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Capone With Further Tales Of His QUANTUM OF SOLACE London Adventure!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here, with my second report about my recent QUANTUM OF SOLACE adventures in London. I've already filled you in on the centerpiece of my four-day, three-night journey--interviews with QUANTUM director Marc Forster and James Bond himself, Daniel Craig--but the good folks at Columbia/Sony Pictures had many an activity planned for myself and small group of online journalists. The interviews actually took place on the morning of our second day in London. One the first day, the afternoon began with high tea at the historic Brown Hotel, the first and oldest hotel in London, located in Mayfair. The hotel was founded by Lord Byron's butler, James Brown, in 1837, and has been hosting dignitaries and celebrities ever since. Alexander Graham Bell made the first-ever European telephone call from the Brown; both Roosevelt presidents stayed at the Brown for their respective honeymoons; and while staying at the Brown, Rudyard Kipling wrote "The Jungle Book" and Agatha Christie wrote "At Bertram's Hotel." Bond creator Ian Fleming was also quite fond of this hotel, and so it was appropriate that we met his niece, Lucy Fleming in the hotel's English Tea Room. Now, I'm not much of a tea drinker, but the lemon tea I had at the Brown was one of the greatest things I've ever tasted. Daughter of actress Celia Johnson and writer Peter Fleming, Lucy Fleming was really enjoyable to talk to about her history with her uncle's work. Since 1997, she and her sister Kate have been in charge of Ian Fleming Publications, which continues to publish James Bond titles as well as a series for young adults called Young Bond, which are apparently quite popular in the UK and have seen five books published since 2005. She admitted that she's been approached about adapting Young Bond into movies, but the company hasn't decided whether this will happen. After spending another hour in the adjoining bar (serving Bond-themed drink, and not just for our benefit--I highly recommend the Goldfinger, a sort of champagne/tequila mixture), we were swept away to our next destination, a screening room in Soho to watch 10 minutes of QUANTUM OF SOLACE footage in preparation for our interviews the next morning. I'm not 100 percent certain what footage we saw can be considered spoiler material and what isn't, but let's wrap a big blanket SPOILER WARNING around this whole report, okay? I won't give too much away, but the footage opens quietly, with a young attractive couple entering a room. Bond is waiting for them, gun in hand and angrily tells them to "Sit down!" He asks the woman her name, and she say "Corrine." He dismisses her by saying to tell "your people" to checks their seals, they have a leak. Then says that he and her male friend have some unfinished business to attend to (this line is in the new trailer). The scene quickly transitions to a car chase, guns a-blazing, through a series of tunnels. A title card then tells us the action is moving to Siena, Italy, where Bond, M, and a couple of other agents are interrogating Mr. White, the man Bond captured at the end of CASINO ROYALE. He looks like he's been a tad bit tortured. This is similar to the sequence in the trailer. He's laughing at them and saying that the first thing Bond needs to realize is that "we have people everywhere." What we don't see in the trailer is the next line Mr. White delivers to one of the unknown figures in the room: "Am I right?" Suddenly a gun battle erupts and seems to lead Bond and whoever is shooting at him into a foot chase in a sewer system. A great deal of the footage we saw was extended out from what we see in the newest trailer. But many of the action sequences (I think I counted six or seven such sequences represented in the 10 minutes; and remember the film is only about 100 to 105 minutes long) were new to me. There's a brutal knife vs. glass shard fight between Bond and a mystery man, which leads to the moment in the trailer where Bond meets Camille (Olga Kurylenko), who believes Bond is the man he's just disposed of. As they drive away, Bond opens the case to reveal a gun and a photo of Camille. This sequence is also in the trailer when Bond casually makes mention to Camille that it would appear someone wants her dead. Someone she gets Bond out of the car and she arrives at the lair of Dominic Greene (the great French actor Mathieu Amalric), who is clearly surprised to see her still alive. There's plenty of M (Judy Dench) footage as well, as she tries fruitlessly to reign in Bond, rather than allow him to seek revenge on the people responsible for the death of his one true love. We also see a few other familiar faces in the trailer, including René Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) from CASINO ROYALE and Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), which shouldn't come