Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Jim Thompson on Life

The following passages are from Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me. I'm posting these because, even bereft of context, I think these passages have a lot to say. They were a good slap in the face (more like a right cross, actually) when I read them, which is I suppose something at which Thompson excels.

Something else at which he excels? Complex emotions, plainly expressed. And that skill always earns my respect.

On Discretion:

"I guess we're a pretty stiff-necked lot out here, Howard," I said. "I suppose it comes from the fact that this country was never very thickly settled, and a man had to be doggoned careful of the way he acted or he'd be marked for life. I mean, there wasn't any crowd for him to sink into--he was always out where people could see him."


"So if a man or woman does something, nothing bad you understand, but the kind of thing men and women have always been doing, you don't let on that you know anything about it. You don't, because sooner or later you're going to need the same kind of favor yourself. You see how it is? It's the only way we can go on being human, and still hold our heads up."

On Careers:

He wasn't exactly right about that, but I knew what he meant. There was other work I'd have liked a lot better. "I don't know, Bob," I said, "there's a couple of kinds of laziness. The don't-want-to-do-nothin' and the stick-in-the-rut brand. You take a job, figuring you'll just keep it a little while, and that while keeps stretchin' on and on and on. You need a little more money before you can make a jump. You can't quite make up your mind about what you want to jump to. And then maybe you make a stab at it, you send off a few letters, and the people want to know what experience you've had--what you've been doin'. And probably they don't even want to bother with you, and if they do you've got to start right at the bottom, because you don't know anything. So you stay where you are, you just about got to, and you work pretty hard because you know it. You ain't young anymore and it's all you've got."

On Storytelling:

But I guess there's another thing or two to tell you first, and--but I will tell you about it. I want to tell you, and I will, exactly how it happened. I won't leave you to figure things out for yourself.

In lots of books I read, the writer seems to go haywire every time he reaches a high point. He'll start leaving out punctuation and running his words together and babble about stars flashing and sinking into a deep dreamless sea. And you can't figure out whether the hero's laying his girl or a cornerstone. I guess that kind of crap is supposed to be pretty deep stuff--a lot of the book reviewers eat it up, I notice. But the way I see it is, the writer is just too goddam lazy to do his job. And I'm not lazy, whatever else I am. I'll tell you everything.

But I want to get everything in the right order.

I want you to understand how it was.

These are pretty innocent passages on the surface. Read the book, and you'll get a much more twisted experience--something I highly recommend.

Good day, all.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Not So Brief Intermission

This is a very personal, scattershot entry. If you're not prepared for this sort of thing from me, then leave. I will not be offended in the slightest (it's not like I'll know).

We all have those places where we find relaxation, solace and strength. They may be ours alone, although more often than not, we share them with others. Here's mine:

I know. Doesn't look like much, does it?

Nevertheless, I used to get so much rest, so much peace on this nondescript bench, which you'll still find on the 2nd floor of the Blocker Building at Texas A&M University. What peace I found owed partially to it usually being a stop on my way to one of this gentleman's classes.

This is Dr. Douglas Brooks. He was my mentor. He died last January. Somehow, I only found out 2 weeks ago.

I do not wish to pour my memories out for you all to read here; indeed, my stories of him are better heard than read. But I can't let his death go without some acknowledgment.

In the classroom, I loved the fact that he was always intellectually rebellious without being egotistical, a singularly uncommon trait in a professor. He gave me radical, yet intuitive ways to think not only about Shakespeare but indeed all of literature. For me to express those ideas here would be a disservice to the energetic elegance with which he imprinted them not only on me, but onto all of his students. He also angered more than a few people with his ideas, which drew--from me at least--nothing but admiration.

Out of the classroom, he completely changed my taste in a lot of areas, particularly film and music. We'd talk a lot about film, and as many ideas as he sparked in me, he presented so much more encouragement. Once upon a time, I gave some lectures to intro film classes at A&M, and he was always in the back row of the lecture hall. He didn't have to sit in; he just came to watch me, like a parent supporting his kid in the big game.

High expectations, bankrupt of pressure. I don't know if I've known that feeling from anyone since.

He also gave me Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg, and Hal Hartley. He gave me a copy of Trust many years ago, a gift which had many repercussions quite impossible for me to articulate here. That movie was one of many films, books, and albums he just gave me out of nowhere, merely because he thought I'd like them. I'm proud he bestowed that sense of random generosity upon me.

