Bayard, Holmes, Movie, No Popcorn — SKYFALL

SKYFALL Review

By Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

SKYFALL marks the Golden Anniversary of the Bond series, and it’s raking in the serious gold—for good reason. In this 23rd Bond film, M and MI-6 are under attack, and it’s up to 007 to track down and destroy the threat. He does it in style, proving once more that Bond truly is the master of resurrection.

Sam Mendes makes a brilliant directing debut with the series, showing he actually earned all of his Oscars and Tonys for other films over the years. Daniel Craig returns for the third time as Bond, along with Judi Dench playing M, and introducing Ben Whishaw and Naomi Harris as Q and Moneypenny, respectively.

Bayard:

From a thriller standpoint, SKYFALL has it all. Fast pace, nail-biting tension, creative chases, and explosions that will warm the heart of twenty-something pyrotechnics lovers. There’s even a tiny snafu that might have you wondering, “Which side was that?” But I suspect that will only end up making the movie more loved for being a bit flawed like the rest of us.

While cutting edge with a modern feel and new, young characters, SKYFALL still honors the classic qualities of Bond. It not only takes us for one more spin in 007’s iconic Aston Martin DB5, it treats us to colorful locales, mysterious people, and even exotic animals. Though I feel compelled to note those komodo dragons must be on a diet of digitally enhanced Twinkies and MLB steroids to get that big.

This 50th Anniversary installment continues to develop the three-dimensional character brought to the fore with the Craig incarnation of the series, and we find out more details of Bond’s early life and home. Only one Bond behavior strikes me as being particularly out of character. He allows his MI-6 co-worker to shave him with an old-fashioned straight razor. A certain spook I know *glances down the page* can barely sit still for his wife of decades to cut his hair. He would rather suck broken glass through a straw up his nose than allow anyone near his throat with a sharp object.

Holmes:

It’s not easy to take an old, worn out basic story line like the “stolen master list” and make a watchable movie out of it after so many have tried and failed, but SKYFALL does it. The entire production is excellent, and this is a great addition to the Bond series.

As to the normal “spy flick” questions, here we go . . .

No, it’s not terribly realistic, but that’s fortunate. Who really wants to watch a bunch of guys in filthy, third world hovels passing long hours trying to get something done? SKYFALL is definitely unrealistic, and that’s why it’s superbly entertaining.

Can you use light sockets to make nail bombs? Yes. But not with the method employed in the movie. So all you middle school boys reading this can leave those light fixtures alone. You’ll only succeed in infuriating your parents without getting any real explosions.

The palm ID feature of Bond’s new Walther will thrill gun control nuts the world over. And yes. Tracking radios that size and smaller do work in the real world. The smallest model would be useless in an action flick because they would need a macro lens shot to show it.

There is a theme throughout SKYFALL of a rift between the old HUMINT (human intelligence) hands and the rest of the intelligence community. In the real world, there are plenty of old spooks. The problem with operatives getting good at the job is that organizations generally don’t want them to leave, and they don’t know how to leave, anyway. The idea that younger spooks see the older spooks and their methods as irrelevant is 99% false. Only politicians and whiny media types do that. I suspect this is just as true in MI-6 as it is in American intelligence organizations.

Now for the negatives. The script is a bit weak in a couple of places, but that’s about the only complaint I have.

The positives are many. The acting ranges from fair to excellent. The camera work and editing are great. I hope the editing crew and directors from BOURNE LEGACY see this movie so they can get an idea of how one might make a movie if one combines intention with talent.

The opening chase scene includes a “drive through the market chase” and a novel “top of the train” scene. I won’t ruin them for you. I’ll just say they are very well done, evidencing a good deal of time and effort.

The fighting and shooting scenes are articulate and reasonable. There were no magic weapons with infinite shots, and there were a couple of original touches I think viewers will enjoy.

In a return to earlier Bond style, SKYFALL delivers craftily woven levity. However, the sex was a notch lower than more traditional Bonds. Sorry guys. The producers skimped on their usual “legions of young woman in small bikinis” device, but there is still plenty of movie here.

The four years we waited for a new Bond film were well used by the entire production cast to create a movie that entertains without the viewer having to try too hard. They ALL got it right.

We highly recommend SKYFALL to anyone who enjoys action films. Few movies will ever achieve this level of production quality. Bravo to the Bond team!

We give SKYFALL a .357 magnum +P rating. This is our second highest rating, and it means we would actually pay prime time theater prices if we could stand the crowd. It only fails to achieve our highest rating, the .44 magnum, because we reserve that for films that might enlighten or inspire some of the viewers. You may not be enlightened or inspired by SKYFALL, but you will almost certainly be entertained.

 

The End is Near (and we deserve it) . . . News Agency Cites “The Onion” as Fact

Fars, the Iranian government-backed news agency, last Friday cited an article from The Onion as fact. The article said most rural Americans prefer Iranian President Ahmadinejad that President Obama. I cracked up when I read this, but then I realized there might be some truth in it if the rural Americans in question don’t understand Farsi and don’t allow translators. Particularly during election season. . . The worst part? Some of those at Fars still believe the story even after they found out The Onion is a satirical paper.

image aljazeera.com

Read the full story here. Iran Apologizes for Citing Onion Spoof Obama Poll as Fact

Blogs and Articles in No Particular Order

New York Times Best Selling Author and Heckuva Guy James Rollins has a great new series about Apocalypse called Know it Now! Many sources predict the end of the world in just a few months. James Rollins looks at the possibilities for how that could happen and what we can do about it in a 12-week series that investigates different forms of Apocalypse. You can subscribe to these free videos at his blog, Know it Now! Introduction – Can We Predict the Future? Episode 1.

