But Mike, 2013 is nearly over!
True; but I won’t be able to tell you until 2014 what I’ve been listening to in 2013, so this is the moment to publish my much-delayed 2012 list.
Last year, I did this across a sequence of twelve separate posts (introduction, ten individual albums starting here, and a summary). That felt like a bit of a slog, and half of the album posts garnered no comments at all; so this year we’re back to the more compact format that I used for the 2010 list.
[This series has been dormant for a while, but here is the penultimate part. To refresh your memory, see part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5.]
I have two confessions to make about Brosnan’s four Bond films.
First, they all blend into one in my mind in a way that none of the others’ films do. It’s pretty easy to keep (say) Thunderball and You Only Live Twice separate; or Moonraker and For Your Eyes Only. But while I remember seeing Brosnan in a sequence where he’s chasing a nuclear bomb down the inside of an oil pipeline, I can’t honestly remember if it was Tomorrow Never Dies or The World Is Not Enough.
Here’s the real reason that Doctor Who is, by a huge margin, the best thing on television. Even a rather forgettable episode like The Rings of Akhaten can provoke such different reviews as (in chronological order) Millennium’s, Andrew Whickey’s, mine and Andrew Rilstone’s.
And so we’re under way with the second half of Series 7 — which really feels like Series 8, as it’s separated by the best part of a year from the first half, and has a new companion replacing the much-loved Amy and Rory. (In fact, we were under way a bit more than two weeks ago, but I’ve been insanely busy and not in a position to blog about the series until now.)
I saw The Hobbit this afternoon with my family, and on the whole thoroughly enjoyed it. It certainly avoided the trap I’d most feared — that by being a two-and-three-quarter-hour film of the first third of a not-particularly long book, it would feel padded. Instead, the time was managed well and the slower-than-usual pace gave the film time to breathe.
[I wrote this in response to a comment by Hal on my old review of the Percy Jackson movie. Decided it was worth airing on its own. You may or may not concur.]
I agree, Hal, that the Potter films can be stodgy and unimaginative in their literal-minded adaptation of Rowling’s prose. That can be particularly apparent in the adaptations of the longer and less well-edited books, and as you say the two-part Deathly Hallows really does feel like an exercise in grinding through every beat of the books. (Yet even then it manages to muff Neville’s big moment with the hat, which was pretty much my favourite part of the book.)
By the time A View to a Kill came out, the Bond-makers recognised not only that Roger Moore’s time was up, but that something radically different was required to prevent the series sliding progressively into self-parody. (It’s notable that when Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery came out, nearly all of its references were to Sean Connery’s films: evidently Mike Myers realised that the Moore films were beyond parody.)
That something radically different was not only a new and younger Bond, but a change of style. Continue reading
As Roger Moore’s sequence of Bond Films settled into its increasingly frivolous nature, Sean Connery — who has famously said “Never again” after filming his comeback Bond-movie Diamonds Are Forever — was persuaded to return once more twelve years later.
Never Say Never Again (1983)
This came out in the same year as Octopussy, which I consider the nadir of Moore’s efforts. Tiring of Moore, I watched Never Say Never Again between For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy, and found myself liking it a lot more than I expected to. Connery is clearly too old for role at 53 — but that’s still three years younger than Moore was in his offering of the same year. More importantly, Connery had retained his charisma — if anything, he emits even more of an alpha-male vibe in 1983 than he had in 1971. And that alone makes the film work.
[Read part 1 and part 2 first]
Left: youngish Roger, 1973 (Live and Let Die). Right: older Roger, 1985, somewhat tarted up (A View to a Kill)
It’s not by accident that I left the Roger Moore films till last in my rather eccentric viewing order. I never found him very convincing when I saw his films in the past, even though he is the Bond I grew up with — his tenure took me from age five to 17. It seems appropriate to me that he is Alan Partridge’s favourite Bond. But would I find more to enjoy on returning to these films thirty years later?