“TWILIGHT” (2008) Review

 

”TWILIGHT” (2008) Review

When I first saw the previews for this adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s 2005 novel about teenage love and vampires, I had no idea that I had a glimpse of an adolescent literary phenomenon. About a week before the movie’s U.S. release, I finally realized what ”TWILIGHT” was all about when I read about the book series in several articles on the Internet .

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, ”TWILIGHT” is about seventeen-year-old Isabella “Bella” Swan, who moves to the small town of Forks, Washington in order to live with her divorced father, Charlie. There, she finds herself drawn to a mysterious classmate, Edward Cullen, who is revealed to be a 108-year-old vampire, but is physically seventeen. Although Edward discourages the romance at first, they eventually fall deeply in love. The arrival of three nomadic vampires, James, Laurent, and Victoria, puts Bella’s life in danger. Edward and his family – Alice, Carlisle, Esme, Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie – put their lives at stake to save her.

I am trying to fight off the inevitable – namely give my opinion of the movie – but I might as well get it over with. I wish I could say that I loved ”TWILIGHT”. After all, the premise reminded me of the first three seasons of a favorite television series of mine, ”BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER” (1997-2003). But I barely liked ”TWILIGHT”. The movie not only moved at a ridiculously low pace, but I barely found it original. Who am I kidding? Aside from the portrayal of vampires as one-dimensionally good guys whose skin glistens in the sunlight, the story lacked any semblance of originality.

I found myself watching scenes that strongly resembled certain episodes from ”BUFFY”, including one that featured Edward feeding from Bella’s blood. Not only do Edward and Bella reminded me of Buffy and Angel, with less bite or complexity, but they also reminded me of the two leads from ”BEAUTY AND THE BEAST” (1987-1990) – Catherine and Vincent. By the way, I was never a fan of the Buffy and Angel relationship. I found it barely tolerable, which is why I preferred Buffy’s more complex and messier relationship with Spike, the series’ other vampire. As for ”BEAUTY AND THE BEAST”, I never became a fan. I found it a big yawn fest. But I was willing to give ”TWILIGHT” a chance. Unfortunately, Melissa Rosenberg’s script barely kept me awake. The dark and wet Pacific Northwest setting did not help.

The cast for ”TWILIGHT” seemed solid. Somewhat. Both Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, as Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, managed to generate chemistry. Somewhat. Mind you, I found nothing electrifying about their screen chemistry or performances. I also feel that Pattinson managed to create a more memorable performance than the rest of the cast. Unfortunately, there were moments when he seemed in danger of overdoing it with the Byronic hero persona. Poor Stewart seemed to be stuck with a role that bordered on being dangerously passive for a female lead. As for the rest of the cast, I found nothing memorable about them – including Billy Burke, who portrayed Bella’s father or Cam Gigande (James), who came off as an early Spike wannabe. The teen roles in this movie annoyed me to no end. I realize that many years have passed since I was in high school, but I could have sworn that my fellow schoolmates had sounded more intelligent . . . and interesting than Bella and her school friends.

I wish I could say more about ”TWILIGHT”, but I cannot. I simply was not that impressed with the film. It was not a bad film. It had some good moments, which included a showdown between Edward and James at Bella’s old dance school in Phoenix. Between Hardwicke’s lethargic direction, Rosenberg’s script and the mildly interesting performances by the cast, I cannot see myself becoming a major fan of this movie. Perhaps I will learn to appreciate it more after watching it several times on DVD. Who knows?

“ENCHANTED” (2007) Review

”ENCHANTED” (2007) Review

I found myself experiencing mixed emotions regarding Disney’s new live-action film, ”ENCHANTED”. On one hand, the movie – more or less – turned out to be exactly how I had expected. The trailer had pretty much revealed the gist of the movie. Yet, when I finally saw it, I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I had expected I would.

The story is basically about an animated heroine named Giselle (Amy Adams) who lives in the blissful animated world of Andalasia, where magical beings frolic freely, animals are talkative companions and musical interludes punctuate every interaction. Giselle becomes engaged to the handsome, valiant, and bumbling Prince Edward (James Marsden). Her fate takes a turn for the worse when his stepmother, the villainous Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon), throws her through a magic portal, apparently to her doom, in order to keep her son single and thus remain queen. Giselle’s plunge into darkness lands her in the strange and chaotic world of New York City. As the cruelty of this new place wears down the fairy-tale idealism of the once carefree princess, such as a homeless man stealing her tiara, the frightened Giselle meets the pragmatic divorce attorney Robert Philip (Patrick Dempsey), who takes her into his apartment despite belief that she is a little crazy. Robert also has to deal with his own fiancée, a very attractive When Giselle’s chipmunk friend, Pip, reveals to Edward of her whereabouts, Narissa orders her henchman Nathaniel (Timothy Spall) to accompany Edward and Pip to New York and prevent her stepson and the missing bride-to-be from reconciling.

