Casino Royale – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Martin Campbell

Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Jesper Christensen, Judi Dench

Film matched beverage: Vesper Martini

Synopsis:   Finally, after years of legal wrangling, Eon got to make Casino Royale, the very first Bond novel that Ian Fleming ever wrote.   Being a beginning for Bond in popular culture, they made this film a new beginning for the franchise.   Indeed, they went full reboot mode, and to great effect.   New film, new start, new Bond.   And Daniel Craig made the role his own…. Continue reading

Seven 007 Cocktails

Welcome back to another Gourmet Geek post!

Since 2007, I have been throwing an annual James Bond Cocktail party.   Every guest attends in formal wear, we eat some fancy styles finger food, and generally sit down and watch a Bond film, or, depending on the crowd, lovingly make fun of everything happening on screen…

…and we drink some really nice cocktails.

Each year, I try a different spin on the classic vodka martini, as well as creating a general cocktail which has a name relating to the film being watched that year.   Here I compile a list of seven of the best of these beverages, with recipes and photographs, to help kick start your own evening of MI6 action.

Vodka Martini

 

2 parts vodka

1 part dry vermouth

Shaken over ice, served in a martini glass with a single green olive.

 

 

Vesper Martini (as featured in Casino Royale)

 

3 parts Gordons Gin

1 part vodka

½ part Lillet Blanc (formerly Kina Lillet)

Shaken over ice, and served in a martini glass with a thin slice of lemon peel

Note: Kina Lillet is known to have been more bitter than Lillet Blanc.   For a more authentic taste, one may like to add a few drops of Agnostura Bitters.

 

Choc-Mint Martini

 

3 parts vodka

2 parts white creme de cacao

1 part creme de menthe

Shaken over ice and served in a martini glass.   Garnish with milk chocolate shavings.

 

White-Choc Martini

 

1 ½ parts white chocolate liqueur

1 ½ parts crème de cacao

½ part vodka

2 ½ parts half-and-half

Shaken over ice and poured into a martini glass drizzled with chocolate topping.

 

Kamikaze (for a You Only Live Twice theme)

 

1 ½ parts vodka

1 part lime juice

1 part Triple Sec

Shaken over ice and served in a martini glass.   Garnish with a lime wedge (not in image).

 

Goldfinger Cocktail

 

1 part Goldschlager

½ part Grand Marnier

1 ½ parts Ginger Ale

Served on ice in a high ball glass.

 

Dr. Rasberry (for a Dr. No theme)

 

2 parts Dr. Pepper

1 part Chambord

Served on Ice in a high ball glass.

30 Day Film Challenge Day 19 – Your Favorite Action Film

Film Nerd’s Choice: Casino Royale

Review:

Director: Martin Campbell

Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Jesper Christensen

Synopsis: Based on the novel by the same name by Ian Fleming, this James Bond film takes the first written novel as an excuse to reboot the series.   In doing so, a harder edge is given to the franchise bringing it closer to Fleming;s source material than ever before, even if it does translocate the action forward into modern times.

 

As a Bond fan, it delights me that the 30 day film challenge has afforded me the opportunity to reflect on what I consider a true highpoint in the franchise after already being in a position to review the low point, that being Moonraker.   I have in many ways been raised on the 007 franchise, and am intimately familiar with his adventures both in text and on-screen.   I have many favourite stories in both formats, the earlier films being more direct adaptations of the novels than the later films became, the mor recent films not being based on Fleming material.   Casino Royale, due to legal issues as the most prominent Bond story never yet brought to the cinema in the official Broccoli 007 franchise.   Thankfully, despite shifting the setting to a modern casino in Montenegro, and changing the game of choice from Baccarat to Texas Hold’Em poker, this is once again a fairly faithful adaptation… just with more action thrown in.

Campbell is a gifted director, once before having creating a dying Bond franchise when he was in the main chair for Brosnan’s first outing Goldeneye.   He managed the same magic trick twice, creating a different Bond film that also retained respect for the franchise.   He portrays Bond here as a man struggling with his new role in the secret service.   Though he is still a man of wit, he finds less humour in his activities than previous Bonds, bearing the scars of previous encounters, both literally and figuratively.   His penchant for alcohol and women is portrayed as less suave and cultured, and more as escapism from the realities of his world.   As such, we have a much more visceral film, that seems more grounded than many previous instalments.

