MARK O'CONNELL

Writer, Author, Bond Fan

Tag: 007 (page 1 of 3)

THE OTHER FELLOW’S CHOICE – Catching BECOMING BOND on DVD

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REMEMBERING ROGER and celebrating the golden spy we loved at Pinewood Studios

Original Roger Moore Stage photo © Mark Mawston / 2017

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CASINO ROYALE IN CONCERT – A triumphant Bond debut at the Royale Albert Hall

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BOND, BECOMING BOND – Catching George Lazenby’s second 007 movie

Who needs white dots and a John Barry guitar overture? Continue reading

THE 007th MAN FOR THE JOB

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THE CARS OF SPECTRE – Catching BOND IN MOTION’s new SPECTRE collection

THE CARS OF SPECTRE Launch - 17-11-15 - Photo © Mark O'Connell (11)

Since Bond In Motion‘s launch in March 2014 (full review and galleries), EON Productions and the London Film Museum’s collection of Bond vehicle gems has been attracting fans, tourists, kids and petrol heads alike from across the globe. Masterminded by the London Film Museum’s Jonathan Sands with EON Productions and its Archive Director Meg Simmonds on keen godparent duties, Bond In Motion celebrates those magnificent 007 men and women of Bond and especially their flying, driving and diving machines. Catching Bullets’ Mark O’Connell was invited to take the new display for a spin. And yes, he got to sit in an Aston. And yes, there were buttons to press.

THE CARS OF SPECTRE Launch - DB10 - 17-11-15 - Photo © Mark O'Connell (12)

 

Hot on the heels (or tyre tracks) of 007’s newest bullet, SPECTRE, the London Film Museum has now just launched its first special exhibition celebrating a new 007 movie – The Cars of SPECTRE. Since its 2014 launch where producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson first announced Bond’s newest Aston Martin, this new exhibition helps makes the welcome statement that Bond In Motion will be continuing indefinitely – much to the pride of Jonathan Sands and his museum team who have thoroughly enjoyed the ride, feedback and public enthusiasm so far.

“We are so excited to be presenting our first exhibition dedicated to SPECTRE. We regularly update Bond In Motion with never-before-seen gems from previous adventures but this is the first time we’ve been able to display vehicles from a film that is currently in cinemas around the world”

Jonathan Sands, London Film Museum founder & CEO

Sited in a brand new space amidst 007’s greatest vehicles (which in turn have had a great bout of feng-shui which has refreshed the whole exhibition in the best way – and sees the entire exhibition really using that underground space), The Cars of SPECTRE has now opened its bespoke car doors for the public with apt timing for cinemagoers.

THE CARS OF SPECTRE Launch - Rolls Royce Silver Wraith - 17-11-15 - Photo © Mark O'Connell (10)

As other SPECTRE exhibits are added to EON’s other two exhibitions (Washington DC’s Exquisitely Evil and the touring Designing Bond), The Cars of SPECTRE‘s main four-wheeled stars are the gleaming triumvirate of Hinx’s Jaguar C-X75, Oberhauser’s 1951 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith and of course the uber exclusive, Aston Martin DB10. Only around ten DB10s were reportedly commissioned but Bond In Motion in fact has two already. Well, one and a very cool half. The DB10 ejector seat stunt rig and a Land Rover Defender (straight from a mountain in Austria) are on display too and testament to the wizardry of Bond, the mathematics of such stunt sequences and the sheer effort that goes into making 007 look effortless. Though there is no Frank Sinatra CD left over in the DB10 by 009.

Montage 2

Added to that is a rich array of SPECTRE storyboards, clapperboards, props and costumes. Easily the coolest cabinet aptly flanking the DB10 is Daniel Craig’s Tom Ford Windsor three piece suit from the Rome funeral scenes and subsequent car chase (complete with collar pin, Tom Ford tie and Crockett & Jones Camberley boots). Yet equally striking is Hinx’s black on black suit on sentry duty by the fire damaged Jaguar and costume designer Jany Temime’s Moroccan trouser suit for Dr Madeleine Swann. Q gets his own display with his ID card, spectacles (SPECTRE-cals….sorry), Q Lab production models, the Omega Seamaster 300 watch and already iconic SPECTRE ring complete the line-up.

