Archive for the ‘films’ Category

Love & Basketball (2000) is a Hollywood film, a love story starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan. It was written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (I will do a post on her). Lathan and Epps grow up next door to each other in the 1980s in Crenshaw, a black part of Los Angeles. They both love basketball – and, even when they do not want to admit it, each other. Basketball brings them together – and tears them apart.

This was the film that made Sanaa Lathan’s name and got Boris Kodjoe noticed (he takes her to the spring dance). Tyra Banks got a bit part but was already world-famous as a supermodel.

Gabrielle Union is in it too, then also pretty much unknown. She tried out for the lead but lost out to Lathan. Instead she got a part as one of Epps’s girlfriends. Union was to make her name that same year by starring in “Bring it On”, a cheerleader film.

Supporting characters: Debbi Morgan and Dennis Haysbert play Epps’s parents, Alfre Woodard plays Lathan’s mother.  In addition to the love story and the basetketball, the film shows Lathan’s relationship with her mother and Epps’s with his father. Debbi Morgan was great as a woman past her prime in a failing marriage.

The best scene except for the end was at the the spring dance: Lathan is dancing with Kodjoe and Epps is dancing with Union and they are playing Zapp and Roger’s “I Want to Be Your Man” (1987). Not only do I love that song but Lathan looked absolutely beautiful in that scene.

It is one of those movies I kept hearing about but never saw – till the other day. At the time it came out I had no reason to see it: I did not know Lathan then and my wife is no fan of Epps (too short?). I like Alfre Woodard but she is no big Hollywood star so I never know if she is in something until I am already watching it: “Hey, look, Alfre Woodard!”

It was a sweet story – though, truth be told, I would have probably watched it if it was just two hours of Sanaa Lathan breathing or waiting for a bus. If Halle Berry is bread, Sanaa Lathan is cake. With icing.

Lathan had played basketball only twice in her life before she got the part. They had to shoot the basketball scenes so you could not tell – partly by shooting the action from her point of view.

All the basketball players wear Nike shoes: because Nike had enough shoes from the 1980s for a period film. Prince-Bythewood, the director, tried to stay as in period as possible – though right in the opening scene set in 1981 she plays a song from 1983 (“Candy Girl” by New Edition). In the director’s commentary I found out that she knew that – she was just about the same age as the main characters in 1981 – but thought the song was too good to pass up.

– Abagond, 2010.

Family portrait from the film. Click to enlarge. From top to bottom: Harry Lennix, Sanaa Lathan, Regina Hall, Alfre Woodard.

See also:

Read Full Post »

“Alice in Wonderful” (2010) is the second Disney film of that name, this one directed by Tim Burton, who did “Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993). Johnny Depp plays the Mad Hatter. Unlike the first Alice film by Disney in 1951, which used straight animation, this one uses live actors with computers drawing in the background and even parts of the characters. It also features an older Alice, 19 (played by Mia Wasikowska) who is faced with a Wonderland that has become dark and evil.

I loved the Alice books and I loved “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, so I was looking forward to this film. I thought it could be a masterpiece. Sadly, it is not. While the acting, the sets, the special effects and the costumes were all great the plot was not.

The plot was tired. It is the very same plot you see in Star Wars, the Hobbit and the Wizard of Oz: our hero is an ordinary person who finds himself fighting against some great, terrible evil power. On his way to face said evil power he gathers an odd set of companions and a bit of magic power.

So in place of Chewbacca or the Scarecrow you have the Mad Hatter. In place of the Force or ruby slippers or a ring you have a vorpal sword. In place of Darth Vader and the Death Star you have the Queen of Hearts and the Jabberwocky. Blah blah blah.

A plot like that has plenty of built-in suspense, but I was never in suspense. I blame the writers for that.

So the plot seemed weak and tired and not-again. I felt like I was watching cable television on a large screen. It would make great late-night television. Sorry to say, but it should have gone straight to DVD.

I saw it in 3-D: they give you special glasses for that. That was a waste too – the film did not gain much by being in 3-D. I am glad I did not pay even more to see it at an IMAX theatre.

It is a shame because Tim Burton certainly has the imagination and the right spirit to make a great Alice film. It being Tim Burton I expected a dark Alice but I also expected to be surprised and wowed, like I was with “Nightmare Before Christmas”.