”ENCHANTED” is basically a predictable story. Even before the last reel, I knew that Giselle and Robert would fall in love. From the moment Edward met Nancy at the ball, I knew those two would also become a couple. I knew that Nathaniel would eventually realize that Narissa viewed him as worthless and betray her. And I knew that Narissa would end up in New York and nearly kill Giselle. But what I did not expect was how I would enjoy the way the cast – especially Adams, Marsden, Spall and Sarandon, screenwriter Bill Kelly and director Kevin Lima poked fun at the Disney animated fantasy legacy. They did it with fun, color and gentle humor. Okay, the humor was not always gentle. Jodi Benson (the voice of Ariel of ”THE LITTLE MERMAID”) caustically made fun of Giselle’s ”fairy princess”. Giselle’s talent for making friends with animals of all kinds was definitely a spoof of several Disney princesses’ friendships with . . . animals. Only Giselle may have taken it to an extreme by summoning them to clean Robert’s house. I do not know about you, but I would be freaking out at the thought of birds, mice and cockroaches inside my home. The ”happily ever after” for most of the characters seemed a little saccharine, but on the whole I enjoyed the movie very much.

I have heard a lot about Amy Adams in the past, but this is the first time I have ever seen her in action. And quite frankly, I am impressed. Not only did I admire her singing voice, I especially admired how she maintained Giselle’s perky ”fairy princess” personality up until the end – even if it suffered bumps from Robert’s more cynical views on love, her disappointing reunion with Edward and her encounter with Narissa. I realize that Patrick Dempsey’s career has bounced back with the TV series, ”GREY’S ANATOMY”, but since I do not watch the show . . . this was my first time in seeing him in action since his days as a leading man during the late 1980s and early 1990s. And it was nice to see that his talent has not waned one bit. He is still as charismatic and professional as ever. I must admit that it was a bit strange seeing him portray a character less extroverted than his roles from the past.

James Marsden. Dear James. I think his talent was wasted in the ”X-MEN” movies and ”SUPERMAN RETURNS”. He really shone in his role as the valiant, yet slightly pompous Prince Edward. Hell, the man was perfect. And he was also charming enough for me to be happy that his character had a happy ending with someone in the film. It was good to see Timothy Spall again, after his appearances in two ”HARRY POTTER” films. Actually, his role as Narissa’s henchman, Nathaniel, strongly reminded me of his other famous role – Peter Pettigrew. But unlike Peter, Nathaniel proved to have more balls . . . and something of a moral compass in the end. But his performance was thoroughly first-class as usual. And of course there is Oscar winner Susan Sarandon, who portrayed the villainess h- the conniving and greedy – Queen Narissa. Sarandon spent most of the movie peforming Narissa’s voice in the animated sequences. But she was deliciously evil as her flesh-and-blood counterpart arrived in New York City. One could tell that Sarandon was enjoying herself. And for a brief moment, we got to see how she had manipulated Prince Edward all of those years, pretending to be his loving stepmother. I have only one complaint – I did not really care for the platform shoes she wore. Visually, it did not exactly mesh with the rest of her image.

If you are expecting surprises from this charming spoof of Disney fantasy animation, you are going to be disappointed. As I had stated before, it is a rather predictable movie. But if you are expecting first-class entertainment, laughs, music and a good story, then ”ENCHANTED” is your movie and I suggest that you see it as soon as possible.

“Neighbors” [PG] – 4/11

 

“Neighbors”

Part 4

A chestnut-haired man in his early thirties sat in the chair on the other side of Olivia’s desk, at the police station. His blue-gray eyes regarded her with disbelief. “I can’t believe that you actually did that to him!” he exclaimed. “And lived! Livy, what the hell were you thinking?” 

Olivia heaved a sigh and flipped open a brown folder. “I don’t know. He pissed me off. Made me seem like some kind of woman who was desperate for a man. Another Geraldine Boone.” She referred to a woman who lived in her apartment building. “Look, I was just trying to be a friend. He didn’t have to turn on me, like that.”

“He really must have pissed you off, considering that you showed up for work on a Saturday. Besides, what did you expect?” Bruce McNeill reached for a Japanese fan from his sister’s desk and fiddled with it. “From what you’ve told me, he just went through a divorce. His ex-wife and her sisters regard him as the devil incarnate. And considering that he happens to be . . .” Bruce quickly glanced around, “. . . a half-daemon, that might not far from the truth. Maybe you should consider Darryl’s warning and stay away.”

“Warning?” Olivia snorted with derision. “First of all, I have every intention of staying away from him. Second, if you think he’s going to kill me, he had every opportunity to do so for the past two days.”