Douglas also entrusted me with his own work. While I was in College Station and even after I left, he allowed me to help him with his research and planning his courses. I loved every minute of it. He managed to make everything seem simultaneously important but lighthearted. Emphasizing the lighthearted was his specialty, and truth be told, I wouldn't be half the man I am today without him. Even with everything else he did for me, the most important thing was teaching me not to take myself so damned seriously.

I loved Douglas dearly. I'll miss him forever. I'll never forget him.

And as the man says, I'm tired of the people we need leaving us before their time.

We now resume regular programming. Thanks for listening, and good night.

Read: The Winter's Tale, by William Shakespeare
Watch: Trust (dir. Hal Hartley, 1991)
Listen to: Exposed, by Mike Oldfield

...and anything by The Residents.

P.S. If you are one of Douglas's former students and have somehow come across this blog, please feel free to add whatever comments about him you like.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Craziest F#*&ing Thing I've Ever Seen

I'm gonna let the link do the talking for me:

I really don't know what else to say about this insanity.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

So, How Did That Taste, Anyway?

I was alerted to the fact that I left some of you fine readers in suspense with my last entry.

I can indeed say that Dr Pepper mixed with scotch does not taste like a turpentine fire. In fact, it's better than I expected, though I can tell you that I wouldn't make a habit of drinking it.

I mixed it with a Balvenie 10-year Founder's Reserve. No real reason for choosing that one over the other 12 varieties in my meager collection; it was merely within reach.

I don't really know how to describe it, save to say that mixing them released this intense cherry flavor, for which I was singularly unprepared. A wonderful little experiment it was.

And, thanks to several folks, the couple of days that followed were pretty damn wonderful too.

More. Later.

Oh, and for those of you who haven't seen Star Trek? Go see it. And if you're like me and don't like it as much as you thought you would the first time? Do yourself a favor and go watch it again. You'll like it the way you wanted to initially. (Brad--you were indeed right about that one.)

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Card I Can Get Behind

Being the holder of Plot 383840 has its little advantages...

As I'm wont to say, it's the little things, kids. You too can have your own little piece of Islay.

Hmmm, now let's see how a little scotch and a little Dr Pepper taste when mixed together.

Probably like a turpentine fire.

(Takes a sip)

Oh my.

Read: Starman, by James Robinson, Tony Harris, et al
Watch: Le doulos (dir. Jean-Pierre Melville, 1962)
Listen to: On the Ropes, by Mint Royale

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

5 Quick Things and a Bonus

1) After having watched them again recently, I maintain that Mission: Impossible II is the best of that series. I'd also argue it's John Woo's best American film.

2) All of this "Texas should be its own country again" crap has got me lamenting that Kinky Friedman didn't win his gubernatorial bid. My old home state would be a better place, I think.

3) Ran across a slim little volume this evening, quite by happenstance, entitled, The Penguin Book of Gaslight Crime. I really must get to reading it...once I finish The God Delusion, The Road,Godel, Escher, Bach, Starman Omnibus, Vol. 2, and My Silent War.

4) This is the number of days I've been coughing my lungs out. You'd think I could, you know, stop already.

5) So, when I first heard about the new Star Trek film, I was skeptical, which gave way to cautious optimism, which in turn gave way to bona fide excitement, which has now given way to purchasing the cereal. I must be mad.

Finally, an image I've been meaning to post for a while...one I haven't seen elsewhere. Enjoy.

And look at that...it's hell time. 'Night everybody.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Castor chrononautis or: How I Learned to Stop Saving and Love the Impulse Buy

Q: What do you do when you walk into a used book store and come across something like this?

A: Shell out the $2.98 without even thinking, the idiot's grin spreading slowly across your face, in nerd-shock that you've actually found a book called...ahem...Time Beavers.

As if you needed more convincing of the value of this impulse buy, here's the back cover summary:

"An epic historical adventure that takes the reader on an historical odyssey from 17th century France to the Lincoln presidency, from the final days of the Third Reich to the Great Dam of Time where the eternal Time Beavers battle to protect the very essence of reality!"

What a steal, kids. What. A. Steal.