Johnny Depp was good. I particularly liked Anne Hathaway as the White Queen. She was always holding up her hands and had this wide-eyed stare and kept telling us she took a vow not to use violence – even as she let her subjects do their worst to the forces of the Red Queen.

The closing scene was a nice touch – reminding you that the earth itself is a wonderland.

You also get to see a bandersnatch. I do not remember Tenniel ever drawing one for the Alice books. Tweedledee and Tweedledum were played by the same actor, by the way, not by twins.

See also:

Read Full Post »

“Shaft” (1971) was Hollywood’s first blaxpoitation film to become a hit. It starred the then unknown Richard Roundtree. It is most famous for the Isaac Hayes song that opens the film:

Who’s the black private dick
That’s a sex machine to all the chicks?
You’re damn right

You see this cat Shaft is a bad mother-
(Shut your mouth)
But I’m talkin’ about Shaft
(Then we can dig it)

The parts in parentheses were sung by Stax singers Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson, who later became the Dawn of Tony Orlando & Dawn.

The opening scene shows John Shaft, a black New York City detective in a long brown leather coat, walking through Times Square as the song plays. A wonderful opening but then it  becomes like a late-night movie. Shaft tries to save the daughter of a Harlem crime lord to prevent all-out war with the Mafia. It only gets good again towards the end.

Blaxpoitation films were made by Hollywood in the 1970s for black audiences. They were mostly crime dramas with black leads. Pam Grier made her name starring in them. They pushed stereotypes of blacks as oversexed, badass and violent. Shaft himself is a good example of all three.

Civil rights leaders condemned it but black audiences loved it: back then almost no film had a hero who was unashamedly black.

“Shaft” had a black director, Gordon Parks, and two white screenwriters. One of them, Ernest Tidyman, created the character as a sort of black James Bond, writing seven books about him. Tidyman is one of the few whites to win an NAACP Image Award.

Sex machine to all the chicks: He has a main chick, Dina, who wears a wedding ring, another one on the side, Ellie, and, to put the “all” in “all the chicks”, he picks up a white chick at a bar for a one-night stand and has a shower scene with her.

Ellie: I love you
Shaft: Yeah, I know. Take it easy.

Shaft lives in a huge, well-furnished apartment and always takes the taxi – like he is made of money. He reads Essence magazine and uses what seems like too much slang. He likes to say “Right on!” and holds up his fist, like some bad stereotype of the 1970s.  Everyone is cat, dude or baby. That slang, I later found out, was put in over the protests of Tidyman.  But in the end it did not matter: the language was picked up by black teenagers. So was Shaft’s habit of crossing the street without looking.

In the opening scene, at the newsstand, you can see Naomi Sims on the cover of Essence.

It is amazing how much New York looks the same nearly 40 years later.

The film cost $500,000 (370,000 crowns) to make but brought in $13 million! Two sequels and a short-lived television series dutifully followed. In 2000 John Singleton brought it to the next generation with Samuel L. Jackson playing John Shaft’s nephew.

– Abagond, 2010, 2016.

See also:

Read Full Post »

secret life of bees“The Secret Life of Bees” (2008)  is an American film based on the 2002 book of the same name by Sue Monk Kidd.  It stars Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo.

It is about Lily Owens, a 14-year-old white girl played by Fanning. She runs away from her heartless father to live with a family of three black sisters who keep bees. It takes place in small-town South Carolina in the summer of 1964. She is unable to discover the truth about herself till she finds out the truth about her dead mother. She discovers the true meaning of love, etc.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith produced it; Gina Prince-Bythewood directed it. She also did “Love & Basketball” (2000), another great film. “Bees” won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Motion Picture.

2008_the_secret_life_of_bees_005I watched it because I wanted to see Alicia Keys. My sister saw it and warned me not to get my hopes up: “Alicia was so-so, nothing great.” She liked the film and watched it again with me, but she was not sure if I would get into it: “It’s a chick flick.” I still liked it. Touching and enjoyable.

Alicia Keys was pretty good. Beautiful as ever.  And, even better, she had a boyfriend so I could imagine myself as him. But one drawback with Alicia Keys is that I never forgot that it was Alicia Keys. Unlike with Dakota Fanning and Queen Latifah.

Jennifer Hudson did not have a big part. She played the maid that Fanning’s father had. There is a great scene where she is going to register to vote, extremely upsetting, but after they run away and arrive at Queen Latifah’s house Hudson becomes part of the background.

