Thursday, January 24, 2008

Quantum of Solace cont'd

I just don't get the title.

But hey, there's a lot of things in life I just don't get.

I've been watching HEARTS OF DARKNESS: A FILMMAKER'S APOCALYPSE, the documentary on the making of APOCALYPSE NOW, and there's a point where Francis Ford Coppola comments on Marlon Brando's sprawling, nonsensical dialogue, saying he doesn't understand what any of it means, and people seem to think it's filled with artistic, powerful, meaningful statements, but it just seems to be the madness of Marlon Brando ad-libbing with the cameras running.

I hate to feel dumb, and I remember feeling dumb when I first saw a lot of APOCALYPSE NOW (and especially the Kurtz scenes with Brando's dialogue). Now I feel a little better knowing that it's not just my own ignorance getting in the way of my enjoyment of the film.

Maybe I don't like QUANTUM OF SOLACE because it makes me feel dumb.

I realise that it's from an Ian Fleming story, and I've read the comments from Daniel Craig about its meaning. So, yes, I think there's probably something very profound in the words "Quantum of Solace." But it still sounds abstract to me, artistically obscure to the point of alienation.

People always talk about SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION not being a hit due to its heady, confusing title, and they say so about good movies like THE HUDSUCKER PROXY and bad ones like BALLISTIC: ECKS VERSUS SEVER. A title means a lot to a film, at least to me. Bond titles always seem to have a lot of thought put into them and have a tendency to feel like Bond titles, the way the opening songs usually just feel like Bond themes.

LIVE AND LET DIE, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, TOMORROW NEVER DIES, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, A VIEW TO A KILL, hell, even NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, there's just something about these titles that sound like Bond titles. Some sound less so, like THUNDERBALL, OCTOPUSSY, GOLDENEYE, even CASINO ROYALE, but maybe that's a personal preference. I had a hard time as a kid getting my head around THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS, and it still sounds odd, but a couple of months ago, when tyranist told me "Devil May Care" was the title of the next Bond adventure, I thought, "Dang, that sounds pretty good." He explained a moment later that it was the title of an upcoming book, not the new movie, but it sure sounded right.

I've asked tyranist, a huge James Bond fan since before I met him, to help me understand why I shouldn't hate QUANTUM OF SOLACE, and I hope he doesn't just say, "Because Fleming wrote a story called that, that's what the movie's called, and you shouldn't be a douchebucket."

He said:
I like the title. As I see it, the next Bond movie is a revenge flick and a quantum of solace would be a measure of comfort. Bond is looking for revenge in the hopes that it will quiet the demon that says he couldn't protect Vesper. It's a bit of a stretch I know, but now that I've read the story I like it even more. I highly doubt the story will factor in to the movie though.

You can hate it if you'd like, after all you hate many things. I just think there are worse titles. I like that they are sticking with a Fleming title, even if it isn't as flashy as some. And, I think we should trust them to make sense of the title. I can imagine a scenario in which it works and I'm willing to see if they manage to prove themselves up to the challenge. Also, I'm very heavily biased toward loving all things Bond. Plus, you really should read the story, it's quite good.

Tyranist is a smart guy. Even smarter than you are, so it shouldn't surprise me that he enjoys a title that makes the average joe want to turn on monster truck coverage, but he did say it took him a good twelve hours to get used to it.

Maybe there's hope for me too. Maybe.

Rsih Otufelid

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