Sunday, October 31, 2010

Repost: Seductive Espionage

One of the things I'm doing as part of this week-long blogiversary celebration is to spotlight some older posts that have slipped into the ether.  You can always explore months gone by in the Archives section on the right, but I'm aware that the Blogger format is slightly deficient in the convenience of carrying out such archaeological expeditions.  I'm working on that, but whenever I have time to spend on the blog content always trumps format and I'd rather spend that time writing a new post.  I do intend to fix that problem in the future, but for now I'll address it be re-posting certain posts that I want to showcase.  First up in this series is a review I wrote last year for an amazing art book about a series of Japanese spy movies from the Sixties that never actually existed.  Had I ever gotten around to doing a year end Best Of list in 2009, this surely would have been my top book pick.  It's a book I love dipping back into, and I could easily enjoy many more volumes of this.  Enough introduction.  Here's the original post–or at least the first half of it.  Click the link at the end to read the whole thing.

Book Review: Seductive Espionage: The World of Yuki 7 By Kevin Dart And Ada Cole

If you consider yourself a fan of Sixties spy pop culture, then you need this book!

When I first posted the link to Stephane Coedel’s fantastic animated trailer for Kevin Dart’s fictional Sixties spy heroine Yuki 7, I commented that I was dying to see the movie and that it was frustrating that A Kiss From Tokyo didn’t actually exist. Now I’ve read the book, Seductive Espionage: The World of Yuki 7, written by Ada Cole, based on Dart’s creation and overflowing with his amazing illustrations (as well as contributions from others), and as much as I’d like to see those Yuki 7 movies, it simply doesn’t matter that they don’t exist. It doesn’t matter because Dart and Cole have captured the essence of the Sixties spy genre, everything I love about it, and packed it into this book–not just a beautiful art book, but a thorough history of a series of movies that never was.

Often, the movies themselves almost feel like afterthoughts. Sometimes the poster captures the true essence of the Sixties spy genre better than the movie ever could. Take, for example, the majority of Eurospy posters. I love them. I collect them. I decorate my walls with them and I stuff the ones that won’t fit into tubes and sleeves and portfolios that litter my apartment. They’re all dripping with the best elements of James Bond: exotic locations and impeccable fashions, heroic leading men and sultry, sexy, frequently bikini-clad women clutching guns or–better still–spearguns, fast, exotic sports cars, helicopters, airplanes and even more exotic forms of transportation, amazing gadgets, exciting action and explosions galore. On paper, every movie is equal, regardless of the budget. How exciting a movie looks is limited only by the artist’s imagination, and the guys who created these posters had pretty good imaginations.

I’m looking right now at my very favorite poster in my collection, the German one-sheet for Deadlier Than the Male (or Tödliche Katzen), which hangs in my living room. Besides the gorgeous Elke Sommer, who can’t really be improved upon, there’s a man diving forward at me, out of the poster, clutching a gun. He doesn’t really look like Richard Johnson, but his pose is dynamic. There’s a man getting shot by some thugs in a car–not a scene that actually happens in the movie, but an exciting poster image. And there’s an exploding yacht and a flaming jetliner plummeting towards Earth. Those things do happen in the film (more or less), but in much less spectacular fashions. There’s a frame where a model of a jetliner suddenly stops being a model of a jetliner and is instead a modest detonation, and later on there’s a bomb that goes off, off screen, near a large-ish boat. On film, those incidents are limited by the production’s budget–but not on the poster. I love the film–love it!–but I might just love the poster even more. It’s like the director’s cut: what Ralf Thomas would have done if he’d had Broccoli and Saltzman money to work with.

Another German poster I love is the one for Lightning Bolt. After first seeing the image in The Eurospy Guide (whose caption points out the unmissable and nearly unbelievable phallic imagery of the swimsuit-clad girl perched atop the hero’s giant gun), I purchased the poster long before I’d ever seen the movie. Once again, there are explosions. There’s even a rocket launching! The poster played its own movie for me, and it was one I loved. When I finally saw the film Lightning Bolt, it certainly didn’t let me down. (I quite enjoyed it, in fact.) But it also didn’t live up to that poster image. How could it? While the second half of the film really made the most of its limited budget, the first half showcased mainly plywood sets and those ubiquitous Eurospy walls made of curtains. (There are no curtains on the poster.) The rocket launch, naturally, was a piece of grainy stock footage rather carelessly inserted into the proceedings. There are other Eurospy posters that I’ve bought and still haven’t gotten to see the movies of, but that doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of the poster images. I sincerely doubt that Password: Kill Agent Gordon can possibly live up to the incredible one-sheet (though I’d dearly love to see it try!), and while the authors of The Eurospy Guide are fairly dismissive of Goldsnake, that didn’t stop them from using its iconic poster artwork as the cover to their book–or stop me from buying the poster! It won’t stop me from watching the film, either, whenever I finally get the chance. But for now, the poster tells its own story. Segretissimo is a poster I haven’t been able to get my hands on yet, but from the tiny, tantalizing jpegs that I have seen, I want to acquire the poster just as much as I want to see the film!

