Getting More Immersed with Indiewire


  The Penske Media purchase of Indiewire has resulted in an expansion of my role as crafts and awards season contributor.  Beginning this week, I begin Emmy coverage of below-the-line contenders along with my usual Oscar season crafts reporting, working closely

Immersed in Blu-ray: Hitchcock and Bogart


The WB Archive Collection gets Hitch and Bogie on Blu-ray and they've never looked better for home viewing. In Kent Jones' indispensable doc, Hitchcock/Truffaut, he reminds us that Truffaut was on a mission to correct misconceptions about Hitch as a lightweight

Immersed in Books: Farber on Film


For the first time, the complete writings of film critic Manny Farber is available from Library of America, edited by Robert Polito (Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson). Manny Farber (1917-2008) was the first modernist film critic to write like a modernist.

James Bond

James Bond Unmasked Now Available at Amazon

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Books, James Bond, Movies | Leave a comment

My first book, James Bond Unmasked (Spies), which chronicles the 50-year evolution of 007 from Connery to Craig, featuring my interviews with all six actors, is now available on Amazon. Copies are available for order at www.jamesbondunmasked.com. Read more

Skyfall Production Designer Gassner Videoblogs

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, James Bond, Movies, Production Design, Tech, VFX | Leave a comment

Oscar-winning production designer Dennis Gassner gives us a brief description of design to completion in the latest Skyfall videoblog from 007.com. But he’s careful about not offering any clues about the characteristic look. However, in Quantum of Solace, he took inspiration from Ken Adam and figured out a pattern language based on Daniel Craig’s blue eyes and “angular, chiseled, textured face.” From the look of the locations and sets, it appears that he’s expanded into a striking mash-up of ultra-modern and retro. For instance, M’s office is more open and classical in appearance.

Bond Analyzed at Instanbul Press Conference

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Events, James Bond, Movies, Tech, VFX | Leave a comment

The site of the Istanbul Skyfall press conference Sunday conjured up images of From Russia with Love. Mendes reaffirmed that he wishes to convey both the classicism and modernity of the iconic city in keeping with the tone of the 23rd Bond film. This marks the third time for Turkey in Bond (the second was The World Is Not Enough).

“You always go back to the Fleming because the character Fleming created over a number of novels was incredibly complex,” Mendes explained. “Some people sometimes forget in the cliche of Bond, which is the international playboy, and someone who’s always untroubled, and almost never breaks a sweat, that actually what [Fleming] created was a very conflicted character.”

Mendes added that Bond suffers from a “combination of lassitude, boredom, depression, difficulty with what he’s chosen to do for a living, which is to kill. That makes him a much more interesting character, and some of those things are explored in this movie, because Daniel as an actor is capable of exploring them.”

At the same time, Mendes promised a more playful, humorous Bond while Craig reiterated a preference for dark, gallows humor. His Bond certainly is not in a comfort zone and is pushed to extremes both physically and emotionally, as the personal histories of Bond and M are explored for the first time.

Bond 24 Set for 2014; Skyfall Teased at CinemaCon

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Events, James Bond, Movies, Tech, Trailers, VFX | Leave a comment

The two-year Bond cycle is back, as Sony announced at CinemaCon that Bond 24 would be released holiday 2014. And it’s fully expected that Craig will exercise his option to make his fourth appearance as 007. Judging from the posts about the Skyfall teaser trailer screened at CinemaCon, here’s what I’ve gleaned from Comingsoon,The Playlist, and Empire’s 50th Bond issue for June:

The trailer is mainly comprised of Bond being interrogated in a word association game over establishing shots of London, then a target at a shooting range, and then the interrogation room itself: Country/England…Gun/Shot…Agent/Provocateur…Murder/Employment. It turns out that Bond is being observed by M and Ralph Fiennes’ Mallory (a high-ranking MI6 official), among others, through two-way mirrors. When the mysterious interrogator says, “Skyfall” and repeats it a second time, Bond says, “Done,” and walks out. He must’ve hit a personal nerve.

The rest of the trailer involves a quick-cutting montage of helicopters, fireballs resulting in a weird silhouette, glimpses of the blue neon-lit Shanghai nightlife, Bond standing over a row of coffins draped by the English flag, and a subway car crashing through the Tube. It ends with Bond saying, “Someone is coming to kill us. We’re going to kill them first.”

As for context, director Sam Mendes reveals in Empire that Skyfall pushes Bond out of his usual comfort zone and that there are three essentials to a Bond movie: “There needs to be a female contingent that interacts with Bond in a way that verges on the racy side; He doesn’t live entirely in the real world, in the sense that you can’t put him on the street. He’s not Bourne….He has to have his own space around him; and [he] also can’t work in tandem with another man of a similar age. You can’t have a buddy. There’s this constant tension where he only has relationships with his senior figures in MI6 — and women.”

Moreover, “You’ve got to give him an arc, not just a mission.” And Skyfall takes Bond “to another level where Daniel isn’t just playing things he’s done before, where we felt we were pushing — I have to say this in a way that’s not giving too much away — the personal history of the character.”

Mendes also confirms that Skyfall will be more playful, comparing it to Goldfinger, From Russia with Love, and Live and Let Die.