The Cars of SPECTRE opens on the 18th November 2015 as part of Bond In Motion. There is no extra charge for the new exhibition (beyond the normal admission price) and the gift shop is certainly stocked with SPECTRE goodies….but no cat food. And be sure to check out the cutest SPECTRE exhibit already making itself at home at Covent Garden – namely Blofeld’s Bath-o-Sub from Diamonds Are Forever.

For a full gallery of photos go to Catching Bullets Facebook page.

THE CARS OF SPECTRE (from left) The Jaguar C-X75, The Day of the Dead skulduggery & the Rolls Royce Silver Wraith. Photo © Mark O'Connell / 2015

The Cars of SPECTRE

Bond In Motion, 45 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, London.

Full price – £14.50

Child Ticket – [5-15years] £9.50

Concession Ticket – £9.50 [Students, 65 + and freedom pass holders]

Family Ticket – £38

Under 5 – Free

THE CARS OF SPECTRE Launch - DB10 - 17-11-15 - Photo © Mark O'Connell (15)

With thanks to EON Productions, Meg Simmonds, Jonathan Sands, White Ltd and the team at Bond In Motion.

 

Catching Bullets joins THE TIMES & it’s BEST BOND EVER experts poll

TIMES Bond Poll - 15-10-15Catching Bullets – Memoirs of a Bond Fan author Mark O’Connell joins a formidable SPECTRE boardroom table of Bond experts including David Walliams, Edgar Wright, Raymond Benson, Ajay Chowdhury, Andrew Lycett, Matthew Parker, James Bond Radio, Ben McIntyre, Steve Cole and Alan J Porter to try and compile the definitive list of Bond movies, good and bad.

The Times (October 15th 2015) declares this to be “most comprehensive poll of Bond experts” and has pinned a top movie which is certainly a surprise – as are many of the Top Ten and even the bottom eight.

The pull out supplement is certainly worth a buy of the paper (there is a lot more to it than the list and the reasonings) … but as The Times is only subscription only it seems only fair to at least let fans see how “the experts” voted……

Thanks to Dominic Maxwell and The Times.

The Times - Bond Countdown

OFF THE WALL – Sam Smith is announced as SPECTRE’s title song performer

smith 2The official writing is finally on the wall with the announcement that British singer Sam Smith is performing  Writing’s On The Wall– the title song to the 24th Bond movie, Spectre.

Just like Adele before him, the multi-Grammy award winning British singer is a natural choice, a very current and high-selling choice and do not be surprised if Sam Smith is performing Writing’s On The Wall at next year’s Academy Awards ceremony. Just sayin’.

However, Smith of course strenuously denied such Bond associations, citing Ellie Goulding in a scent-diverting tactic. Other names were touted too – including the rather delicious prospect of Radiohead getting involved.

But the upshot was it was always Smith’s gig. Co-written very quickly with Smith’s co-writer Jimmy Napes (Stay With Me), the track allegedly took barely twenty minutes to structure with the end result being one of the proudest moments in Sam Smith’s career thus far.

He is the first British male solo artist in fifty years to perform a Bond tune, the first out performer and one of the youngest too.

For my fuller thoughts on Sam Smith’s casting as the Spectre title song artist :

OUT MAGAZINE : Off The Wall – Why Sam Smith entering Bond’s Thunderball of Fame is good news for Bond

BBC 5 LIVE :  Sam Smith ‘obvious choice’ for theme tune says Mark O’Connell

Writing’s On The Wall is available to buy and download from September 25th 2015.

CD and vinyl pre-orders are being taken here

FOR YOUR EYES WIDE SHUT – SPECTRE and Team Eon win 2015’s teaser war in 97 seconds

 

“And anticipation is a big part of the appeal. To this day, the arrival of the Bond teaser trailer is a red letter day for me”

(Mark Gatiss, Catching Bullets – Memoirs of a Bond Fan)

Going viral round the globe quicker than Moonraker 5 or a Telly Savalas flu jab, the newly premiered trailer for SPECTRE hits the snow/water/gravel running and is surprisingly chaste for what could have played out as Skyfall II – Back To The Chapel.