To you readers of these rambles, my apologies for being gone so long. I'll be back, with more musings, in the not-too-distant.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


I really don't have anything to say, except would you look at that.

Monday, January 12, 2009


The matter? Nothing really, save that I'm currently sporting a headache roughly the size of Montana. I'm afraid this is not the time for focused thought.

Yet, I'm here. Thus, a smattering.

First off, here's something I require from you all, you steadfast readers of my meager, meandering chronicle. I have recently discovered the glory of swearing by saying, "Trousers!" Do this. Do it with a British accent. Be fruitful with this expression and let it spread throughout the land. Do me proud.

You know what, kids? Dr. Pepper made with pure cane sugar is better than almost any scotch. (Note, I said almost. I've still got my eye on that Bunnahabhain 25-year.)

I lament what a bad moviegoer I've become. Used to be, back in my non-comic reading, non-suit wearing, non-scotch drinking days, I'd see damn near anything that came to my local multiplex. And I live across the street from one now, but I'm lucky if I see one movie at the screen every couple of weeks. It's not so much that I am diverting my so-called disposable income to other pursuits, so much as it is the fact that I just flat out don't care about seeing everything anymore. I remember believing that any film was worth watching (even
Salo). I suppose I still do believe that, but I expend no effort in putting that principle into practice. My real hope is that my sense of curiosity isn't in a state of atrophy.

Along those lines, I'm pretty well burned out on superhero comics. At least current superhero comics. And while I love books like
Queen & Country & Fell, they don't come out with any regularity (or, you know, at all for quite some time). However, here are the 7 books that you should be reading. This is not some edgy underground list or a small catalog proving how much more sophisticated my taste is for reading only books published by Drawn & Quarterly. They're just good books. Go read them. Drop whatever comic you're buying out of habit (Trinity) and pick up one of these:

The Lone Ranger
FreakAngels (Start at the bottom of the page. It's free. You are, officially, without excuse.)
Madame Xanadu

Some webular curiosities:

Curiosity #1, in which the author indicts Fox Studios for its dicketry with his own brand of dickery.

I suppose I could judge this guy, but if this kind of crap had happened to Bond, we all know I'd react with similar charm and grace.

Curiosity #2, in which we find the author expounding on the virtues of the Cinema of Jason Statham:

There are certainly exceptions to Mr. Oswalt's argument, but how do you not love something that includes the phrase "fuck an explosion?"

Curiosity #3, in which we find the author, with the utmost clever-clever tone, defending Frank Miller's celluloid psychological upheaval.

While I still haven't seen the film, I can't imagine liking it. However, there's some truth to be found in Mr. Baker's review. I also particularly respect the fact that he's defending a friend (see some of the usual boards for more info, if you can stand the boards that long).

Curiosity #4, in which I find, thanks to spotting it on the Occasional Superheroine blog, an unhealthy fascination.

In other news, I live in a place where--on the morrow--the high will be lower than the low. Why do I that again? Trousers!

Seriously, do any of you have ANY deliriously happy music you can recommend? Not heroic. Not inspiring. Happy. I need the musical equivalent of Eric Joyner's
Robots & Donuts. See example below, in which robots are fending off a donut invasion. (By the way, go buy this book. Now.)

A conversation I overheard the other day, the topic being Tim Sale's artistic rendering of Batman. (Groan.) Here we go:

Fanboy 1: "So do you prefer Batman with the long ears or the short ears?"
Fanboy 2: "Short ears."
Fanboy 1: "And do you prefer them in the middle or in the back?"
Fanboy 2: "I don't understand the question."

At this point, I had to walk away. I'm not sure whether it was because I was going to start laughing or join in. Six of one...

You know that feeling that wells in the pit of your stomach when your friendly neighborhood video store doesn't have the Blu-Ray version of the movie/show you're searching for? That's called Blu-Rage, kids. Gotta learn to control that. Copyright pending.

Speaking of movies, it's 2009. This means that the following films will be 10 years old this year: Magnolia, Eyes Wide Shut, The Limey, Fight Club, The Matrix, The Mission (To), The Insider, Three Kings, All About My Mother, The Thomas Crown Affair, and Episode I. Does this fact just seem OUTRIGHT WRONG to anyone else? I may not feel aged, but I do feel old.

Wow. Headache's all but gone. How 'bout that?

