Does the spectre of tedium hang over new Bond film or is it just me?

December 8, 2015

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License to kill joy?

In my last post post I talked about criticism –be it of films, books or advertising- as a flawed construct. And while I’m now going to critique a new movie I will still try and frame the discussion objectively. My topic is the new James Bond flick, Spectre, which I saw a couple weeks ago. In short, I found it lacking. Good looking, the movie was guilty of something no Bond film should ever be: dullness. My tweet: “Too much GQ and Architectural Digest and not enough Maxim and Vice.” Even the actor, Daniel Craig is on record as being weary of the 007 roll and claimed this would be his last. This was no doubt encouraged by his serious injury midway through filming, which he gamely played through. Still, he looked over it. The whiz bang charisma of his portrayal in Skyfall was long gone. Instead we got a glum and tired James Bond, phoning in the ass kicking. I was not shaken. I was not stirred. Such was my opinion.

Over Thanksgiving, which we always spend with my wife’s family in Kansas City, I looked forward to asking my brother-in-law his opinion of the flick. David is as avid a James Bond fan as I’ve ever known. He is ridiculously passionate about the icon. Yet, I figured even he would agree with me on my assessment.

I figured wrong. David, and frankly everyone at the dinner table, thought Spectre was “fabulous… thrilling… sexy” – everything I didn’t. I was like: “Come on, people. It was almost boring. I was looking at my watch!”

But I got no support.

Fade to black. We are home now. My wife has a cocktail party with a bunch of her new friends from California. I decide to ask them their opinion of the film. Surely, these sophisticated women in Mill Valley would know a dull bond when they saw one.

Once again, I was wrong. They, too, adored Spectre. “Where was the suspense?” I asked. “Where wasn’t it?” they responded. I reiterated my (allegedly) clever Tweet. No reaction. Incredulous, I ranted. They raved. “Even the song was dull,” I muttered, sinking back into the couch.

So, could I have been –gulp- wrong? That’s the thing about opinions: there is no right or wrong. There is just what you got out of it. And clearly a lot of people got something out of Spectre I didn’t.

I don’t have a moral. In my previous post I wrote about my ambivalence to criticism. What is interesting now is the idea that people can experience the same exact thing so damn differently. This is the intangible that critics –if not everyone- almost always forgets, including me: that my eyes and ears lead to only my brain nobody else’s. When we assume our take is the only take we are making a big mistake.

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