Daniel Craig Confirmed for Bond 25

Columbia Pictures has announced that Daniel Craig will return as James Bond in Bond 25, the 25th film in the James Bond series!  In James Bond FAQ, Tom DeMichael describes the various Bond actors’ individual portrayals of the iconic role. Here’s what DeMichael wrote about the latest Bond star:

Daniel Craig

The sixth official 007 would be flaxen-haired Daniel Craig. As usual, the public reaction was less than supportive, saying heJames-bond-daniel-craig was too short, too blond, or too pug-faced. The vitriol included hate mail to Sony Pictures and Eon Productions, as well as the establishment of an Internet site called “www.danielcraigisnotbond.com.” And Daniel Craig had yet to even order his first martini.

Daniel Wroughton Craig was born on March 2, 1968, in Chester, Cheshire, England. His dad, Tim, was a merchant seaman and eventually ran a pub called Ring O’Bells. Mom’s name was Carol—an art teacher—and the Craigs divorced when Daniel was four. Carol took Daniel and older sister Lia to the working-class city of Liverpool, where Daniel appeared in school plays like Oliver! Craig did find time to rough it up on the rugby fields, but was not the scholarly type, dropping out at age sixteen and joining the NYT—National Youth Theater, with alums that included Dame Helen Mirren, Sir Derek Jacobi, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Colin Firth. Craig toured Europe, while seeking admittance to the celebrated Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His auditions were repeatedly refused, and he waited tables in the meantime (poorly, by his own admission). But Craig was persistent and finally entered Guildhall in 1988 at the age of twenty. With three years of classical training in performance, he graduated in 1991 and was ready to leave the world of table-waiting.

Craig’s first film role came the next year, as he played a soldier in the John Avildsen–directed Power of One, which starred Morgan Freeman, Sir John Gielgud, and Stephen Dorff. His next ten years were steadily spent on British television shows and miniseries, as well as feature films.

Daniel Craig’s first prominent role
came in 2001, teaming up with Angelina Jolie as they searched for lost treasure in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. He followed that up by playing Paul Newman’s crooked son in 2002’s Road to Perdition. Craig played poet Ted Hughes to Gwyneth Paltrow’s poet Sylvia Plath in the 2003 biopic Sylvia. His roles as XXXX, the anonymous drug dealer, in 2004’s Layer Cake, and an assassin in Steven Spielberg’s Munich in 2005, filled Craig’s résumé with enough firepower to justify his appointment as James Bond in 2006’s Casino Royale.

Justly, Craig’s take on JB changed a lot of opinions from negative to positive. Fans and critics alike appreciated his vicious physicality, his “rough-around-the-edges” charm, and straight-out acting talent. Dame Judi Dench—Bond’s boss, M, in the latest films—called Craig “a cracking good actor.” His performance in Casino Royale garnered something no other Bond actor had achieved—a nomination as Best Actor by BAFTA, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (the equivalent of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which gives out America’s Academy Awards). Former Bonds, including Brosnan and Connery, gave their approval of the actor. Sir Sean Connery himself, appearing in the 2008 “James Bond Special” on the British TV program The South Bank Show, said Craig was “fantastic, marvelous in the part.”

00314951No doubt, Daniel Craig had done his homework in tackling the role. He knew the physical part would be key, working out with a personal trainer. He told an interviewer in a 2008 interview in Playboy, “I got big because I wanted Bond to look like a guy who could kill.” Craig also gave much thought to what this Bond would be. In another interview, this time in a 2008 Parade magazine, he wondered about 007, “Am I the good guy or just a bad guy who works for the good side?”

The actor took his rough-and-tumble Bond into Quantum of Solace in 2008. When he accidentally cut the pad of his finger off during a fight scene, Craig made light of the incident. “There’s nothing to tell about it,” he told an interviewer in a 2008 British edition of GQ, joking, “I lost my fingerprint so I can now commit all sorts of crimes with that finger. I look forward to that.”

