Article Title:Review: Skyfall
Author or Credit:Jay Bennie
Published on:28th November 2012 - 12:57 am
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Story ID:12619
Text:007 questions and answers about Skyfall, the newest of the Bond mega-movies, and its predecessors. Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall 001. Does Daniel Craig, aka James Bond, get his gear off and is he hot? Yes he does and yes he is. There's not so much seducing and bedding in Skyfall, unlike earlier Bonds, but when he strips down it's a treat. In his strung out booze and drug-addled retreat from life his raw bad-boy appeal is quite remarkable. But then that has been the hallmark of Craig's Bond... he's a barely controlled - or controllable - thug. He scrubs up well but there's always a hint of menace, even when he's moved to deep and heartfelt emotion. Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva in Skyfall 002. Is Javier Bardem, aka Raoul Silva, a great villain? Absolutely. Past Bond villains have tended to be two-dimensional foils for the hero, dressed up with memorable quirks, some classic lines, impressive architecture and the occasional cat. Skyfall's writers have imbued Silva with depth, complexity and an eerily sad back-story. He's a nasty prick but he's also damaged goods and as his story emerges its hard not to feel almost sorry for him, or for the man he used to be - and might have been. Bardem's Silva is a fitting opponent for Bond. Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger 003. Is villain Raoul Silva gay? Silva fairly drips with sensuality, and although he uses a sexual come-on to Bond as a psychological weapon it feels real, as though he is letting something inside glimmer through. He has a trapped female sex slave but his motives towards her are at least as much about power as about passion. The jury's out but my bet is that the writers, director and Bardem knew the cinematic power of crossing this sexual barrier with Bond as the target. Silva's at least bi. Bruce Glover and Putter Smith as Mr Wint and Mr Kidd in Diamonds are Forever 004. Is the scene where Silva fingers Bond sexy? No. It's creepy, as it was surely intended to be. With Bond's hands literally tied the exploring fingers and seductive voice of the villain are an invasion, predatory and unsettling. In his isolation from society Silva has retained the view that a homosexual advance is a threat. Bond is a man of the world, today's world, and it doesn't seem to disturb him a bit. 005. Is James Bond bi? Despite his many incarnations over 50 years and various styles (Connery, Moore, et al) for various decades Bond has always remained true to Ian Fleming's original strongly heterosexual character. In Skyfall nothing changes. Sure Bond, when he is being sexually confronted by Silva, implies that he might have had a homosexual experience in his past but when viewed against the broader flow of his character this is clearly just a small psychological ploy, an attempt to frustrate Silva's intention to sexually or sensually torment Bond. When it doesn't seem to be working Silva quickly moves on to another form of sadistic toying with his captive(s). No, Bond is straight. Gay-aware, but straight. Some men are you know! Madonna as the fencing instructor in Die Another Day 006. Are the chases up to scratch? Yes, they are excellent. Especially the pre-credits sequence which is lengthy, high-energy and hugely inventive. Given the packed Turkish crowds through which Bond pursues his quarry the body count is miraculously low, though this is to some extent compensated for by the damaged citrus count. The chase through London's underground tunnels is exceptionally well-done, combining elements of disaster movies and echoing the chase through the sewers of Vienna from the classic 1940's movie The Third Man. (What a shame Orson Welles never got to play a Bond villain!) Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb in From Russia With Love 007. Have there been other gay characters in the Bond series? A few, especially if you delve into the books as well as the movies. Mostly they are baddies but in most movies and especially Bond movies the villains are the most interesting characters. In the book of the classic Goldfinger the character Pussy Galore is the leader of a pack of criminal lesbians. In a 1950s kind of way Bond's heterosexual credentials are proven when he eventually seduces her. What a man! In the movie Pussy is merely immune to Bond's sexual magnetism and the character retains only the slightest hints of the book's lesbian theme. In Diamonds are Forever, henchmen Mr Wint and Mr Kid are hand-holding doe-eyed posessive gays with a sadistic line in murders. They are played, with archness, dryness and black humour. There have also been occasional suggestions that Bambi and Thumper, the two women gymnasts who tangle with Bond, had at one point in the movie's development a lesbian streak but that hasn't really made it to the finished cut. In Die Another Day Madonna plays a clearly lesbian fencing instructor who has eyes for another woman. Her "I don't like cockfights" line is a sly classic. In From Russia With Love the villainous Rosa Klebb is clearly lesbian. Cold, brutal and grimly unattractive her one moment of sly tenderness, directed at an attractive young woman spy she is sending out to tangle with Bond, is a shudderingly wonderful little moment. Overall, Skyfall is a magnificently filmed well-pitched action movie with passion, emotion and human impulses that are believable, compelling and with which we can identify. The plot twists and turns so much we're never quite sure where it's all heading. Excellent new, or revised, characters are introduced setting up the series for at least the next few Bonds. It fizzes with topicality yet it pays homage to its roots and carries with it the rich inheritance of the best of Bonds past. - Jay Bennie   Jay Bennie - 28th November 2012    
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