online vs. offline personas

Eleanor Snare (@ebsnare) , in her blog post Online vs Personal Self looked at the question of what do you hide or embellish online, if anything. The question arose as the subject for this week’s lifestyle bloggers (#lbloggers) chat. Sounds interesting, I thought.

She raises some excellent points, and it’s something which I’ve thought about a few times over the years. Is my online persona different from the real-life me?

Yes and no.

Online gives you more of a chance to edit yourself, and present your version of events in a manner which you control. Rather than being put on the spot when someone asks you a question, you’ve got a chance to sit back, pause for a moment (or an hour, day, week) before responding. Or you’ve got time to write a blog post then go back through and tidy up your thoughts before posting.

Yes, I do do that. Think about what I’m posting. Mostly. Some days I just let the thoughts fall out of my head via my fingers into a text editor and post it up.

Really must stop doing that.

Anyway, onto the question of whether I hide or embellish my online persona. I don’t think I ‘hide’ anything particularly (other than the fact that actually I’m an 83 year old truck driver from Wisconsin[1]), it’s more that I choose what things I talk about in a positive choice sort of way, rather than hiding stuff from anyone.

Apart from the Wisconsinite thing, obviously.

I choose to talk about things which interest me. They may not interest you, or indeed anyone else, but I’ll talk about them anyway. I often thing that blogging is a form of free psychiatric help – rather than pay someone to sit and talk to, I can witter on here to my heart’s content. If someone replies, that’s fine, and we can have a chat about the relative merits of Skyfall, or what Oscar-winning films we’ve seen, but if no-one does, then at least I’ve got the words out of my head.

This is getting a little long, so I’ll leave it there. But I’ll throw the question over to you – do you hide or embellish your online persona? Are you also an elderly truck driver from Wisconsin? Stop by and say hello!

[1] Obviously I’m not really an 83 year old truck driver from Wisconsin[2]
[2] I’m from Idaho, and a youthful 78

Ten reasons why Skyfall is the best Bond movie.

Skyfall poster

I present, in no particular order, ten reasons why Skyfall is the best Bond movie, ever. Starring the best Bond, ever (imho)…

Spoilers abound, naturally. You have been warned.

Daniel Craig
It became clear to me very quickly whilst watching Casino Royale that Daniel Craig would make a very good Bond indeed. By the end of the opening credits I was convinced. He even redeemed Quantum of Solace (though more of than in another post).

In Skyfall he absolutely owns Bond and cements his place as The Best Bond. I will quite happily explain why, at great length, to anyone who asks. Again, maybe another blog post…

The pre-title sequence
Normally in a Bond film we meet our hero in mid-adventure, risking life & limb for Queen & country. But, he always gets away with it. This time it’s equally thrilling, with car chases followed by bike chases followed by derring-do atop a speeding train. Bond will surely retrieve the disc, won’t he?

Not this time. Farewell, Mister Bond. For now…

Cinematography
Skyfall looks amazing. Roger Deakins does a wonderful job throughout a largely UK-centric film. From the grim, rain-soaked streets of London to the neon-lit skyscrapers of Shanghai and the highlands of Scotland, the locations of a Bond film have never looked better.

Script
Bond is a character who says little, preferring action over chit-chat. There are some wonderful lines though, from Q’s “What did you expect, an exploding pen? We don’t really go in for that sort of thing any more,” to Bond’s “What makes you think this is my first time?”.

It’s M who gets all the best lines though, quoting Tennyson at a public inquiry into her losing the mcguffin hard drive, and her wonderful dismissal of Bond at her house, an over-the shoulder “well, you’re bloody well not sleeping here.”

Silva’s entrance speech is also mesmerising, a long, oh-so-slow walk up to Bond, reminiscent of Lawrence of Arabia (with just a hint of Tim Curry’s memorable entrance in Rocky Horror), monologuing all the way, as all good villains do.

References to previous Bond movies
Oh, so many references. Little nods to the fans. It is a 50th birthday for Bond, of course, so lots of presents! How many did you spot? Here’s a few:

  • Running across komodo dragons (Live & Let Die)
  • the Moore-era comedy one-liner from the couple as Bond jumps on the back of a speeding Tube train
  • the lone sniper (The Living Daylights)
  • Bond’s obituary (Tomorrow Never Dies)
  • MI6 blowing up (The World Is Not Enough)
  • bad guys & fallen statues (GoldenEye)
  • Bond tied to a chair by the bad guy (Casino Royale)
  • “Don’t touch your ear” (Casino Royale)
  • the Aston Martin…

The Aston Martin
Oh, the Aston Martin DB5. Complete with ejector seat. I need say no more.

