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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

Casino Royale (2006)

When I say I love going to the movies, this is it. This is the movies.


I so clearly remember seeing this in the theater with friend of the blog, Andy. I think we bussed to a theater on the far edge of town, probably treated ourselves to a cab home, and had an absolute blast. I remember shouting YESSSSSSS when the Bond music picks up as the hanger doors open to reveal a Very Big Plane and it feels So Important. Just a hell of a ride of a film.


Like any elder millennial, I have a soft spot in my heart for GoldenEye but otherwise I really can't stand the Brosnan Bonds. Too silly, too slimy, too destructive but with zero weight to the destruction. When Craig's Bond arrived, the character finally made sense to me. I adore that Casino Royale gives us a glimpse of an origin and it shows a man who is lost and finding his footing. A man looking for approval and guidance but not knowing how to ask for it. A man who knows what he's capable of, but hasn't come to grips with what it means. That opening sequence still holds so much tension for me. Tonight was the first time I really tracked the throughline of the cost of killing. And it's a really solidly crafted arc. The first kill "made [James] feel it," but the last death is what shapes him. Watching Vesper react to all that death is such a profound record scratch in this franchise. Even before you know what's coming, it shines a harsh light on how brutal this world is, regardless of the tuxedos and martinis.


Vesper. Golly what a character. What an introduction for me to perpetual crush, Eva Green. The older I get, the less inclined I am to see her as a well developed character, but I still appreciate the depth that Ms. Green gives her. And that, in a movie full of glowering, she manages not to glower at Mathis as he mansplains to an accountant how much money is on the line at the poker game.


The action scenes are beautifully paced. There's maybe one too many of them, but I honestly don't know how you decide which one should be cut. They're all exquisite. It's so well done, I can't even be mad that this movie brought about the age of ubiquitous parkour.


I was very taken, in this viewing, by M's character and her relationship with Bond and how both are mirrored in Vesper. We can tell from the get that M cares for Bond. Bond says "I love you" twice in this movie and the first time, he says it of M. Even if it's a winking tone, we know he means it. There's something in Bond that seems to be aching for approval in this movie. The exchange with M when he comments on the mortality rate for 00s, it feels like he's asking her to reassure him. To tell him he'll beat the odds. It's a vulnerability that Vesper couldn't even imagine with 007. And even when Bond shuts down, he still clues M in to what he's up to. (The only other Bond film I own is Skyfall so I won't go on about this much more because when that comes up I'll be going on about it much more.)


Daniel Craig is hands down one of my favorite actors currently working. I think the last two Bond films did him a disservice. He is SO GAME. You see it more in his non-Bond films (sup Logan Lucky) but I was pleasantly surprised by how much you see it here. The exchange with Le Chiffre (the rope scene) is so engaged and active, even as he's immobilized. His acting is remarkable and I wish we saw more of that in his other Bond films. (Quick shout out to how homoerotic the Craig Bonds were. A high wire act of high brow camp goes on in these movies but it never falls into the trap of "ohmygodgaaaaay". Just sexually charged interactions with everyone.)


Oh my god I had a blast watching that but what am I going to DO??


Playing cards, plexiglass, glue.






Takeaways:

-Okay looking at these pictures I feel ever so slightly better about this one. I was so blocked this week. Just couldn't think of what to do. I had really disparate thoughts - "something with playing cards" "something with the body exhibit" "some kind of diarama" "something lenticular(?!)". But nothing got clear in my brain, really until today, Saturday, when I just had to push through. It happens, and I'm thrilled I did *something* but oof. What a draining week.

-A very common theme or aspect in my art is a sense of depth or layers. The line I kept thinking about as I stressed about ideas was M saying "I/[Vesper] knew you were you." It's a very protected way of speaking about love. To really know someone. Especially to really know someone like Bond. Vulnerability is something I've always struggled with, sometimes veering into oversharing just to try to connect. Really laying yourself bare for someone takes incredible trust and honesty (with yourself first). Whether or not this was the intention of the director, the bodyworks exhibit Bond goes to nicely contrasts Bond's inability to let anyone in. In recovery, Vesper accuses him of putting his armor back on though he claims he hasn't. (I think he hasn't, but it's definitely back on when he says "the bitch is dead." But that's like a whole thing I'd be more than happy to write on... another time.) My brain kept leaping back to that part of the movie and the other parallel of seeing the inner workings of an agent so... I did this.

-I'm disappointed in the lack of finesse in this piece. I struggled with the playing cards (so slippery!) and getting the layering and scale just right was incredibly difficult for me. I had to walk away from the hair, in particular, many times.


My random number generator continues to mock British pain and we'll be watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail! I don't think I've watched it since college so this will be interesting, to say the least!


I hope you get to rest this week and that you can let your guard down. Even with one person. And if not, well, invent a new cocktail and don't take your work too seriously.

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