I’m seeing Skyfall this afternoon. I haven’t seen a Bond movie on the big screen for over 40 years but I still remember the plot they all had. Bond is in bed with a beautiful woman, makes bad puns, sabotages something, goes back to bed with the same woman or a different one (sometimes kills her and makes a bad pun as she turns out to be on the other side). Then we have great opening credits (usually the best bit) and music. Bond goes to HQ, flirts with M’s secretary and makes bad puns. M offers mission to defeat a Villain who wants to destroy or take over the World. It will involve lots of smoking, drinking, driving an Aston Martin and sleeping with beautiful women, should he accept it. He accepts it, gets some gadgets from Q including a car with special gimmicks. He smokes, drinks, goes to bed with beautiful women, drives the car for ten minutes and crashes it. The Villain captures him and tortures him. Rather than killing him, the Villain leaves him to be killed by lasers or fish. He escapes with the help of a gadget, a beautiful woman or a paper clip. He kills the Villain’s henchmen and foils the plot to blow up the world but the Villain escapes. Bond goes to bed with a beautiful woman and makes a bad pun. Good end credits (but not as good as the opening credits). The End.
Should be different this time – it’s directed by Sam Mendes. I loved his version of Cabaret with Alan Cummings.
I stupidly waited to the last minute to to see this – it finishes on Sunday. There was a 20 minute queue to buy a ticket this morning (half price thanks to my Art Card) for a slot to visit two and a half hours later. That left time to go around the permanent collection and have a surprisingly decent salad in the cramped cafe before queueing for another 40 minutes to actually get into the exhibition. It was crowded and sometimes tricky to see some of the work properly. It was worth it though. I will not try to judge it as an art critic – I’m not one – but I was impressed and fascinated.
I have always loved Stravinsky’s ballet music above any other composed for the ballet and the Firebird is one of the greatest. Unlike Nijinska’s magical choreography for les Noces last year, I felt Fokine’s 1910 choreography for the Firebird is showing its age and could have been gently improved. The dancing, particularly Mara Galeazzi as the Firebird, was excellent although the footfalls were sometimes louder than they could have been. This was followed by In the Night danced to Chopin’s piano music. I have never got the appeal of Chopin and the ballet did not add a lot except when Carlos Acosta was dancing. I was yawning so much by the end that I skipped the third ballet. I was still whistling the astonishing music from the magnificent Firebird that opened the evening (well worth my £6 seat on its own).
I am sure this could have been good but in the end it was very frustrating. Farce works best by being played straight, allowing the comedy to build up from the complexities of the script; in this they added sub Gilbert and Sullivan songs. The actors should end up overplaying because that’s where the script forces them; in this, they overacted from the start. Farce works by adding layers of absurdity to a simple, normal setting; in this they created a cartoon set (see picture above from the NT’s FaceBook page, complete with wacky slanted door). Nearly 20 years ago, I saw Griff Rhys Jones in Charley’s Aunt showing how it can be done – the only thing I didn’t like was the pain in my stomach from laughing too much.