Sophie Okonedo was good. I wished they would show more of her.

Fanning regarded Hudson as an overgrown child and Hudson herself acted as if Fanning was way older than she was. I am not sure if that is how it was back then between black servants and white children.

Given how she was with Hudson I thought Fanning would be high-handed with Queen Latifah and her sisters. She was not. And it was not just because she was dependent on their kindness: she seemed to respect their age and wisdom. Partly, I think, because they had money and education.

When Sue Monk Kidd, who is white, was asked why she wrote about black women, she said:

Because I grew up surrounded by black women. I feel they are like hidden royalty dwelling among us, and we need to rupture our old assumptions and develop the willingness to see them as they are.

Or maybe it is just a magical Negro story.

When Queen Latifah’s godson took Fanning into town alone in his pickup truck it did not seem believable: how could he be that brainless!

The story takes place in South Carolina but was shot in North Carolina. It is based on Kidd’s childhood in – Georgia. Not that I could ever tell the difference.

See also:

Read Full Post »

Imitation_of_Life_1959_poster“Imitation of Life” (1933) is a book written by Fannie Hurst, a once-famous American writer. The book was made into a Hollywood film in 1934 and 1959. It was the only Hollywood film of the 1930s to view race as a serious issue. The film was so famous among blacks that Peola, the name of one of the main characters, was still a byword for self-hating blacks as late as the 1970s.

My understanding of the story before I saw the two films was that it was about a black girl named Peola who looked white and tried to pass for white by disowning her very black-looking mother. In the end she sees the error of her ways and comes home to make up with her mother – only to find that her mother has just died! She cries on her mother’s grave and the story ends, the story of the tragic mulatto.

That would have been a great film, especially if they showed how her heart was torn between the white world and the black world and her fight to become a whole person at peace with herself.

Well, that in fact is pretty much the story of “Passing” (1929) by Nella Larsen, herself a black woman who could pass, not “Imitation of Life” by Fannie Hurst, who was white even if she was part of the Harlem Renaissance scene.

Unlike “Passing”, “Imitation” has white main characters and was made into a Hollywood film. It seems that American film-goers, who are mostly white, do not care enough about a black girl passing to make a whole film about it. So, like in the 1959 poster pictured above, the black characters have the less important part of the story. (On the 1934 poster only the white characters appear!)

Both films are mainly about a white woman who becomes rich and famous and gives her daughter everything – but her love. Peola gets the subplot. She thinks by being white she will have everything – but she will not have her mother’s love.

The 1934 film sticks closer to the book, but it is slower and stiffer, like a stage play. Peola’s mother is pure Mammy, even to the point of wanting to give up millions to remain the servant of a white woman! Peola is not believable either: she wants to be white no matter what, her mother be damned! She is also a stereotype: the tragic mulatto – the idea that mixed-race people can never be happy.

In the 1959 film Peola, named Sarah Jane, gets more of a storyline so we find out more about her, but she and her mother are still the same two stereotypes, although less extreme and more believable. It also has a more powerful ending. Mahalia Jackson sings too!

The 1959 film is worth seeing, but do not get your hopes up. And, as always, the book is probably better than either film, though I do not know that for a fact: F. Scott Fitzgerald did say people would forget the book in ten years.

See also:

Read Full Post »


“The Princess and the Frog” (2009) is a Disney film, the first ever with a black princess. That is the good news. The bad news is she does not get a black prince and, in fact, spends much of the film as a frog! It comes out in time for Christmas.

Disney makes about $4 billion a year from its princesses. There have been eight so far:

  • 1937: Snow White, white
  • 1950: Cinderella, white
  • 1959: Sleeping Beauty, white
  • 1989: Ariel in “The Little Mermaid”, white
  • 1991: Belle of “Beauty and the Beast”, white
  • 1992: Jasmine in “Aladdin”, Middle Eastern
  • 1995: Pocahontas, American Indian
  • 1998: Mulan, East Asian

In 2008 Angelina Jolie, who has a daughter from Ethiopia, said, “There still isn’t a Disney princess that’s African and it’s very difficult because our daughter’s getting into princesses right now and it upsets me.” Now she will have one – a black princess at least, if not an African one.

Not because Angelina Jolie wants one and not even because America now has black first daughters. This film has been in the making since the middle 2000s.

