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3 November 2012

"All This Jumping and Fighting...It's Exhausting"

It's birthday season in the Quisite family right now, and last night we celebrated Papa's at the new Piccadilly Circus branch of Hawksmoor, followed by a trip to the Odeon Leicester Square for a screening of Skyfall. Although the Air Street Hawksmoor had only been open for one day (plus a short soft-launch period), the food was as good as the meal I enjoyed recently at the restaurant's older sister in Spitafields. I had the same steak--medium rare fillet steak with Béarnaise sauce--but managed to find room for the pudding I skipped before: peanut butter shortbread with salted caramel ice cream. It was delicious, the shortbread being more of a soft, peanut butter and chocolate cookie.

Top: Copy-cat cards. Bottom: Peanut butter shortbread;
Hawksmoor Air St, an oasis of cool above Piccadilly Circus

Much hilarity ensued when we discovered that The Bro and I had bought identical birthday cards for Papa. To be fair, colourful stripes are his thing, but even so, of all of the cards for sale in London, it was pretty funny we had both settled on the same one. Dinner and presents completed, we hurried on to Leicester Square, where timid would-be patrons naively asked whether there were tickets available for the 8.30 screening of Skyfall.

I am hardly a Bond expert or devotee. I think I have seen all of the Brosnan Bonds, apart from Goldeneye, as well as the recent Casino Royale and one or maybe two of the older films. I also tend to forget or confuse the plots, remembering only the Bond girls, oddly enough. I hadn't planned to see Skyfall at all, but the rave reviews made me reconsider. And it was good. I wouldn't say that it was an outstanding film, but I enjoyed it a lot and Judi Dench, reprising her role as M, and Javier Bardem as the baddie were both excellent. Bardem in particular, with his constant eye rolls ("all this jumping and fighting...it's exhausting," he complains at one point, as if to ask how many times he has to go to the effort of killing Bond), and stylish psychopathy was funny, as well as evil. Ben Whishaw, playing a spotty, uber-geeky Q, was great too, although his role was quite small. Hopefully, we will see more of him in future Bond movies.

As for the plot, well, it's a Bond film, so that's almost incidental. The opening sequence in Istanbul was impressive and I liked the parts that were set in London too. I was more surprised about the sex, or relative lack thereof. Some flirtations with Eve (Naomie Harris) and a hot shower with Sévérine (Bérénice Marlohe), but the main relationship was between M and Bond. Bearing in mind her maternal rapport with him, the opening credits, which feature Bond sinking through murky waters while Adele powers out the title song, almost made me think of him being in the womb, cushioned and protected and then let go. I made me reading too much into it. And Daniel Craig? I thought he was fine. Bond has always seemed like a cipher to me but that is probably at least partly due to the fact that I've watched so few of the films that I don't know much of his back story and what I do know, I tend to confuse with the similarly orphaned Harry Potter.

I'm not really sure I noticed director Sam Mendes's touch either. Sure, the film was neatly paced and almost justified its 2h15 length, but although this isn't down to him, there was no escaping from the standard formula--the timing and frequency of the action sequences, the cheesy lines ("I like you better without your Beretta"), the casual sexism and so on. Overall, I liked Skyfall. It was entertaining and exciting, although never really surprising. The lack of surprises was not, of course, surprising; you don't go to to see Bond films to be shocked.

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