SPECTRE

Simply pitched and lushly shot by DOP du jour Hoyte van Hoytem, this online teaser pre-title sequence to a further media campaign demonstrates an early sense of cool and story precision as well as a refreshing lack of falling masonry, arched eyebrow raising, car and lady jousting.

A destroyed MI6 building below The Fighting Temeraire’s oily horizon, Naomie Harris’s Moneypenny doing her subtext best with a flight recorder box of Bond’s salvaged memories and holiday selfies (though shouldn’t photos of a young Craig/Bond skiing show a bit more colourful 1980s exchange student ski-wear?), Bond at home and no doubt digging out his 1973 dressing gown (with his Live and Let Die coffee maker in one of those packing boxes), Bond being taken on a Who Do You Think You Are journey (there may be tears to camera before bedtime) and finding Catweazle – sorry, Mr White – hiding in an Austrian lodge not totally dissimilar (and wilfully so) to the interiors of Dennis Gassner’s 2012 Skyfall Lodge.

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Though despite the obvious leanings to Ian Flemings’s Hannes Oberhauser (Octopussy and The Living Daylights, 1966), climbing accidents, parental loss, orders of “Temporary Guardianship” and Monica Bellucci marked out in a sort of Bertolucci-framed grief there is a delicious additional sense of baroque villainy already in place in this newest 007 bullet. No doubt taking the tonal baton started by writer John Logan (who wrote the arched dialogue between Silva and Bond in Skyfall) SPECTRE looks to have an apt and shadowy sort of medieval sense of occasion guided by secretive, enclaved traditions (not totally un-removed from how Bond trailers themselves step out from the online wings). There is also that deliciously arched sense of dialogue and statement, in part from Logan’s pen. Oh, and Judi Dench’s M looks to be all over this film. Just sayin’.

I always knew death would wear a familiar face, but not yours

– Mr White, SPECTRE

No three pronged Walther PPK’s, no Thunderball droids, no CGI Aston Martins cascading through a signature theme. This ain’t The Sith Who Loved Me. This is pared down Bond, the Masters Year of Daniel Craig’s four film tenancy (so far). And is this the fully fledged return of Ernst Stavro Blofeld (after all he’s had 34 years to escape Beckton Gas Works – or the McClory legalities as they are also known) or have Eon Productions, director Sam Mendes and the writers got a few white cats of intrigue up their Mao sleeves (and yes, that is a Mao collar on Christoph Waltz there, no?). Well it better be!

One thing that is less evident as the trailer concludes with Bond stepping into a cultish invite-only Eyes Wide Shut territory is that the seated silhouette of Christoph Waltz about to do The Voice on 007 (“you owned that song, Mister Bond“), is we cannot yet see the rugs of surprise that are about to be pulled from under James Bond 007.

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“Welcome James. It’s been a long time. And finally here we are”

SPECTRE is released in the UK in October and around the world from November.

SHAKING AND STIRRING – Belvedere Vodka named as 007 and SPECTRE’s new drinking partner

I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold, and very well made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad.”

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming, 1954

Under the apt PR guise “PROJECT TUXEDO”, the world’s luxury vodka brand Belvedere has announced its new global partnership with James Bond 007 and 2015’s SPECTRE.

“We are delighted to announce that when it comes to his martini, Mr Bond Knows The Difference” says Charles Gibb, President of Belvedere Vodka.

First created in 1993 when the taboos and trade boundaries of Cold War Russian vodka were lifting (and 007 was of course about to enter into an officially sanctioned marriage with Smirnoff – his and the Bond image’s on/off vodka of choice since 1962’s Dr. No), Belvedere Vodka has hit the ground running in its two decades tenure. Generating a new standard and thinking around vodka and its side industries and variants, Belvedere has quickly established itself as a bespoke vodka striving for excellence and distinctive character. Made in Poland from Dankowskie Rye and blended with water, Belvedere’s taste profile is a must for premium restaurants, eateries, bars, hotels and clubs. And now Bond fan gatherings, birthday lists and – yes, I asked – bachelor party libations.

In total, James Bond orders 19 vodka martinis and 16 gin martinis in Fleming’s work.