Craig was also able to look forward to a third Bond film, following a two- year delay due to bankruptcy issues with MGM. Production of Skyfall, the twenty-third official film in the James Bond franchise, began in November 2011, with release scheduled to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the UK release of Dr. No in November 2012. Furthermore, producer Michael C. Wilson announced plans for Craig to be 007 for five more films (up through Bond 28). At the rate of a Bond film every two years, that would make Daniel Craig fifty-four years old (four years younger than Moore when he abdicated the throne) when that last film is released in 2022. Not at all an unreasonable expectation, but time will tell.

Christmas Movie Must-Sees and Must-Avoids

Alonso Duralde, author of Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas, provides us with an updated list of some Christmas films that fall under both the must-see and must avoid categories!  Listen for Alonso today on the Frank DeCaro Show on SiriusXM Radio Channel 106.

Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas: Update!

By Alonso Duralde

Christmas is a time when we dig out the old music, the old movies, the old recipes and the old tacky sweaters, the ones we’ve enjoyed our entire lives, that have become part of our annual holiday tradition. But there’s always room to mix things up a little, and that’s the idea behind my holiday movie guide Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas, a book that contains lots of the Christmas movies you already love and that will, I hope, point you toward some new ones. 00332930

New movies keep coming every year, of course, and not just the ones that Lifetime and Hallmark crank out in December. Here are two must-sees (and must-avoids) that emerged since the book’s original publication.

MUST-SEE:

Arthur Christmas (2011): The fine folks at Aardman Animation (the people behind Wallace & Gromit, among many others) crafted this sweet and wildly funny animated adventure about Arthur (voiced by James McAvoy), the younger and most enthusiastic son of the current Santa Claus (Jim Broadbent). When the high-tech and super-efficient gift delivery system of Santa’s older son Steve (Hugh Laurie) leaves a single toy undelivered, Arthur must team up with his Grandsanta (Bill Nighy) and enthusiastic gift-wrapping elf Bryony (Ashley Jensen) to make sure no child gets left behind.

Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever (2014): OK, forget what I said about Lifetime: For all the sappy romances they’ve delivered over the years, they at least got this one right. Aubrey Plaza provides the snarky, snippy voice of Internet sensation Grumpy Cat, who befriends a lonely young girl and helps prevent a dognapping at Christmastime. It’s a silly movie, but it knows how silly it is, with plenty of self-aware jokes about the nature of Lifetime films.

MUST AVOID:

The Nutcracker in 3-D (2009): Awful 3-D, terrible dancing, contemporary hip-hop lyrics added to Tchaikovsky music, and Nathan Lane as Albert Einstein. Oh, and did I mention the Nazi-ish rats, filling in for the mice? The pits.

Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas (2014): OK, calling this one a “movie” is stretching the word far past its accepted definition; this is more like an extended Sunday School PowerPoint demonstration full of the former child star’s anti-historical and anti-scientific theories. Also, breakdancing, which made me wish I was watching The Nutcracker in 3-D again. Not really.

Merry Christmas!

Happy Halloween! A Zombie Film Excerpt

Happy Halloween! As the new season of The Walking Dead is going strong, we’ve decided to celebrate by giving you an excerpt from The Zombie Film!

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One of the highest rated shows on television, cable or broadcast, The Walking Dead is adapted from the popular graphic novel of the same name and with the same set-up: Rick Grimes is a former cop who has been in a coma for several months after being shot while on duty. When he wakes, he discovers that the world has been taken over by zombies and that he seems to be the only person still alive. Returning home to discover his wife and son missing, he heads for Atlanta to search for his family.

By the end of its third year episodes, The Walking Dead had refocused on the same ironies Romero had suggested in 1968. The core group of survivors, with whom the audience had traveled through zombie land for two seasons, WDhas taken refuge in a prison guarded by implacable ghouls. It’s a bit larger than the farmhouse in Night of the
Living Dead but the emotional situation and the bickering amongst themselves is much the same. What’s more their main conflict is no longer with the “walkers” or “biters” but another, larger group of humans ensconced in a fortified town, who are more numerous, better armed, and lead by a sociopathic control freak that needs to kill them so that he can continue to rule his little world unchallenged. While that character may not yet have become Dennis Hopper’s Kaufman in Land of the Dead, he is getting close.