Bruce sighed. “I guess you have a point. He did save your life. Rather odd for the infamous Belthazor. And that includes falling in love with one of the Charmed Ones. I understand that he even helped them vanquish a lot of daemons and warlocks?”

Olivia nodded. “Including the old Source. At least according to Leo.”

“Maybe so,” Bruce replied, “but didn’t he eventually become the new Source? At least for a while?”

“Yes Bruce, he did.” Olivia gave her older brother a direct stare. “Is this leading up to more advice that I should stay away from him? Because you don’t have to worry about that.”

Suspicion gleamed in Bruce’s eyes. “Do I? I know you, Livy. You can be very nosy. And you know what they say – ‘Curiosity killed the cat’. I don’t want to see you hurt, again.”

Olivia rolled her eyes. “Curiosity killed the cat? Couldn’t you be a little more original? And if you’re referring to Richard, may I remind you that he wasn’t a daemon. Nor was he the one who had hurt me in the end. Besides,” she slammed the file shut and reached for another one, “are you sure that we have to beware of Mr. Turner?”

Bruce frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Well, from what Leo had told me, the Charmed Ones had vanquished him last May. Since his resurrection, he hasn’t bothered to get revenge. Don’t you find that odd?” Before Bruce could answer, Olivia changed the subject. “Speaking of the Charmed Ones, has Gran asked them over for Sunday brunch, yet?”

“Yeah, but they haven’t accepted. At least not yet. Harry doesn’t think they will.” Bruce referred to the youngest McNeill sibling.

Olivia sighed. “Harry might have a point. When I met them the other day, they didn’t strike me as the socializing types. They seemed to keep to themselves.”

Bruce replied, “Perhaps they don’t want their identities known.”

“You mean by other witches? It’s not like we’re going to declare to the world that they’re Charmed Ones.”

Bruce could only respond with a shrug. Then he added, “It’s strange that you would end up meeting Prue’s sisters after all these years. Strange that none of us ever became close, considering that their grandmother and ours were close friends.”

Olivia remained silent. A uniformed cop approached her desk, wearing a concerned expression. “Excuse me, Inspector.”

“Yeah?”

The cop continued, “We just received a call about a dead body found in Candlestick Park.”

“What does this have to do with me?” Olivia asked.

“Well, there’s a chance he was killed in the same manner as the person found in Lafayette Park, last Wednesday.”

Olivia’s interest perked. She shot a glance at Bruce. “Oh? Same weapon?”

The uniformed cop shook his head. “The officer on the scene isn’t sure, ma’am. But he thought you might want to check it out.” He left.

Sister and brother stared at each other. “You think the Charmed Ones may have stumbled across another warlock?” Olivia asked.

Bruce shrugged. “Perhaps. Or else this victim might be a witch. Mind if I join you?”

“Sure. It’s not everyday that I have a sous chef accompany me to a crime scene.” Olivia stood up and grabbed her jacket. Her brother did the same and the pair headed out of the squad room.

* * * *

Saturday evening settled around the Halliwell Manor. Piper bustled about the kitchen, as she prepared a light dinner for her family. At least for three of them. Paige had a date tonight and Piper decided that a light dinner would probably be sufficient for her, Leo and Phoebe.

Speaking of Leo, her whitelighter husband materialized in the middle of the kitchen. Piper was not taken by surprise. She had been expecting him for the past hour or so. However, the worried expression on his face did surprise her.

“Hey Leo.” She planted a light kiss on her husband’s cheek. Leo did not bother to return the kiss. “Leo? Is there something wrong?”

A frown creased the whitelighter’s brow. “I have some bad news,” he said. “Are Phoebe and Paige around?”

“Yeah. Pheebs is in the Solarium. And Paige is getting ready for a date.”

Leo started out of the kitchen. “I need to speak to them, as well. Phoebe! Paige!”

Piper followed her husband to the Solarium. There, they found Phoebe sitting in one of the wicker chairs, watching television. Paige appeared a minute later. “What’s up?” the latter drawled. She wore a knee-length aqua-blue dress with a halter top and matching heels. The perfect outfit for a night on the town.

Leo turned to the three sisters. His expression was grave. “I had been summoned by Olivia and Bruce McNeill today,” he announced. “They were at the police station this morning, when a call came in about a body found in Candlestick Park. Bruce recognized the victim as a fellow witch named Vincent Farrar and he had been stabbed by a dagger. Vincent had a fire power. A pyrokinetic.”

Paige frowned. “Fire power? I didn’t know that witches can have a fire power.”

Phoebe ignored her and said to Leo. “Does Olivia have any idea who killed him?”

Leo sighed. “Olivia thinks the killer might have been another warlock. Which means that he or she now has a fire power. And this warlock might be from the same coven as the one you had killed, last Wednesday.”

“Doesn’t she know where this coven can be found?” Piper demanded.

