Monday, November 12, 2012

Mel Gibson as James Bond

It's Monday.  I was listening to the Bay Area-based morning program, "The Monty Show," on KGO Radio.  The energetic and intelligent host raved about the new James Bond adventure, Skyfall.  "You've got to see it," he urged.  The movie raked in $87.8 million over the weekend at U.S. and Canadian box offices.  Monty reported that fact and added, "It earned it."  Not bad for a franchise that could now receive AARP Magazine.  Actor Daniel Craig helped prove that the movie 007 franchise is fabulous at 50.
If someone walked into this room right now and said, "I'll take you to the movies this afternoon.  What do you want to see?," I'd say, "Skyfall!"  I like Daniel Craig.  I like how he's rebooted Bond to help him shoot up to #1 at the box office.  Did you know that Braveheart could have been James Bond?  Way back in the 80s, Mel Gibson was a guest on my VH1 talk show for the whole half-hour.  He was promoting 1988's Tequila Sunrise at the time.  This was one year after his first Lethal Weapon movie, which was box office dynamite, and years before his Best Director Oscar for 1995's Best Picture, Braveheart.  I'd found out that Mel Gibson had been offered the 007 role.  Here's a clip.
Talk about irony.  Today, Hollywood seems to be bored with Mel Gibson.  Did you know he had a big 2012 summer release action movie?  Some movie critics actually liked Get the Gringo and wrote that his wise-ass crook in a Mexican prison character was entertaining -- like his 1999 character in Payback.  But Mel couldn't escape the bad press generated by his rude outbursts that turned him into a modern-day Norman Maine from A Star Is Born with Hollywood insiders and audiences.  A Mel Gibson action movie didn't open big on screens nationwide over the summer.  Instead, it went straight to DirecTV.
Full disclosure:  Mel was warm and gracious that day at VH1.  He was different when I interviewed him about 1997's Conspiracy Theory.  Not at all pleasant.  Be that as it may, his fall from grace with theater owners is stunning.  I saw him in a cable TV interview promoting the OnDemand premiere of Get the Gringo.  He was humble and gracious.  As for Daniel Craig, I became a fan of his before he got Bonded.  Like Veronica Lake in Sullivan's Travels, Joan Fontaine in Rebecca and Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch, he played a blond whose name we never learn.  Also like them, he lit up the screen.  The snappy crime caper -- and probably the feature that got him consideration to be the new James Bond -- is the British thriller called Layer Cake.  Craig exudes a cool charisma reminiscent of early Steve McQueen in this 2004 movie.  Sienna Miller co-stars.
Craig nails it as construction worker romancing a widow about the same age that the 007 franchise is now.  And the construction worker made the first move.  Forget her grown children, there was just something he found fascinating about The Mother.
Anne Reid played the very middle-aged British woman who has the best incentive ever to get a beauty and fashion makeover.  He gave her a new look at herself.  Work it, Mom!
It was so interesting and refreshing to see a smartly done, well-acted film in which a mature woman is not portrayed as being predatory or a freak in having a sexual relationship with a younger man.  May was not a "Mrs. Robinson" in The Graduate.  She's an older woman whose inner light goes noticed by loved ones.  It's noticed by someone who works on the property.  This construction worker had great renovation skills.
The second Truman Capote biopic released did not get Oscar attention like the the first one starring Philip Seymour Hoffman did, but it's my favorite of the two.  It has a different heart and tone.  I've blogged previously that Sandra Bullock's performance as Capote friend and fellow author Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird), should have brought the actress her first Oscar nomination.  The film is 2006's Infamous.  Daniel Craig has the key role of Perry Smith, one of the convicted killers that Truman Capote (played by Toby Jones) interviews and writes about in his best-selling masterpiece, In Cold Blood.
I believe that Infamous makes Daniel Craig the first James Bond to have kissed another man onscreen.  The Infamous relationship between the killer and the celebrated writer is most complicated.  Did Capote blur the line between journalism and fiction?  Truth and self-deception?  Craig is quite good in this overlooked, under-appreciated biopic.
With all the raves from critics and the terrific response from moviegoers, could Skyfall be the first Bond film to get a Best Picture Oscar nomination?  Let's ask Braveheart.




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