Hey, Sleep? I'm on my way.

I'll end tonight by saying thanks to all of you who follow this blog. That you care at all about what I have to say is heartening, to say the least. And I look forward to my eventual trip to Norway, where I can apparently anticipate a reception resembling unconditional worship.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Sparrow (dir. Johnnie To, 2008) [Two words: pickpocket showdown.]
Listen to:
Born to Hustle: A Collection of Rhythm and Blues by Various Artists

Friday, January 2, 2009

Quantum of Solace, Part 2: Tosca Isn't for Everyone

Hey, all you Bond fans who are clamoring about Quantum of Solace being a heinous crime against the Bond legacy and cinema in general? Do me a favor and shut your cryholes.

As I've confessed to a few folks, this review is probably going to sound a little defensive (the cryholes comment gives me away, I suppose). I can't help it, because it's nigh unto impossible for me to look at a Bond film objectively. So here we go, and my apologies in advance for my excuse of a structure and the tangents that frequently break it. Also, some spoilers ahead. If you haven't seen the film, I'll have more respect for you in the morning if you don't read this.

While not a perfect film,
Quantum of Solace is an astoundingly great addition to the Bond canon (title and all). Frankly, it boggles my mind as to why people are so up in arms about it. The main complaints, as I see them, are three in number: 1) there's too much action with too little story, 2) the villain isn't really interesting, and 3) there's not enough humor in the film.

Almost every Bond film is, to some degree, a response to its immediate predecessor.
Quantum of Solace is no different. Casino Royale had its share of complaints (e.g. that there wasn't enough action--ridiculous, I know--or that the film was too long and too poorly paced), so it really shouldn't shock us that QOS would seek to improve on CR's perceived weaknesses. Thus, it stands to reason that there would be more action this go-around. However, all of the action sequences felt perfectly well motivated to me.

I thought that the car chase that opened the film was possibly the best teaser sequence in all of the films. The intercutting between tracking in from the sea and the quick shots of the Aston Martin's wheels, the enemy's bullets, Bond's eyes--all before we hear the punch of a pedal and the blaze of the bullets. Damn, that was spectacular (also surprising to me, since I was expecting the gun barrel sequence to start us off as opposed to that mountain shot). The airplane sequence was also especially tense and contained some really brilliant shots--especially that camera tilt inside Bond's DC-3 where the enemy plane first swoops in, guns blazing. Admittedly, I thought that the foot chase in Siena and the boat chase in Port au Prince could have been cut just a little less quickly, but still, the action was paced to within an inch of its life.

Indeed, I'd say that of the film as well. In 1 hour 46 minutes time, I'd argue the film gives us the best cinematic translation of the Fleming sweep. We visit a multitude of locales throughout the picture, but we never feel like we've jumped in and jumped right back out, nor do we stay in any one place too long. Apropos of the locations, I'm often annoyed by title cards indicating where we find ourselves, but
QOS cleverly, amusingly integrates them into the film, particularly when Bond and Mathis hit La Paz, Bolivia, where the title becomes a part of the airport signage. And I'm grateful they went with "London" instead of "London, England." Stuff like that is why title cards annoy me.

And yet, back to the complaint--not enough story. Um, okay. Let's review: Bond's on the verge of a violent breakdown after the death of Vesper, the only woman he's ever loved. Untrusted by his own government, he relentlessly seeks out members of a heretofore unknown global organization, both out of personal anger as well as an attempt on M's life. Bond soon discovers that said organization is steadfastly taking control of the world's natural resources, countries at a time. Oh, and he also joins forces with a beautiful agent pursuing her own personal vendetta against the movie's other villain, which mirrors Bond's own grief in a very palpable, intelligent way. And Bond must also deal with his own guilt for the way he treated his friend Mathis in the wake of
CR's events. And all this and more is pulled off in 1 hour 46 minutes--along with all that action over which people are so earnestly fussing.

Really? Not enough story? The story is actually like Bond's martini (called a Vesper, incidentally). It's got all the ingredients. They all mix well. And it's a damn fine drink going down.

