007: SPECTRE

James Bond is back. Three years after the veritable anniversary smash hit that was Skyfall, director Sam Mendes gives us Spectre.

Here’s what I thought of Spectre in a nutshell:

It’s a fantastic James Bond movie, it shows the franchise adapting to a modern way of storytelling. It introduces repercussions and consequences into a narrative previously devoid of actual development. But it also fails to deliver on the big villain reveal, leaving the most hyped and most anticipated aspect of its story lacking and kinda… underwhelming.

If you want more than the gist, there be spoilers beyond the cut.

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The Cultural Appeal of James Bond, and How He Could Endure

The twentieth-century James Bond is, to use M’s words, ‘a misogynist dinosaur, a relic of [a] cold war’ that never turned hot, and he’s the result of an unholy trinity of (toxic) hyper-masculinity, international terrorism, and whatever the hell ‘quintessential Englishness’ actually means.

Just after the UK premiere of SPECTRE, a colleague of mine and I got talking about my mild Bond obsession. Since he’d been put off by Quantum of Solace’s comparatively weak performance, he asked me how I would explain that 007 became such a cultural phenomenon that he’s still around today, and that the franchise is actually still growing. Since pulling meta out of my butt at a moment’s notice is kinda my whole thing, I may have gone off on a fifty-year tangent. I’ve been since asked to put my thoughts into writing, so here you have it.

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Fiction Meets Science — Pippa Goldschmidt, “The Falling Sky”

(A German translation of this review is available on the Bremer Literaturkontor website.)

No spoilers were harmed in the making of this review.

On June 18, 2015, astronomer-turned-novelist Pippa Goldschmidt visited the House of Science in Bremen, together with her translator Zoë Beck, to read excerpts from her novel “The Falling Sky.” As part of the series ‘Fiction meets Science,’ novelists, literary scholars, sociologists, and STEM scientists observe the relationship between literature and science. This examination takes place on two levels: literature becomes the object of sociological study within the context of public discourse on science and scientific progress, for one. On another level, there is a field of tension between science and its representation in art.

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Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road

If you haven’t seen Mad Max: Fury Road yet, I strongly urge you to.

Not only does it tell us, in the wake of summer action blockbusters like Age of Ultron and Fast and Furious 7, that this genre is neither dead nor dying — it tells us that it works across gender boundaries.

Tom Hardy’s Mad Max introduces us to a not forgotten hero, but one left in the dust of time, at least when it comes to the silver screen. It introduces us to the hero of a franchise, the male hero — and we get to know him through the role he plays not in his own story, not in some heroic journey that he’s mapped out for himself. We get to know him through the action he takes not for himself, but for others, through his role in someone else’s story.

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Legend — official trailer

Aside from the fact that I’d watch Tom Hardy fry an egg and I’m really excited to see him in not just one but two leading roles, this movie will be of special interest to us as Whitechapel fans. In Legend, Tom will play both of the infamous Kray twins, whose modern sort-of reincarnations (and fictional biological sons of Ronnie Kray) we met in Series 2, marvellously played by Craig Parkinson in a double role.

Legend is going to be a period piece, set to chronicle the Kray twins’ rise and claim to power during the 1950s and ’60s as well as their personal tribulations, apparently channeling a good bit of Seth and Richard Gecko as they go. Much has been told and written about the Kray twins — autobiographies, collections of prison letters published posthumously, as well as long list of interviews including and about them. I’m curious as to how the movie will deal with Ronnie being openly bisexual, as well as his condition (he was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia and certified insane). Emily Browning (Sucker Punch) is set to play Frances Shea, who played a rather tragic role that will shed light on the brothers’ relationship as well.

Other cast members include Taron Egerton (Kingsman), Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who), and Paul Anderson (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows).

Legend is set for release in September 2015.

Ian McKellen’s ‘Mr Holmes’ — Official UK trailer

Watson wrote the story — but he changed the ending.

I’ve read very little about the new Mr Holmes, starring Ian McKellen up to this point, simply because I wanted the first images I saw of it to be those in the trailer, not those of my overactive imagination.  I’ve seen and read so much of him that I wanted this Holmes to present himself on his own terms — and I’m glad I held back.

This Sherlock Holmes is years past his prime, decades even. Watson has since passed away, and Sherlock has squirrelled himself away in the country in Sussex, keeping bees and keeping a lot less busy than in his Baker Street days. The universe he lives in is one in which he is both real and much more of a fictional character than perhaps in some of the other adaptations that don’t go meta quite so much as to have people cry out his name in the streets or on the Internet — or to have Sherlock go and watch a movie made of his exploits at the cinema.

He chose exile, he tells us, following a grave mistake that he made — Holmes is rewriting one of his cases, the case of a young woman who needed his help… and whom he failed. Struggling with his memories changing and facing his own mortality, Holmes picks up his pen to give his last case its proper ending; and his waning life a sense of completion.

Focusing entirely on Ian McKellen’s Holmes, this trailer promises a moving tale — and, even in his last days, a fresh look at everyone’s favourite consulting detective.

The script isn’t based on any of Conan Doyle’s stories, but instead adapted from Mitch Cullin’s novel A Slight Trick of the Mind (published in 2005). Directed by Bill Condon, it also stars Laura Linney, Frances de la Tour, and Milo Parker.

Fanfiction Writers Are Not Here For Your Titillation.

Dear Media,

Fan fiction writers are not here for your titillation. Fan fiction writers are not here to make other fans of fiction feel safe and cozy in the knowledge that they’re wasting their lives watching telly more sanely than some others. Fan fiction writers are not here to provide cheap thrills for your audience.

We are not here — there, everywhere, in the public domain — to be made fun of; to be used as that old photograph on everyone’s high-and-mighty dartboard for all of those who… well, all of those who need to feel better about themselves and their own ways of consuming media. (Be that consuming loads of it, occasional viewers, or those consuming none at all.)

Apparently, you can only ever feel better about yourself by absolutely pissing on someone else’s fun parade.

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Doctor Who: Death in Heaven

Doctor Who: the Complete Series 8 Finale.

Previously on Doctor WhoFlatline.

Prologue

Due to Comic Con and work stuff, my viewing schedule has been messed about a little — and although Doctor Who is obviously coded for weekly viewing including seven days of dread before the next episode comes along, I’ll be binge-watching and reviewing the last three episodes of Series 8 in one go. From what spoilers I couldn’t really escape, looks like it’ll wreck most of my nerves whilst saving me getting upset about a few things, too.

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