Posts Tagged ‘Diamonds Are Forever’

Epitome of Cool…

March 8, 2010

Sean Connery for Louis Vuitton

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Celebrate Thanksgiving weekend with James Bond…

November 25, 2009

The SyFy Channel will be airing a total of sixteen James Bond films this Thanksgiving weekend. Below is the full schedule:

Thursday – November 26th 2009

8:00 AM –  Dr. No
10:30 AM – Licence To Kill
1:30 PM –  Live And Let Die
4:00 PM – The Spy Who Loved Me
6:30 PM – Tomorrow Never Dies
9:00 PM – Casino Royale

Friday – November 27th 2009:

12:00 AM – For Your Eyes Only
2:30 AM – The Man With The Golden Gun
08:00 AM – Thunderball
10:30 AM – From Russia With Love
1:00 PM – You Only Live Twice
3:30 PM – Diamonds Are Forever
6:00 PM – Casino Royale
9:00 PM – GoldenEye

Saturday November 28th 2009:

12:00 AM – Goldfinger
2:30 AM – Never Say Never Again

 

All times are EST.

Review of Dame Shirley Bassey’s “The Performance”

November 2, 2009

Today, The Scotsman has released a review of Dame Shirley Bassey’s latest album, titled “The Performance”.

By Fiona Shepherd

DAME SHIRLEY BASSEY: THE PERFORMANCE
****
GEFFEN, £12.72

IT’S Dame Shirley Bassey these days, if you don’t mind – as if anyone needed reminding that we are in the presence of musical royalty. Elegant, commanding, playful, sophisticated, vulnerable – or, in the words of Manic Street Preachers’ frontman James Dean Bradfield, “this beautiful, glamorous singing beast” – Bassey is everything you could want from a diva and now she’s back to show yer Leonas how it should be done.

As was evident from her lauded appearance two years ago at the Glastonbury festival, she effortlessly musters the level of respect and regard afforded her fellow Welsh warbler Tom Jones, an old pro who just about manages to pull off the balancing act of moving with the times while remaining true to himself. Bassey, for her part, is about to show exactly how that is done on her first full studio album in more than 20 years. The Performance is dignified, heartfelt and timeless.

A good deal of the credit must go to Bond composer David Arnold in the role of producer. Given Bassey’s indelible association with the James Bond series – she is the only artist to have sung three Bond film themes – it must have taken all of five seconds to matchmake those two, and another ten to persuade John Barry and lyricist Don Black to compose a new song for their muse, the first they have written for her since Diamonds Are Forever. Our Time Is Now is a good, grown-up meditation on romance but it is far from the best this album has to offer.

More intriguing than the rekindling of old creative partnerships is the host of bright young things who have also queued up to write songs for Bassey. Some of the album’s contributors are no-brainers – the Pet Shop Boys, David McAlmont and Rufus Wainwright would probably have had diva strops of their own if they had not been invited to the party. Others, such as KT Tunstall and Kaiser Chiefs’ Nick Hodgson, are more unexpected choices, and some – we’re looking at Richard Hawley here – are downright inspired.

Most are understandably in thrall to the Bassey persona, writing songs to fit their conception of the veteran diva. And so Bassey comes out contemplative rather than shaking her stuff on opening number Almost There, written by Tom Baxter. You can see right away where he is going with the line “I’m not quite so young, I’m not quite so foolish in my defence”, but Bassey makes subtle work of its rather mournful tone before soaring on the big orchestral finish.

Her countrymen, the Manic Street Preachers, take the sentimental, pseudo-autobiograpical route with The Girl From Tiger Bay. It’s a lovely song from a band who are more than capable of whipping up some heart-tugging romance when they have a mind to and, unlike other tracks, it is strong enough to retain something of the Manics’ stamp even as it is submitted to the traditional Bassey takeover.

Apparently, we have Rufus Wainwright to thank for the impetus of the album, and won’t he love that. His contribution, Apartment, was the first track to fall into place and he dares to take Bassey somewhere different. Despite the Latino arrangement, there is more than a hint of the European cabaret tradition about its protagonist’s irreverent rejection of the fairytale lifestyle (“I’m running away from Cinderella, don’t want to go to Rapunzel’s hairdresser”) in favour of becoming a girl of independent means.

