With the latest Bond movie making a big splash, there is, of course, a great deal about the franchise in the press now. The vast majority of it consists of reviews of the latest film; retrospectives about such things as favorite Bond cars, Bond girls and the rest; human interest pieces about people involved in the production, and the extremes of fan enthusiasm; and the inevitable additions to the already vast body of Bond-bashing criticism; but none of which has had anything really original to say so far this time around (as one might expect given the age of the series, and the lengthy if incomplete sanitization of the films in response to such complaints). However, I spotted a few pieces that are a little bit more distinctive and substantial:
* In the Los Angeles Times, Steven Zeitchik discusses the issue of Bond's relevance after a half century, and how the makers of Skyfall dealt with it. The piece touches on both what has gone from the series, what remains within it - and what is unprecedented for it.
* Over at the Dallas Observer, Casey Burchby considers the same issue of Bond's relevance (or lack thereof) somewhat more critically - and floats the idea that "Don Draper is the real James Bond of the 21st century." (Loyal readers, remember you saw that one here first - more than two years ago in this blog's first Bond-themed piece.)
* In the Guardian David Cox considers what the far less humorous recent Bond films say about our cultural moment. In fairness, the turn to seriousness really goes back to the '80s, evident in the Dalton films (especially Licence to Kill), and something of it remained through the lighter Brosnan films (the brooding of Goldeneye, the element of bitterness in Die Another Day) before resurging full force in the Daniel Craig era - and one has to look that much further back for any explanation. (Indeed, Michael Sragow, writing in the wake of A View to a Kill, was already offering his thoughts on the difference between the 007 who hit the screen in "an age of affluence and exploding possibilities," and how he compares with the newer protagonists of a "jaded . . . embattled" era.)
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