Trumbo vs. Big Mother

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A Movie Review

Trumbo cover image

Bryan Cranston as Trumbo–IMDB cover

Trumbo is a movie chronicling the history of the “Black List,” which was a list of people working in the American movie business who became unemployable when they were marked as traitors. Beginning in the late 1940’s, by the early 1950’s, the Black List ruled Hollywood. In the early 1960’s, a courageous few defied its power. During those years, the Black List targeted thousands of entertainment professionals. The reason? They were communists trying to infiltrate the U.S.A. with their dirty communist propaganda!

It’s true that many of these people had joined the Communist party. Some joined in the 1930’s before George Orwell’s 1984 let the world know what an oppressive, soul-killing dogma it was, or they were closely associated (friends, worked with, went drinking with, etc.) with communists.

Perhaps some of these show biz commies would have approved of Stalin’s gulags, re-education camps, seizing property, putting all the educated to work in factories and collective farms. Maybe a few of these American commies cheered when Mao and Pol Pot purged their countries of teachers, skilled labor and anyone who wore glasses. Who knows?  Most were more interested in less drastic changes like better wages and working conditions. Viewed as subversives, all were considered guilty of “Thought Crimes”.

Gossip columnist Hedda Hopper was a prominent Republican, active in the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals (MPA) who made it her mission to destroy the careers of those she considered subversives.

Hedda Hopper, as played by Helen Mirren, was a ruthless ideologue and anti-Semite who would have been right at home in 1984’s “Ministry of Truth.” Big Brother had nothin’ on Big Mother Hedda, who wielded her pen like an avenging angel. The result was the destruction of careers and lives of thousands. Actors, writers, craftsman who made their living working in the film industry were faced with long-term unemployment; some never worked again.

To make things worse, friendships were destroyed when hundreds faced a devil’s bargain.

Called to testify before Senator Joe McCarthy and his House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), people were ordered to prove their loyalty by giving up the names of those they suspected of being communists or face contempt charges and possibly prison. Even now, people are bitter—not forgiving those who gave names. Director Elia Kazan (On the Waterfront, Streetcar Named Desire) testified before the HUAC committee and his testimony ended careers. In 1999, Kazan was awarded an honorary Oscar. Many in the audience refused to applaud, and outside the theater there were demonstrators protesting.

Trumbo was directed by Jay Roach (Meet The Parents, Austin Powers) and stars Bryan Cranston (TV’s Breaking Bad, Argo, Godzilla, 30 Rock, The Simpsons and a zillion other credits) as Dalton Trumbo, the screenwriter who finally broke the back of the Black List, neutralizing Hedda Hopper and the MPA. Along with Helen Mirren as the fearsome Hedda, the rest of the cast is stellar, with Louie C.K as melancholy writer, Arlin Hurd, Diane Lane as Cleo, Trumbo’s supportive wife, and most notably, Michael Stuhbarg (Arnold Rothstein in Boardwalk Empire) as actor Edward G. Robinson.

Robinson’s fall from grace after giving up the names of friends sums up the plight of actors caught in the storm of paranoia. “You can write under another name,” he tells Trumbo. “I only have this,” he pleads, pointing to his face.

For all the fine talent on display, it is Cranston who dominates. His Trumbo is a mix of confidence, righteousness, hubris, cunning and peculiar habits.

He often sits in the bathtub as he chain smokes and writes. Trumbo’s a gambler who trusts the odds and when they fail him, our sympathy for the humiliation he endures in prison catches us off guard. Later, when after completing his prison sentence, he writes under pseudonyms, defying Hedda and her minions, we see his commitment to support his family become an obsession to outwit the MPA. During that time, Trumbo won two Oscars for screenplays he wrote. But without his name on them, one for Roman Holiday and the other for The Brave One, they were awards he could not collect.

The Black List began to lose its power when actor Kirk Douglas openly credited Dalton Trumbo as the writer of Spartacus.

The superb script and Douglas’ moving performance as Spartacus, the slave who defied the Roman Empire resulted in an unqualified success. Box office success is power and Douglas used it to free Trumbo from the grip of the MPA. The nail in the coffin of Hedda’s power was John Kennedy’s endorsement of Spartacus, saying, “It’s a fine film.” Trumbo’s success opened the gates to employment for others on the “List.” Then Trumbo jumps years to an event that occurred long after Trumbo was vindicated. Cranston, as Trumbo, delivers a speech describing the damage done by the Black List, acknowledging all who suffered, including those who named names—“We all were victims.”