KT Tunstall also has fun with brassy Bassey without crossing over into kitsch on the bluesy strut of Nice Men, a good bad girl song on which Bassey demands to know “where have all the nice men, where have all the good men, where have all the bad men gone?”

Gary Barlow’s This Time is an old school Bacharachian ballad which is infinitely more dynamic than anything on the most recent Take That album, while Nick Hodgson’s classy composition I Love You Now also evokes old-school pop glamour without being a slavish pastiche of the sequined 1960s.

Best of the lot is Bassey’s beautifully controlled rendering of the tremulous, melancholic After The Rain, written by Richard Hawley, who is on formidable form right now.

Compared to these gems, Arnold’s two contributions are a little Bassey-by-numbers. No Good About Goodbye boasts a great title but sounds like an inferior Mad About The Boy, while As God Is My Witness is just plain turgid.

An old-school performer like Bassey knows that you need to hold something back for the finale – and the Pet Shop Boys-penned The Performance Of My Life provides the quintessential grandstanding finish which will please those looking for some va-va-voom from the Dame. It is to the writers’ credit – and Bassey’s, and Arnold’s – that this performance, along with the rest of the album, is more about soul-baring integrity than retro camp.

 

Sounds promising. I can’t wait to hear the album for myself. Keep an eye out for it on November 9th. I’m sure it’ll be worth the money.

Bring back Dame Shirley Bassey!

October 5, 2009

A behind-the-scenes look (or listen) at Dame Shirley Bassey’s new album project has been launched on YouTube. Here’s the video:

It’s obvious that this legend still has “her groove”. Those song excerpts are astonishing. I really can’t wait to hear this album in full.

EON Productions… do yourself a favor. Hire Dame Shirley Bassey to sing the theme song for the next Bond film. David Arnold’s got her back (he’s producing her new album), and she’s never failed the franchise.

Keep an eye out for “The Performance”, coming to stores November 9th. For more information, check out Dame Shirley’s home page: http://www.dameshirleybassey.com/

Interview with Dwight Lockhart

September 18, 2009

I recently caught up with Dwight Lockhart of www.Ilikeit3D.com; an artist with over 35 years of airbrushing experience and creator of high-end signs, displays, props, and ads. More specifically, Dwight has done more than a few customized Bond-related pieces for his clients.

What is your favorite Bond film?
One of my favorite Bond films is Octopussy. I am a huge fan of
Faberge, so much that I have hand crafted two “House of Lockhart Eggs” for my wife.

Hand-crafted egg, by Dwight Lockhart, paying tribute to Faberge

Hand-crafted egg, by Dwight Lockhart, paying tribute to Faberge

Another hand-crafted egg, by Dwight Lockhart

Another hand-crafted egg, by Dwight Lockhart

Who is your favorite Bond actor?
I like the way Daniel Craig plays Bond; full-tilt really, like you
think it would be in real life.

What is your favorite prop from a James Bond film?
Since I hand-crafted two golden guns for a client, I am fond of them, but I think Little Nellie is the best Bond prop because it is real. Could you imagine having one and the skills to pilot it? Too cool!

What is your favorite Bond film location?
In Never Say Never Again, the Nassau location looked pretty exotic
and fantastic to me.

What’s the process you go through when making a James Bond-themed glass table top? How long does it usually take you?
The gun barrel coffee table was easy once I decided on what image to do; I created the art file from scratch in Photoshop, then contour-cut it on my digital printer out of glass-etch decal material in reverse and applied it to the underside of the glass. Elapsed time: 3 hours.

Crafted gun barrel-themed coffee table, by Dwight Lockhart

Crafted gun barrel-themed coffee table, by Dwight Lockhart

Crafted "Golden Gun"-themed coffee table, by Dwight Lockhart

Crafted "Golden Gun"-themed coffee table, by Dwight Lockhart

What went into making those Bond display cases? And how about the signs/posters?
[For the You Only Live Twice display case]: My wife Debbie cast an acrylic, plastic martini in a real martini glass for use with a Little Nellie model and a miniature You Only Live Twice poster.