It takes place in the French Quarter of New Orleans in the 1920s during the jazz age. The princess kisses the frog but instead of him becoming a prince like in the fairy tale, she becomes a frog! To get changed back they have to go through bayou country to find Mama Odie, a good voodoo priestess. They are, of course, guided by a firefly and an alligator who plays jazz.

The princess at first was going to be a maid named Maddy who worked for a rich white woman. That seemed too close to the whole Mammy stereotype, so her name was changed to Tiana and she became a businesswoman instead – even though Cinderella and Snow White were both maids.

The voice of the prince is played by the Brazilian actor, Bruno Campos (Dr Quentin Costa in “Nip/Tuck”). Both Campos and the prince look white and sound Brazilian. Disney says the prince has an olive cast to his skin.

It should come as no surprise: When Brandy played Cinderella in 1997 she did not get a black prince either: her prince was Filipino.

Disney has not said why, but I think it goes something like this: they wanted a black princess, but to keep it from becoming a “black” film they needed a white male lead. Yet since it is a love story where they have to kiss, the male lead cannot be white American but something as close to it as possible, like Latin American, Middle Eastern or even Asian. You see the same sort of casting decision in other films.

The leading black male character, by the way, is an evil voodoo magician.

The voice of Tiana is played by Anika Noni Rose, best known for being that other girl in “Dreamgirls” (2006). Alicia Keys wanted the part. Jennifer Hudson and Tyra Banks were also considered.

Tiana’s parents are played by Oprah Winfrey and Terrence Howard. The good voodoo priestess is played by Jenifer Lewis.

See also:

Read Full Post »

Has anyone seen this yet? Is it any good?

Read Full Post »

Man : I knew these people, these two people. They were in love with each other. The girl was very young, about 17 or 18 I guess and the guy was quite a bit older. He was kind of raggedy and wild. And she was very beautiful , you know. And together they turned everything into a kind of an adventure. And she liked that. Just an ordinary trip down the grocery store was full of adventure . They were always laughing at stupid things. He liked to make her laugh and they didn’t much care for anything else because all they wanted to do was be with each other. They were always together and he, he loved her more than he ever felt possible. He couldn’t stand being away from her (ah) during the day when he went to work. So he’d quit just to be home with her. Then he got another job when the money ran out. And then he quit again. But pretty soon she started to worry.

Woman : ‘Bout what?

Man : Money I guess. Not having enough. Not knowing when the next cheque was coming in.

Woman : Yep. I know that feeling.

Man : So he started to get kind of torn inside.

Woman: How do you mean?

Man: Well he knew he had to work to support her, but he couldn’t stand being away from her either.

Woman : I see.

Man : And the more he was away from her , the crazier he got. Except now he got really crazy. He started imagining all kinds of things.

Woman: Like what?

Man: He started thinking that she was seeing other men on the sly. He’d come home from work and accuse her of spending the day with somebody else. He’d yell at her and break things in the trailer.

Woman : The trailer…

Man: Yes, they’d lived in a trailer home. Anyway, he started to drink real bad and he’d stay out late to test her to see if she’d get jealous. He wanted her to get jealous. But she didn’t. She just worried about him. But that got him even madder. He thought if she’d never be jealous of him that she didn’t really care about him. Jealousy was a sign of her love for him. And then one night, one night she told him that she was pregnant. She was about three or four months pregnant. And he didn’t even know. And then suddenly everything changed. He stopped drinking, got a steady job. He was convinced that she loved him now because she was carrying his child and he was going to dedicate himself to making a home for her. But a funny thing started to happen. He didn’t even notice it at first. She started to change. But the day the baby was born she began to get irritated with everything around her. She got mad at everything. Even the baby seemed to be an injustice to her. He kept trying to make everything all right for her. Buy her things, take her out to dinner once a week. But nothing seemed to satisfy her. About two years he struggled to pull them back together like they were when they first met. But finally he knew that it was never gonna work out. So he hit the bottle again. But this time it got mean. This time when he came out late at night, she wasn’t worried about him or jealous. She was just enraged. She accused him of holding her captive by making her have a baby. She told him that she dreamed about escaping. That was all she dreamed about: escape. She saw herself at night running naked down a highway; running across fields; running down river beds; always running and always just as she was about to get away, he’d be there. He would stop her somehow. He would just appear and stop her. And when she told him these dreams, he believed them. He knew she had to be stopped or she’d leave him forever. So he tied a cow bell to her ankle so he could hear at night if she tried to get out of bed. But she learnt how to muffle the bell by stuffing her sock into it and inching her way out of the bed and into the night. He caught her one night when the sock fell out and he heard her trying to run off the highway. Caught her and dragged her back to the trailer and tied her to the stove with his belt. He just left her there, went back to bed and lay there listening to her scream. Then hae listened to his son scream and he was surprised at himself because he didn’t feel anything anymore. All he wanted to do was sleep. For the first time he wished he were far away, lost in a deep, vast country where nobody knew him. Somewhere without language or streets. And he dreamed about this place without knowing its name. And when he woke up he was on fire. There were blue flames burning the sheets of his bed. He ran through the flames toward the only two people he loved. But they were gone. His arms were burning and he threw himself outside and rolled on the wet ground. Then he ran. He never looked back at the fire. He just ran. He ran until the sun came up and he couldn’t run any further. And when the sun went down, he ran again. For five days he ran like this until every sign of man had disappeared.