My point is that it’s possible to capture everything wonderful about Sixties spy movies in two-dimensional images, and that’s exactly what Kevin Dart has done in Seductive Espionage. The spy posters he’s created–French, Japanese and UK Quads–painstakingly capture the spirit of the Sixties spy phenomenon. Dart’s ultra-cool style, laden with jittery brush strokes and ragged line work, isn’t an approximation of famous Sixties poster artists like Robert McGinnis or Frank McCarthy, but each layout might well have been for a real movie poster, and Dart perfectly captures the nuances that differentiate the advertising from each of those different countries. He’s created an ideal synthesis of actual Sixties movie poster styles and his own style.

Click here to read the entire review and see more images from the book.
Upcoming Spy Screenings: Pierce Brosnan In Person In Los Angeles

The Aero Theatre in Santa Monica hosted George Lazenby last month; next month they will play host to another James Bond: Pierce Brosnan.  Brosnan will appear in person to conduct a Q&A between screenings of his two best post-007 films on November 20.  The Ghost Writer (review here) screens at 7:30 followed by Brosnan's Q&A and then a screening of The Matador.  The American Cinematheque, who runs the theater, bills the event as "an in person tribute that includes two of Brosnan's finest performances," and they're certainly not wrong.  Picking his top two, however, I personally would have substituted John Boorman's The Tailor of Panama for Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer, but since the event is probably intended to raise Brosnan's profile with Academy voters for well-deserved Best Supporting Actor consideration for this year's The Ghost Writer, that wouldn't make a lot of sense.  It should be a great night nonetheless. Tickets should be available soon through Fandango if they're not already.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Double O Section Is Four Years Old Today

I can't believe I've been doing this for four years.  That's like college!  It's a long time.  And I think 4 might equal 80 or so in Blog Years.  So it seems appropriate to celebrate–and possibly even to celebrate all week long.  To do so, and to thank all the readers who continue to peruse the Double O Section in record numbers, I'll be running a number of contests throughout the week.  Some of them will run for the whole week, as usual, and others will have shorter durations. There might even be some lightning prizes of the "first person to email me" variety rather than the regular random selection.  So check back frequently for the best opportunity to win some really cool books, DVDs and Blu-rays featuring your favorite superspies like James Bond, Jim Phelps and Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, among others!  I'll be interspersing these contests amidst reposts of some of my favorite posts from the past four years that more recent readers might have missed (mostly reviews and not news, as the latter has a tendency to date rather quickly) and, if all goes according to plan, lots of new content as well.  It's going to be a good week on the Double O Section!  Just like it's been a good four years.  Thanks for reading.  Be seeing you!

Mejor Vestida de la Semana

Aquí está la sección semanal con las elegidas a mejor vestida de la semana 44 del 2010. Espero que os guste, y que votéis por vuestra favorita. ¡Gracias por Votar y Buen Fin de Semana!

Blake Lively es la Mejor Vestida de la Semana

Blake se lleva el titulo de esta semana gracias a este maravilloso vestido de Lanvin.

En el segundo puesto encontramos a Elsa Pataky con un vestido rojo de Dsquared. Y en tercer lugar está Sienna Miller con un vestido de Nina Ricci. Muchas Gracias por los Votos!

14 Edición de los Premios de Hollywood, LA

Leighton Meester llevó un vestido azul cielo, con plumas en los hombros, de Elie Saab Primavera 2011. Los zapatos de ante que lleva son de la misma colección.

Carey Mulligan llevó un vestido en color burdeos de Giles Resort 2011. Llevó zapatos de Roger Vivier y clutch de VBH.

Halle Berry estaba impresionante con este vestido amplio en color gris con lentejuelas, de Kaufman Franco. Llevó sandalias de Giuseppe Zanotti.