"You Only Live Twice" custom display case, by Dwight Lockhart

"You Only Live Twice" custom display case, by Dwight Lockhart

[For the Octopussy display case:] I sent a 007 logo to China to have a large crystal laser-etched in the center, then stood it on a color-shifting LED base that rotated slowly. I also added broken crystal chips inside the cabinet and another Bond film poster.

Custom "Octopussy" display case, by Dwight Lockhart

"Octopussy" custom display case, by Dwight Lockhart

Each display case featured assorted items we created to carry the
theme through out the room.

Custom "Diamonds Are Forever" display case, by Dwight Lockhart

Custom "Diamonds Are Forever" display case, by Dwight Lockhart

"Golden Gun" display case, by Dwight Lockhart

"Golden Gun" display case, by Dwight Lockhart

Your artwork is extremely detailed and exceptional. Did you receive training in that field, or did it come naturally? What got you into this business?
I have been an airbrush artist and sculptor for 35 years. I was at an auto show when I was 12-years-old and watched an airbrush artist creating hand-painted t-Shirts. That did it for me; I started drawing and painting from that day to today. I totally love it, even though I have had no formal training… I just learned as I went along. I owe a debt of gratitude to the many clients I have had over the years, who have challenged me to create something unique for them.

Custom "James Bond Lounge", by Dwight Lockhart

Custom "James Bond Lounge", by Dwight Lockhart

Crafted Bond film poster, by Dwight Lockhart

Crafted Bond film poster, by Dwight Lockhart

Special thanks go out to Dwight Lockhart for providing pictures of his exceptional work, and taking the time to answer a few questions. For more information about Dwight Lockhart and his work, check out www.ilikeit3d.com. Keep up the great work, Dwight!

Saratoga Race Course Schedule

August 15, 2009

In Ian Fleming’s Diamonds Are Forever, James Bond and Felix Leiter venture to Saratoga Springs, New York. This has always interested me because I’m from Upstate New York, and Saratoga happened to be not far from where I lived.

In connection with Bond, I thought I’d post the Saratoga Race Course schedule, as horse racing is the main spectacle in Saratoga Springs. Obviously, Ian Fleming found it interesting enough to mention, too.

If you’re ever heading to Upstate New York during the summer, Saratoga is certainly the place to visit. If you’re not into horse racing, there’s plenty of night life, shopping, and outdoor activities to enjoy.

  • August 19th: Women’s Day – An expo for the ladies at the Track! Women will have an opportunity to learn about health, fashion and other women’s issues at many booths set up in the backyard area.
  • August 22nd – 30th: The Travers Festival – A week long festival of equine-oriented events as well as many fun family events and community competitions. The highlight of the festival is the $1 million Shadwell Travers Stakes on the 29th. For specific details on this year’s events, pick up a brochure at the Track or call 1-800-526-8970.August 26th: Stewart’s Ice Cream Eating Contest – Three age groups can participate – kids, teens and adults – to see how much ice cream they can handle! Winners receive gift certificates for free Stewart’s Shops ice cream.

    August 28th: Battle Of The Brews – Beer tasting contest ($25 to participate) for those 21 and older to vote on their favorites. Event benefits the Adirondack-Saratoga chapter of the American Red Cross.

  • August 29th: Travers Day – Also nicknamed the Midsummer Derby, the Travers Stakes is the oldest major thoroughbred race in the nation, and the most highly anticipated event of the Saratoga meet.September 2nd: Proud To Be An American Day – Saratoga Race Course honors veterans and active military with FREE grandstand admission (proper identification required), compliments of Saratoga County.

    September 4th: Party At The Park / College Day – Formerly known as Sunset Racing days, there are 2 Party At The Park days during the 2009 Saratoga meet where racing starts and ends later in the day than usual. Gates open at 12 noon, and first post time is 2:30 pm. There will be live music on stage in the backyard of the track. On this second Party At The Park event, college students will have a shot at winning a $1000 scholarship after each race of the day.

  • September 4th – September 7th: Final Stretch Weekend – On Friday visit the track for Party At The Park. A downtown music festival will take place on Satuday and Sunday. The Annual Family Fun fest will take place on Sunday and Monday. There will be a Labor Day BBQ on Monday.
  • September 7th: Closing Day – The meet concludes with a traditonal Labor Day barbeque on Monday. To order, call 88-285-5961.