So let's come to the second point, then. Our villain: Dominic Greene, excellently played by Mathieu Amalric. I remember seeing him in
Munich and thinking almost instantly, "That guy needs to be a Bond villain." I really can't fathom why people think that Greene is less compelling than Le Chiffre from the previous film. Is a poker savvy money-mover really more fascinating than an environmental magnate who's toppling regimes and playing intelligence agencies off of each other? And don't say it's because of Greene's lack of physical distinction (i.e. don't say it's because his tears aren't bloody), as that will upset me. Amalric alternately exudes cool menace (love the "ants under my skin" and "balls in your mouth" lines) and an almost psychopathic rage (the guy swings an axe like Monica Seles swings a tennis racket), and Bond's first meeting with Greene--to the tune of Puccini's Tosca--is the stuff of which epic confrontations are made. I love the fact that, in that moment, the two men exchange not a single word.

Besides all that, though, one of the central points of the film is that, as Mathis says, it's difficult to distinguish between the heroes and the villains as you get older. The Bond films have definitely gotten older and, at last, wiser. I think
CR and QOS have found a way to make their villains sufficiently Bondian while keeping them grounded in a very believable way. These films are also a little bit more politically interesting than previous entries. After all, both the British and the American governments are after Bond by the latter half of the film, and I think this fact is indicative of another of the film's core strengths: Bond's relationship with M.

Bringing Dame Judi Dench over from the Brosnan films was the absolute right move. Her sternly maternal presence plays well with Daniel Craig's equal parts rational and rash portrayal of 007. Actually, there's a line from
CR that tidily encapsulates what this diptych is really about at the end of the day. M says to Bond, "I need to know I can trust you, and that you know who to trust."

CR was about Bond discovering who to trust, QOS is in no small measure about M being able to trust Bond. And in the execution of that aspect of their relationship, M and Bond in this film remind me a great deal of The Sandbaggers' Neil Burnside and Willie Caine. We have both chief and agent, trying their damnedest not to be pawns in their own masters' political ends, fighting to protect both each other and their country. I love the fact that early in the film, when M's bodyguard reveals himself as a double agent, before Bond runs him down, he looks back to make sure M was able to escape. I don't know if I'd have thought twice about that part if it wasn't there, but it was, and it helped make the film better.

And no humor, huh? Well, I confess, the film lacks the charming byplay that
CR had between Bond and Vesper. But saying that the film is without humor is just patently false. It may be as dry as the Perla de las Dunas, but it's there. More than that, it's intelligent. Take, for example, the scene in the bar where Felix and James are trading barbs about their governments' imperialistic natures:

Bond: "It's always amazed me how you boys have carved this place up."
Leiter: "I'll take that as a compliment coming from a Brit."

I laughed like crazy when I heard that line, as well as this exchange.

Bond: "You see, that's the thing about American intelligence; you'll lie down with anybody."
Leiter: "Including you, brother. Including you."

It's nice to see Bond and Leiter's relationship a little more realistic in terms of what I'd expect from an interaction between an MI6 agent and one from the CIA, and yet those sorts of exchanges also give us an increasingly solid feel for the friendship that these men are developing.
But, sorry, back to the humor. It's not only dry; it's subtle. Take Agent Fields for example. The lovely, inimitable...I'm sorry, give me a moment...

...Agent Strawberry Fields. The scenes between her and Bond are wryly playful ("teachers on sabbatical" was pretty hilarious), but I'm pleased that it took the credits to reveal her first name. "Just Fields," she insists in the film, but the credits deliver the very clever punchline. While the full name itself is by no means subtle, the script could have easily contained a couple of jokes about this, but the writers chose wisely in omitting them.

"Don't bleed to death."
"She's seasick."
"Tell her Slate was a dead end."
"I'm not dwelling on the past; I don't think you should either."
"If you could avoid killing every possible lead, it would be greatly appreciated."

To say nothing of Bond throwing keys and phones around with abandon.

Really? No humor?

One quick note--that subtlety that I mentioned earlier also extends to the dramatic. Camille speaks of the "mark" that General Medrano gave her as a child. Referring to the burn scars on her back, we don't see the mark when she speaks of it. This was a great touch, as we'd seen the scars already a few times. We didn't need to be spoon fed the image to accompany the dialogue.

Speaking of quick notes, I have more to say, but it's probably best if I keep the rest brief. I may come back to some or all of these later, but at the time of this writing, it'll be amazing if anybody but me and all the unnecessarily pissed fans still care about this film enough to discuss it.