as any surprise since this film begins 10 minutes after CASINO ROYALE ends. A bit of the old Bond sexiness reappears when a woman from the consulate appears to take him back to London on the next available flight, which happens to be the following morning. "Well, then we have all night," he says to the sexy redhead (or should I say bed head?), played by Gemma Arterton. Greene and Bond seem to keep getting thrown in with each other on a couple of occasions. The best line from the trailer? Greene: "My friends call me Dominic." Bond: "I'm sure they do." Zing! Greene seems way too familiar with Bond's personal and professional history. "Everything he touches withers and dies," he says to Camille. There's one sequence in which Bond prepares Camille to take a life that is so loaded with tension that it seems out of place in the action-heavy film. He talks about the listening to the adrenaline versus remembering your training, and it's such a great speech that it reminds you we are dealing with the single greatest pure actor to ever play James Bond. After the interviews were done on Day 2, we were taken about an hour outside of London to the legendary Pinewood Studios, where we had lunch and spent a few hours touring the grounds. Every single Bond film has had some portion shot at Pinewood, not be mention dozens of other films and TV series. We even saw the building that houses "The Weakest Link" set! Clearly the big film that had taken over much of the studio's larger sets (including the 007 soundstage) was PRINCE OF PERSIA. Although we didn't see any actual filming, we did see elaborate and ornate sets being built in several locations. I even saw a fake palm tree being constructed. But I'm getting ahead of myself. A fantastic primer about Pinewood's history was given to us on the bus by "Cinema Retro" publisher and noted Bond historian Dave Worrall, who also guided us through Pinewood's vast acreage.


Our first stop at Pinewood was the stunning dining room, where we had lunch with Bond executive producer Anthony Waye. That name should be very familiar to all of you since he began his career as an assistant director on such films as STAR WARS, CLASH OF THE TITANS, THE ELEPHANT MAN, JULIA, and nearly every Bond film since FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. I believe his first executive producer credit came with DIE ANOTHER DAY. I'll have a separate piece on some of the things he said about QUANTUM OF SOLACE as well as the new take and tone of the Bond franchise.
The tour was like walking through movie history (at least British movie history), as Worrall showed us the mansion gardens and grounds, which included a few landmarks you might recognize. He also walked us into the massive Paddock Water Tank (complete with blue screen). That hole in the middle of the tank is used when filmmakers actually want to sink something in the water, like a car or small boat.
Then we made our way to the Albert R. Broccoli 007 Stage, which might be the most massive building I've ever seen. Not the tallest, but just massive. You could build a city inside of this building, which is exactly what some people have done over the years.
As we talked down the long road to get to the 007 Stage, I tried to look into another other building with an open door, just to see what went on in these magnificent confines. I didn't see much (aside from the PRINCE OF PERSIA sets, which we were forbidden from taking pictures of), but I did see this coffin!
And just to remind you that Pinewood owes so much of its success to the Bond franchise, many of the more highly traveled roads that go through the grounds are named accordingly. By the way, the brick building sporting the Broccoli Road sign is called the Stanley Kubrick Building, since Kubrick shot a great deal of EYES WIDE SHUT at Pinewood.
After a quick trip to the makeshift general store for some extremely cool souvenirs, we were off to one last destination--the Imperial War Museum in London, which currently houses the "For Your Eyes Only" Exhibition dedicated to the life and influences of Ian Fleming in honor of what would have been his 100th birthday this year.
This wasn't so much about the Bond films as it was about the people and events that went into the creation of James Bond in the many Fleming novels. It was kind of staggering to see Fleming original hand-typed first draft of "Casino Royale," or first-edition copies of all the Fleming-written Bond books, or the original Fleming-written screenplay for the pilot of a proposed Bond TV series (pre-DR. NO) for British television. It's a phenomenal collection well worth the price of admission. I'll have one more report for you. It won't be particularly long, but it will have some sweet photos of Aston Martins, including the one that Daniel Craig drives in QUANTUM OF SOLACE and the one that he wrecks. I'll leave you with this parting image from Pinewood Studios.
-- Capone

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