For more information, visit Saratoga.com.

Recipe: Black Velvet

August 8, 2009

Ingredients:

  • 1 part Guinness Stout
  • 1 part chilled champagne (preferably Taittinger)

Directions:
Add the Guinness to a pint glass, and pour the champagne on top.

Source:
This drink recipe comes from Ian Fleming’s Diamonds Are Forever.  In the novel, Bond offers to buy Bill Tanner lunch at Scotts, where they will have “dressed crab and a pint of black velvet.” A Black Velvet consists of equal amounts of Guinness Stout and champagne. The drink supposedly originated in London’s Brooks Club in 1861, created on the occasion of Prince Albert’s death. This is also the first time that the literary Bond has a brew.

Dame Shirley Bassey announces new album…

June 30, 2009

Dame Shirley Bassey’s website has reported that she’ll be making another album, produced by Bond composer David Arnold.

Official blurb from her site:

Dame Shirley Bassey – Signs to Geffen Records

Geffen Records are very proud to announce the signing of one of the most celebrated British singers of all time, Dame Shirley Bassey.

The iconic Dame Shirley Bassey, Britain’s most successful female artist ever is working on her first new studio album in almost a decade. David Arnold, the Grammy Award-winning producer best known for scoring five James Bond films is producing the album, due to be a set of contemporary songs released in autumn 2009.

During a career that has included 135 million record sales, Dame Shirley Bassey has had many highlights.  In addition to singing three James Bond theme songs she has received numerous awards including a DBE (Dame of the British Empire) in 1999.

Recently, Dame Shirley appeared at the Glastonbury festival in 2007, where at the same event Arctic Monkeys covered ‘Diamonds Are Forever’.  Kanye West also sampled the same track on his 2005 Grammy-winning song ‘Diamonds From Sierra Leone’.

Keep updated with this by visiting http://www.dameshirleybassey.com/ and signing up for the newsletter. This should be a very interesting album. Though I’m not a huge fan of Arnold’s Bond scores, I’ll say that he probably makes a better producer than composer. But, with Dame Shirley Bassey – the woman who brought us the most iconic James Bond themes of all time – you can’t go wrong!

Top 5 — John Barry 007 Scores

June 28, 2009

1. You Only Live Twice – John Barry captures the beauty of Japan in this score. Alongside the sweeping strings, and Far Eastern sounds, this soundtrack is also infused with some great themes. This score delivers music of suspense, romance and action. The sliding bass guitar  also brings the “coolness” of the James Bond theme to a whole different level. To me, this is Barry’s finest score of all time.

Recommended Tracks:

  • “James Bond in Japan” – Track 13
  • “Fight At Kobe Docks / Helga” – Track 3
  • “Mountains and Sunsets” – Track 7



2. “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” – Another brilliant soundtrack by John Barry. This seems to be a score that features one of his earliest uses of synthesizers, and it works extremely well. The score is infused with romantic music that fits the film perfectly. It also features some of the series’ greatest action cues. There’s plenty of music to enjoy on this score.

Recommended Tracks:

  • “Main Theme: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” – Track 6
  • “Battle at Piz Gloria” – Track 10
  • “Try” – Track 3



3. The Living Daylights – John Barry’s last James Bond score, and certainly one of his best. This score relies on synthesizers like “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, but the outcome is superb. This score is infused with many melodies, both romantic, suspenseful, and action-packed. This is definitely a perfect 80’s Bond score.

Recommended Tracks:

  • The Sniper Was a Woman – Track 3
  • Mujahadin and Opium – Track 10
  • Assassin and Drugged – Track 16



4. “Diamonds Are Forever” – Though the film was silly, John Barry seemed to have taken the score seriously, as always. Barry offers listeners a haunting theme for the film’s henchmen – the best henchmen theme of the series – and his style matches the sleaziness of the film perfectly. Some cues capture the silliness of the film, also, but I’d say that, overall, this is one of Barry’s more dark scores.