Dalton Trumbo was an enormous talent. The injustice he suffered was a product of the fear and politics that gripped the entire country. The movie is worth seeing, if only for the Oscar worthy performances by Cranston and Mirren.

In addition, I recommend it because of its rendering of Hollywood during these pivotal years. As Trumbo asks more than once in the film, “Where’s the story?” More than style, innovation, setting or wit, story is what matters to me. In Trumbo the story is a battle between determined foes and what they represent: Trumbo (First Amendment Rights and artistic freedom) and Hedda Hopper (the paranoia of the Cold War). Because these foes are rendered as complex human beings (Trumbo more than Hopper) we are invested and care about the outcome.

This is a part of history that anyone who cares about movies, our culture or freedom of expression should know.

When I was a young actress, Dalton Trumbo interviewed me for a role of “the girl back home” in his film, Johnny Got His Gun, based on his 1938 National Book Award-winning anti-war novel with the same title. As he patiently explained a pivotal scene, I sat politely nodding my head. It was one of many interviews and readings I did during that time. I remember how old he seemed with his face a city map of lines (all that smoking), the hunched posture and the drooping white mustache. During the fifteen minutes I was there, he was gracious and tried to make me feel at ease, but I knew I didn’t make an impression and the part went to someone else.

How I wish that I had known I was in the presence of an Industry lion, a master of his art, someone who had led a rebellion, a guerilla warrior fighting the Thought Police of 1950’s Hollywood.

I do now.

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A spoon full of formula makes the story go down

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The Boy: A Review

SPOILER ALERT!

 I was in the mood for something scary and decided to check out The Boy, a movie about an old English couple who hire a nanny for their child, a boy named Brahms. If you’ve seen the trailer or even just a poster you know that Brahms is a life-sized doll. Creepy doll movies are among my horror favorites. Years ago, when I was a painter, my work focused on the disquiet we feel when we catch an unguarded glimpse of a doll plopped on something or discarded—its painted eyes staring placidly, seeing—what?   The Boy

I perceived a quiet acceptance of its fate. Inevitably, it would be discarded. Soon it would be part of a landfill, probably sooner if it lost a limb or its head or when the fantasy it offered no longer entertained and something newer took its place.

I painted other toys besides dolls, but the blank gaze and snarled hair of my daughter’s favorite doll made it my favorite. I created an alternate reality for it—the theater of our child minds was where dolls and other toys existed. I set the stage and painted the scenes. That was many years ago. I had some shows and eventually moved on. Using dolls as subjects is no longer cutting-edge. Long after my paintings were done and gone, the movie series Toy Story explored this idea and though charming, much of it is poignant and dark. Dolls have that effect. Our toys are usually forgotten as we mature and like any friends we leave behind and then unexpectedly encounter, they know things.

Why do I tell you this? Most of us find dolls creepy, especially the life size ones like the ventriloquist’s dummy in the movie Magic, like Chucky, like Talking Tina in the Twilight Zone episode or Annabelle; like little Brahms.

I had expectations!

Written by new screenwriter, Stacey Menear (Mixtape) and staring Lauren Cohen (The Walking Dead), The Boy, directed by William Brent Bell (The Devil Inside), starts out well enough. Greta, a young American ends a long trip from the States, arriving somewhere in the English countryside to interview for a job as a nanny. She sees a big house that she deems “storybook” and I would describe as a standard horror movie mini-mansion. Inside, it definitely reads scary with the obligatory stuffed animals, bizarre knickknacks and lots and lots of stairs. No one is there to greet her. Intimidated and confused, she removes her boots before she explores. The boots disappear. There’s a family portrait of a couple in their late fifties and their son, a rather sullen little boy of eight.

As she and we are doing the math, figuring out how a couple that old could have a kid that young, a woman interrupts her. It’s the mom—or mum I should say. Only Mum is way older than she was in the portrait. After getting a list of to-dos and not to-dos, meeting Malcolm, the cute grocery guy who hesitates to give her the scoop on what’s going on, Greta meets Brahms. As we know and Greta finds out, Brahms is a life size doll. Greta struggles to keep a straight face as Mum talks to Brahms and describes his daily routine. The job is hers; unlike the other applicants whom he rejected, Brahms likes her.

Mummy and Daddy leave for a vacation. Later, we watch as they load their pockets with rocks and head into the ocean. Brahms is Greta’s problem now.