Read Full Post »


CT.LAIKA“Coraline” (2009) is an American film based on the book by British author Neil Gaiman. It tells the story of Coraline, a girl who discovers a door behind the wallpaper that goes to another world. It is Narnia meets “The Nightmare Before Christmas”.

I loved Narnia and the Alice in Wonderland books, so I fell in love with Coraline too. But the other world that Coraline discovers seems pretty much like her own except that everything seems better and more beautiful: the sun is brighter, the food tastes better and her parents pay more attention to her. Everything is the way it should be, everything is beautiful. Except for one thing: everyone has buttons for eyes….

Of course, everything is not as it seems. It never is. Despite how the story starts out, this turns out to be a tale of witches, spiders, black cats and the lost souls of children. It is a tale where smiles and sweetness cover evil and darkness.

It is a stop-motion animation film done with dolls – and yet the other world that Coraline discovers seems even more doll-like! When I saw it at the cinema they gave us dark glasses that made everything look three-dimensional. That was nice but for this film it was not necessary. (I kept the glasses – because that is what Coraline would have done!)

The look of everything was interesting, like you were watching a moving painting. I think it took place in Oregon in the American north-west, but it reminded me very much of the mountains of Pennsylvania where I once lived – they got that part of it right, the look of everything. It was nice how it seemed like a place but not one you always see in Hollywood films. (In point of fact, as I just found out, the film was produced in Portland, Oregon!)

I liked how one of the main characters, Wybie, was black but not in a stock way. Like Jennifer Beals, he seemed like maybe he was mixed. You might think he was white, but his hair was a bit strange for a white person and his cat spoke with a Black American accent. It only became plain that he was black when you saw his grandmother at the end.

This being Neil Gaiman, the story is not just dark and strange, as if he were born on Halloween night, but it is even kind of sick at times. Like there is a woman in it who stuffs her black Scottie dogs when they die and dresses them up as angels to put them on display.

That nightmare-before-Christmas look it has is no accident: it was directed by Henry Selick who also directed “The Nightmare Before Christmas”! He was perfect for this film.

The voice of the father is John Hodgman, who is best known for saying “I’m a PC” in Mac ads.

See also:

Read Full Post »

blackorpheus“Black Orpheus” (1959), also known as “Orfeu Negro”, is a French-made, Portuguese-language film that tells the old Greek love story of Orpheus and Eurydice but set in black Rio at the time of the Carnival. While it does present blacks as childlike, you do get to see Carnival and hear music by bossa nova great Tom Jobim.

The film won a Golden Palm at Cannes, an Oscar and a Golden Globe.

Like “Carmen Jones” (1954) it uses an all-black cast and music to tell an old story.

The story (spoiler alert) appears in Ovid, Plato, Rubens, Titian, Monteverdi, Cocteau and even Neil Gaiman. In both the Greek story and the film, Orpheus plays amazing songs on his stringed instrument (lyre, guitar). He falls in love with Eurydice but then she is killed (by a snake, the electric current of a tram line). Orpheus goes to get her back from the dead (Hades, voodoo woman) but he is told that if he looks back at her before he leaves he will lose her forever. He looks back. Orpheus carries her body and is killed by some women who have gone mad.

Eurydice was played by Marpessa Dawn, who is not from Brazil at all but Pittsburgh! Although she is a light-skinned black American woman, in some of the posters she is pictured as a white woman. Not sure how they got away with that. She died in 2008 just 42 days after Breno Mello, who played Orpheus (and is from Brazil).