But as much as this is a cracking marketing angle for both Bond and Belvedere, there is more to this new relationship than sheer profile. Belvedere’s chief of mixology Claire Smith is ‘the first lady of vodka’. At a private demonstration of Belvedere and vodka martinis in an equally private Armed Forces private members club in London (and one with its own Ian Fleming links, of course), Smith proves not only her passion for vodka – and of course Belvedere’s new relationship with 007 – but that she wants the revival of the vodka martini to continue. According to Smith there is a momentum of interest in vodka martinis (no doubt revived by 2006’s Casino Royale and its presentation of the Vesper cocktail). People are wanting to know more from their barman, they are wanting to get that martini and their drinks right just for them. Like our evolving food tastes and knowledge, we are all wanting to know what is in our drinks. We are also moving away from that 1970s and 1980s menu of cocktails and spirits (there was no Babycham at the bar of this particular club).

SPECTRE cast banner 8

This new promotional pairing between SPECTRE and Belvedere is also about democratising the vodka martini – forever a perceived requisite of out-of-reach high-end establishments or disappointingly bad office party Bond nights with some bloke in a corner mixing drinks like Tom Cruise in Cocktail . Treated by bar consultancy and drinks wizard Joe Stokoe to three stunningly realised standards – a Dry Martini (stirred, not shaken), a Wet Martini and a Reverse Vesper – I was instantly able to discern the differences created by preparation and experience. My preference would be the Reverse Vesper (1 part Vermouth, 1 part Tanqueray and 3 part Belvedere vodka). A twist on the iconic Vesper (which is not necessarily the onscreen vodka martini Bond has always had), this Belvedere imbued cocktail was a saucy strapless dress of a glass – attention grabbing but refined with a whisper of Lillet and lemon rind.

“One medium dry vodka martini mixed like you said sir, but not stirred”

Dr. No, 1962

Claire Smith’s engaging and easy passion for mixing, presenting and augmenting vodka is all about creating “a dialogue” between the consumer and bartender. Smith spends time opening up the consumer’s confidence. She wants us to build relationships with our barman. How many of us have wanted to be James Bond and take our place at the bar with that just arrived poise only to fall at the first hurdle – confidence. One of the mainstays of Belvedere and tenets of Smith’s approach is to arm the consumer with the realisation that there are no rules. Bond’s own iconic shaken, not stirred vodka martini is itself an alleged faux-pas of ingredient-bashing excess. Some gin and martini scholars would have you believe stirring and not shaking is the end goal – that shaking can excessively aerate the core components. But Smith and Stokoe are quick to encourage “there are no rules”. What is one person’s martini foible at the end of the working day is another’s starting pistol or refreshing interlude before dinner. Know Your Martini is a recent mantra of Belvedere Vodka and one that equally applies to its marriage with Eon Productions and James Bond. The renowned vodka house wants more than just a fiscally beneficial union. “Vodka is so often overlooked as being neutral, anonymous. And vodka is so much more dynamic than that.” notes Smith. “The future of bar-tending lies in trying to find elegance and beauty and simplicity and making that compelling for the consumer to really get involved with. That’s really what I’m interested in.” Belvedere teaming up with Bond is more than commercialism. It makes bespoke, aesthetic sense.

MONTAGE

 

Of course the panic-peddlers and naysayers will all have their headlines primed about 007 selling out and movie producers taking product placement too far. The Heineken usage in 2012’s Skyfall was scorned by easy headline makers, but when a secret agent is in a backpackers beach bar in Turkey I am kind of assuming ordering a “vodka martini, shaken not stirred” is not quite going to cut it as much as a cold beer. It is worth noting too that Ian Fleming himself would drop in names and products – because they were part of his world and hence 007’s, but also because there is an immediacy and westernised reality about labels. Our homes and daily technology are bound by labels and familiar monikers. Why should 007 the character be  exempt from that? And why should 007 the film franchise not seek out and align itself with the finer leanings of a house like Belvedere? Belvedere join a rich array of Bond beverage “co-stars” including Bollinger, Absolut Vodka, Smirnoff, Macallan and Finlandia.