“Sorry. She and Bruce tried scrying for any of the warlocks, but it was a no go,” Leo said with a shrug.

Paige suggested that they scry for the coven. “Nothing like a little Power of Three to get things going. Or maybe we should use a spell to summon one of them. Or transport us to where they are at.”

“We can try scrying for them,” Piper replied. “But I don’t think the transport idea is a good one. Especially if we don’t have any idea where we’ll end up.”

Leo added, “Maybe you should work with the McNeills on this one. A coven of warlocks attacking powerful witches and no one can track them? This sounds pretty serious.”

Piper brushed aside her husband’s suggestion. She loved Leo, but he could a little skittish, sometimes. Too cautious. “I’m sure that a quick scry by us will do the trick. Paige, get the crystal, will you?”

While Paige left to fetch the crystal, Piper and the other two headed over to where a map of San Francisco laid stretched on a table. “Okay,” Paige said, as she hung the crystal over the map, “here we go. Warlocks, warlocks. Where are they?” The crystal continued to hover, but after several seconds, it failed to pinpoint nothing. “Maybe Olivia was mistaken about warlocks attacking the witches. Maybe they’re demons.”

“I don’t think so,” Leo replied. “Olivia recognized both the warlock that Phoebe killed and the one whom Cole had saved her from, as part of the Crozat Coven from her Book of Shadows. She had encountered one several years ago.”

A concerned Phoebe agreed with Leo. “Maybe we should work with the McNeills. Olivia seemed to be more familiar with this coven.”

Piper sighed. As much as she disliked the idea of working with strangers, she realized that both Leo and Phoebe made sense. “All right,” she said. “I’ll call Mrs. McNeill and tell her that we accept her invitation to Sunday brunch.” Piper paused. “Does anyone remember her telephone number?”

* * * *

Olivia’s low heels clicked on the concrete ground, as she strode across the building’s underground parking lot. It was late Sunday morning and she was on her way to her parents’ home for the family’s traditional Sunday brunch.

Once she reached her dark blue BMW convertible, Olivia clicked off the alarm. Then she placed a wrapped square pan on the passenger seat. She then climbed into the driver’s seat and started the engine. Only the damn thing refused to start.

Olivia muttered an oath under her breath. Again, she switched on the engine. And again, failure. She smacked her hand against the steering wheel in anger. It seemed she would have to call Bruce or Harry to give her a ride to the McNeill manor. Heaving a sigh, Olivia reached inside her purse for the cell phone.

“Is there a problem?” a soft, masculine voice asked. Olivia glanced up and saw Cole Turner looming beside her convertible. He glanced down and smiled. “Hi. Car trouble?”

Olivia eyed the newcomer warily. Her mind conjured up images of the irrate neighbor, the reluctant savior and the rude bastard she had met over the past several days.  And it seemed she was about to become acquainted with a new facet of Cole Turner’s personality.

“Nothing I can’t handle,” Olivia coolly replied. “Is there something you need?”

Cole peered into the passenger seat. “No, I . . . uh, I spotted you from the elevator and decided to say hi.” He pointed at the food on the car seat. “Going to a party?”

“Not quite. More like a family’s Sunday brunch.” Olivia added, “Those are sandwich loaves, by the way.” Cole stared at her. “You seemed interested.”

An embarrassed cough left Cole’s mouth. “Well, I can only guess that it tastes as good as your Floating Island. Which was quite delicious, by the way. Too bad most of it ended in my face.” He chuckled slightly.

Olivia winced out of sheer embarrassment. “Oh God! I’m sorry about that,” she said in a contrite voice. “It was a childish way to lose my temper.”

“Actually, I should apologize,” Cole quietly interjected. “I was pretty rude that night.” A half-hearted attempt at another chuckle followed. “Very rude, as a matter of fact. I, uh . . . I had an unpleasant conversation with Phoe. . . uh, my ex-wife. I guess I was in a bad mood that night.”

An understanding smile tugged at Olivia’s lips. “That’s okay. Apology accepted.” Her frown returned as she diverted her attention back to her car. “Now if I can just get this car started.” She made one last attempt to switch on the engine. And once more, she failed. “Dammit! I knew I should have got this damn engine fixed when I had the chance.”

“Need a lift?” Cole asked.

Olivia sighed from sheer relief. She glanced up at him with pleading eyes. “Would you mind? I’m going to 231 Pacific Avenue.”

“Not at all.” Cole helped her out of the car. Olivia reached inside to remove her sandwich loaves from the passenger’s seat. “I was about to go for a drive. But I could get you to wherever you’re going a lot faster.”

“Teleporting? As in shimmering?”

Cole stared at her. “How did you . . .? Never mind. By the way, I haven’t shimmered in about a year. I sort of blur or beam now.”