Zombie Apocalypse (2010), Zombie Apocalypse (the television movie), and Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption (both 2011) reflect and exploit the growing millennial anxiety around an increasingly dangerous world and the fascination with zombies on the Internet as well as in the news. All three rely heavily on the same low-budget rendering of a dystopic future, the zombie world established from Night of the Living Dead through 28 Days Later in which humans are outnumbered by zombies and in a continual state of anxiety and outright combat, much like the “war against terrorism.” In a period context, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012) hoped to coat tail on the success of the bigger-budgeted Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter in the same year. Unfortunately neither met with either critical or financial success.

Even as a spate of ultra-low-budget projects over the last decade have infested the genre (and our Filmography) as thoroughly as the aimless hordes in The Walking Dead have overrun the Deep South, some filmmakers have found an alternative to the standard “don’t get bitten before you shoot those snarling zombies in the head” scenarios without needing a lot more money.

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Interview with Ryan Finnigan

The Room: The Definitive Guide author Ryan Finnigan was interviewed by Rob Aldan of Backseat Mafia about his organization, The Five and Dime Picture Show, and his new book!

If you don’t know, The Five and Dime Picture Show takes place every few weeks at The Film Unit in Sheffield University. It specializes in screening cult and unusual films at affordable prices.

Read the rest of the interview HERE.

How did Five and Dime come into existence?

00127688In a pretty convoluted way… Matt and I met at the Lantern Theatre some time ago, I wrote a short film and we needed a theatre location and ended up shooting there, with Matt hosting and providing technical support. At that point, I had been shopping around a cult film night idea unsuccessfully to some local cinemas, I found out that Matt was screening some films at the Lantern including The Room and so I harassed him by e-mail into letting me get involved, although it eventually just faded out… we met again by chance when I was looking at putting together a film show with Adam Batty (of Hope Lies… ) and eventually, we resurrected the idea of working a film night together and wound up meeting with Richard Clesham, then of Film Unit, to pitch our idea to their committee… and the rest is history.

Have cult films always been a passion of yours?

I think both Matt and I have long been attracted to anything off-the-beaten track, which probably comes from each of us having seen so many films over the years. It’s refreshing to see anything “weird” or challenging. Personally, I’ve also found something quite thrilling about finding something obscure or outrageous and I think once you find other people who are like-minded, discovering oddities and sharing them has an almost addictive, competitive element akin to treasure-hunting and the more people you introduce it to, the better.

Was there one film that started it all off?

I don’t especially remember one title, but more of a feeling. I was and still am a night owl and as a teenager, late night TV discoveries were particularly influential. I vividly remember seeing late night screenings of both Videodrome and Evil Dead 2, which were so unexpected and thrilling in different ways, that they remain two of my very favourite films. Channel 4 was particularly excellent in my youth and their weekly double-bill of Troma’s Edge TV followed by a Troma film had a big impact on my passion for the independent film world and cult-trash, and with titles like Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town and A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell, it was hard not to love the cut of their jib as a teenage boy. Aside from that, buying and collecting VHS and swapping them with friends was a big thing – I particularly remember the early Peter Jackson films like Bad Taste and Braindead, as well as more widely-respected titles like Leon and Blade Runner doing the rounds.

You have your third annual screening of The Room. Why is it clearly so close to your heart?

It’s completely unique. There is nothing at all like the experience of both the film and the screening environment – there’s so much energy in the room. Pun intended. We’re both ex-film students and I think for me, there’s something rebellious about The Room. Not only does it break every single rule of filmmaking in 100 minutes but it’s certainly far, far away from silently and academically pondering over say, the Bergman oeuvre and there’s something liberating and curious about interacting with the film, in a way that’s not always the same.