The film comes up in Barack Obama’s book “Dreams from My Father”. When he was going to Columbia University his mother and sister came to visit. One night “Black Orpheus” was showing. It was an old film that his mother loved, so they went.

His sister thought it was “kind of corny. Just Mom’s style”. Barack could not stand the way it pictured blacks and wanted to leave. He was about to get up and go but then he saw his mother:

But her face, lit by the blue glow of the screen, was set in a wistful gaze. At that moment, I felt as if I were being given a window into her heart, the unreflective heart of her youth. I suddenly realized that the depiction of childlike blacks I was now seeing on the screen, the reverse image of Conrad’s dark savages, was what my mother had carried with her to Hawaii all those years before, a reflection of the simple fantasies that had been forbidden to a white middle-class girl from Kansas, the promise of another life: warm, sensual, exotic, different.

“Black Orpheus” had come out just before she met his father at the University of Hawaii.

Obama concludes:

The emotion between the races could never be pure, even love was tarnished by the desire to find in the other some element that was missing in ourselves. Whether we sought out our demons or salvation, the other race would always remain just that: menacing, alien, and apart.

See also:

Read Full Post »


notorious_poster-202x300“Notorious” (2009) is a film about the life of rapper Notorious B.I.G., also known as Biggie Smalls. I liked it even though I have never been a fan of his music.

By far the best part of the film came at the end, at the funeral: the long line of black cars crossing the East River on the bridge from Manhattan to take his body home to Brooklyn; Angela Bassett seen through the car window, the pain of losing her only child written on her face. It was hard not to be moved.

Not only was Angela Bassett great and not only do funeral processions get to me for some reason, but as someone who has lived on the other side of that river it was great to see it shown as a place that matters.

Angela Bassett played Biggie’s mother. It was pointed out that she was from Jamaica, yet throughout the film she spoke in an American accent. Strange. Bassett was good otherwise, but probably too good for a supporting character.

I liked how they showed both the good and bad sides of Biggie. It is not the story of a hip hop saint. For example, they show him selling crack to a woman who was going to have a baby and calling Lil Kim a bitch.

They put Lil Kim in a bad light, but as played by Naturi Naughton of 3LW she was great to look at – even with her clothes on.

Faith Evans, Biggie’s wife, was put in a good light. I liked her as played by Antonique Smith of “Rent”: the way she smiled, the way she liked Biggie for who he was, the way she did not put on airs as beautiful as she was. And for some reason I loved her accent, reminding me of some world I had forgotten. (Like Bassett, she used her own accent, not her character’s.)

Sean Combs was put in a good light throughout – so much so that I thought he must have had a hand in making the film. As it turns out he did: he was the executive producer! Which makes the whole film suspect since Combs profits from  the sale of Biggie’s music.

Combs in the film is far more reserved and gentlemanly than the one we know through television and music videos, even if he does have the same boldness and confidence.

You kept having to remind yourself who he was. The same was true for Tupac.

The whole East Coast / West Coast thing that played such a big part in Biggie’s death, at least as it was reported by the press, was not believable the way they presented it in the film. Well, come to think of it, it was not believable back then in 1997 either, at least not as something that could have a body count.

The tragedy of his death at age 24 did not come across in the film.

Not a perfect film, but still I hope to see it again.

See also:

Read Full Post »

James Bond

James Bond (1924- , 1968- ) is a character from a series of books by Ian Fleming, later turned into films. Fleming died in the 1960s, but books continue to be written and films made.

James Bond works for MI6, the British Secret Service. He is Secret Agent 007. The “00” means he is licensed to kill. And 7, of course, because he has luck, loads of it.

He drives a fast, cool-looking car, wears great-looking suits, has a beautiful woman on his arm (known as a Bond girl) and goes after men mad with power who will rule the world if he does not stop them in time.

Bond is quick-thinking, daring and fearless. No matter how bad things get, he never loses his cool and never loses hope. He can think his way out of anything.

He loves to drive fast and loves to take chances, both with his money and his life.

He is helped by Q, who makes Bond’s car into a killing machine and comes up with deadly little inventions that look innocent, like a pen or a watch.

Bond is kept in line – unsuccessfully – by M, his commanding officer. Bond often goes against direct orders and does things his own way. But since he always gets his man, M forgives him in the end.