Olivia gave him a wide. “Really? I haven’t been teleported to another place in ten months. This should be interesting.” She relished the astonished expression on Cole’s face as they disappeared from the parking lot.

* * * *

One second later, Cole and Olivia appeared in front of a three-story Mission Revival manor. It stood on hill that overlooked San Francisco Bay. Cole was impressed. Very impressed. There was also something very familiar about this place.

“This is where your parents live?” he asked.

Olivia nodded. “The McNeills have owned the house for the past 127 years. It was one of the first homes built in this neighborhood. Before the 1906 earthquake.” Cole followed her up the verandah’s stairs and toward the front door. Olivia rang the doorbell.

The pair waited only a few seconds before a dark-suited man in his mid-fifties answered the door. “Oh, Miss Olivia! You’re here.” Cole immediately recognized his Welsh accent.

“Good morning, Davies,” she replied, as she brushed past the manservant. Cole followed. “Is everyone here?”

Davies replied, “Yes, miss. And we also have . . .”

“Hey sis! You finally made it!” A tall young man in his mid-twenties appeared in the foyer. Like Olivia, he possessed red hair and green eyes. And he had the looks that one would describe as boyishly handsome.

Olivia gave the young man a hug. “Hey Harry! Long time no see. How was London?”

Harry shrugged. “Not bad.” His eyes fell upon Cole. “Who’s your guest?”

“Oh. I’d like you to meet Cole Turner.” When Harry’s eyes grew wide, Olivia nodded. “Yep, he’s that Cole Turner. The one who saved me last Thursday.”

Harry’s face turned pale. “Oh.”

“What’s the matter?” a frowning Olivia asked. “You look as if you’ve seen a ghost. Or worse. Where is everyone? In the garden?”

The young man replied reluctantly, “Well, yeah. But I should tell you . . .” Olivia pushed past him before he could finish. “Olivia!” Oblivious to her brother’s cry, the redhead continued across the foyer. Cole realized he had no choice but to follow close behind. “Gee, Livy! Can’t you even wait until I finish?”

With Cole still following, Olivia marched into a spacious sitting room, filled with elegant and very expensive furnishings. Instead of stopping, Olivia continued toward a pair of French door. She swung them open, stepped outside and stopped short. Cole overheard her murmur, “Oh!”

“What’s wrong?” he asked. Cole peered over Olivia’s shoulder. The sight that greeted his eyes nearly caused his heart to stop.

A woman who resembled a middle-aged version of Olivia rose from a wicker chair to greet the newcomers. “Olivia, darling! You finally made it! I was beginning to wonder.” The woman climbed a pair of stairs that led to the terrace where Cole, Olivia and her brother now stood. She hugged the younger woman and then her green eyes rested upon Cole with deep interest. “Who’s this?” she asked. “Have we met, before?” Cole noticed that she also spoke with a Welsh accent.

“Mom, this is Cole Turner. The same Cole who had saved me from that warlock, last Thursday night,” Olivia announced.

Green eyes grew wide. “Oh! So you’re . . .” Realization crept into those eyes. “Oh. I . . .” Olivia’s mother glanced at the figures below her. The McNeills and Cole descended the small staircase and approached the others,who now sat in chairs around a garden.

One figure stood up and eyed Cole with familiar suspicion. “What the hell is he doing here?” accused one Paige Matthews.

Olivia’s mother smiled wanly. “Sorry about that, Livy. I forgot to tell you that we have . . . visitors.”

Cole took a deep breath and glanced at his ex-wife and former in-laws. “I guess I better get going,” he muttered.

Olivia placed a free hand on his arm. “Wait a minute! Not before I introduce you to my family.” She nodded at the older woman. “This is my mother, Gweneth Morgan McNeill. And you’ve also met my younger brother, Harry.” The red-haired man shook hands with Cole.

Two other men stood up to greet the half-daemon. Both stood at six feet tall and possessed chestnut-brown hair, blue-gray eyes and rugged good looks. One of them reached Cole first. He was older, at least in his early or mid-fifties. And there seemed to be a dangerous gleam in his eyes that struck a familiar note with Cole. “Hi, I’m Jack McNeill, Olivia’s father.” American accent. “It’s nice to meet you again, after all these years.”

Cole stared into the man’s face. Memories from the past flooded his brain. Of a cunning male witch who nearly got the best of him some twenty-five years ago. Frowning, he asked, “Have we met before?”

A knowing smile stretched Jack McNeill’s lips. He offered his hand. “London, June 1977. You were trying to steal an amulet from a friend of mine and my wife and I helped her set a trap for you.”

Stunned by the realization, Cole absently shook McNeill’s hand. “Oh yeah. Now I remember. You nearly killed me. I barely got away with my life.”

“Sorry about that.” McNeill gave a quick shrug. “At least you got away.” He turned to the younger version of himself. “Oh, this is my son, Bruce. Bruce McNeill.”