Judi Dench
Oh, Dame Judi. How we adore thee. Much as Daniel has done with making Bond his own, you’ve done the same with M, but for longer. Bond is nothing without the ladies, and doubly so in your case. The supreme matriarch figure, taking no crap from anyone. We shall miss you.

Javier Bardem
One of the best Bond villains we’ve seen for a long while. Silva is cunning, clever and ruthless. And by golly does he monologue well. And the only Bond villain to actually get what he wants. Stick that in your pipe & smoke it, Blofeld.

That theme song
There’s the theme tune. After Casino Royale’s “You Know My Name” by Chris Cornell (which I still rate as a decent Bond tune, though realise that I’m firmly in the minority here) and Quantum of Solace’s theme, which I really dislike with a passion, we get a full-blown Oscar-winning Bassey-esque belter, courtesy of Adele.

This is a proper Bond tune, for our proper Bond. One which you can still hum days later. Big, brassy and bold. Utterly splendid, it wouldn’t feel out of place in any of the earlier Bond movies. Easily in my top 5. But that’s for another post, another day.

The ending (or is it a beginning?)
No, not the Silva/M ending. Though that in and of itself is quite splendid. The big reset, a clearing of the decks. We’ve got our new, proper Bond, and we have a new M to run the show. And a new, more capable, Moneypenny, not to mention Q. This feels like a new beginning. I, for one, can’t wait to see where they’ll take us next.

So. There you have it. My ten reasons why Skyfall is the best Bond movie. Do you agree or disagree?

Skyfall – a spoilery review

Right. Here’s my review of the new Bond film, Skyfall.

First, the short spoiler-free version.
Awesome.

What? You want more? Hmm. Keeping it spoiler-free:
The best Bond in the best Bond film, bar none.

Seriously? That’s not enough? Right. You asked for it. Warning, spoilers abound within.
*flexes fingers*

I was serious about the best Bond. I fully admit that I was nervous when I heard that Daniel Craig was going to be Bond, but within 30 seconds of Casino Royale starting, I was sold. By the time we hit the opening credits I knew we were in safe hands.

I *loved* Casino Royale, by the way. More of that another day. I even quite liked Quantum of Solace, though mainly due to Craig’s Bond.

(I’ve had several discussions with people over the ‘best’ Bond. Connery is the popular choice here, though I have a huge soft spot for the Moore era, as that was the Bond I grew up with. Lazenby is highly underrated and Dalton could have done so much better with a half-decent script. I loved Brosnan’s Bond, though not his Bond movies which were sub-par at best. Yes, even GoldenEye. And the least said about the invisible Aston the better. I mean, who on earth wants an invisible Aston Martin? They’re bloody gorgeous!)

Ahem. Where was I? Oh yes, Skyfall.

It was with a little trepidation that I sat down to watch Skyfall. Were we going to get another Casino Royale? Or another Quantum of Solace-esque mishmash of confused plot?

Again, within 30 seconds of Skyfall starting, I breathed a sigh of relief.The old gun barrel opening wasn’t there, but the way Bond appears, stealthily down a darkened passage only to pop into focus in an artfully placed shaft of light?

Bond is back. Properly back. The pre-title sequence is breathtaking, starting with a car chase, then bikes, bikes on rooftops, bikes on trains, diggers! On trains! Piling one thing on top of another, pressure upon pressure, just the way a good  Bond sequence should.

Then that wonderful beat, that glorious split second where Bond jumps down from the digger (on a train!) as the back is ripped away from the carriage. Bond stands as the carriage behind him falls away and, cool and calm as only Bond could be, straightens his shirt cuffs.

I’ll say it again: Bond is back. Properly, properly back.

There’s the theme tune. After Casino Royale’s “You Know My Name” by Chris Cornell (which I still rate as a decent Bond tune, though realise that I’m firmly in the minority here) and Quantum of Solace’s theme, which I really dislike with a passion, we get a full-blown Bassey-esque belter, courtesy of Adele.

This is a proper Bond tune, for our proper Bond. One which you can still hum days later. Big, brassy and bold. Utterly splendid, it wouldn’t feel out of place in any of the earlier Bond movies. Easily in my top 5. But that’s for another post, another day.