All right. I could go through the rest of the plot but it’s typical cat and mouse horror fare. As she’s left alone with the doll and rather than singing it a lullaby, fixing it breakfast, reading to it and all the rest, she tosses it on a chair and does what she likes. Some weird things happen. You guessed it. Predictably, Brahms is in a different place from where she left him, and is the doll looking at her? What was that noise?

When she sets up a date with Malcolm, the tiny gloves come off. Brahms is jealous. Greta’s in the shower and we see her jewelry slide away from the edge of the sink (does Brahmsie get his first woody?). Oh no! Her dress is gone and then later, Greta’s trapped in the attic and misses her date.

What’s going on? Less than you think. After days of harassment, Greta throws in the towel and works the program, hitting all the steps of the care and pretend feeding of Brahms. Concerned, Malcolm tries to persuade her to tone it down, but Greta’s convinced herself that what’s going on is supernatural. Malcolm told her that the real Brahms died years ago in a fire. He was eight, but he was, as people said, odd, and what was it about the little girl who disappeared back then? Was she the one he was glaring at in the old photo? Why, yes she was! Never mind. Greta’s survival instinct has kicked in and she’s going to do what Brahmsie wants.

All is well in Toyland until Greta’s abusive boyfriend tracks her down, the one who beat her to a pulp, forcing her to move to another country to avoid running into him. He wants her back, but Greta knows that Brahms doesn’t share. What Chuckyesque thing does Brahms have up his little sleeve? We eagerly await the cummuppins.

Then—the big disappointment. As bad boyfriend prepares to slaughter the Greta-defending Malcolm who is half his size, we wait for Brahms to defend his woman—I mean nanny. Suddenly a wall breaks open. A man wearing a doll-like mask rushes out and kills the boyfriend. Oh no! Brahms isn’t a devil doll! Instead, he’s generic–hidden-crazy guy! All this time he was hiding in the walls! How unusual!

Oh man—what a disappointment! So the rest of the movie is the chase. You know the drill. Brahms wants to kill and chases Greta and Malcolm who don’t want to die. Finally, with Malcolm seemingly down for the count, Big Boy Brahms has Greta on the bed! Just like when she tucked in Pretend Brahms, Big Boy wants a kiss! As he leers at her through the grotesque mask, presumably hiding scars from the long ago fire, Greta plunges a long screwdriver (very Freud) into him and she and a dazed Malcolm get the hell out. When the movie ends with Big Boy piecing together the shattered face of the doll, it dawns on me. Where have I seen this ending before? I don’t mean the crazy guy chase, but one where crazy guy hides in the walls to make us we think something supernatural is going on.

It’s the House Bound ending! Yes folks, check it out on Netflix!

Last year, I reviewed another of director William Brent Bell’s efforts, The Devil Inside. I summed it up by describing it as Godzilla versus the Smurfs. At the end of my review, I remarked that the story had no ending; it just stopped, as if they had run out of money.

It’s possible the ending of The Boy was the end result of the writer’s angst in finding the right resolution. I will say that much of the first half of The Boy entertains due to Cohen’s performance, and because of Stacey Menear’s deft handling of the exposition. It’s possible again, that the ending was a mere coincidence and nothing more, however my sense of having seen the exact same ending was overwhelming.

So how should it have ended? For a real scare, let’s keep the supernatural in tact. Let’s see—we have ghosts, devils, possession, voodoo . . .

I know. Let’s say Malcolm and bad boyfriend are dead, the victims of what? Greta is missing. Mummy and Daddy didn’t kill themselves. The police call them as they sip Mai tai’s on some beach. They return. Other than the bodies, the result they presume, of a crazed and still missing Greta, the police tell them that nothing else is amiss. Mummy rushes in to find Brahms, still dressed in his pajamas. Unlike the police, Mummy’s practiced eye spots a small drop of blood on her boy’s little hand. As she coos over what poor Brahms has endured, she sees something under the bed. It’s a Greta Doll! Mummy swears to never leave again as she nods her head. “Yes, of course she can stay!” At last, Brahms has a playmate.

Thank you Twilight Zone’s Talking Tina. Thank you Magic. Here’s a win for all you dolls in Toyland.

 

THE HOST: Now Serving Fish Legs in Agent Yellow

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A Review of The Host, a 2007 Korean Creature Feature

SPOILER ALERT

Directed by Bong Joon-ho (Memories of Murder), The Host is an entertaining hodgepodge of social satire, monster movie tripe and political commentary. It is also a 2008 award winner—The Blue Dragon Film Awards among others.   the host

Unlike Godzilla and The Pacific Rim, or earlier chill thrills like The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms where the action is focused on government, scientists and military firepower, The Host is about ordinary people taking on the extraordinary.