The younger McNeill shook Cole’s hand. “Nice to meet you. Thanks for saving Livy’s life, the other day. And this,” he indicated a pretty blond woman, who sat in one of the garden’s chairs, “is my fiancée, Barbara Bowen.” Cole nodded at the woman.

“Nice to meet you all,” he finally said.

Olivia nodded at the Halliwells. “I guess you know who they are. No need to introduce them.”

Cole shot another glance at Phoebe and the others. “Well, I guess it’s time for me to leave. I uh. . .”

Gweneth McNeill spoke up. “Are you sure you don’t want to stay? We have plenty of . . .”

“Who’s this?” a soft voice from behind, asked. Cole, Olivia and Harry whirled around. Behind them stood a petite woman with a silvery hair and blue-gray eyes. Cole figured her to be at least in her early or mid-seventies. He also realized that she must have been a beauty in her day. Her eyes gleamed with interest at the newcomer.

Olivia replied, “Hi Gran! This is the guy who saved me a few days, ago. Cole Turner. Cole, this is my grandmother, Elise Collins McNeill.”

“So this is the famous Belthazor,” Elise McNeill declared. Cole noticed how her family winced at her bluntness. But he did not mind. He could not find any hostility in her tone. Only interest.

Cole flashed a quick smile. “Belthazor has been gone for about a year, now. Just call me Cole.”

“Really? But aren’t you a daemon again?”

Olivia cried out in protest, “Gran!”

Mrs. McNeill rolled her eyes. “Oh please! It’s a perfectly legitimate question.”

“I don’t know about that,” Cole replied. He heard a scoff from one the Halliwells. Piper. “But I do have new demonic powers. It’s a long story.” He was amused by the woman’s directness. In a way, she reminded him of Olivia. He shot another look at his former in-laws and his smile disappeared.

Mrs. McNeill patted his arm. “Well, I’d love to hear it.”

“So would I,” Jack McNeill added. “Why don’t you stay for brunch?”

The McNeills, including Olivia, stared at Cole with expectation. Cole had not felt this welcomed since . . . well, since he and Phoebe first started dating. Nor did he recall the Halliwells sharing her feelings. Once more, he glanced at the Charmed Ones and Leo. “Uh, I’d like to, but I had other plans.”

“Oh.” Mrs. McNeill’s eyes expressed disappointment. Then she glanced at the Halliwells. “I see. Well, how about Tuesday night?”

Cole glanced at Olivia, whose eyes looked hopeful. The other McNeills seemed to feel just the same. Why were they so interested in him? To satisfy their curiosity? Or maybe they felt grateful to him for saving Olivia’s life. What the hell! “I’d love to accept. What time should I come?”

Smiling, Olivia replied, “Seven o’clock. We can come together.” Cole’s brows rose at the double meaning of her words. Her cheeks turned pink. “Uh . . . you know what I mean.”

“Yeah. Well, I’ll see you all on Tuesday.” Cole gave them a polite smile and quickly made his escape.

 

END OF PART 4

“THERE WILL BE BLOOD” (2007) Review

 

”THERE WILL BE BLOOD” (2007) Review

I really do not know what to say about Paul Thomas Anderson’s movie, ”THERE WILL BE BLOOD”. This movie, based upon Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel ”Oil!”, is about a ruthless oilman in California between 1898 and 1927. I cannot deny that this is basically an excellent film and that Daniel Day-Lewis gave one of the best performances of career. I cannot also deny that ”THERE WILL BE BLOOD” was basically well written, produced and directed by director Anderson. I basically enjoyed it very much and consider it to be one of the better films released this year. But for some reason, I cannot muster any real passion for it.

I must admit that there were times that I found the movie fascinating. One has to thank leading Daniel Day-Lewis’ riveting performance maintaining my interest. He portrayed the ruthless Daniel Plainview, a hard-working silver prospector who discovered an oil well, while prospecting for silver. On the very day he discovers his first oil well, one of his employees die in an accident and Plainview adopts the dead man’s infant son. By 1911, he is one of the most successful oil men in California. In order to convince many farmers and other small landowners to drill on their land, he uses his adoptive son, whom he names H.W. (Dillon Freasier), as his “partner” to project his status as a family man and a family businessman. Plainview is approached by a young man named Paul Sunday (Paul Dano) who sells Plainview an oil lead located on his family’s property in Little Boston, California. Plainview and H.W. travel to Little Boston, and, pretending to be hunting quail, scout out the Sunday property and discover a good amount of seepage oil. Plainview attempts to buy the property without notifying Paul’s father Abel (David Willis) of the oil, but Paul’s twin brother, Eli (again Paul Dano), knows of the oil and raises the price to $10,000, the bulk of which he intends to put into the founding of his own Church. Plainview pays him $5000 up front and promises the other $5000 as a donation to the church. In order to ensure the monopoly on the Little Boston oil, Plainview buys the “ranches” of a number of the surrounding neighbors, with the exception of one property, which the owner, a Mr. Bandy (Hans Howes), was hesitant to sell.

