Cocktail Friday: Spectre Martini

Despite middling reviews (including one from me), the 24th James Bond film Spectre wiped up at the national and international box office last week, and should coast into the holidays on top. And one reason, of course, if 007’s drink of choice, the vodka martini. Belvedere Vodka (a sponsor of the film) shared with us James’ preferred martini — shaken, of course … not stirred.

2 oz. Belvedere vodka

1/3 oz. dry vermouth

1 Sicilian green olive (and a splash of brine)

Making it: Gently muddle a few olives in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add remaining ingredients and shake hard with ice. Double strain to a chilled martini glass. Garnish.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Shaken, not stirring: ‘Spectre’ falls short

DanielGCraigSpectreFollowing the artistic, entertainment and box-office success of 2012’s Skyfall, it seemed inevitable that the newest James Bond venture, Spectre, would pale, at least a little, by comparison. But there was reason to hope: Much of the creative team was back (star Daniel Craig and a solid supporting cast, director Sam Mendes, co-screenwriter John Logan and of course the folks at Eon Productions) and the through-line that has been developing since Craig took over — Bond’s slow development from thuggish assassin to sophisticated Ahab, hunting his white whale — continues. The tetralogy of Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and now this are effectively a mini-series within the larger universe of Bond. These are good things.

But we have now been given the longest-ever Bond film, and one that, despite all the punching, often fails to pack a punch. And I’m not sure why.

The cold-open stunt (one of the tropes of 007), featuring an out-of-control helicopter twirling over Mexico City’s jam-packed main plaza, feels only non-threatening, like acrobats working with a net. A car chase through the nighttime streets of Rome is the least thrilling ground action I can recall from the series, and the romantic scenes lack spark. It is, as King Mongkut might have said, “a puzzlement:” Every element is there, but they don’t ignite. Where’s the fire amid all this smoke?

But while the alchemy is missing here, Spectre isn’t a disaster by any stretch. Quantum was one of the worst entries in the canon, this one is merely a disappointment. Maybe it’s us — maybe we’ve grown tired of the recurring bits that make Bond films so iconic (I did enjoy Sam Smith’s theme song played over thoughtful opening credits). And the care with which the screenwriters have taken to develop James’ character and tie together plot threads from the last three films before finally reintroducing us to Blofeld (MI6’s nemesis in the past, who hasn’t been seen since 1981… perhaps because Austin Powers’ Dr. Evil made him seem less diabolical than comic). And though he gets too-little screen time, Christoph Waltz ably captures Blofeld’s abiding insanity — sort of a psychological flip-side to James, and the successor to Heath Ledger’s Joker.

Spectre has too many positives like these to completely write it off, but best to go in open-eyed and skeptical. Expectations will do you in.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

It’s true: Sam Smith will record James Bond theme song for ‘Spectre’

Screen shot 2015-09-08 at 1.46.50 PMAfter Sam Smith suggested over the weekend that he’d be singing the theme for the next James Bond film — Spectre, set to release in November — MGM and Eon Productions confirmed today that the artist will indeed get the primo singing (and writing assignment). The out Grammy Award winner follows in the footsteps of his fellow countryman Adele, whose “Skyfall” won her the Academy Award two years ago. Smith’s recording is titled  “Writing’s on the Wall,” and will be released for stream and download Sept. 25.

With this, Smith becomes the first British male solo act to record a Bond theme since Tom Jones’ “Thunderball” in 1965. The Bond these song is considered a plum for a recording artist, as it always opens the film during an elaborate credit sequence that has becomes one of the franchise’s signatures. Previous songs include “Nobody Does It Better” by Carly Simon, “Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney and Wings and Madonna’s “Die Another Day.”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

New 007 film promises to be gayest yet … but ‘The Hobbit’ is still gayer

Ben Whishaw

Ben Whishaw

Skyfall, the last installment in the James Bond series, was about as gay as a spy thriller can be, with a clearly gay villain (Javier Bardem) hitting on a bondaged 007 (who didn’t seem offended at all, and even flirted back). But the upcoming one — which we just learned will be called Spectre — has even more gayness, though much of it behind the scenes.

In addition to the return of out actor Ben Whishaw, pictured, as Q, Lea Seydoux (who had steamy lesbian sex in last year’s Blue is the Warmest Color) and out actor Andrew Scott have joined the cast, which once again will be co-written by out scribe John Logan. And Daniel Craig is in it again, and we’ve long had our suspicions (fantasies?) about him.

Of course, gay blockbusters aren’t all that rare anymore. Consider: The main cast of the upcoming The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, includes Ian McKellen, Luke Evans, Lee Pace and Stephen Fry. And that got me thinkin’ — isn’t it funny how gay Middle-earth is? Indeed, most of the residents correspond to gay “types:” Hobbits are pocket gays; elves are twinks; dwarves are bears; wizards are grey wolves; and orcs … I dunno … butch lesbians?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

TBRU unveils new logo

The next Texas Bear Round Up isn’t for another six months, but you can already get a peek at its new logo, which appeared this morning on the group’s Facebook page. TBRU 18: Casino Bear Royale combines a little 007 theme with Las Vegas … and. of course, a touch of a Colt Video.

We’ve always been a fan of the cartoon artwork for the Dallas Bears’ big event, which has grown from 100 attendees to last last year’s 1,704. (Last year’s art, below, was based around the theme Bears Gone Wild.)  Next year’s event will take place March 14-17.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Equals? James Bond (or at least, Daniel Craig) dons drag for International Women’s Day

Tomorrow — Tuesday, March 8 — marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. And while some things have gotten better for women in the last century, some things haven’t changed. At least, they haven’t changed enough.

In honor of the 100th International Women’s Day, singer/activist Annie Lennox has brought together a coalition of  charities, that champion women’s rights to “step up the call to demand a more equal world.” The Equals? Partnership, according to its website, is “a partnership of charities and organizations that believe men and women are equals and that we should have equal rights, equal opportunities and equal representation in politics, education, health, employment, family life and media and culture.”

Here are some of the statistics from Equals? Partnership’s website: 1 in 3 women will experience violence at some point in their lives; women hold only 19 percent of the world’s parliamentary seats; only about 24 percent of the people in mainstream broadcast and print news are female; women perform 66 percent of the world’s work and produce 50 percent of the world’s food, but earn 10 percent of world’s income and own 1 percent of the world’s property.

Equals? Partnership has a number of events planned around the United Kingdom. But you don’t have to travel to the U.K. to see the coalition’s work. The coalition also has created this 2-minute video, using one of the world’s most macho fictional characters, James Bond, played by one of the most manly actors, Daniel Craig, to try and drive home the point that women still are not treated equally here in the 21st century.

According to the IWD website, there are 234 events planned in the United States to recognize International Women’s Day 2011. The first was held Jan. 12, and the last will be held in May. The only event I saw listed here in Dallas — in fact, the only event I saw listed in Texas — is Echo Reads: A Staged Reading and Salon Series which includes a staged reading of the new play by Isabella Russell-Ides called The Early Education of Conrad Eppler, happening March 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Bath House Cultural Center, presented by Echo Theatre.

But of course, I already knew that the 9th annual Words of Women celebration will be held next Sunday, March 13, beginning at 12:30 p.m. at the Women’s Museum in Fair Park. You can get all the details here.

But even if you don’t go to an official IWD event, take a minute to realize that no matter how civilized and advanced we consider ourselves to be, there still exists a vast chasm of inequities between the genders. It’s up to us — regardless what gender we are — to bridge that gap.

—  admin