Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I Saw Casino Royale

On Sunday, we finished shooting much earlier than I had expected. By 11:30AM, I was on my way home. Nando was due to come over and watch "Lost" with me, that evening, but I had a sudden brainstorm. I could stop at a cinema and see "Casino Royale," on the way home. I altered my course just enough to pass near the Showcase Cinema, Reading, which is actually in Winnersh. Showcase is owned and operated by National Amusements, an American company. It is one of my two favorite, local, cinemas. I didn't know what time the showings were, but I figured that had to be a matinee at some time.
Upon arrival, I took advantage of the free parking offered by Showcase. An ex-friend of mine used to prefer the Vue Cinema (formerly known as Warner Village Cinemas), at the Oracle, Reading. I could never understand that, because the Oracle is twice as far away from where we live, there is no free parking, and they didn't have butter for the popcorn. Those of you in America will probably find it hard to believe that a cinema could sell popcorn without offering butter, but that is the way it is here, in Britain. When I was married to the Black Queen, we went to great lengths to find those few cinemas which offered butter. She liked butter on her popcorn, as well, which goes to show that we did have something in common, contrary to her claims. The only cinemas we found with butter were the Showcase and CGI Cinemas. I went to the box office and looked at the board displaying showtimes. The first show was 2PM. Looking at my mobile, the time was 12:30. I had an hour and a half to kill.
One of the things I like about the Showcase is that it has a video game room. One of the games available is Time Crisis III. When I am early, I play a couple of games of Time Crisis III, to pass the time. I couldn't afford to do it for and hour and a half, so I sat in my car and listened to Steve Allen's Sunday afternoon show, on LBC 97.3, London (Sky Channel 0177, or via the net, at: ). Steve, who's openly gay, spends the bulk of his show "bitching" about celebrities. I find him very amusing, especially when he has his friend, John Warrington, in the studio with him. Although Steve can be heard weekday mornings, between 5AM and 7AM, I prefer his Sunday show, which starts at noon, because I am rarely up at 5AM.
After an hour with Steve, I went in to buy my ticket. I was still dressed in my suit and tie, which I had worn for the shoot, plus my black trench coat. I am not usually dressed so formally, when I go to the cinema. I hope people didn't think I had dressed up as James Bond, or something. That would be too geeky. The price had gone up again, since the last time I went to see a film. The ticket cost me £6.25. Then I headed to the Time Crisis III machine, to pass the final twenty-odd minutes till show time. I did so well, that it was past 2PM when I finished my second game. No need to worry, cinemas, here, have advertising before the feature. The Showcase usually runs about ten minutes of ads, then ten minutes of coming attractions, before the feature actually starts. I still had time to buy popcorn before the coming attractions started. I like seeing the coming attractions. I picked the shortest queue and waited impatiently, reading a book. I had a bottle of water in my coat pocket, from the shoot, so I would save money on drink and only buy popcorn. I love having moviepopcornn with hot butter, while watching a film. Whene it was my turn, I asked the bloke behind the counter for a large salted popcorn, with butter. You have to specify "salted," or else you might getcaramell corn, known as "sweet," here. The concessions bloke informed me that they didn't offer butter for popcorn. What??? Bastards! It seems that the Showcase ditched the butter, since the last time I had been there. If I had known that, I would have gone to the UCI, in Bracknell. I told him to forget the popcorn. Without the butter, it's hardly worth the exorbitant prices.
I was pissed off about the butter, as it has been so long since I have had hot, movie popcorn. True, the Exotic Flower had recently brought me some left-over popcorn, from the cinema, but it wasn't hot and fresh. Since I was pissed off, I decided to have a piss in the men's room. Then, I entered the cinema auditorium being used for the 2PM "Casino Royale." I always sit in the front row. I like being able to stretch my legs and not have anyone's head in front of me. The advertisements were still running and I saw some people wandering, slowly, up the aisle, looking for empty seats. It was crowded, but I wasn't concerned, as few people seem to like the front row. I walk purposefully to the front and had my second shock of the day. The front row was almost completely full. There was an empty seat between two groups of people. I don't like sitting next to strangers, but I had little choice, so I went for it. I managed to get myself settled, just before the coming attractions started.
I bet you were expecting me to review the film. Okay. It was alright. I didn't think it was as good as so many seem to be saying, but it was better than the last Pierce Brosnan one, "Die Another Day." It takes Bond in a new direction, being much darker and grittier than any previous Bond films. When Bond gets into a fight, in this film, he has visible scars, afterwards. "Casino Royale" restarts the Bond story, with James newly promoted to 00 status. One continuity problem with this is that Dame Judi Dench returns as M, again, which seems strange, given that she was the boss of the previous incarnation of Bond. The gadgetry has been downplayed quite a lot. In fact, there's hardly any. There's no Q and no Miss Moneypenny, although there is a humorous reference, when Bond meets his main Bond girl for this outing, Vesper Lynd, who says, "I'm the money." Bond responds with, "and worth every penny..." Gone are the silhouettes of nude women, that featured in the majority of Bond title sequences. There are some good action sequences, especially the foot chase in Madagascar, early in the film. At 2 hours and 24 minutes, it's long for a Bond film and, at times, feels it. I think it drags a bit near the end, with some romantic scenes that are probably more involved than they needed to be. Also, a touch too much card playing. I would have liked a bit more action.
It's a well made film, overall. A friend of mine, Todd Seavy, in New York, considers it the best Bond film in thirty years. I don't rate it that highly. I was left with an odd feeling. Daniel Craig's acting is great and I have no problem with him playing Bond, but the differences in the film left me feeling as if what I had seen wasn't really a Bond film, at least not as we have come to expect them. It felt a little like a Jason Bourne film. The big question is, where will they go from here? Having restarted the Bond character, will they remake all the Ian Fleming Bond novels, or go off on all new stories? Will there ever be a Q and a Miss Moneypenny? There is an opportunity to show the beginning of Bond and Moneypenny's relationship, which we never had in the older films. Given how well it seems to be doing at the box office, one thing is for sure, there will probably be another.


Post a Comment

<< Home