Recommended Tracks:

  • “Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd / Bond to Holland” – Track 14
  • “Gunbarrel and Manhunt” – Track 13
  • “Airport Source / On the Road” – Track 16



5. “Goldfinger” – This is most likely one of Barry’s more popular scores, and for a good reason! Not only does it feature Dame Shirley Bassey’s iconic Bond theme, but it also features a collection of great action and adventure music. This score is very jazzy at times, too. Overall, there’s not much to dislike about this Bond score. It has certainly earned the status of “quintessential”.

Recommended Tracks:

  • “Main Theme: Goldfinger” – Track 1
  • “Alpine Drive / Auric’s Factory” – Track 3
  • “Oddjob’s Pressing Engagement” – Track 4

Film Review ::: Diamonds Are Forever

March 8, 2009

Regarded as one of the worst Bond films, perhaps- or at least one of the films that isn’t as liked as much as others. Well, I’m not sure what to think of DAF; I’ve never been sure, actually. The film has a very dirty mood to it, in my opinion. The whole film seems exhausted, if you will. There’s just something about the colors, the tones, the music, the acting, and the story that reminds me of the scent you’d smell in a funeral parlor, or something- which fits well with Slumber, Inc. I suppose. You probably have no idea what I’m talking about, but I sure do! All I’m saying is that the mood and style of this film makes me rather uneasy, in some parts; however, funny bits, intentional and unintentional, clear that up throughout the film.

The locations are rather bland. The film certainly isn’t as vibrant as it’s predecessors, YOLT and OHMSS. As I mentioned, everything seems dirty. It’s got that brownish / sepia look to it in the Nevada scenes. Probably the prettiest place in this film is the pool, outside of the house they keep Whyte in. Nothing’s all that beautiful about a barren desert, I suppose. Or the 1970s’ Las Vegas, for that matter.

At first, I didn’t care for Barry’s score to this film. However, after a few more listens, I’ve realized that it’s a great score – actually, one of his best Bond scores. The music compliments the sleazy, dirty style of the film. Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd’s theme is my favorite track here. Very dark and original.

On the subject of Ernst Blofeld, I think Gray had potential.
However, with this film, that’s thrown out the window. Had this been another Bond film, where he was given a decent role, and not having to dress as a woman, I think he would’ve done a fine job. But, in DAF, Blofeld was hardly intimidating.

What’s with the oil rig scene, after Bond lands? Blofeld treats Bond as a drunken brother who stumbles across his hideout, and decides to let him hang out a while. He shows Bond around his little control room… lets Bond fiddle with the controls… has his guards carry Bond away… in which, Bond causes a little quarrel, and yet, nothing’s done about it. Then he’s just wandering around the rig, and Tiffany comes up to him to talk about the tape, and the guards don’t even move.

Connery made the film, in my opinion. His humor and delivery of certain lines made the film worth watching.

The funniest bits of the film have to be:

The Moonbuggy Chase
Completely cheesy and un-exciting, but made for a good laugh. And I love when the ATV rider falls off, and gets back on. He starts up the ATV, and waits about 5 seconds, followed by Bond kicking him off.

The Mouse Scene
Well, one of us smells like a tart’s handkerchief. [sniffs]
I’m afraid it’s me. Sorry, old boy.

Just the way Connery said it- made for a good laugh.

Other memorable lines from Connery:
That’s a nice little nothing you’re almost wearing.

(To Tiffany while he’s in bed with her)
Presumably I’m the condemned man and obviously you’re the hearty breakfast.

Man: I got a brother.
Bond: Small world.

Plenty: Plenty O’Toole.
Bond: Named after your father perhaps?

Certainly, this is one of the most quotable Bond films, if nothing else.

Before I wrap this review up, I’ll mention Jill St. John, and Wint and Kidd.

Jill St. John was gorgeous in this movie, but just not a good Bond girl. She had the looks, but it seemed like she was as dumb as a box of rocks. Wint and Kidd were good henchman. Very mysterious, and always kept the audience on their toes, because they were so dangerous. Too bad they were in a film like this though. Had it been a better story, I think they would have been more highly regarded.

Very humorous Bond film, that strays away from Connery’s more classic Bond… however, none-the-less, the film still holds certain Bondian traits.

This is my least favorite Connery Bond flick, but overall, not completely terrible.

5.5 / 10

5.5 / 10