Meanwhile, producer Michael Wilson says Skyfall “is about Bond defending MI6, the country, and the realm” from Javier Bardem’s terrorist, Silva, who’s more nuanced and nimble than the usual baddie.

I’ll have a lot more to report after seeing the trailer the week of May 25th (screening with Men in Black 3).

Skyfall Videoblogs Second Unit in Shanghai

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Cinematography, Clips, James Bond, Movies, Tech, VFX, Videogames | Leave a comment

The latest Skyfall videoblog from 007.com focuses on the exotic second unit work in Shanghai with comments from second unit director Alexander Witt, first assistant director Michael Lerman,and production manager Angus More Gordon. Of particular interest are the blue neon-lit highways and skyscrapers, which provide an ultra-modern vibe to the action-centric drama helmed by Sam Mendes and digitally shot with Arri Alexa by Roger Deakins.

Meanwhile, Activision announced the autumn release of the 007 Legends video game on PS3 and Xbox 360, which ties together six classic plot lines (including Skyfall) in honor of the 50th anniversary. Touts new maps, weapons, and characters and a multi-player experience.

New Skyfall Photo Gallery

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Clips, James Bond, Movies, Tech | Leave a comment

Coinciding with recent Skyfall set visits at London’s legendary Pinewood, we have a slew of new images from the 23rd James Bond film. Thanks to Comingsoon, Hitflix, Just Jared, and Dark Horizons. Also, 007.com offered a video of onset interviews with Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, and Bérénice Marlohe.

“He’s in a good place — he’s being Bond and doing his thing but we throw into the mix this sort of super villain in Javier Bardem,” Craig explained. “And so the world turns upside down and he’s got to address his relationships…. He comes up against it. It’s not just about him; it’s about all the other people we’re introducing in the film as well.”

Craig additionally told MTV News that Bond’s “much nicer and softer now” during his adventure in the field with M. His relationship with Bardem’s Silva also “gives the film a richer content.”

“This is very exciting for a Spanish actor,” added Bardem in the video interview. “Everything is very powerful so beyond being a James Bond movie, it’s a great movie to belong to. And also it’s a movie that’s going to be celebrating the 50th anniversary, so it’s a great honor.”

“It’s completely unique for movies to last so long,” suggested Marlohe, who plays Severine.”So now that I get to know the family around this movie and how wonderful human beings they are, I feel completely moved that this is really a specific position I have now, here, belonging to this 50th anniversary.”

BBC Interviews Craig About Skyfall

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Clips, James Bond, Movies, Tech, VFX | Leave a comment

The BBC’s Lizo Mzimba visited the set of Skyfall at Pinewood and here’s the full online interview with Daniel Craig interspersed with clips of Bond running through central London. He said Casino Royale flew by and he wasn’t sure what he was doing, while Quantum of Solace was “the tricky second album. His third outing has higher expectations, of course, because it coincides with the 50th anniversary. Craig wants this one to be “bigger and better” and he wants to leave his mark. He’s not quite sure yet what his contribution is to making Bond relevant, but Craig continues to reference Ian Fleming and is post-war ethos, “finding some hero out of the mess that was the Second World War.” Craig also admits that there’s “a humor and campness to Bond movies that has made them very entertaining and a reason to watch them, and they become an event in people’s sort of film calendars.”

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports that teaser trailer is due May 25th with Men in Black III.

Meet the Skyfall Bond Girls

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Books, Clips, James Bond, Movies, Tech | Leave a comment

With photographers infiltrating top secret locales in London, Scotland, Surrey, and Turkey, 007.com has released videoblogs about the two Bond girls of Skyfall: Bérénice Marlohe, who plays mysterious and seductive baddie Sévérine, and Naomie Harris, who portrays rough-and-tumble MI6 field agent Eve. Amid press conference footage, photo sessions, and a shot descending an escalator, Marlohe reveals that she’s drawn to the duality that defines the Bond girl, while Harris explains during weapons training footage that her character is no nominal colleague. She appears to be a far cry from Moneypenny or perhaps will evolve into a new incarnation.

Skyfall Returns to Bond’s Roots

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Books, James Bond, Movies, Tech, VFX | Leave a comment

Along with taking us deeper into M’s back story, Skyfall will apparently take us back to Bond’s Scottish roots for the first time as their stories converge, according to a Surrey-based nature photographer/blogger. There are spoiler details on the site. Another photographer, Simon Bridger of Flynet Pictures.com, has snapped other images of the exterior buildings constructed in Surrey (see above), which match the Glencoe footage shot earlier. Thanks to MI6 for providing further info. An interest in Bond genealogy is definitely required if you wish to delve further into this.

Bardem Emerges as Blond Bond Baddie

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Books, James Bond, Movies, Production Design, Tech, VFX | Leave a comment

The Daily Mail caught the first glimpse of Javier Bardem as the latest Bond baddie, Silva, on the set of Skyfall in London’s Whitehall district, dressed inconspicuously as a blond police officer (recalling Red Grant and Max Zorin). In a continuation of a sequence shot last month, Daniel Craig’s James Bond runs through the vicinity with an ear piece after an underground explosion. Is Silva a master of disguise? The IMAX’d 23rd Bond film opens Nov. 9 in North America after an Oct. 26 bow in the UK.