However, this entry is for favourite action film, and as such I should spend some of the discussion on this element of the film.   There is much more action in the film than in the novel, yet none of it is superfluous.   Each action sequence does something to advance the plot, while also being an edge of your seat, nail-biting thrill-ride.   The pace is frenetic, yet everything is filmed in such a way that things are not lost in a flurry of activity that is impossible to follow (take note, Michael Bay).   From the free-running opening that redefines chase sequences, to the chase to prevent an explosion at Miami airport, to the final sequences in Venice, Craig is painted as a Bond to be reckoned with, ever resourceful without any reliance on special gadgets.   I would also argue that the poker game itself is an action sequence.   There is no running or bullets flying, but it manages to make a sequence of twelve people around a baize table holding cards consistently exciting, and it does so while occupying a large part of the film at the same time.

I could go on for much longer, discussing individual performances, especially focussing on the cracking chemistry established between Green’s Vesper and Craig’s Bond.   The simple fact is, I can write a pages long essay on this film, though I fear my level of interest may deter readers from even starting this post.   So I will leave it here with just a simple recommendation.   If you like your action fast and loud with enough character development to keep it interesting, well, this is the minimum of what Casino Royale achieves and what is not only a superior Bond film, but a superior film outright.

5 stars out of 5

 

Casino Royale on IMDB

Casino Royale on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fl5WHj0bZ2Q]

30 Day Film Challenge Day 1 – Favourite Film

Film Nerd’s Choice: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Rationale:

It may seem a bit of a cheat choosing an entire trilogy on the very first day of this challenge, yet I feel extremely justified in my choice.   Divisions in the LOTR saga can be considered purely arbitrary, and this assertion is documented as being shared by Tolkien himself.   It was his publishers that determined his six book saga would be released in three volumes.   For Peter Jackson also, the trilogy was filmed in the one extended shoot, giving the trilogy a cohesiveness that may not have otherwise been afforded to it.   As for me, the end credits of each chapter is little more for me than a convenient bathroom break.

Choosing a favourite film for me is a difficult task.   Being a self-taught student of cinema, I love movies in every shape, genre, and theme.   To choose a film for me would be like having to choose a favourite child.    I pondered how to respond to Day One’s question with great difficulty, even trying to define exactly what the word favourite means in this context.   The definition I came up with was which film has had the greatest and most lasting impression of me out of all I have seen.   This immediately cut me down to the franchises that have for a long time at least partially defined my personality; Star Trek, James Bond and LOTR.    The former two both had high points that were contenders (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Casino Royale).   However no world has as fully absorbed my attention as Middle Earth has.   In December 1999, a valued high school teacher and friend raved to me that reading LOTR for the first time was like seeing Star Wars for the first time.   In December 2000, I got around to reading the novels.   I was so enthralled that as soon as I finished The Two Towers I continued on to and finished The Return of the King in one sitting.   Then December 2001, 2002, and 2003, Jackson had the vision and imagination to translate the images from my mind onto the screen perfectly.

Since then, I have become a student of not just cinema, but Tolkien also.   I have read The Silmarillion and The Children of Hurin.   I have read The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkein and Tolkein biographies.   I have read Christopher Tolkien’s 12 part History of Middle Earth, where he has published all of his father’s early drafts of anything even remotely related to this world of Elves, Hobbits and Dwarfs (that is not a mistaken spelling on the plural, it was Tolkien’s preferred way to write the plural!!).    Followers of this blog will also be aware I convinced my Bride that New Zealand, Middle Earth on Earth, was the perfect honeymoon destination!!

North Island Adventures

South Island Adventures

So clearly, Jackson’s 11 hour epic had to be my top choice.   As I write this, I have also finally found an Australian release date for the Extended LOTR trilogy on Blu-Ray; 29th of June, 2011!!    I will be there, cash in hand, and setting aside 11 hours straight to marathon what is for me the finest offering cinema has ever provided.

For my reviews of the individual films, see below;

The Fellowship of the Ring

The Two Towers

The Return of the King