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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Trailer Talk: "Casino Royale"

I wish I knew why I get so excited when a new James Bond film is about to hit theaters. For a long time, I've suspected it has something to do with the gadgets (I was a HUGE "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" fan when I was very young, and I guess I must have sensed the presence of that magical car's creator, Ian Flemming, in the more mature Bond films)

I just took my first look at a long trailer for the new Bond film, "Casino Royale", with the new Bond, Daniel Craig. One of the things that fascinated me was a Halle Berry -esque shot of a swimsuit-clad person walking out of a perfect-blue resort-type ocean... but that person wasn't the typical "Bond Girl"... it was a muscular, shirtless James Bond himself. Certainly the ad campaign would be smart to target a wider demographic (aiming for the group of female twentysomethings to complement the series' predominantly male audience), but I wonder now, does the film itself aim for this shift? What struck me more was that the trailer didn't really feature the typical "Bond Girl" in the usual swimsuit or negligee or what have you. There's something shifting in the Bond world, and it's not just the new casting. The director, Martin Campbell, directed one of the better Bond films from the Brosnan era, "Goldeneye", so I remain hopeful.

-AzS

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Musing Pictures: The Departed

I was amazed at one moment in this film. It's a moment I can not write about without "spoiling" something, so I'll tiptoe around it (and those of you who don't trust that I can keep much of a secret, stop reading now).

I was amazed at how startling a gunshot can be in a movie.

In many movies, gunshots are quite common. There's even a moment in one of those "Hot Shots" films (the parodies of "Rambo") where it's just a whole lot of shooting, and on the screen, a tally of the hero's kills, rising like the score on a pinball game.

In 1903, Edwin S. Porter was probably one of the first people to startle an audience with a gunshot, when he has a character point a pistol at the camera (and, as such, at the viewer), and fire a blank. The Movies were only about six years old at the time, so it's no wonder people were scared.

We've gotten rather dull about gunshots since then. They're just not surprising or startling much, anymore.

Scorsese managed to give gunshots a force that is not one of power, but one of wild lack of control. There is no way to stop a bullet without being stopped cold by that bullet, and when that gunshot rings out, it's not meant to be just another sound effect. It's piercing, loud, and committed.

I'd be curious to look and listen more closely to the gunshots in "The Departed", and to compare them to some other gunshots innovations of the past century -- especially gunshots in films such as "Schindler's List" or (the totally different) Indiana Jones films. Was it the narrative that made the gunshots in "The Departed" seem so much more deadly than in other films? Or was there some sort of trick of the eye, or trick of the ear, or editing finery that caused the effect? Anyone have any ideas?

-AzS