Milla Jovovich llevó un vestido largo, con una manga estilo murciélago, de Temperley London Primavera 2011.

Hilary Swank llevó un vestido corto en color rojo, de Giorgio Armani Invierno 2010, con bordados florales. Llevó zapatos color nude de Stella McCartney.

Mila Kunis llevó un vestido corto, en color negro, con escote corazón, de Monique Lhuillier.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fiesta "Reel Moments" del Magazine Glamour, LA

Eva Mendes estaba preciosa con este vestido en color crudo de Lela Rose Primavera 2011, con corset.

Jessica Biel llevó un vestido precioso, en color negro, con encaje, de Oscar de la Renta Resort 2011. El clutch que lleva en forma de prisma es de Roger Vivier.

Demi Moore estaba muy guapa con unos leggins de cuero de Bird by Juicy Couture, un blazer negro y una camisa de rayas de Balmain.
Bargain Alert: Network Halloween DVD Sale This Weekend

UK DVD company Network (a name well known to spy fans) is having a Halloween sale this weekend.  (At least I think it's a Halloween sale... but it's couched in what appear to be British sitcom references that go way over the head of this American.) They bill this as their last sale of 2010, so don't expect another one before Christmas.  (However, I'd be willing to bet we'll see their annual winter sale at the end of January.)  It's a good sale: 35% off the already discounted prices on pretty much their entire inventory, excluding pre-orders and recent releases.  (The fine print also gives Network the right to exclude whatever they feel like excluding, but that doesn't seem to be very much as far as I can tell.)  For American spy fans with multi-region DVD players, be aware that the company's usual overseas shipping caveat applies with a hefty £40 surcharge on orders over a certain weight.  But if recent sales are any indication, this is easily avoidable by ordering your items seperately.  If you want to get a huge set, it might kick in though. 

Network has churned out a steady flow of amazing spy releases over the summer. This is a great opportunity to pick up many of those DVDs and soundtrack CDs cheaply.  Some to consider (although I haven't checked all of these to see if any might be excluded): The Saint: Original Soundtrack (review here), The Zoo Gang: Original Soundtrack (review here), Codename: Kyril (review here), The Corridor People: The Complete Series (review here), Saracen: The Complete Series (review here), The Four Just MenMr Palfrey of Westminster, The Protectors: The Complete Series, The Prisoner: The Ultimate Set or any of Network's many other spy DVDs or impressive ITC series soundtracks. International buyers, please be aware that all of Network's DVDs are PAL Region 2 releases, and you need a multi-region player (or at least a computer equipped with the free software VLC Player) to watch them.

The sale runs through midnight (GMT, presumably) on Sunday.

La Princesa Letizia en los Premios Príncipe de Asturias 2010, Oviedo

Normalmente no me suelo fijar en el estilo de la Princesa Letizia, pero últimamente le veo algún conjunto que me encanta. En esta ocasión me impresionó en los Premios Príncipe de Asturias que se celebraron hace una semana.

La Princesa optó por un vestido negro, con encaje y bordados, de Felipe Varela. Los zapatos son una preciosidad, muy buena elección.

Premios Telva 2010, Madrid

Paz Vega fue una de mis favoritas con este increíble vestido negro, con encaje y una falda a base de pelaje negro, de Hannibal Laguna Primavera 2011.

Nieves Álvarez optó por un vestido largo, en dos tonos, azul y negro, de Giambattista Valli Invierno 2009.

La actriz Dafne Fernández llevó un vestido largo en color negro, con escote corazón, de Hannibal Laguna Primavera 2011. Iba elegantisima.

Helen Lindes optó por un vestido largo, en color crema, con un cinturón negro que destacaba su cintura.

Carmen Lomana me pareció la más original con este vestido color rosa, a base de flores, de Alvarno Primavera 2011.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Desfile de Yves Saint Laurent Primavera 2011, Paris FW

Desfile de Roberto Cavalli Primavera 2011, Milán FW

Freida Pinto y Mila Kunis en el Festival BFI de Cine de Londres

Presentación de "Miral"

Freida Pinto llevó un vestido negro con detalles de lentejuelas doradas, de Alexander McQueen Resort 2010.

En la rueda de prensa llevó un conjunto muy bonito, una falda tubo en color nude, y una blusa de seda con estampado floral, ambas prendas son de Christian Dior. Los zapatos que llevó son los "T-Bar" de Roger Vivier.

