Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Bond And The British Critics

the last man on Earth to think watches, windsor knots and cufflinks are cool
Daniel Craig seems like the most boring, humourless man in the world and as such he's perfect casting for James Bond who is a dreary, humourless bore in the books. All the lightness and fun of James Bond was more or less invented by Sean Connery and riffed on by his successors but Craig doesn't seem to have the skill set to do that. I have not really enjoyed the 3 Daniel Craig James Bond films I've seen. Casino Royale was really long and really stupid with a bathos ridden final act. Quantum of Solace everyone now agrees was a total disaster (I walked out of that one I was so fed up). I was marginally less annoyed by Skyfall although I thought the 3rd Act of that one was completely ridiculous (Straw Dogs meets the David Niven Casino Royale meets Home Alone?) 
But having grown up in the UK where Bond and Carry On films and The Great Escape were shown at every bloody bank holiday and Christmas Eve I guess I'm a Bond completist. I've seen every single James Bond film except for the aforementioned Quantum of Suck. (My favourites are Goldfinger, On Her Majesty's Secret Service & Live and Let Die). So should I see the new James Bond film, Spectre? If I was to believe the British critics Spectre is the best thing to have been shone on the silver screen since the Lumiere Brothers started showing trains coming out of tunnels. Five Star reviews in The Times, from Robbie Collins in The Daily Telegraph, from Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian (!) etc. etc. But British critics can't be trusted when they're reviewing British films, especially when they are reviewing James Bond. Boosterism, peer pressure and media junkets create a bad climate for objective film criticism in Britain. You can happily piss all over an American product but God forbid you say something bad about Richard Curtis or Sam Mendes or Ridley Scott when you might bump into them at the Groucho Club or the BFI. I wonder too if the cliquey private school world of British high culture plays a part in all this. Most British film critics and most British film directors (and an alarming number of British actors) went to the same private schools and the British private schools teach school loyalty as the primary virtue above all things. There were some heroic dissents from the British Bond worship but those dissents were few and far between.
So what do more objective critics think about Spectre? When it first came out it was getting a staggering 95% rating on rotten tomatoes because it had only been shown to the British critics, but now it's at a seemingly more accurate 63% which is even lower than the grisly Quantum of Solace at 65. Hmmm, maybe I'll give this one a miss.