The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Monday, November 20, 2006 - 5A
Blonde, badass and ... bowtied?
007 version 6.0
DANIEL CRAIG'S MODERN BOND SHAKES UP STALE FRANCHISE
By PAUL TASSI
There are no watch lasers or exploding ciga-
rettes. There are no villains with schemes to
blow up cities using satel-
lites or start arace of super- *
humans onthe moon. There
are no one-dimensional Casino
love interests named Jinx, Royale
Christmas or Pussy. "Casi- At the Showcase
no Royale" has returned and Quality16
James Bond to modern Columbia
reality. Here, there's only a
man with a gun, a villain who wants money and
a girl, for once, with a brain.
In his debut as Bond, Daniel Craig ("Layer
Cake") recalls modern fictional spies like Jason
Bourne or Jack Bauer more than the suave dou-
ble O's of previous decades. Craig noticeably
lacks both the smooth velvety charm of Sean
Connery and the ideal tall-dark-and-handsome
looks of Pierce Brosnan. Instead, his face is
worn and full of nicks, and his blond hair and
icy blue eyes might have cast him as a Bond vil-
lain in earlier films.
But Craig's new Bond boasts a kind of rugged
mortality - a welcome change from the seem-
ingly invincible 007s of the past who could kill
an entire army of Russians with a wink and
smile. Craig's Bond can bleed in a fight, feel
remorse after a kill and even fall in love.
His defining moment could seem quite ordi-
nary, and may even go unnoticed by the casual
viewer, but midway through the film, when
Craig finally dons the classic Bond tuxedo and
stares into the mirror with piercing eyes, he vis-
ibly clicks into the role. It's enough to give you
"Casino Royale" is a modern-day prequel
based on Ian Fleming's first novel, and rein-
troduces the spy Fleming originally described
as "half-monk, half-hitman." A newly minted
double-O agent, Bond learns that his first target
is Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen, "King Arthur"),
a financier of international terrorism who man-
ages the high-rolling assets of terrorists and
then secretly uses them to bet on the stock mar-
ket. When Bond foils his latest market plan, Le
Chiffre is suddenly $100 million in the hole, and
arranges an obscenely highstakes poker game to
win it back before his clients kill him.
Bond wrangles an invitation to the game, his
$10 million buy-in brought to him by the breath-
taking yet intelligent treasury worker Vesper
Lynd (Eva Green, "Kingdom of Heaven"). Green
actually ends up the sleeper star of the film, a
true departure from the traditional "Bond girl"
who brings a flirty coyness that catches Bond's
interest. We soon discover that Vesper is key
not only to this plot but the whole Bond legend,
as her influence inadvertently changes how he
leads his romantic life well into the future.
The main misstep of "Casino Royale" is its
lack of truly epic action sequences. Who can
forget the tank rampage in "Goldeneye" or the
battle inside Fort Knox in "Goldfinger"? For a
Bond film to be a true classic it needs to have
memorable action scenes, arguably the fran-
chise's major allure, rather than purely relying
on an actor's ability to fill the role. But after a
brilliantly choreographed opening chase scene,
the pace of the film slows until it ultimately
grinds to a halt during the poker-game. The card
game may be well shot, but it's the low point of
the film, and far too drawn out.
With a plot and characters anchored in a
plausible reality, "Casino Royale" avoids much
of the camp and absurdity that has plagued past
films. Without the limitations of overtly ridic-
ulous gadgets, cackling villains and shallow
women, Craig is able to breathe new life into the
franchise with a decidedly grittier take on the
legendary spy. So how does he rank among the
classic Bonds? Probably no one will ever catch
Connery, but if anyone has a prayer it'll be Craig.
Only time will tell.
Welcome to Evangelical Chris-
tian Camp for children in Mis-
as an attempt **
small children Jesus Camp
into accepting At the
Jesus Christ Michigan Theater
as their savior, Magnolia
the camp is a
successful mesh of magical fancy
and old-fashioned churchgoing
guilt. Some kids may come largely
for summer-camp fun, but most
are there for Jesus.
"Jesus Camp" is not fiction.
