Mockingjay: Part 1

Turns a political struggle into something thrillingly personal.

The Beat Beneath My Feet

A toe-tapping indie that is, quite simply lovely.


An extraordinary true tale made disappointingly ordinary.

The Battle of the Five Armies

"Why does it hurt so much?" Because the rest of it felt so real.


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Octopussy - main titleBlogalongaBond. One Bond film a month until Bond 23 turns up.

Bond walks out of an Indian casino. He tips one of the waiters. "That will keep you in curry for a few weeks," he says.

Octopussy is a weird Bond film. In between its casual racism, hollowed-out crocodile boats and islands full of scantily-clad women, there’s an almost-discernible plot. It moves from a fake Faberge egg in a rather neat auction scene (taken from Fleming’s short story) to nuclear warheads at enough speed to trick you into thinking it’s an intelligent story. The problem is that it does this via casual racism, hollowed-out crocodile boats and an island full of scantily-clad women. And, at one point, Roger Moore dressed up as a clown.

As always, the stunts are impressive, but when an ancient Roger Moore constantly sends himself up because even he realises it’s impossible to take him seriously, you’ve pretty much hit the bottom of the franchise. He used to look like a vampire feasting on young, unaware virgins. Now, Moore's Bond looks like a corpse, animated by Cubby Broccoli for his own sick amusement. In one scene, Bond is chased by an elephant. It's hard to tell them apart. Yes, Steven Berkoff’s psychotic General is wonderful and the return of Maud Adams is a welcome sight, but neither are enough to wipe out the memory of Roger Moore swinging through the trees and emitting a loud Tarzan yell.

Octopussy is big. But it’s certainly not clever.

Fortunately, just as Moonraker was rescued by the fact that it actually ends, Octopussy benefits from a typically impressive title sequence. Why single these credits out from the franchise? There are better openings to analyse (an honourable mention here to Daniel Kleinman’s recent work from Goldeneye to Casino Royale) but it’s either a Maurice Bender tribute now or a look at John Barry’s excellent score – and the music is one of the few good things I can talk about next month in A View to a Kill.

So, how can you follow Octopussy’s example and make your own iconic 007 introduction? Here’s a handy guide to designing your own Bond title sequence, written by the expert...

Read more...  

For Your Eyes Only, opening credits - title

BlogalongaBond. One Bond film a month until Bond 23 turns up.


I make a point of always trying to watch a film to the end, even Horrid Henry: The Movie. But with For Your Eyes Only, I did something rare: I stopped watching. Out of sheer boredom. For the rest of Christmas, Roger Moore’s smug face taunted me from his DVD over the top of my turkey with a reproachful wink. (Timothy Dalton would never do that.)

A casual jog after Moonraker’s sprint through fountains of spraying crap, For Your Eyes Only tried to scale things back and give 007 something more down-to-earth to deal with. It begins this grounded approach by killing off Blofeld with a remote-controlled helicopter while 007 makes jokes about his hair. 

A fresh start for the franchise? Not quite. Instead, the 12th entry in the series is the one thing worse than laughable: it’s completely forgettable. There's a lost encryption device, a woman wanting revenge, a young girl ice skating... Even with impressive stunts, a bobsleigh set piece and a neat Citroen car chase, it couldn’t be more boring if you recited the plot in the middle of a lecture about the Eurozone crisis hosted by Orlando Bloom.

Returning to the DVD a few days later, I discovered I couldn’t remember what was going on. I was sure that at some point in the last 30 years someone had made a film called For Your Eyes Only - and that I had definitely watched it - but for the life of me couldn’t remember a single thing about it. A lot like Quantum of Solace.

Ok, that’s a lie. I can remember one thing: the theme song. Beginning with Bill Conti’s titular five-note fanfare of gentle synth pop, it buried into my brain like an advert for Lenor fabric softener, quietly calling out at 3am: “You must keep watching…”

Clearly someone out there thought it was a good song – alongside Live and Let Die and Nobody Does It Better, it’s one of the few Bond songs to be nominated for an Academy Award (allowing the film to be called “the Oscar-nominated For Your Eyes Only”). Conti did a decent job, then, of rousing the awards voters. How did he replace John Barry to successfully create such a crucial element in the Bond formula? Well, it turns out he had this informational pamphlet in his pocket – an up-to-date version of which I coincidentally found in my DVD box.

Here’s a guide to writing a Bond song...

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BlogalongaBond. One Bond film a month until Bond 23 turns up in November next year.

It's time to turn our attention to Goldfinger, the third and most definitive of the Bond series. By this point, people knew what to expect from a Bond film and with Guy Hamilton establishing the franchise's formula, everyone was getting curious. Especially about Honor Blackman's feisty little minx, Pussy Galore.

Which would explain why this note was found inside my DVD box...

Dear Ms Galore,

I'm an actress looking to get a break in showbiz and thought I might try my pretty pink fingernails at a Bond movie. As one of the most iconic vaginas into which 007 has attempted re-entry, what are your tips for being a great Bond girl?

Yours sexually,

Tits McGee

And by some crazy random happenstance, this educational pamphlet was right beside it...

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John Barry has died, aged 77.

The legendary composer, best known for his plethora of Bond musical brilliance, has died of a heart attack in New York.

Born in 1933, Barry found fame with his band, the John Barry Seven, who had several hits. He then turned his hand to movies, which led to the arrangement of Monty Norman's music for the first James Bond film, Dr. No. This iconic theme prompted a run of 11 Bond film scores, including You Only Live Twice and, of course, Goldfinger.

His talents won him five Oscars across the board, from Born Free, which won Best Score and Best Song, to Dances with Wolves and Out of Africa. He also worked on classics such as Midnight Cowboy, The Ipcress File and, in 1962, The Amorous Prawn.

Barry was awarded an OBE in 1998, the same year as Robbie Williams' single Milennium, which included a segment of You Only Twice. He also won four Grammys, a BAFTA and a Golden Globe.

His last film score was in 2001 for Enigma, but here's a far more fitting tribute to the man's impeccable musical prowess: 






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