Monthly Archives: November 2012

First Direct: excellent bank but iniquitous cashpoint charge

I’ve been banking with First Direct for something approaching 20 years, and let me say up front that I am very, very happy with them. They don’t charge for current-account activity, they let me link my savings and mortgage, and most amazing of all, their customer service is friendly and efficient. Any time, day or night, I can call them (08456 100 100), they’ll pick up within three or four rings, and I’ll be instantly speaking to a cheerful, knowledgeable human.

Against that very positive backdrop, I have one complaint.

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James Bond movies, part 5: Timothy Dalton

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

My review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine


James Bond movies, part 4: Sean Connery returns again

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.

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James Bond movies, part 3: Roger Moore

[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?

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James Bond movies, part 2: George Lazenby, and Connery returns

[Start with part 1]

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

Famously, the only outing of the second official Bond, George Lazenby — a man who was offered a seven-movie deal but walked away after one, only to sink without trace. Which is a shame, because he could have been good. Continue reading

James Bond movies, part 1: Sean Connery

For reasons that are not really clear to me, I’ve recently watched all 22 of the pre-Skyfall official James Bond movies. I also watched Never Say Never Again, and made a fairly serious attempt to watch the non-EON 1967 Casino Royale with David Niven, but couldn’t force myself to watch that one all the way through.

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