I think it took a while for me to analyse what it is that really motivates my own passion for the film, beyond the fact that it’s absolutely hilarious and a wild ride in company. Essentially, I think it comes down to how touching it is that Tommy Wiseau went to such great, misguided lengths to try and get the world to notice and love him, which I think is in turn both very silly but also incredibly sad. Over time, I think a lot of people find that from their initial reaction of laughing and mocking the Hollywood alien who doesn’t fit the mould, they actually wind up kind of identifying with Wiseau. I’ve definitely seen the film a lot of times and have watched it from a lot of different perspectives, which I can’t say about any other film. Also, I suppose that I just fell completely in love with Tommy and find him fascinating on a day-to-day basis, so I guess his plan worked.

Speaking of which, you’ve written a book about the film. How did that come about?

Well, I’ve been a fan of the film for years now and ahead of our last screening, I became incredibly obsessed with it for a 10th Anniversary feature for my website and contacted cast members and started to do features, with Alan Jones beginning an extensive analysis of the film too and Mute providing some graphics. The enthusiasm never really died down after and was only exacerbated by the release of Greg Sestero’s The Disaster Artist and eventually meeting Tommy and Greg in London, at which point I kind of thought, “what if we compiled all this stuff into some kind of a guide?” So, I pitched it to a handful of publishers on a whim and found myself in negotiations to produce it within a couple of days.

What can fans expect to see in “The Room: The Definitive Guide”?

A lot of our collective blood, sweat and tears! Seriously though, it’s a comedic reference guide to the film and the Room/Tommy Wiseau phenomenon. I essentially contacted as many people from or involved with the film as possible and interviewed them, from cast members to celebrity fans and the people screening the film, there’s people involved from all over the world.

The book is in three parts and opens as a guide for people who have never seen the film with guest chapters from Juliette Danielle (Lisa in The Room), Michael Rousselet (the inventor of spoon-throwing), Steve Heisler (The A.V. Club/Rolling Stone) and James Durkin (the guy who introduced me to the film). Part Two is interviews with cast members and an extensive, hilarious analysis of the film by Alan Jones and Part Three covers life after the film and the fan culture that has grown around it, with loads of interviews with notable fans like Paul Scheer (How Did This Get Made?), Payman Benz (Director of the Tommy Wi-Show) and Alison Goertz (Cossbysweater).

On top of that, it’s filled with eye-popping graphics and design from Mute, which really brings it to life. We basically threw in as much fun as we could.

 

Read the rest of the interview HERE.

A Tribute To Jan Hooks

SNL star Jan Hooks sadly passed away on October 9th.  Stephen Tropiano, author of Saturday Night Live FAQ, wrote a fitting tribute to this talented woman. Thank you for the laughs, Jan.

A Tribute to Jan Hooks

The recent death of Saturday Night Live of cast member Jan Hooks from an “undisclosed illness” took everyone by surprise last week. The fact she had been ill was never made public and she hasn’t been seen on television since 2010, when she appeared on the prime time special, The Women of SNL, and two episodes of 30 Rock as Jenna’s Maroney’s (Jane Krakowski) mother, Verna.

Liz and Candy Sweeney  (Jan Hooks, left, and Nora Dunn) butcher some holiday standards at their annual Christmas party (c/o "Saturday Night Live FAQ").

Liz and Candy Sweeney (Jan Hooks, left, and Nora Dunn) butcher some holiday standards at their annual Christmas party (c/o “Saturday Night Live FAQ”).

We often read stories about Method film actors like Robert DeNiro, Daniel Day Lewis, and Christian Bale getting “lost in a film role” and walking away in the end with an Oscar. Over Saturday Night Live’s forty year history, Jan Hooks was part of a select group of cast members—a list that also includes Dan Aykroyd, Nora Dunn, Mike Myers, and Cheri Oteri—who were the sketch comedy equivalent of Method actors. What separated Hooks and the others from most SNL performers is how they embodied the roles they played to the point where you felt like you really never knew the real person behind the comic persona.

A former member of the Los Angeles based comedy troupe, The Groundlings, Hooks never broke character because she was always in way too deep. She will be best remembered on SNL as Candy Sweeney, half of the meagerly talented singing duo, the Sweeney Sisters. They were high-energy and their performances were peppered with plenty of playful patter, yet musically Candy and her sister Liz (Dunn) always seemed like they were having an off-night.