He is a heavy drinker: about one drink every seven pages. He drinks whisky most often, but is famous for wanting his vodka martini “shaken, not stirred”.

He is a heavy smoker, 60 cigarettes a day. Yet he has not been filmed smoking a cigarette since 1989, though you will see him with a cigar sometimes.

He loves to eat. When Fleming wrote the first Bond books in the 1950s, Britain was still limiting butter, milk and eggs. The good food, along with the cool cars and beautiful women, were part of the Bond dream.

He always seems to be about 37. He has been 37 for so long that his year of birth has been moved up from 1924 to 1968. This means he never retires.

He married once, but his wife was killed by his arch-enemy on his wedding day. He also has a son by Kissy Suzuki, but he did not find this out till after Fleming’s death.

His women: They are always beautiful but they do not last. He has had dozens of them from all over the world. Women love him, but he has never fallen in love.


Halle Berry as the Bond girl in “Die Another Day” (2002).

Bond films listed by the actor who played Bond and the year it came out:

  • Sean Connery
    • 1962: Dr. No
    • 1963: From Russia with Love
    • 1964: Goldfinger
    • 1965: Thunderball
    • 1967: You Only Live Twice
    • 1971: Diamonds Are Forever
  • George Lazenby
    • 1969: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
  • Roger Moore
    • 1973: Live and Let Die
    • 1974: The Man with the Golden Gun
    • 1977: The Spy Who Loved Me
    • 1979: Moonraker
    • 1981: For Your Eyes Only
    • 1983: Octopussy
    • 1985: A View to a Kill
  • Timothy Dalton
    • 1987: The Living Daylights
    • 1989: Licence to Kill
  • Pierce Brosnan
    • 1995: GoldenEye
    • 1997: Tomorrow Never Dies
    • 1999: The World Is Not Enough
    • 2002: Die Another Day
  • Daniel Craig
    • 2006: Casino Royale
    • 2008: Quantum of Solace
    • 2012: Skyfall
    • 2015: Spectre
    • 2020: No Time to Die

– Abagond, 2007, 2020.

See also:

Read Full Post »


Gabrielle Union (1972- ) is an American film and television actress. She became known in 2000 after playing opposite Kirstin Dunst in the cheerleader film “Bring It On”. She was Will Smith’s love interest in “Bad Boys II” (2003) and LL Cool J’s in “Deliver Us From Eva” (2003) – a loose remake of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew”.

According to this blog she is the tenth most beautiful woman in the world. She often makes AskMen.com’s top 99 and similar lists in men’s magazines like Maxim and Stuff.

Apart from her more obvious attributes, she has perfect skin and a warm, beautiful smile that can light up a room.

She is a Catholic schoolgirl from Omaha, Nebraska. When she was eight her family moved to California. She was a cheerleader and loved sports. She wanted to go into law, but while she was at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) she worked at a model agency answering telephones. She was so beautiful people assumed she was a model! And so she became a model herself. She appeared in Teen magazine.

It was soon discovered that she had not only beauty but acting talent as well.

Television: Her first acting part was on the television show “Moesha”. She landed small parts on a number of other television shows. She was on “Night Stalker” (2005) and “City of Angels” (2000), but neither show lasted long. She was even a Klingon on “Deep Space Nine”.

She was also in “Football Wives”, which was not picked up by ABC for 2007. It is something she knows first-hand: she married Chris Howard of the Jaguars. They separated after four years.

Film: The film that got her noticed was “Bring It On”, where she played opposite Kirstin Dunst. She did not do much acting in that film: for the most part she was just being herself. In “Deliver Us From Eva” (2003) she showed that she could play a leading lady. She often plays a beautiful but headstrong woman who thinks she knows it all – but does not!

For Christmas 2007 she appeared in “The Perfect Holiday”. Her daughter asks Santa Claus to find Union a new husband.

She has lost leading parts to Beyonce (“Austin Powers in Goldmember”), Aaliyah and, understandably, to the seventh most beautiful woman in the world, Sanaa Lathan (“Love and Basketball”). Being rejected, she says, is the worst part of acting.

When she was 19 she worked at Payless ShoeSource. A man walked in one day and forced her into a back room. She thought she was going to die. She was raped instead. Later when she was famous she went to Washington to speak before Congress to tell them how rape counselling saved her life.

Her family name, Union, comes from the civil war days when the Union army freed the slaves. Many freed slaves changed their name to that of a president, like Washington, Jefferson and Jackson. Her family named themselves after the army that freed them.