As I had earlier stated, the heart and soul of ”THERE WILL BE BLOOD” for me was Daniel Day-Lewis. His Daniel Plainview has to be one of the most fascinating characters in movie history. Certainly not in literary history, since Plainview was a character created for the screen by Anderson. I really do not know how to describe him. He seemed to be the epitome of those ruthless tycoons of the late 19th century and early 20th century. He is certainly not typical. Utilizing a John Huston accent, Day-Lewis captured all of the malevolence , cunning and emotional perversity of Plainview, as he draws the audience into the character’s unchecked greed for wealth and power. The ironic thing is that Plainview does not seem to care for the trappings of wealth. One example of this is his habit of sleeping on the floor, even when a comfortable bed is available. And even in that exclusive mansion he has built by the end of the film, he sleeps on the floor inside the mansion’s bowling alley. But the money and power, he definitely needs. And he needs an audience to witness his financial triumphs, judging how he had temporarily abandoned H.W. when the latter first lost his hearing in an accident and how he took under his wings, a man claiming to be a long lost brother named Henry Brands (Kevin J. O’Connor).  Due to his superb performance, Day-Lewis deservedly won both a Golden Globe award and an Oscar.  If he had failed to win either or both awards, I would have been shocked.

It is a shame that the Golden Globes and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science were never able to acknowledge Paul Dano for his performances as the twin brothers – Paul and Eli Sunday, and Dillon Freasier as the young H.W. Plainview. Dano, who had last impressed critics with his supporting role in ”LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE”, had studied evangelism for his role as the Sunday twins. The Paul Sunday character made a brief appearance near the beginning of the story, but Dano’s performance as the other twin Eli really impressed me. Dano’s performance revealed the malevolence and greed for wealth and power behind Eli’s meek and religious demeanor – traits that seemed to match Plainview’s. Anderson could not find a child actor to portray Plainview’s adoptive son, H.W., so he had hired the son of a Texas state trooper who had pulled over the movie’s casting agent for speeding. Like Dakota Blue Richards in ”THE GOLDEN COMPASS”, Dillon Freasier turned out to be find. Especially for Anderson and the movie. With very few words, the young actor managed to convey all of his character’s array of emotions experienced in the film – from his intelligence and warmth, to his suspicions and resentment of Plainview’s relationship with Henry Brands.

Most of ”THERE WILL BE BLOOD” seemed to be set during 1911. Sinclair’s novel seemed to be a condemnation of the oil industry itself and a response to the infamous Teapot Dome Scandal during the Warren G. Harding administration. Anderson does condemn the oil industry in California, especially in his revelation of how many small landowners were cheated out of millions of dollars through the manipulations of oil companies and tycoons. But for me, ”THERE WILL BE BLOOD” seemed more like a character study than an expose on a major industry. But I must admit that it is a first-class movie and probably one of the better ones of 2007. Anderson paced the movie very well, making one ALMOST forget that this movie is fifteen minutes short of three hours. With actors like Day-Lewis, Dano, Freasier, Ciarán Hinds and Kevin J. O’Connor, Anderson managed to make the most of a first-class cast. Well, almost. More on that later. Does it deserve to win the Best Picture Oscar? Quite frankly, I am not sure. As excellent as the movie is . . . as first-rate as was Day-Lewis’ performance, it did not exactly rock my boat. Quite frankly, I do have a few problems with the film.

As I had stated earlier, ”THERE WILL BE BLOOD” seemed more like a character study, instead of an expose. And because of that, I feel that it could have been at least a half hour or forty-five minutes shorter. When I said that Anderson had almost made me forget that this movie was nearly three hours long, I was serious. He ALMOST made me forget about the film’s running time. Until the story shifted to 1927. Frankly, I do not see why Anderson had even bothered. Following the time shift, the movie lost its epic scope. Even Plainview’s personality seemed to have lost some of its steam . . . until his last encounter with Eli Sunday. Speaking of those two, I believe that the make-up artist may have done both Day-Lewis and Dano a bit of a disservice. Despite the fifteen to sixteen year difference between the two time shifts, I never really got the impression that either Plainview or Sunday had aged at all. There was barely a strand of gray in Day-Lewis’ hair and Dano still looked like a young man in his early twenties, despite the fact that Eli Sunday must have been at least in his mid-to-late thirties during the film’s last half hour. But the one thing I actually disliked about the film was its abrupt ending. One can say that the movie ended with the final confrontation between the two adversaries. But there is this feeling in my gut that Anderson had ended the movie in the middle of the story’s finale. He probably had a reason for ending it in this manner. Whatever reason he had, it has eluded me.