Hooks created a few other original characters (Marge Keister and Anita), but she was also the show’s resident female impressionist for the six seasons (1986-1991) she appeared on the show. She was given the chance to play an array of famous women, like Hillary Clinton, Diane Sawyer, Sinead O’Connor, Jessica Hahn, and Tammy Faye Baker (to name a few). For five of the six seasons, Hooks, Dunn, and Victoria Jackson were the only women on the show. When Dunn left in 1990, it was only Hooks, Jackson, and newcomer Julia Sweeney.

It was talented performers like Hooks who paved the way for the other funny women who followed. Kristin Wiig, who was also in the spotlight during her seven seasons on the show (when Amy Poehler left in 2008, she was the only female regular on the show). Wiig paid tribute to Hooks on last week’s show. “She was one of the best that ever was,” Wiig remarked, “and her influence was clear in everyone one of us who has been here since.”

Get to the choppa: A Modern Sci Fi Films FAQ excerpt

Thirty years ago, we saw Arnie take to the screen in his most iconic role as the Terminator! Modern Sci Fi Films FAQ (new from Applause Theatre and Cinema Books) includes a special synopsis of this classic robot action film. Don’t worry – we won’t include any spoilers for those who haven’t seen it yet.

 

Robots and Robot Wannabes

Do You Worry About Rust?

The word “robot” is Czech in origin. Their word, “robota,” refers to drudgery, and, in general, a robot is a device designed to perform tasks usually done by a human (apparently, my time spent up to my elbows in dish soap would make me a “robot”).  As such, robots tend to appear in humanoid form, at least in the cinematic world.

The concept of a humanoid robot made sense in Hollywood, as the easiest way to portray one was to build a stiff metallic costume that could be worn by an actor or stunt man. That is, at least, until robots became reality in the 1960s and 1970s. Function overtook form, as the real robots of the world—such as the Stanford Cart—looked more like overloaded tea carts than mechanical men.

The miniaturization of technology took the “man-in-suit” out of the equation in many movies that featured robots. Still, actors Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker served robots C-3PO and R2-D2 well from inside their stuffy confines in the Star Wars epics. Ditto Peter Weller in RoboCop.

Stop-motion animation and computer-generated graphics made non- humanoid robots an alternative to men in suits. Take, for example, 1984’s The Terminator. Once stripped of its cyborg flesh, the T-800 skeleton was presented by way of a full-sized remote-controlled figure built by Stan Winston, as well as stop-motion animation by Doug Beswick, Gene Warren Jr., and the Fantasy II effects team.

The Terminator

Synopsis

  • 1984—American/Orion—108 min./color
  • Director: James Cameron
  • Original music: Brad Fiedel
  • Film editing: Mark Goldblatt
  • Art direction: George Costello

Cast

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger (Terminator)
  • Michael Biehn (Kyle Reese)
  • Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor)
  • Paul Winfield (Lt. Traxler)
  • Lance Henriksen (Det. Hal Vukovich) 


In 2029, a raging conflict persists between an army of war machines and guerrilla soldiers. The machines send one of their own back to 1984 Los Angeles, where they intend on killing Sarah Connor. If they don’t, she will give birth to John Connor, who is the leader against the machines in the future war. This killing machine, a “terminator,”—Model T-800—is an incredibly sophisticated cyborg. It’s constructed of human tissue, with a high-tech hydraulic skeleton and a single mandate—to kill Sarah. It arrives in a flash of lightning and immediately clothes its nude body by killing a group of toughs and taking their clothes.