The humor in this film reminded me of the 1990 movie Tremors where “just plain folks” banded together to take down giant worms summoned by mining and seismic activity. The ingenuity of hired hands and town folk as they do battle is similar to The Host, where a family pursues a monster to rescue one of their own.

I did wonder about the title. Who or what was “The Host.”?

The story begins in Seoul, where in a U.S. Military lab, a snotty white guy (Scott Wilson—pre The Walking Dead) tells his Korean assistant that the formaldehyde bottles taking up shelf space have dust on them. If there’s one thing this higher up can’t stand, it’s dust. The solution? Pour it all down the drain. This toxic chemical will end up in the Han River, but the boss ignores the obvious.

Next we’re at the Han River where a fisherman catches a tiny creature, something peculiar enough to show to his buddy. The man and his buddy speculate on what the creature is and if it’s a fish, what about those legs? Is the Host where this thing came from? Whatever the tiny creature is, we know it’s not good when before committing suicide, a man on a bridge stares at the water below and says something down there wants him. Little fishy is going to get a lot bigger.

Now, we’re in a tiny snack shack by the water. It’s a family owned business serving food to picnickers spending a peaceful day on the riverbank. Gang-doo (Kang-ho Song—Memories of Murder, The Snowpiercer), son of the proprietor, is a fortyish man-child who sneaks food meant for “mat” customers who are relaxing on the river’s shore—that fast food octopus is missing a leg. Clearly, Gang-doo is no host, especially since his hair is bleached an unappetizing orange yellow.

As Gang-doo sits inside, watching television, his twelve-year old daughter, Hyun-seo (Ah-sung Ko—Snowpiercer) joins him. He offers her a beer, “You’re in middle school; it’s fine,” he assures her. Very unhosty. They’re watching as the family star (isn’t there always one in every family who can do no wrong) Gang-doo’s sister, champion archer Nam-Joo (Doona Bae– Cloud Atlas, Sense8), competes in a tournament. Then Gang-doo’s father Hie-bong (Hie-bong Byeon—Memories of Murder) tells him to take some snacks to their customers. Now things get interesting. That something is still in the water. As if we didn’t know! Customers forget to eat their octopus legs as they watch the mysterious shape. Since resisting an impulse is not in Gang-doo’s skill set, he throws a beer can at it—or maybe to it. Is the creature bringing out Gang-doo’s inner-host? Then, customers start throwing food and cans.

Can you guess what happens next? That’s right, it’s monster time! When we see it, we realize that this thing wouldn’t even qualify as Godzilla’s baby brother, but it’s nasty just the same. The size of a teen T-Rex, this cutie can run. Unlike Godzilla who eats radioactive anything, fish boy eats people. Opening like an umbrella, its four-cornered mouth with a fang at each corner reminded me of the Predator. Using its snaky tail like a to-go box, it grabs people “for later”.

When a U.S. soldier decides to fight the monster, Gang-doo helps. Not a good choice. The soldier gets eaten as Gang-doo hurries his daughter away. When they stumble, he grabs the hand of the wrong little girl. Poor Hyun-seo finds herself wrapped in the to-go tail as the monster decides it’s had enough fun and swims for home.

Later, we see photos of victims on a makeshift shrine. Gang-doo’s sister Nam-joo arrives as does brother Nam-il (Hae-il Park—Memories of Murder), an unemployed college grad. Gang-doo and his dad burst into tears. Then each family member tries to outdo the other’s grief over the loss of Hyun-seo. The contest becomes weirdly funny as they all fall to the floor, trying to out-mourn each other. Hyun-seo, a no nonsense twelve year-old, would be shaking her head in embarrassment.

Soon, Gang-doo and family find themselves in a holding area as government officials try to sort things out. The Korean government seems to be a movie favorite target. We see the confusion, boredom and politicking of various government types while they ignore the concerns of Gang-doo, his family and everyone else. After TV news reports that the American soldier who chased the monster (guess the monster spit him out) was not dead, but alas, covered with strange “spots,” doctors warn Gang-doo not to eat anything. Why? Eating might feed the “infection”! Not to worry. The Americans are planning to spray the river area with “Agent Yellow”! Ouch. As soon as no one’s looking, Gang-doo opens a can of food. Then a cell phone rings. It’s Hyun-seo! She’s in a sewer and soon will be a monster munchie, so please come get her!

