The James Bond myth

The James Bond movies are based on the Ian Fleming spy novels, novels reportedly based on his experiences. The first Bond film arrived in theaters in 1962, with Dr. No.

The stories, if based on experiences, might be hyped up in the movie versions.

There’s one Bond film playing tonight that has a story that made me think twice. Of course there’s a point to a media mogul wanting to take over the media—this point is media monopolization—but getting your head around a megalomaniac media tycoon doesn’t ring true.

However, if you want to discuss the problems of a media company taking up too much market space, just leave any misappropriation to the authorities who know what to do.

Then there are the nuclear plots and snazzy sounding premises that are basically fantasies.

So we can’t trust a Bond story to ring true. If this is the case in a Bond film, it may really depend on the actors rather than the story and the action.

In terms of actors, the perennial and rather silly question is what Bond actor do you like? Sean Connery, Roger Moore, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, or Daniel Craig? What about the Bond girls? What about the villains?

Some critics may praise the villains out of a sheer base instinct especially if the story is lacking, but then give the film three stars instead of two. Yet a Bond film should be about how well it’s done and if it engages on its own terms. Bond films are really unbelievable anyhow, so they’re redundant from the outset, Skyfall the only exception.

Like Bond is having too much fun with Bond girls with very little effort put into him redeeming his ways. There are the why’s of what makes Bond James Bond, but it ends in the arms of a woman rather than a serious treatment.

But we never did believe in the mythology of James Bond.

The serious side

Further down the page of Canto 26, in Dante’s Inferno, is a serous side to the epic poem. The key word is ‘grieved’ on Dante seeing the lost souls:

It grieved me then, it grieves me now once more,

to fix my thoughts on what I witnessed there.

 

The first three lines count

As writing mentors say, the first lines count. On my way to reading Canto 26 of Dante’s Inferno, the first three lines stood out as hilarious:

Rejoice, Florentia! You’ve grown so grand

that over land and sea you spread your beating wings,

and through the whole of Hell your name resounds.

On!

Inspiration:

‘Whoever, fameless, wastes his life away,

Leaves of himself no greater mark on earth

Than smoke in air or froth upon the wave.

So, upwards! On! And vanquish labored breath!

In any battle mind power will prevail,

Unless the weight of body loads it down.

There’s yet a longer ladder you must scale.

You can’t just turn and leave all these behind.

You understand? Well, make my words avail.’

[Inferno, Dante Alighieri, Canto 24:49-57, translated by Robin Kirkpatrick, Penguin Classics]

Ladies in Lavender

This UK film doesn’t sweep you up at first, but it picks up nicely.

In the 1930’s, a mysterious stranger washes ashore in Cornwall, England. Elderly sisters Ursula (Judi Dench) and Janet (Maggie Smith) take care of Andrea (Daniel Bruhl), a foreigner to the shores, and even bend over backwards for him, catering to his needs like good Samaritans and they discover his talent for playing violin. His talent becomes something of great interest to the locals.

Andrea’s appearance is unexplained. He is swept aside by the seas, but I don’t know how he got there. As Andrea is cared for, progression is low-key and uneventful but the movie picks up and becomes interesting.

Village life is potentially fertile material. Everyone knows everyone, has an opinion on everyone, but may prefer their own company best. It’s that kind of place where everyone is in everyone’s pocket.  The villagers are colorful and interesting with hints of depth and shades. Well-sketched characters shine through.

Such as Ursula’s loneliness unravels as a result of her attraction to Andrea. Janet is supportive and her character is strong. Judi Dench and Maggie Smith again show their class and pedigree as actors who make their roles natural and real.

Distinguished English actor Charles Dance wrote and directed this low-budget, independent British film, which is based on a short story. While the movie stalls in the beginning, nevertheless the developing story and sense of humanity draw you in and the two enigmatic sisters and the stranger garner empathy. The ending is uplifting.

