May 4, 2007

Random Surveillance/Intelligence For May 5, 2007

(Because these bits are as much observations as news bits...)

James Bond & Indiana Jones Action Figures
I had pre-ordered this book (yes, that's the title) from Amazon last fall, but it was delayed and they weren't able to fill the order and then my Amazon Prime trial membership expired, and I kind of forgot about it. I recently noticed it was now listed as "in stock," and I ordered it mainly out of that weird cumpulsion that drives me to acquire every book ever written on James Bond, and not really expecting much from it. (To be honest, I expected it to be a self-published pamphlet more checklist than book.) Boy was I wrong! This is a really great book. It's handsome and glossy and lavishly illustrated throughout in full color. It provides a complete history of James Bond figures and dolls from the Sixties Gilbert line through the latest releases from Sideshow, including such oddities as Mattel's early '80s Bond toys available only in Mexico and the early nineties phenomenon that was James Bond Jr. Moreover, it uses the Bond and Indy licences to explore the history of action figures themselves over the last several decades, and presents a case for them being an art form. Weirdest of all, the book has been translated from French! I haven't been able to stop flipping through it since I got it. I'll post a full review once I've had time to study it in more detail, but it looks like it makes a great companion piece to Dave Worrall's book on Bond Corgi cars, and is a must-have for 007 memorabilia collectors.

Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich
John Malkovich, last seen spying against Rowan Atkinson in much-maligned Johnny English (a very funny spy spoof from the screenwriters of The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day, and a better movie than either of those ones--not to mention the two last Austin Powers entries) will star in the Coen Brothers' upcoming spy movie Burn After Reading. Already cast are Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt and Coen regular George Clooney, the latter as an assassin.

Dalton In Hot Fuzz
I saw this a few weeks ago and have been remiss in not yet mentioning the excellent comic performance Timothy Dalton turns in. Fans of his should definitely check it out. Critics accused Dalton's Bond of lacking humor, but the rare occasions on which he makes a comedy without the words "Beautician" or "Beast" in the title always prove that he's a very gifted comic actor. And anyone who's seen The Rocketeer knows he also makes a great villain, especially when he has a mustache. He may or may not be a villain in Hot Fuzz, but he certainly enjoys making us suspect him. Dalton recently described the movie as "Bad Boys II meets Agatha Christie," and that's a very apt description. Since the advertising only played up the bits spoofing American action movies, I was surprised at the remarkable restraint director Edgar Wright excercised in holding off on that stuff until the appropriate moment. Until it gets there, it has a lot of fun sending up traditional British small-town whodunits and, oddly, plays as a bit of a giallo. It's as good, and as funny, as Shaun of the Dead, and it's got lots of great cameos.

The Double O Section contest I mentioned the other day will begin on Monday night. Please check back then to see how to enter.


Rebecca said...

That's twice this week I've seen the term giallo in a film blog. What is it with you NU film students?

zencat said...

Thank you, Tanner. I was going to give that Indy Jones/Bond book a miss, but after reading your high praise, I picked it up. It's a terrific book! (I never even knew about that Mexican line of Bond action figures).

If you don’t have it already, I recommend the book “GI Joe and Other Backyard Heroes” by Jay Marshall. It’s a great book on ‘70s action figures.

Tanner said...

I'm glad I didn't lead you astray, Zencat. That book is so beautiful looking... and such a weird thing to exist! But I'm thankful that it does. I'd first seen the Mexican figures mentioned in Raymond Beonson's James Bond Bedside Companion years ago (in the "Bond Phenomenon" section, if I recall correctly), and searched for information on them intermitantly ever since, but to little avail until this book came along. I've never found one on Ebay!

I'll look out for the Jay Marshall book. Does it cover the Bond Megos?