Despite his garbled pleas, no bureaucrat takes Gang-doo seriously, but his family does. Determined to save Hyun Seo, the family escapes and hijacks an ambulance; then, with the help of Dad’s cash and credit, they acquire an Agent Yellow spray truck. They’re stopped at a checkpoint, but bluff their way through, telling the guard the truck is from a secret division.

Hiding in another snack shack, they wait, rifles ready for Godzilla Junior to appear. While they eat, each family member, including Gang-doo, imagines sharing food with Hyun-seo. When the monster shows up, the bullets only make him cranky, and Nam-joo’s arrows miss. The nasty thing chases after all three and Grandpa makes the ultimate sacrifice. Goodbye Hie-bong!

Now we’re in the sewer. Hung-seo crouches in a hollow pipe embedded in the wall. Each time fish boy drops another body, Hyun-seo waits until it’s safe, then searches for a live cell phone.

Back at the river, the authorities capture Gang-doo, but the sibs get away. Somehow, Hyun-seo manages to phone Gang-doo again, giving him a better idea where she is. Looking for more ”virus” (the virus was made up to cover the pollution incident), doctors lobotomize Gang-doo. Not only does the procedure have no effect, Gang-doo seizes the opportunity to escape again. We see all three siblings figure out Hyun-seo’s location. Will they be in time?

Meanwhile back in the sewer, another load of groceries is dropped, including two young boys. One, five-year old Se-joo is alive and Hyun-Seo takes charge. Se-joo and his brother were homeless and hungry. As they wait for the monster to return, she comforts him by promising a variety of tasty meals they will share. She improvises a rope, managing to hook it to an overhead grid. Alas, it’s too short. Then, double alas, the monster comes back and takes a nap right under the rope. You can see the wheels turning in Hyun-seo’s mind as she calculates the risk of using fish boy as a step stool. As she tiptoes up the creature’s back, a tail whips out. Like Hyun-seo, monsters know how to play possum! Oh no!

The three siblings, each on their own path, are seeking Hyun-seo. Nam-joo shoots some arrows but almost gets eaten. Where are the authorities—the police, the U.S. Military, the Korean Army? They’re getting ready to spray Agent Yellow. Disguised as a student protester, aided by a homeless guy with a gas can, Nam-il bumps into Gang-doo and Nam-joo just as the monster reappears. They douse fish boy with gasoline as Agent Yellow wafts through the air. Ears bleeding from Agent Yellow, the siblings battle the beast as it weakens. Then Nam-joo shoots an arrow and lights the fire. Gang-doo finishes the thing off with a pole just as he sees a little hand protruding from the beast’s gullet. It must be and it is Hyun-seo! Pulling her out, he sees her other arm wrapped around the boy.

Sadly Hyun-seo is no more. It must be a Korean thing—no similar American movie would tolerate such a downer.

The Host ends in another snack shack by the river. It’s night and it’s snowing. Inside, Gang-doo ignores the television (he has changed) as he feeds Se-joo the tasty foods promised by Hyun-seo. As the little boy enjoys his meal, the “Host” sits by the window. Rifle in hand, Gang-doo guards against the unknown night.

 

Spector: The spy who came in from the old

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Spectre: A review

SPOILER ALERT!

spectre I’ve never been much of a James Bond fan, though as far as I can tell, I’ve seen every Bond movie soon after its release, including Spectre. As I mentioned in my review of Skyfall, the early Sean Connery movies were thrilling. Every exotic locale, the delicate dance of the gambling dens, where everyone was evil, but oh so glamorous, transported our sixties humdrum selves into a world of vivid, cinematic sin and women with big hair and funny names. The sex scenes faded at just the right moment. No morning mouth, snarled hair-do or wince of regret spoiled it.

Spectre, the newest Bond film, is an entertaining film with an impressive opening sequence.

We’re in Mexico and from a Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) parade, a man appears among the celebrants. He wears a skull mask and holds hands with a beautiful senorita. As we follow him and he removes the death mask, we see that he is 007. The death mask is fitting since in this film, Bond is labeled a professional assassin. He leads the woman to a prearranged room and they begin making love. Then he seems to change his mind. Exiting through a window, he tells her he’ll be right back. He never returns. Instead he chases and kills a bad guy, and during some truly impressive helicopter stunts, he almost takes out half of the parade people.

Later at London headquarters, and back from “vacation,” Bond is in trouble.