Head of Belvedere Charles Gibb is a quietly proud man right now. “It’s the size and scale of everything that is James Bond” – he notes – “This union is unique because an integral part of our brand and Bond’s character meet in this wonderful intersection called the Martini. The fact that Ian Fleming and Bond are credited with re-energising the building of what is today the modern-day Martini – and the vodka martini – I think that’s a very unique partnership, you don’t often find something with such a unique crossroads.”

And there is no fear of this business fit not finding the same enthusiasm and knowledge within the Bond family camp. “They certainly know their history of vodka“, remarks Gibb. “They certainly know their history of the martini. And they certainly know their way around a vodka bottle”. 

Belvedere Vodka 007 Launch Day 15-12-14 (23) (c) Mark O'Connell 2014 (1)

Gibbs continues – “the thing for me is we’re going to create our own advertising around it. What that looks like, how that looks is at the moment probably subject to another discussion“. Of course Gibbs, EON and Belvedere are being tight-lipped about just how their vodka will be incorporated into SPECTRE and maybe beyond (I tried to ask of the long term relationship, but ex-Army officer Gibbs is not going to spill this particular bottle of insight and, to be fair, 007 and Belvedere are merely at hand-holding first base right now).

BV_007_Silver Saber

Belvedere will produce two custom-made, limited edition bottles to celebrate Bond’s shaken, not stirred vodka martini and this new partnership with SPECTRE. A 007 twist has been added to Belvedere’s quite beautiful Silver Sabre bottles (they have their own light switch and vague hints of snow-globe flakes inside – I know, right!). The famous Belvedere Palace blue bottles and emblem will be replaced by that of MI6’s Vauxhall headquarters and in February 2015 a marketing campaign will launch with a focus on “on-premise establishments and retail stores” across the globe. Dwight Caines, Theatrical Marketing for Sony Pictures says, “James Bond’s cool attitude and stylish sophistication have always gone hand in hand with his choice of vodka martini. Belvedere is a perfect match“.

MONTAGE 2

To officially launch Bond’s new bond with Belvedere, a “smart and chic” party was held at Covent Garden’s Bond In Motion exhibition in December 2014. With Charles Gibbs, the CEO of Moët Hennessy Christophe Navarre in attendance (Belvedere is part of the LVMH group – Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy), representatives from EON Productions and more in attendance the night was a slick and charming way of toasting 007’s newest marriage to the Polish house of vodka. The music decks were manned by one Tinie Tempah and the likes of Douglas Booth, Pixie Geldof,  Kim Hersov, Lily Cole and this Bond fan lent some star appeal to proceedings (I didn’t lend star appeal at all, despite sporting a suit in DB5 silver).

Tinie Tempah spinning / clicking some tunes (c) Mark O’Connell / 2014

Joe Stokoe was also on hand again to keep an eye on three martini bars spread amidst Bond’s car heritage, and various plinth-proud bottles of Bond vodka stood tall. Each bar had a theme – Wet/Dry, Shaken/Stirred and Reverse Vesper. Glimpsed was a new SPECTRE edition of Belvedere as well as the rarest of the rare – edition number ‘007’ of Belvedere’s Palace bottle. In true Elliot Carver launch style, Gibbs and Christophe Navarre unveiled the bespoke bottle just as Tempah filled the room with Kanye West’s Diamonds Are Forever (Diamonds From Sierra Leone).

Moet Hennessy's CEO Christophe  Navarre & Belvedere's Charles Gibb unveil the new MI6 bottle

Moet Hennessy’s CEO Christophe Navarre and Belvedere’s Charles Gibb unveil the rare ‘007’ edition of the equally limited MI6 bottle. (c) Mark O’Connell / 2014

Though one SPECTRE vehicle was sadly absent from Bond In Motion on the night. Resigned to the cloakroom for probable safety where it was surrounded by coats and satchels, SPECTRE and Blofeld’s Bath-o-Sub from Diamonds Are Forever was kept out of harm’s way and sadly didn’t get to see just how the new SPECTRE agents conduct themselves. Quite right too.

For more photos of the launch night and more go to Catching Bullets on Facebook.

With special thanks to Belvedere Vodka, Charles Gibb, Claire Smith, Remmert Van Braam, Joe Stokoe, EON Productions, Sony Pictures Entertainment and the Mission team.

www.belvederevodka.com

BV-ECMB-300

 

 

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