Ladies in Lavender, Director: Charles Dance, Genre: Drama, Year: 2004, Rating: 8/10

“Decurion”

While I took a break from a rather tedious writing project that has a deadline none too soon, I read a few pages of the epic poem Inferno and saw the word, “Decurion”. I couldn’t find a definition for it, except on google. It’s an interesting word, but the definition is rather dull. However, a educational excursion.

Week in

This week: The beginning of the week started with a rejection slip. Enough said, but it started the week with a bang. Then, it got quiet because I’m in a phase of writing that is quietly pondering. So while I blog a film review, a poem here or there, other things are on my radar that I’m silently working on slowly but surely. The quiet voice of the “muse” as they call inspiration stirs in the sounds of silence.

The last word on it

Yesterday I wanted to try something different. I mean, in terms of submitting to a publisher who has accepted two but also rejected quite a few other submissions of mine. Trying something different was my Plan B.

This Plan B, which I will not explain in detail, may work—if I don’t base my submissions on harder passages to understand in the Bible. But I recalled today that the publisher wanted submissions based on the harder passages. Only those passages. So Plan B goes out the window.

Don’t mind, because there is more to life, but last rejection would be the last from them. This means I write nothing more for this publisher.

Quite simply, the negative outcome seems likely if submitting more, going by past record. Why go on the merry go round of rejection slips with the same publisher? There is a time to stop what one is doing once it is pointless.

This is the end of submitting to this publisher. Sad, but inevitable. I hate break-ups, but they did give thirty-odd reasons to (read: rejection slips).

The final one

Today I received a form rejection letter by email. It was about the thirtieth rejection from the same publisher, but three years ago they published two devotions of mine. Naturally, one thinks, that they will publish more of yours again, and again. So I kept on submitting. The pieces were short and sweet, but to no avail. The lesson is simple: it’s not easy to get your foot in the door and once your in, it may be hard to keep on repeating that initial success.

The initial success was really luster. It was inspired writing. I tried a bit harder next time to repeat the acceptances of my work. Didn’t work. Lesson: don’t try so hard. But if I didn’t put grist to the mill I wouldn’t have material.

After all these rejections, would the initial acceptances be enough for me? If not, is there a different way of doing it?

There is a different way of doing something. I was going to say that today’s rejection from this publisher would be the final one. Whatever their reasons for rejecting my work, my first two acceptances was all I was supposed to do, thirty rejections later. But plan B is to try it another way.

Clash of the Titans

Of the Clash of the Titans and Wrath of the Titans films—films about the myths of ancient Greece—the 1981 original, Clash of the Titans, is the better one.

In the 1981 original, the writer follows the mythology closely, but it is not overdone.

The story gets going when god Zeus (Laurence Olivier) gives his human son Perseus (Harry Hamlin) gifts worthy of a knight on a journey. Zeus then tells Perseus that the gifts are there to help him on a journey of executing his destiny.

In that vein, Perseus attempts to save Andromeda (Judi Bowker) from various forces such as the sea beast the Kraken, and a vengeful, spurned lover.

The gods are dramatized the more by British stalwarts Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith. Well-known actors that includes Clare Bloom play other gods and goddesses in their midst.

Formidable roles were not the usual for Olivier, but as Zeus there is a formidable streak, and at the end of his career was a departure from his earlier theatrical roles.

The gods’ inflamed passions and schemes, in the god’s home on Mount Olympus, is all a bit of a farce in essence. However, if you strip down the elements of the mythology, there’s a theme of taking up one’s courage. The Greeks didn’t know if there were gods, but they did know how to tell a story that has spiritual or universal application.

It is a telling which is not spectacular or fantastic as the marketing tells us is. The telling is straight forward, but it holds a steady pace, a tone of gravitas, and some excitement especially in Medusa’s lair as Perseus ventures out on his journey.

Clash of the Titans, Director: Desmond Davis, Genre: Fantasy, Year: 1981, Rating: 7/10

Rated PG (Contains fantasy action and brief nudity)