Without further ado, a "few optional extras" (22 in fact), in no particular order:

  1. I've already written about the song, but I'll also say that the titles sequence is really quite stunning. The women emerging from the sand dunes, the zoetrope-esque images of the women spinning round...did I mention that the women are back in the titles?
  2. Speaking of women, Olga Kurylenko does a superb job as Camille. Bond's female mirror in almost every respect, I really want her to return in a future installment.
  3. I do wonder how many of the people who flat-out don't like the film are new fans who jumped onboard with CR and who don't really get the pedigree of these films. I'd wager quite a few.
  4. It's easily the most stylish of the films, at least with respect to fashion. I mean, how about those sunglasses, kids?
  5. No Moneypenny? No Q? No gadgets? No worries.
  6. I'd contend it's got the best acting of the series. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, gives a fine performance, particularly the film's star. It's not "Daniel Craig as James Bond." It's "Daniel Craig is James Bond."
  7. QOS offers the two most moving moments of the series, next to Vesper's death in CR. First, Mathis' death, particularly when Mathis asks Bond, "Do we forgive each other?" I'll admit that chokes me up (after all, I have no armor left). Second, the final scene of the film, when M says, "Bond, I need you back," to which Bond replies, "I never left."
  8. And how cool was that final scene, particularly when Bond yells, "SIT DOWN!" As the man says, I nearly took a fraidy pee.
  9. Bond apparently carries a knife. Good to know.
  10. The fight with Slate was fantastic. Quick. Savage. Bloody. Terrific.
  11. Speaking of terrific, how about Bond slapping that guy off of his motorcycle? That's the stuff.
  12. The fight in the elevator could have been shot/cut better. I know it's close quarters--and an elevator--so we don't need that much spatial definition...but still.
  13. David Arnold has truly outdone himself and provided the film with the best score of the series. And people who say there's not enough Bond theme in the score: a) need to listen closer, and b) honestly ask themselves if the Bond theme has ever been overused.
  14. On the subject of music, the whole opera sequence was amazing from start to finish, particularly that giant eyeball. I've got to visit that place.
  15. On the subject of the opera sequence, don't you love how Mr. White didn't get up with the rest of the Quantum members (or is that Q.U.A.N.T.U.M.)?
  16. There was fine production design throughout, but overall we could have stood more camera time for it.
  17. The film does a wonderful job with homages to the previous installments. Obviously there's Fields' death--a blatant nod to Goldfinger--but I really enjoyed the nods to The Spy Who Loved Me (Bond throwing Haines' bodyguard off the roof in Bregenz, and the business card with the alias Robert Sterling, which was the alias Bond used in TSWLM).
  18. Nice to see M's Chief of Staff, Tanner, back in action as well.
  19. I didn't mention it above, but I noticed that M put two copies of the same photo of Vesper and her boyfriend Yusef in the file that she hands Bond. Why would there be two copies? Was M tacitly inviting Bond to chase him?
  20. The scene where Bond talks with Camille about killing is fascinating to me. It's an odd one. Bond is so calm while talking to her essentially about how to successfully achieve her vengeance, but we know he's still working through his own vendetta. He can still be the "blunt instrument" of CR, but by the film's end he also demonstrates the capacity to move beyond that.
  21. While I think the ending of the film gives great closure to Bond's emotional arc, I do wish we'd seen the original ending with Bond, Mr. White, and Guy Haines. While I know the filmmakers wanted to free themselves to go a new direction, I want a trilogy out of this story.
  22. Regardless of my feelings on the ending, I think the film serves incredibly well as a bookend to CR, a bridge to the next film, or most importantly on its own.
Quantum of Solace: Great Bond, or the Greatest Bond? Definitely great Bond. I'd put it at #2, behind only Casino Royale. I'll be intrigued to see how QOS ages, though. After all, CR was a film that I'd waited practically my whole life to see. It's almost impossible for anything to contend with that. Maybe time will convince me otherwise.

Aside from my gratitude to you for making it this far in my paltry piece, only two things left to say:

First, thanks to everybody who saw the film with me, all of whom contributed to this review--whether you know it or not--through your lively, erudite, and often hilarious conversation. You know who you are.

Second, the best four words in the English language: JAMES BOND WILL RETURN.