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Review: “Yellow Submarine”

June 5, 2012 1 comment
Directed by: George Dunning
Produced by: Al Brodax, Mary Ellen Stewart
Written by: Lee Minoff (short story), Al Brodax (screenplay), Jack Mendelsohn, Erich Segal
Music by: George Martin, The Beatles (songs, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr)
Art Direction by: Heinz Edelmann
Starring: Paul Angelis, John Clive, Dick Emery, Geoffrey Hughes, Lance Percival
Year: 1968

 

I’ve always told people that I was a fan of The Beatles from before birth, with my mother having played music to me since that time. I remember when I was very little about 4 or 5, I had a red Radio Shack-branded kid’s portable cassette player that I would listen to The Beatles’ red and blue greatest hits albums on. I even remember the disappointment in putting these into Teddy Ruxpin, only to discover that, no, he would not sing along with my favorite song at the time, “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.” And I also remember a long time ago, when I was still quite young and at a party filled with boring adults, the generous host of the party noticed how bored I was, coming up to me, and asking me if I wanted to head into his room and watch this Beatles cartoon he had. “Beatles? Cartoon? Sure!” was likely my thought process at the time. This cartoon, of course, wasn’t the child-centric American TV production, but was, in fact, one of the weirdest but also most fascinating cartoons I had ever seen up to that point (a fact that likely still holds true): Yellow Submarine. Read more…

James Bond: The Theme Songs – Part 2

March 12, 2012 7 comments

<< James Bond: The Theme Songs – Part 1

WARNING: Heavy Flash video use ahead!

“A View to A Kill” performed by Duran Duran, A View to A Kill (1985)

For Roger Moore’s final outing as Bond, new wave band Duran Duran was brought in, largely thanks to one of its band members drunkenly inquiring about the job. John Taylor, bassist, reportedly confronted producer Cubby Broccoli at a party, asking him when they would choose a “decent” band to do one of the themes. From that unseemly beginning came a major hit, and “A View to A Kill” remains the only Bond theme to hit #1 on the Billboard Top 100 to this day. Though it’s not my favorite, it’s definitely a great Bond theme for the 80s and manages to recall Paul McCartney’s action-packed theme, which is welcome after four love ballads – three of them being rather awful. It’s one of the few Bond themes you can dance to, which is only appropriate, since it has the infectious lyric “Dance into the fire” interjecting throughout, making it perfect if you wanted to have a James Bond theme party or something… Overall, an exciting and fun theme song. Read more…

James Bond: The Theme Songs – Part 1

March 8, 2012 3 comments

Hey, did you know that there’s a new James Bond film coming out this year? Yup! After a four year hiatus, thanks in large part to MGM’s troubled financials, Bond will be back on the big screen in the 23rd canonical James Bond film titled Skyfall, directed by Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes.

The film features the return of Daniel Craig to the role for his third time, joined by Oscar-winner Dame Judi Dench as “M,” Oscar-nominee Javier Bardem as the villain, Naomi Harris and Bérénice Marlohe as the Bond girls, Oscar-nominee Ralph Fiennes as a government agent, Ben Whishaw reviving the role of Q, and Albert Finney in an undisclosed role but lends even more credentials to the cast and crew with his five Oscar nominations. That’s a lot of Oscars, and a lot of expectations to live up to!

Of course, with every new Bond film, there comes a new Bond theme song, which carries its own set of high expectations. The themes of the Bond films have themselves become an institution, and, with music proving to be far more divisive in my own experiences than films, the title song for Skyfall, which would traditionally come at the beginning of the film, will arguably influence how audiences connect with the film to follow. The best thing that the filmmakers can do is look back on the previous films’ themes and see what worked and what didn’t.

Now, I’m not at all knowledgeable about music (In fact, music appreciation, which is a lot harder than it sounds, was one of the small number of Cs that I received while in college, so the following article is far more casual and amateur than my more film-centered articles. Please, if you have any experience in musical composition, performance, etc., feel free to tear me apart for saying something stupid.), but, as they say, I do know what I like, and I do have some strong feelings about some of the previous themes. While we look forward to a new Bond film this year, I thought this would be a great opportunity to look back on Bond themes past and give my assessment, first chronologically and then, of course, in rank.

WARNING: Heavy Flash video use ahead! Read more…

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