Nov 15

revisiting spectreville

FT1 comment • 159 views

A READER REPORT on Diamonds Are Forever:
(this rereading follows up on this post)
orok1: Sentence on sentence DaF is indeed well written, though weirdly paced. In fact, there’s no significant action — violent or indeed sexy — until you’re a lot more than halfway in, and it’s almost over by the time it arrives. The lair-destruction is concentrated into just three consecutive chapters (though there’s a certain of aftermath threat — plus a tidy-up coda after the aftermath). Intriguing that the name Spectre turns up so soon (Spectreville is the name of Seraffimo Spang’s pasteboard Old West hobby-set).

2: anyway the strange pacing is because primarily VERY LARGE CHUNKS of the book are given over to description and/or exposition (= felix leiter’s primary role): mini-studies of the diamond trade, of how US horse races are fixed, of how casinos are fixed, of the history of gangsterism in the US. A somewhat deracinated history, to be sure — Bond arrives in the US with a dismissive contempt for US gangster, who are just (in his opinion) “greaseball” hoodlums.

Nov 15

thanks for the “M”-ories

FT14 comments • 377 views

diamondsI read the Bond books aged roughly 10-14, starting with Diamonds are Forever, which was the only one in my parents’ house. This was also the first film I saw — birthday outing, my 11th birthday: three schoolfriends and me plus mum, who lied brazenly to the ticket-taker about our ages (she was an excellent and useful liar). I definitely remember discussing Felix Leiter with Dad. who seemed to enjoy the fact that this was a character who appeared in several books, and had a hook for a hand (also for a foot, presumably, but this wasn’t mentioned). Between them, they helped me source several more: some from Ian, an old work colleague of dad’s based in Devon (our family staying with his family for a working summer, as dad was lecturing at slapton field centre); and another from another family friend, Joan Tate, who i wrote about here a while back. Ian I remember throwing open a great cupboard full of books, stacked three deep on makeshift shelves, a fact I found amazing

Nov 15

SPECTRE vs Trifecta

FT1 comment • 169 views

He’s got licences to kill, he’s got licenses to fish! But what was Sam Mendes’s *real* wish for James Bond in SPECTRE? An intrepid band of your FT correspondents stumbled upon an early draft of the screenplay last night, while digging through a remaindered box of Scampi Fries. The details can now be exclusively revealed below the cut – naturally what follows contains spoilers of the highest magnitude…

Oct 15

Oh Bondage Up Yours!

Do You See21 comments • 781 views

There is a new James Bond film out, and so I emailed a select cadre* of FT writers to tell me their favourite a) BOND FILMS and b) BOND THEMES. The idea then being that I would write about these things. But a problem arose! It turns out that the only James Bond film I have definitely seen all the way through is Goldfinger, and that scenes from ‘other Bond films’ I remembered with fondness were, in fact, also from Goldfinger.


So I haven’t written about them. Well, not much. But here is the Top Ten List as voted for in an exclusive film critic*’s poll. Later in the week I will put up the themes, which I will give (even) more critical consideration to.

Oct 15

S CLUB 7 – “Don’t Stop Movin’”

Popular72 comments • 4,156 views

#896, 5th May 2001

S Club DSM The unspoken advantage of kit-built pop groups, especially ones made for kids: they’re liberated from attempts to be cool. Often they don’t make full use of this potential. Some decide they want to be cool anyway. Some don’t, but never try for anything more than slush or formula. So why is it an advantage? Because it gives groups access to a toybox of sounds and poses they can use, combine and discard, severed from fashion. Vocoders, for instance, were actually in minor vogue at this point – Daft Punk had found a way to use them sentimentally – but S Club 7’s deployment of synthesised voices is a guileless joy. “Don’t stop movin’ to the S Club beat!”

Oct 15


Popular60 comments • 3,000 views

#895, 28th April 2001

dc_survivor For a song that seems simple and repetitive, “Survivor” is rammed with hooks. Perhaps the least-remembered but most telling one comes a couple of minutes in, moments before Michelle Williams attempts to wrap a positive homily around the song’s unfettered will to power. “Whoa-oh” sings Beyoncé, and the other girls replicate it, and then pass little melismatic drills back and forth, repeating one another precisely. It’s a segment of abstract but perfect vocal choreography that works as a ritual of unity, a demonstration of the unbreakable closeness of Destiny’s Child. Which needs demonstrating, of course, since the song is generally taken to be a massive fuck-you to the band’s former members.

Sep 15

EMMA BUNTON – “What Took You So Long?”

Popular23 comments • 2,461 views

#894, 14th April 2001

bunton It was obvious from “2 Become 1” on how crucial Emma Bunton was to the Spice Girls. She managed to be their steadiest and most seductive singer at once, the anchor of their ballads and the Spice who could turn a line like “Be a little bit wiser…” from a wagged finger to a beckoning one. All their nicknames found different ways to miss the point – for Baby, the pigtails-and-smiles branding masked the group’s most mature vocalist.

Sep 15

HEAR’SAY – “Pure And Simple”

Popular57 comments • 3,131 views

#893, 24th March 2001

hearsaypure “I’m here to be a pop star. I’m sick of being skint.” – Noel Sullivan of Hear’Say, outside his first audition.

Watching the first episode of Popstars – chunks of it are on YouTube – is like looking at footage of early motor cars. You’re watching a newly invented machine that will transform and scar the landscape it moves in, that will become an ordinary part of millions of lives, and that will make some of its engineers appallingly rich. But you’re not looking at a car as you know it now – you’re looking at a funny little device, all prongs and angles, trundling along on its four large wheels, picking up tentative speed. Walking ahead of the vehicle is a rangy, sandy-haired man, waving a flag with a rather pained expression on his face. His name is Nasty Nigel.

Sep 15

The Canon Crawl

FT63 comments • 1,752 views

joniblue This is another one of my ‘listening exercises’ – in a world of enormous musical choice, I find games like these are a good way of structuring what I hear, and avoiding the temptation of falling back on a relative handful of default choices.

I started this one when I was recovering from an operation, over the summer. The rules were simple. I went to the Acclaimed Music website, and looked at their list of critical favourites from each year from 1960 to 2014. I picked one LP a year, the highest on the list* I hadn’t knowingly heard all the way through and thought I could bear. One LP per artist max.

I’ve listed the LPs under the cut. To make things more fun, I’ve listed them in the order I’d most want to hear them again right now – from most to least.

Sep 15

WESTLIFE – “Uptown Girl”

Popular25 comments • 1,923 views

#892, 17th March 2000

westlifeuptown Features the best joke on a Comic Relief single – a girl gets bored of her “whitebread world”, and instead she chooses Westlife. But the video for “Uptown Girl” – the most entertaining thing about it – leans into just this conceit, casting the band as five honest lads working service jobs and pitched into a cartoon class-clash fantasy, against posh goons straight out of an IPC comic. This puts the emphasis on a part of the song Billy Joel doesn’t stress as much – “Uptown Girl” in his reading is the fantasy of a boy dreaming that a rich girl will notice what a stand-up guy he is. He wants to beat the high class boys, but they’re a background detail. “Uptown Girl” in Westlife’s world involves a woman waking up to the fact she’s stuck with a pack of howling arseholes.