The new “M” (Ralph Fiennes is one of the best things in the movie) suspends him for the unauthorized “hit.” The “license to kill” program is being phased out in favor of a new international surveillance conglomerate headed by “C” (Andrew Scott—Moriarty to Cumberbatch’s Holmes). “C” is a smarmy passive aggressive bureaucrat, a drab harbinger of all things “spy” in the changing world. “C” is the new reality and “M’ is the past, a theme carried over from Skyfall. Not every millennial is on board with the change. “Q” (Ben Whishaw) still believes in the program and happily creates all the fun cars and gadgets, giving Bond access, even after Bond has been suspended. Why did 007 defy his orders this time?

We discover the answer when a concerned Moneypenny visits James Bond’s pitiful apartment to find out the real reason Bond was in Mexico.

Like Moneypenny, we’re not impressed by Bond’s totally un-groovy pad. There’s no movie décor; nothing “goes” with the couch, and the flat screen TV sits on the floor. When it comes to interior design, 007, the embodiment of all things glamorous, has no taste. Why does this matter? The movie’s portrayal of Bond’s personal life doesn’t match the fantasy of the older Bond films. Times have changed and perhaps, the disarray is the point, hinting at the conflict created by his service to Queen and country that is within James.   The smooth outer ‘60’s Bond, a man whose freedom, the “license to kill” included plenty of  sin, but little guilt.

When I thought about it, which was almost never, I assumed that the place this enigmatic spy called home was likely a den of solitude like Superman’s fortress. And no women allowed (except the cleaning lady; 007 wouldn’t vacuum or make beds). Discovering the ordinariness of the Bond residence is like finding out there is no Santa. Once the bubble’s burst, there’s a new perspective (Spectre?) of Bond. This new view extends to his treatment of women, which changed as the film went on. He deserted the senorita with no apology, and after protecting a grieving widow by killing her assassins, he comforted her by ripping off her clothes (she helped). Then he goes home, unrepentant. When M (Fienne) suspends him, something changes. There’s weariness in 007’s eyes. In fact rather than shrugging off commitment, he becomes territorial. He pouts when he discovers Moneypenny had an overnight visitor that’s not him. “That’s life,” Moneypenny chides. So it is.

James explains his actions by clicking on the TV. A posthumous message from M, assigns him a mission. The woman who haunts James is not Pussy Galore, but “M” (Judy Dench). In Skyfall, M emerged as a mother figure for both James and his foe, an embittered agent. Her willingness to sacrifice them for the good of the Crown cut deep.

As in Skyfall, more than world domination, Bond’s past drives the plot in Spectre. These issues continue in the form of Blofeld, played by Christoph Waltz, an interesting actor, though the smirk is wearing thin. The scene introducing Blofeld as a man to be feared is masterfully done, using protocol and whispers and ending in a gruesome murder. Blofeld’s connection to Bond is what drives Blofeld’s thirst for revenge. He has a childhood score to settle, and he’s determined to murder all the important women in Bond’s life, including M. Like all Bond villains, Blofeld is a psychopath.

“M’s(Dench) posthumous assignment leads to Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux, an appealing French actress). A psychiatrist specializing in talk therapy, Swann is the daughter of a dying bad guy, who begged Bond to save her from her father’s enemies. Bond agrees, but Ms Swann isn’t grateful. She can take care herself, thank you very much. Of course, she’s promptly kidnapped. He rescues her, but she’s still not with the program, though she does lead him to the next clue. It seems that Blofeld and “C” are in cahoots. Surprised?

There’re more betrayals, helicopter stunts and rescues before the movie’s end. There’s also something different. Bond decides to give it all up for Madeleine, a woman who cannot tolerate the world of her father. 007 has done this in other films and the future Mrs. Bond always ended up dead, leaving James newly available. This time, she survives and they walk away together. Bond seems sick of it all. But can this leopard change his spots, never to engage the deadly sleek glamour of the games, the adrenaline of the jungles, the seething volcanoes of life and death? Will he give up the miracle cars, suitcases with secret compartments, and exploding watches? Will he miss the sultry, double-dealing women, the rescuing of grieving widows? It seems this Bond can leave it all.

 Craig said Spectre was to be his last Bond film, a character he described as misogynistic, though recently, I read that he has agreed to do another. The world has changed since the days of Mad Men, when Ian Fleming’s smooth spy was unstoppable. Thanks for the memories, but spies now operate in a more complex, more inclusive world. A more human Bond might be a better fit.

Maybe the next Bond should be more like Richard Burton’s character in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. Maybe it’s time Bond did too.