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James Bond @ the Manly Cinemas

James Bond @ the Manly Cinemas

[OK, so I fibbed last month when I said no more posts about Australia.]

Back in November I was at Manly Beach near Sydney, Australia. It was named Manly because when Captain Cook saw the indigenous males on the beach, he thought them ‘manly.’

So, at Manly Beach, all things are Manly: Manly Italian Restaurant, Manly Backpackers’ Hostel, etc. So, naturally there was a Manly Cinema, where a very manly film was screening: the latest James Bond release, QUANTUM OF SOLACE.

I couldn’t make it through CASINO ROYALE, mainly because the product placements were guilty of overacting. OK, so Ford Motor Company had their product in the film, but did it have to be introduced in a shot reminiscent of those auto commercials that are filmed on the Oregon coast every summer? And why was the brand of Bond’s watch not only displayed prominently in the visuals, but also had to be mentioned by brand name in the dialog?

My eyes were rolling. I would have walked out on the film but it was an in-flight movie twixt Shanghai and Detroit.

The good news about QUANTUM OF SOLACE is that — while the product placements are still there (what contemporary movie or TV series doesn’t have product placement?) — they’re so subtle this time that you don’t lose your suspension of disbelief. Actually, it’s quite cool the way they were handled this time. Yes, there was a frontal shot of a Ford, with the hood logo displayed in foreground again this time for X number of seconds (the same contractual parameters as before) but the shot is so integrated into the situation (one of those situations where the hero is outnumbered by henchmen and the gal-pal suddenly pulls up in a car and shouts to the hero to jump in; they speed away, initiating a car chase) that the product is experienced as it is supposed to be: subliminally. Ditto the wristwatch: instead of the clumsy dialog of CASINO ROYALE where the Bond girl tries to peg the hero by guessing the brand name of the watch he wears, QUANTUM OF SOLACE employs a simple yet effective insert shot of Bond’s hands as he picks the door lock of a Haitian hotel room, with the wristwatch getting its 15 seconds of fame in a shot that is advantageous to its most flattering attributes.

So if you too were turned off by the shameless huckstering of CASINO ROYALE, come back and enjoy a good Bond movie. This one uses some strange editing theories (that actually work), and sometimes reaches delirious heights of PostModernism (occasionally referencing Hitchcock, especially TO CATCH A THIEF and NOTORIOUS). Enjoy two hours of manly cinema.

Doug / PoMo Joan

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