its own tragic, violent conclusion that will claim a piece of Bond’s soul but add much needed spirit to this series as a whole. Great film, and my second favourite Bond of all time after Skyfall.