Documentary filmmakers Heidi
Ewing and Rachel Grady (both best
known for 2005's "Boys of Bara-
ka") attempt to leave out their own
bias, but their concern with the
subject matter is apparent none-
theless. The film frequently forces
its point with overbearing music
and well-edited talking-head seg-
ments. Sure, some of the kids might
be having fun, but why must they
be taught to borderline worship a
cardboard cutout of George W?
"Jesus Camp" depicts how capa-
ble Evangelicals have become in
competing for the soul of middle
America by using both education-
al and social methods, looking to
step up their influence in public
schools, popular cartoons and chil-
dren's toys. Parents of this sub-sect
understand that we are living in a
visual age - they have their kids
watch the "Creation Adventure"
series and hug "Adam & Eve" dolls.
A summer camp is just the next
The film demonstrates how
these children learn it is sinful to
swear, lie or enjoy "devils' magic"
(i.e. "Harry Potter"). They sob over
the worries of hellfire and damna-
tion. They are taught to scoff at the
idea of evolution and global warm-
ing. They speak in tongues.
And they learn to reject Satan
through the smashing of a mug.
It's all nicely ironic. One of the
camp's main organizers, Pente-
costal children's minister Becky
Fischer, derides "schools in Pales-
tine teaching children how to put
on bomb-belts," but then ponders
why Americans don'tuse that same
intense training for their children.
By running this camp, she hopes to
enlist children in her "army of the
Strangely enough, many of these
children are so well-trained as to be
hyper-articulate (behavior almost
bordering on OCD and ADD-
related disorders) in their pontifi-
cations on the joys of Christian
Rock and spreading their religion.
But, the film asks, is their religious
devotion their own, or the product
of shameless exploitation?
"Jesus Camp" excels in its ear-
nest attempts to explore that fine
line. The film probes questions of
consequence for organized reli-
gion in today's world, whether it's a
force of good or a detrimental zeal-
ot movement. The film attempts to
investigate that balance, focusing
especially on the young children
who are its target audienceand the
political propaganda that makes
up a large part of the curriculum.
Such truths and tricky borderlines
permeate "Jesus Camp," even if no
answers are ultimately found.
Classic Clouseau comes to the Michigan
By BLAKE GOBLE locales i
Daily Arts Writer case.
Before Mike Myers did Austin
Powers and Eddie Murphy did
family, Peter A Shot in
Sellers was the Dark
the mas- Tonight at 7p.m.
ter of comic
character $6,75 frstudents,
He outdid all Atthe Michigan Theater
ics in his pursuits for a laugh, and
remains a master of creating the
"A Shot In the Dark" is the most
obvious evidence of this fact. In
Blake Edwards's 1964 classic, bum-
bling Inspector Jacques Clouseau
(a cultural icon to anyone over 30)
returns to foil a murder mystery.
Clouseau encounters nefarious
nitwits, femmes fatale and exotic
n his quest to solve the In short, Sellers steals the show.
Inspector Clouseau is a bumbling,
a millionaire's driver fumbling classic of a slapstick
shot dead, Clouseau is detective, a hubristic Frenchman
detective on the scene. A who always nearly foils the case
Maria Gambrelli (Elke he's solving. He slips on an over-
"The Prize") is the prime sized spinning globe. He unsuc-
for the murder, but Clou- cessfully flirts with women. He
retly lovelorn for the lady, even finds himself wandering a
Though this all may seem a bit
obnoxious and a little cartoonish,
'rs's Inspector Sellers and his willingness to take
a hit never stop making us laugh. "A
tseau remains Shot In the Dark" marked just one
,ome d A icon. of many collaborations between
director Edwards and Sellers. The
two would make several more
"Panther" flicks and great com-
her in an attempt to track edies such as "The Party."
but to little avail. Clouse- Sellers vanished into obscurity
screwing up the case, the in his later years, due to his own
nt keeps rising and little is self-loathing and antisocial behav-
t what really matters is the ior. "The Pink Panther" series
r of Clouseau himself. eventually would self-destruct due
to repeat sightgags and predictabil-
ity, but this original work remains
pure. David Zucker ("Airplance")
once said something to the effect
that if you can make someone laugh
at a fart in your movie, then you're
doing something right. If that's the
case, Clouseau's classic slapstick
can do no wrong.
Over 2 million sold!
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