As for the film itself, it fairly rattles along at a marvellous pace, gleefully referencing Bond movies across the series’ 50 years. We get the classic Aston DB5, complete with gadgets, guns and gizmos. We get Bond escaping from mortal peril by runnning across the backs of komodo dragons, a nice little nod to Live and Let Die’s alligator farm. We get the Moore-esque comedy one-liner as Bond jumps on to the back of a speeding tube train. Brilliant little pieces which are scattered throughout the film like chocolate chunks in a particularly tasty ice cream.

In Javier Bardem’s Silva we get one of the best villains the series has seen for a very long time. Forget card-playing terrorist bankers. Forget media moguls trying to sell newspapers (if only I could). From his entrance in slowly descending Rocky Horror-esque lift, delivering a beautifullly paced monologue (what is it with villains and monologues?) as he slowly walked towards the camera, you just know Bond is in for a bit of a rough time. This is a villain with an actual honest to goodness reason for doing what he’s doing.

That moment where Silva toys with Bond, hand opening his immaculate white shirt, stroking Bond’s chest affectionately gives us one of Bond’s best lines:
“what makes you think this is my first time?”
He is an Eton old boy, after all…

Silva has one thing on his mind though, and it’s not Bond. The movie is all about M. M loses the NOC list – sorry, wrong spy franchise – and Bond has to get it back. It’s why Bond comes back from the dead. ‘Mummy dearest’ M is in trouble, so Bond drags himself out of his Heineken-soaked retirement to save the day. M finally gets the part she deserves in this, along with some brilliant one liners of her own. I loved the “well, you’re not bloody staying here” to Bond after his reappearance in her house.

On an aside, that was one thing which struck me – Silva goes through quite an elaborate series of Proper Villian shenanigans and plots to get to M, whilst Bond waltzes into her house, past lord knows how many alarm systems on a fairly regular basis. He hacks into her computer with a kind of bored ease, something the ubergenius computer hacker Silva appears to struggle with.

Oh, the hacking bits. Love. Especially the moment where Ben Whishaw’s delightful Q realises that Silva has hacked MI6 because he’s been numpty enough to plug Silva’s laptop into the network. Muppet.

I love that Q is back, drinking Earl Grey from his Q scrabble mug. Please, please let us keep him. And they’ve avoided another excruciating turn from John Cleese. Q has another nod to the franchise history with his lovely “what did you expect, an exploding pen? We don’t really go in for that any more”. Marvellous stuff.

Skyfall is packed with glorious cinematography – the night time neon-lit sniper action in Shanghai is absolutely gorgeous, as are the Scottish highlands (though it’d take some effort to make them look bad). And I loved that the bulk of the film is set around the UK. Well, London and Scotland at least. Bond struggling through the rush hour tube was fun to watch.

As for the Bond girls, we’ve got Eve (the lovely Naomie Harris), who turns out to be more than expected and Severine and of course, M. Can we say Oedipal complex, boys and girls?

Severine was the trickiest of the lot – Bond sizes her up as being a former child prostitute and product of the sex trade, then goes right ahead and shags her anyway. Heartless swine that he is. Then there’s a moment soon after where Silva forces Bond to try and shoot a glass of whisky placed on Severine’s head, with what appears to be a flintlock of some description. The inevitable happens (though at Silva’s hand as Bond refuses to play Silva’s game), and Bond turns to deliver the line “waste of bloody good scotch”. Shocking and callous at first glance. But there was a beat, a fraction of a second where you can see in Bond’s eyes that Severine’s death hit him.

But this is the new Bond, hardened by the death of Vesper in Casino Royale, armour fully in place.

I could go on, but this is getting ridiculously long as it is. Silva is a magnificent Bond villain, and the only one from the series that comes to mind who actually gets what he wants, in the end. A brave move by the writers.

Ralph Fiennes taking over as M at the end of the film feels in a way like it’s the series saying “Right. We’ve cleared the decks. Bond has been set up. Q is here, as is Moneypenny. The old M is gone, the last remnant of the former series. Time for a new story.”

Where will they go next? I can almost see them going back to Doctor No – it’d be fascinating to see Craig and his new, realist, battered, bloodied Bond take on some of the classic Fleming stories.

Have you seen Skyfall? What did you think? Is Craig’s Bond the best Bond ever? Is Skyfall? I would love to know what you think.