Presentación de "Black Swan"

Mila Kunis llevó un vestido largo de Dolce & Gabbana.

En la rueda de prensa llevó una falda tubo de cuero negro y una blusa blanca de L´Wren Scott.
Your Mission: Ghost Protocol! 

Do those words make any sense to you?  Probably not, but that's kind of how it should be.  The new Mission: Impossible movie finally has a title, and, as we've been expecting, it is not Mission: Impossible 4.  Fortunately, though, it does feature the brand name.  There had been talk of dropping the M:I from the title altogether, citing The Dark Knight as precedent.  That would have been stupid.  And, since the film series has long since eschewed all other facets of the TV show on which its based, it also would have meant that Paramount was essentially paying what I assume are huge royalties for nothing more than a piece of music.  An awesome piece of music, to be sure, but that's all.  Anyway, that's not happening, so all that editorializing is moot.  Paramount execs have evidently come to their senses and realized that when you're trying to extend a brand, the brand name is important.  So the next title, officially (as reported by both The Vulture and Deadline) is Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol.  Yes, that's apparently how the punctuation officially shakes out right now, which is weird.  It needs something between "Impossible" and "Ghost," unless it's actually about Impossible Ghosts and their protocols, which I doubt.  A dash, maybe?  As in M:I-2?  Hopefully that will happen.  But colons aside, it's not a bad spy title.  As my friend who pointed me to this news pointed out, it has that generic nonsense word combination that rings of Ludlum, which is all good for this sort of thing.  Kind of generic, but not bad....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tradecraft: Knight And Day Vindicated

After being branded such a flop that it warranted a radical rethinking for the new Mission: Impossible movie (the positive upshot of which is that we might finally end up with more of a team movie instead of a star vehicle!), it turns out (as I've contended before) that the Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz spy parody Knight and Day (review here) didn't do so badly after all.  In a Deadline story about another, unrelated Cruise project, Mike Fleming reports:
[It's] worth nothing that by the time Knight and Day completes its run in Japan, the film will wind up grossing better than $264 million worldwide. Because the picture did only around $69 million domestic, Cruise and Cameron Diaz got a pretty good drubbing. But the number is comparable to films like the Adam Sandler comedy Grown Ups, which was considered a summer hit. That film had a strong opening weekend and did most of its business domestic, but  Knight and Day did better overseas. That overseas launch came later because of the World Cup.
Good to set the record straight, anyway. As previously reportedKnight and Day (which was a lot of fun!) comes out on DVD and Blu-ray on November 30.

¿A quién le queda mejor el vestido de Emilio Pucci? ¿Emma o Milla?

Hace ya muchisimo que no tenía un ¿A quién le queda mejor?, y es que las famosas poco coinciden en estos últimos meses.

Esta vez el duelo lo forman Emma Roberts y Milla Jovovich, ambas llevan un vestido de encaje de Emilio Pucci, Emma en negro y Milla en blanco. Hagan sus elecciones ¿Quién es vuestra elegida?

Desfile de Versace Primavera 2011, Milán FW

Eventos de la Semana

Fiesta Vertu's Smartphone, NY

Blake Lively llevó un vestido granate de Christian Dior Pre Fall 2010. Llevó además una chaqueta de cuero negra estilo "perfecto".

3ª Edición de los premios Mango, Barcelona

Scarlett Johansson llevó un LBD sencillo, sin mangas y ajustado en la cintura.

Presentación de Cheryl Cole en cera en el Museo Madame Tussauds, Londres

Cheryl estaba muy guapa con este vestido verde menta de Antonio Berardi Resort 2011. Llevó zapatos "Balleto" de Brian Atwood.

Presentación de "The King's Speech" en el Festival de Cine BFI de Londres

Claire Danes llevó un vestido de cuadros rojo y negro, de Prada Invierno 2010.

2ª Edición del Rally Benéfico para niños con Cáncer, LA

Eva Longoria llevó un vestido palabra de honor, en color negro, con volante en la cadera.

Evento de Windows phone 7 en Berlín

Rumer Willis llevó un vestido color caqui y negro de Alexander Wang, conjuntado con blazer negro.

Recent Spanish Cinema Series 2010 en Los Ángeles

Paz Vega llevó un vestido blanco, abullonado, con bordados en el pecho.

Fiesta "A los 50 y Fabulosa" en NY

Annalynne McCord llevó una blusa blanca con pantalón negro, y blazer gris bordado.