In Praise of Lewis Gilbert: Composition in James Bond

Skyfall good 3

The image above is from the movie Skyfall and it is damn lovely. Skyfall in general is a damn fine film. It is my second favorite James Bond film, and while featuring a nigh-nonsensical plot, it also happens to have one of the best Bond villains, an excellent look into the emotional core of Bond himself, and some of the best action scenes of any film, period. But I want to focus on that damn lovely shot — or should I say shots, because Skyfall is filled with fantastic compositions and exquisite lighting. It is no surprise that Skyfall cinematographer Roger Deakins landed himself an Oscar nomination for the film. Continue reading

A SASY digression: The omnipresent spectre of James Bond

Bond, James Bond

Hi all, this is J. We’re going to be doing something a little unusual with a few posts over the coming days that dig into a series of films that are decidedly not on the Sight & Sound 250 Greatest Films of All Time list: the canon of James Bond. Although perhaps I shouldn’t have said “we” — this one is all me, because if Daniel Craig ain’t in it, S. ain’t watching it.

I’m guessing it was around 1990, although I can’t be certain on this. It would have not been long after we got cable television for the first time, and I was plunked in front of a television with a screen little bigger than that of the laptop upon which I am typing. Bouncing from channel to channel I landed upon a bizarre scene of two men stalking each other through a psychedelic funhouse while a little person sprung traps and pranks to liven an already deadly game. It was the opening scene to The Man with the Golden Gun, and 11-year-old me was in. Continue reading

NiL – Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler (1922), dir. Fritz Lang

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You are getting creepy, very creepy. Fritz Lang’s 1922 epic about a criminal mastermind and hypnotist is full of innovative and interesting scenes, like the one above showing a victim’s perspective as he begins to succumb to Dr. Mabuse’s hypnotic gaze. This film is not in the Sight & Sound Top 250.

We are straying a bit from the general format of the blog with this entry to present a film not in the Sight & Sound Top 250 — Fritz Lang’s Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler (Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler, 1922) — mostly because our next blog entry is the sequel to this film. This four-and-a-half hour, silent crime epic was a big hit for Lang, and introduced a character he would come back to twice more in his directing career. Mabuse is a brilliant psychologist turned criminal mastermind, who crafts elaborate plots to manipulate world markets but isn’t above using his mastery of hypnosis to cheat at cards. The brilliance of the character and his spiraling decline offer up the chance for Lang to engage in some wonderfully stylized imagery and bravura action sequences — but perhaps not enough to justify the runtime. (271 min.) Continue reading