“Criminal Minds” should hire Catie Rhodes to help with their story lines. She finds the the creepiest facts. Early American Serial Killers: Jesse Pomeroy

By International Best Selling Author and Graceful Lady Vicki Hinze, What is Reversal in Fiction Writing?  Check out her latest romantic suspense, SURVIVE THE NIGHT, the first of the much-anticipated LOST, INC. series.

Tiffany A. White and Amber West are the two women I count on for my entertainment news now that there’s no TV guide in the Sunday paper.  Tiffany gives us a run down on the series premieres of October in New October Drama, and Amber gives us a peek at Lucy Liu’s modern day Sherlock Holmes series, Elementary, in Elementary, My Dear Watson.

Number One Amazon Bestselling Author Aaron Patterson directed me to this article, Average Price of E-Book Best Seller Rises Nearly $2 in Four Weeks.

Bad Police Sketches: a Photo Gallery

Reader Empathy: Catch It & Keep It with Guest Angela Ackerman. Angela also co-authored The Emotion Thesaurus, a MUST for every fiction writer. It belongs on the bookshelf right beside your Strunk & White.

Just in case you should need this one today, How to Escape from a Black Hole: Scientists Study Energy Jets.

My gift to my writing partner, Jay Holmes, along with all of you other guys who read this. “Miss Bum Bum” Pageant Seeks Brazil’s Best Butt

The 25 Funniest Tweets about the Debate

And an important health message for gamers from one of my all-time favorites, Nathan Fillion of Castle and Firefly fame.

Campaign Style Poll Daddy:

All the best to all of you for knowing satire from truth.

Piper Bayard–The Pale Writer of the Apocalypse

Chasing the Hill: Not Just Fake Politics

Review, Chasing the Hill

By Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

 

Emmy nominee Brent Roske, Creator and Executive Producer of the new internet TV show, “Chasing the Hill,” has done the impossible. He has created a show about politics during campaign season that not only didn’t have us shoving our heads in a wood chipper, it had us watching it a second time.

In “Chasing the Hill,” California Representative Kristina Ryan is attempting to win re-election for a third term. Normally, as a Democratic Party incumbent in southern California, her election would be a slam-dunk affair. Unfortunately for her campaign, she was recently involved in a nasty scandal and she is now behind in the polls. The pilot shows her campaign team as they do their best to overcome her recent scandal and get her re-elected.

Non-partisan interviews with actual elected officials are included before the episode and after the show in a segment called “Chasing Chasing the Hill.”

The cast includes Robin Weigert of “Deadwood” fame as well as “West Wing” alums Matthew Del Negro, Joshua Malina, and Melissa Fitzgerald.

Now for our individual comments.

Bayard:

I didn’t just enjoy “Chasing the Hill,” I enjoyed it even more the second time I watched it. The dialogue is clever and often humorous, and the acting is excellent. I almost felt like I was eavesdropping rather than watching a performance.

As a hard core moderate, the thing I appreciate most about “Chasing the Hill” is that it is a realistic political drama that is non-partisan. Although Rep. Ryan is a democrat, the show does not beat me about the head and shoulders with left-wing dogma. The pilot focuses on the behind-the-scenes action of politics and not on the politics themselves. In today’s election atmosphere of heightened partisanship, which is always detrimental to our country, it’s refreshing to see a show that so far makes every attempt to be politically objective.

Holmes:

I watched the pilot for “Chasing the Hill” twice this morning. I enjoyed it. So far, the characters are interesting enough to hold my attention. The filming and editing utilize the youthful production style of a docudrama, and at times they lend the feel of a documentary to the show. Also, the very sudden and pronounced delivery of some of the actors’ lines adds an interesting touch of 1890s stage production to the digital gestalt.

I enjoyed the non-traditional combination of editing, production, and directing styles for two reasons. For one thing, it was entertaining enough to justify my time. For another, I was happy to see an internet show that has thus far been well enough written, acted, and produced to survive in what remains a difficult internet market.

I am hoping that this show will be successful, and that more writers and producers will use the cost effective internet production method to highlight a wider variety of writers and ideas than what we find in more traditional TV fare.

The bottom line for me, though, is that I don’t regret spending my time and my $1.99 to watch it. Particularly during a campaign season, paying to watch a more interesting fake campaign in exchange for avoiding the plethora of nauseating political ads that plague the air waves made the price tag seem like a bargain.

If you have the time, go ahead and watch “Chasing the Hill.” I think there’s a good chance that you will enjoy it. If you are in a mood for serious commentary, you should also watch the “Chasing Chasing the Hill” segment that airs after the show.

The first season will have six episodes, which you can download at Chasing the Hill.

Together, Holmes and I give “Chasing the Hill” five stars. While it won’t make fake promises about world peace, your medical bills, or your outsourced job like a real political campaign does, this fake political campaign is real entertainment and absolutely worth your time and dime.

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