Last updated: Sunday January 13th 2008.


See also:

Read Full Post »


Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) was an American filmmaker. He is famous for such films as “2001”, “Dr Strangelove”, “Lolita”, “The Shining” and “Spartacus”. His films succeeded both as art and as moneymakers.

As a film director he was tireless and wanted everything to be perfect, driving his actors and his wives to their wit’s end.

As a boy in New York he was obviously bright but he did not do well at school. To help him, his father got him interested first in chess and then, when Kubrick turned 13, he gave him a camera of his own, which he loved. Kubrick still did not do well at school and he never went on to university.

Instead the cinema became his university. By day he worked taking pictures for Look magazine and by night he watched nearly every film that came out in New York. This was when he read Pudovkin’s “Film Technique”. These three things taught him how to make a film.

His first film that got any notice was “Fear and Desire” (1953). It ruined his marriage and got mixed reviews, but the film clearly showed his promise.

During the 1950s he slowly gained the attention of Hollywood and got the chance to direct films. Proving his ability, he was given yet more important films to direct until finally he directed “Spartacus” (1960).

It turned out to be his greatest Hollywood film ever because by the time he finished it he had lost all faith in Hollywood. So he moved to Britain where he had more freedom. The first film he directed there was “Lolita” (1962), taken from that book by Nabokov.

With his next film, “Dr Strangelove” (1964), he finally made enough money to become free to do the films he really wanted to do in the way he wanted to do them. He often had several films in the making at any one time, but some he abandoned, such as “Napoleon” and “Lies of the Time of War,” a film about when Hitler killed the Jews.

Many of his films come from books from such writers as Thackeray, Nabokov, Arthur C Clarke, Stephen King and Anthony Burgess. Yet Kubrick saw film as being more like music than fiction: a series of emotions whose meaning only becomes obvious later.

How you can tell you are watching a Kubrick film:

  • Long, high, parallel walls
  • The number 114
  • A close-up of a face twisted by emotion
  • A view of the action that seems separated from the emotions of the actors
  • The rational order of man falling apart into madness and blood
  • The camera slowly moving away or towards the action
  • Bathrooms (“Here’s Johnny!”)

Films by others that Kubrick liked:

His own films:

See also:

Read Full Post »

Daddy’s Little Girls

“Daddy’s Little Girls” (2007) is a Tyler Perry film starring Idris Elba and Gabrielle Union. Like Perry’s “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” most people seem to either love it or hate it. I saw it Monday night and I loved it.

Elba, trying to bring up his three daughters right in a rough part of Atlanta, loses them to their mother. She lives with a crime lord who rules the neighbourhood with fear and violence. Elba must save them, but it seems hopeless.

He works as a driver for Gabrielle Union. She practises law in one of the tall, glass office buildings of Atlanta. She has a good education but is stuck-up and only thinks of herself. She is not used to talking to the little people like Elba. Her friends say she is disagreeable because she needs a man. She says a good man is hard to find.

Thus act one. Perry can tell the rest of the story much better than I can.

It is Perry’s best film so far. Like “Diary” and his many stage plays it is a powerful story of good against evil in everyday life from a strong Christian point of view. Perry is not afraid or ashamed to mention God or show Christian religion in a good light.

For Perry Christian faith is not something dead or narrow or holier than thou or just for Sundays. It is the meat of life, the heartspring of all we do. Each one of us, if we are true, is locked in a battle of good against evil. Either we take the easy road and give in to evil or we stay on the hard but good road and stay true — to ourselves and to God. But to stay on that road we need faith in God.

Elba is trying to stay on that road.

Madea does not appear in this story. She is not there to save the day, to provide her wisdom, to give us a few laughs. But, in fact, the story holds together better without her.

Perry’s characters are too evil or too good to be believable on their own. But we go along with it because we have all found ourselves in an impossible place in life like Elba and we want to see how he gets out. It also makes the emotion in the story – the anger and pity and joy you feel while watching it – stronger.

Of course, even if it did not have a strong story, I would still have enjoyed watching it simply because it has the beautiful Gabrielle Union. I could look at her all day. She played her part well – you could tell that being stuck-up was just a front, that deep down she had a good heart.

The music is good too.

It has an all-black cast, but if you dismiss it as a “black film”, then you will be the poorer for it.

See also: 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: