Sunday, July 7, 2013

Don't Make a Scene: Casino Royale (Revised)

One always struggles with continuity on these things (if one cares) and a simultaneous mention of "The War Between Men and Women" in the Mud review, with a reading of Time magazine's review of The Heat noting that it was the only—the ONLY—Summer release that had women protagonists, talking (to each other!), and about something other than men, and the downright tragedy of that made me want to throw some scenes with, ya know, women in them.  This site has been a bit butch lately.  And will be, what with the season's films being CGI'd testosterone cluster-edit-fests, at an alarming rate and regularity.  Time for a change-up, so we'll be doing banter scenes for the next few weeks, which may dove-tail into something else at the end.  We shall see.  In the meantime, we start off this distaff swivel...with a James Bond film?  Aw, c'mon!


The Set-up: Life is tough enough for a "00" agent given their short life expectancy. James Bond (Daniel Craig), for instance, has just survived a sprinting fire-fight at a high-rise construction site, a shoot-'em-up at an Embassy, getting blown up at an airport and dressed down by his boss, "M" (Dame Judi Dench). And he's just started! Now, this is more like it: a quick bullet-train ride to Montenegro to take part in a high-stakes poker game with a representative of a particularly active terrorist cell. But first he has to meet his assets--in the form of Treasury Agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), who starts out skeptical of the whole scheme, and only becomes more so when she meets the man the government is betting on to bet well. She's skeptical. And he's...well, he's unrepentently Bond.* So much for taking it easy.

The verbal jousting that these two characters engage in does not make the trip any less bumpy, as they question, cajole, psycho-analyze, and spar over a dinner where egos seem to be the main entree. Such crackling dialogue scenes are few and far between in Bond films where the words might just as well be directions from the ski chase to the boat chase to the car chase. Here the stakes are laid out, the rules and strategy briefly mentioned, and the flinty relationship between Bond and Vesper becomes established. And where there's flint there's sure to be flame. 

2013 Addendum:  Several things having to do with time and tide.  This was the fourth DMAS I'd ever done ('way back in 2008), so I took some liberties with the original post.  Not every single edit was captured, nor placed in the dialogue where the edits occurred.  Back then, I wasn't very strict about these things, just wanting to present a taste of it, the scene and its dialogue were the most important things.  So, I've added extra screen-caps (you'll notice the difference—I used to brighten them as my original in-tower-DVD player would darken and dull them a bit—but it's been years since I've done that, and the new ones are untouched), as, some of the most important parts of this conversation are in reaction shots that are very precisely cut by editor Stuart Baird, as Bond and Vesper react to the respective jabs across the table...and react to the reactions. 

Also, there's an explict edit in the "watch" discussion of the scene.  The Bond's have always used product placement as a way to defray costs (and "keep it in the real world" *ahem,* artistically) but this mention of Omega watches...and curiously, Rolex, a competitor...was mentioned in Morgan Spurlock's feature-length screed Pom Wonderful Presents, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.  "There's a special level of Hell for film-makers who do that," he opined.

Action!


Vesper Lynd: (walks in unannounced and sits down across from Bond): I'm the money.

James Bond: (surveys her and smiles): Every penny of it!


Vesper(giving him her business card): The treasury has agreed to... 
Vesper: ...stake you in the game.

Bond (reads it): Vesper. Well, I do hope you gave your parents hell for that.


Vesper:(Takes menu from waiter): Thank you. 

Vesper:Your boss must be well connected. I’ve never...


Vesper: ...seen so much go out the door so quickly.

Bond: Or quite so stylishly. 


Bond: May I ask where it is?

Vesper: 10 million was wired to your account in Montenegro, with a contingency for five more if I deem it a prudent investment. I suppose...


Vesper: ...you’ve given some thought to the notion that if you lose, our government will have directly financed terrorism.

(Bond's smile drops)



Vesper: What looks good?

(Transition, until later that evening.)


Vesper: So you’re telling me it’s a matter of probability and odds. I was worried there was some chance involved.

Bond: ...only if you assume that the player with the best hand wins.

Vesper: So that would be what you call “bluffing.”


Bond: You’ve heard the term… 


Bond: Then you’ll... 


Bond: ...also know that in poker you never play the hand, you play the man across from you.


Vesper: And you’re good at reading people.
Bond: Yes, I am. 


Bond: Which is why I’ve been able to detect an undercurrent of sarcasm in your voice.


Vesper: Now I’m assured our money is in good hands.


Bond: You don’t think this is a very good plan, do you?

Vesper: So there is a plan. I got the impression we were risking millions of dollars and... 


Vesper: ...hundreds of lives on a game of luck. What else can your surmise, Mr. Bond?

Bond: About you, Miss Lynd? Well, your beauty’s a problem.

Bond: You worry you won’t be taken seriously.


Vesper: Which one can say of any attractive woman with half a brain.

Bond: True, but this one overcompensates by wearing slightly masculine clothing, 


Bond: ...being more aggressive than her female colleagues,

Bond: ...which gives her a somewhat prickly demeanor and, ironically enough, makes it less likely for her to be accepted


Bond: ...and promoted by her male superiors who mistake her insecurities for arrogance.

Bond: Now, I’d have normally gone with “only child,” but, uh…you see, by the way you ignored the quip about your parents...


Bond: ...I’m going to have to go with “orphan.”

(She's pissed, but determined not to show it, but her following remarks are cutting)


Vesper: Alright. By the cut of your suit you went to Oxford or wherever, naturally think that human beings dress like that.


Vesper:  But you wear it with such disdain...

Vesper: ..my guess is you didn’t come from money and your school-friends never let you forget it.

Vesper: Which means you were at that school by the grace of someone else’s charity, hence the chip on your shoulder. And since your first thought about me ran to “orphan,” that is what I’d say you are.



Vesper: Oh, you are! I like this poker thing. And that makes perfect sense. Since MI6 looks for maladjusted young men that give little thought to sacrificing others in order to protect Queen and country.

Vesper: You know…former SAS types with easy smiles and expensive watches...

Vesper: Rolex?


Bond: Omega.

Vesper: Beautiful.


Vesper: Now, having just met you, I wouldn’t go as far as calling you a cold-hearted bastard.

Bond: No, of course not.

Vesper: But it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine you think of women as disposable pleasures

Vesper: ...rather than meaningful pursuits. 


Vesper: So, as charming as you are, Mr. Bond, I will be keeping my eye on our government’s money, and off your perfectly-formed arse.


Bond: You noticed.

Vesper: Even accountants have imagination. How was your lamb?

Bond: Skewered. One sympathizes.

Vesper(she gets up to leave): Good evening, Mr. Bond.

Bond: Good evening, Miss Lynd.


He watches her leave the compartment, then chuckles ruefully.






Casino Royale

Words by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade and Paul Haggis

Pictures by Phil Meheux and Martin Campbell

Casino Royale is available on DVD through Sony Home Video.





* And, of course, what that means has changed with the actor and the decade. Craig sits there and takes it, knowing he's dished it out. Connery in the 60's would have slapped her fanny and dismissed her. Moore in the 70's would have raised an eyebrow and been passive-aggressive. Dalton would have sulked. Brosnan would have sulked, then adjusted his tie and checked his hair. Lazenby would have asked for a line-reading.


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