But the Terminator is not the only time traveler. Kyle Reese also arrives from the future, sent by John Connor to save Sarah. She is a young single girl who seems dependent on many people. Looking in a phone book, the Terminator finds three Sarah Connors listed. He seeks them out, coldly killing the first two. Going to Sarah’s apartment, the Terminator kills her roommate and room- mate’s boyfriend. 
Sarah is not home, and she is disturbed when she hears on the news that two Sarah Connors have been murdered. She becomes even more fearful when she observes Reese following her. She calls her apartment from a disco, but only gets her answering machine. Not realizing the Terminator is still there, she leaves a message telling her roommate where she is. She then calls police, and Lt. Traxler tells her to stay put. 
In the disco, the Terminator arrives and zeroes in on Sarah, but Reese saves her by firing a salvo of shotgun blasts into the cyborg. It doesn’t faze him, and he responds with fierce gunfire, killing dozens of innocent patrons. Sarah and Reese escape in the fray, but the Terminator takes off after them. They duck him in a car chase, where Reese lets Sarah in on the whole story.

 Read more from Modern Sci Fi Films FAQ here

Saturday Night Live Turns 40

Saturday Night Live will begin its 40th season tomorrow! Saturday Night Live FAQ author Stephen Tropiano tells us all we need to know about the new season.

Saturday Night Live is Turning 40!

Stephen Tropiano

Saturday Night Live’s 40th season begins on September 27th with host Chris Pratt and musical guest Ariana Grande. They are both smart choices for the season opener: Pratt is the star of the summer blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Grande’s album, My Everything, debuted last month at #1 on the Billboard Chart. Pratt and Grande will be followed by two former SNL cast members: Sarah Silverman with musical guest Maroon 5 (October 4), and Bill Hader with Hozier (October 11). This is Silverman’s first appearance on SNL since her short stint as a cast member in Season 19 (1993-1994). Hader is a veteran cast member (Seasons 31-38, 2005-2013) currently co-starring with fellow SNL vet Kristin Wiig in The Skeleton Twins.

As expected, some cast changes and shuffling occurred at SNL over the summer.

  • Nasim Pedrad has officially left the show to join the cast of former SNL head writer John Mulaney’s new sitcom, Mulaney. Lorne Michaels is the executive producer, which explains why the Mulaney cast also includes former SNLer Martin Short (Season 10, 1984-1985) as Mulaney’s boss, a legendary comedian turned game show host, and Elliot Gould as Mulaney’s gay neighbor. The first member of SNL’s “Five-Timers Club,” Gould hosted the show five times during Seasons 1-5 (1975-1980) and the season opener for the disastrous Season 6 (11/15/80).
  • Three of the eight-featured players–Noel Wells, John Milhiser, and Brooks Whelan– will not be returning. A fourth, Michael O’Brien, who wrote for the show for four years, will be returning to the writer’s room full time. It’s not entirely clear why Wells, Milhiser, and Whelan’s contracts were not renewed, though it is safe to say that due to lack of airtime, they probably didn’t stand out enough compared to the two returning featured players, Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney, who, filling the void left by Andy Samberg and his Lonely Island collaborators, showcased his comedic talent in a series of quirky shorts. Bennett and Mooney will be joined by Sasheer Zamata, who debuted in January, and head writer/Weekend Update anchor Colin Jost.
  • Two new feature players, Pete Davidson and Michael Che, will be joining the cast. Twenty-year old Pete Davidson is a young stand-up comic from Staten Island whose credits include Nick Cannon Presents: Wild ‘N Out , the MTV series Guy Code, and an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Che will take over for Cecily Strong as co-anchor of Weekend Update with Colin Jost, marking the first time the news has been co-anchored by two males. Che, a stand-up comic, was a SNL writer last season and spent the last three months as a contributor to The Daily Show. Apparently Cecily Strong has no hard feelings–hopefully she will return to Weekend Update soon as “The Girl You Wished You Hadn’t Started a Conversation with at a Party.”
  • Darrell Hammond, whose tenure on SNL was the longest in the show’s history (14 seasons, 1995-2009), will be replacing the legendary Don Pardo as the show’s announcer. There is likely to be a tribute to Pardo, who died at the age of 96 this past August, sometime soon. As Hillary Clinton will no doubt be running for President in 2016, Hammond will hopefully also be appearing on-camera as the man who may become America’s “First Gentlemen.