Skyfall

Sean Connery’s 007 was before my time, I don’t even remember if i’ve ever watched them.  I’ve watched Pierce Brosnan’s 007 movies, they were entertaining. Until I saw Casino Royale, then i suddenly understood what it was like to love a 007 movie. Daniel Craig is totally my favorite 007.

I don’t remember how many times i’ve watched Casino Royale.  I loved the title sequence, loved the actors, loved the lines, loved the plot, loved the action, loved the scenery, loved the heart-breaking love story, loved the chemistry between Bond and Bond’s girls.

Then i watched Skyfall.  I don’t remember i’ve ever watched a more beautiful title sequence. It gave me the goose bumps just thinking about it now.  I want to watch the movie again. It would be worth it to just experience that five minutes of the title sequence one more time.

The first half of the movie was pure bliss.  The cinematography was gorgeous. The action sequences were breathtaking: Istanbul, Shanghai, Macau.  The story went flat once the plot reached England. The subway chase and the final shoot out at Skyfall just seemed too long. I simply lost interest.  But the first half was so good, that one would forgive its faulty 2nd half.

Motorcycle chase seems to become really trending these days.  Bourne legacy ends with a super long and boring motorcycle chase scene in Manila. Dark Knight Rises has some decent motorcycle chase scenes in the middle (after the stock exchange “robbery”).  Skyfall opens with a fantastic motorcycle chase in Istanbul.

One detail really bothered me. M’s decision at the beginning of the film. She later told Bond that she was deciding between one agent’s life against all those agents’ whose names were on that Harddrive (people still use harddrive? what happened to cloud computing?). But that was such a false argument. At that moment, the real decision for M was whose skill she trusted more: Bond’s ability to get the job done, or that girl’s marksmanship (ability to take a shot at two guys fighting on a moving train).  Apparently M trusted the girl’s ability with the gun more than she does Bond. Which seemed rather odd.  But then as one reviewer said, logic has never been a strong suite for 007 franchise. I shall not be so picky.

A bit of gossip behind the scene, apparently Daniel Craig recruited both the director Sam Mendes and Javier Bardem for this movie.

It mattered that it came from him,” says Mendes. “I don’t think I would have done it without Dan. It’s much easier going to Javier or Ralph knowing they’re already into the franchise because of Daniel. He’s made it cool in a different way.”

 

Craig also approached Bardem, a selective actor whose performance in “Skyfall” is already being considered among the best Bond villains.
“I asked him as well,” Craig confesses sheepishly. “Overstretching my job description. You’re an actor! Stick to f(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk) acting! You can’t go hiring people.”

“Obama Won!”

On the Chinese social site douban.com, a girl living in Boston said she went to watch the movie Argo last night. The theater was pretty much empty. Half way through the movie, the girl who was manning the popcorn stand burst into the auditorium and announced very excitedly to the audience, “Obama won! Obama won!”

So Obama won.

Before i was about to regain my confidence in the democratic process and the people of the USA, i remembered that GWB also was elected to his second term in 2004. How bad a president do you have to be before you are denied the 2nd term? Maybe we should all have seen this from a long way off, like Nate Silver has. Maybe all these drama was nothing but hot-air artificially drummed up by the media and talking heads.  Closely contested race makes better entertainment and ratings.

But then, maybe election has nothing to do with the job performance. Maybe it is all about the ground game, as depicted in this New Yorker article by Ryan Lizza: Obama’s Ground Game.  Apparently the President’s campaign team has been working on the ground for the last five years. They meticulously collected data, analysed the potential demographic that they could persuade, and they did the tedious and hard work of knocking on as many doors as they humanely can, doors that met the demographic need their data analysis told them to target.

And it worked.

Maybe that was how GWB won his two terms too. But this year the Republicans got lazy, they decided to throw hard cash at it, instead. Apparently hard cash can’t beat face to face human interaction.

Maybe it doesn’t really matter what the message those people peddled, the key is to perform that peddling face to face. The key is to talk to those voters face to face and have them feeling guilty if they don’t go and vote.

How else would you explain no one talks about white Evangelical now? While that was all the rage during GWB’s terms? Did all those powerful Evangelicals disappear into the hot air behind the middle class women who happens to be latino this year? It is like the marry go around, who will be the next hot demographic group in in 2016? Probably depends on what the winner of 2016 will be peddling. If you believe the talking head on TV, you would have to believe the country has, overnight, turned from extreme religious zealots into thoughtful middle class who cares about the environment, wants the congress to work together, and to redistribute wealth. :-/

In Chinese, we say 成者为王败者为寇。”The Winner Became the King, the Loser Became the villain. ” Same goes for the message they peddle. Whoever wins the election gets to broadcast their message in the main stream media.

While the real show happens behind the scenes, on the ground, face to face between a campaign volunteer and a potential voter in a county of a swing state that could contribute to the 270 electoral votes statistically.