Despite some of my disenchantment with ”THERE WILL BE BLOOD”, I must admit that it is overall, an excellent film. It may not have rocked my boat, but I did find it fascinating. And if you can deal with a two hour and forty-five minute study about a fictional character, then I suggest that you watch the movie.

“THE KINGDOM” (2007) Review

“THE KINGDOM” (2007) Movie Review

Based upon a real life incident regarding a terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia (Riyadh Compound Bombings), ”THE KINGDOM” tells the story of an FBI Counterterrorist unit sent to Saudi Arabia to investigate a terrorist attack upon an American compound in Saudi Arabia. Directed by Peter Berg (”FRIDAY NIGHTS LIGHTS”) and produced by Michael Mann, the movie starred Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper and Jason Bateman.

The main question is . . . did I like ”THE KINGDOM”? And the answer is yes. In fact, I had enjoyed it very much. It had plenty of suspense, drama and especially action that should not leave anyone disappointed. Most of the story seemed to be focused upon the theme of American cops forced to deal with their country’s own bureaucacy and with the hostility of foreign cops who resent the idea of Americans invading their turf. There have been other Hollywood crime dramas with similar themes. But in “THE KINGDOM”, this theme is intensified due to the story’s setting – namely Saudi Arabia and the Middle East culture and the current concern of terrorism. And I feel that screenwriters Matthew Michael Carnahan and Michael Mann did a great job.

The entire cast is first-rate . . . especially Jamie Foxx as FBI Agent Ronald Fleury and Ashraf Barhom as Col. Faris Al-Ghazi of the Saudi police, who managed to create a very credible relationship of two men whose different cultures would automatically make them enemies during this time in history. Yet slowly . . . surely, they managed to form a close friendship. My only problem with the casting was Chris Cooper. His character seemed a bit irrelevant and a little hammy at times.

About a month before the movie was released in the theaters, someone had written a review of the movie and considered it a potential for Academy Award nominations. To be honest, I do not know if I would agree with that assessment. As good as ”THE KINGDOM” was, I never saw it as the type of film that would earn any award nominations. At least of Oscar caliber. To me, it was simply a solid action-drama with a first-rate cast and good, solid writing. Worthy of an entertaining trip to your local movie theater or renting from Netflix.

“THE DIVORCEE” (1930) Review

“THE DIVORCEE” (1930) Review

I just recently watched “THE DIVORCEE”.  This 1930 MGM film tells the story of a happily married couple, whose marriage crumbles under the taint of infidelity. This is the second time I have seen this film and again, found myself surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

Norma Shearer portrayed Jerry Martin, a happily marrried New York socialite, who discovers that her husband, Ted (Chester Morris), had a drunken one night stand with some blowsy woman. She tried to pretend that it was bridge under the water and openly forgave him. But his infidelity continued to bother her. And when he leaves New York for a business trip to Chicago, she has a one night stand with his best friend, Don (Robert Montgomery). Jerry confesses her infidelity . . . and discovers that as far as Ted is concerned, what was good for the goose, was not for the gander. The couple divorces and spends an unhappy year trying to forget one another. They eventually reconcile at a party in Paris.

I understand that the Jerry Martin role nearly evaded Norma Shearer, because husband and MGM production chief Irving Thalberg did not feel that the role suited her. She used a series of sexy photographs taken by George Hurrell to convince Thalberg that she could do the role. And she certainly proved that she was the right woman for the role. What I liked about Shearer’s take on Jerry was that she was not one type of woman or another. She was a complex woman who discovered that she could not hide her feelings – whether she was disturbed by her husband’s infidelity and hypocricy; or her longing to reconcile with him, despite enjoying the company of other men. Shearer certainly deserved her Oscar.

Although he had some moments of over-the-top acting as Ted Martin – Jerry’s husband, Chester Morris did a pretty good job portraying the newspaper man, who tried to dismiss his own infidelity . . . and discovered how his wife truly felt in the worst possible way. What I found interesting about Ted is how alcohol led to a great deal of his troubles. It was booze that encouraged him to cheat on Jerry. And it was booze that he indulged in following the breakup of his marriage and loss of his job.

Robert Montgomery was at turns rather funny and sexy as Don, Ted’s best friend with whom she cheated on. Many have dismissed Conrad Nagel as a boring actor, who performance in the movie was not worth mentioning. Mind you, his role as Paul, Jerry’s former boyfriend was not as splashy as Morris or Montgomery’s role, Nagel still managed to invest enough angst as a man who is dealt a double blow in life when the woman he loves (Jerry) marries another man and he finds himself in a loveless marriage with a woman (Judith Wood), whose face he had disfigured due to a drunken car accident.

While watching this film, I was surprised how the attitudes and personalities of most of the major characters seemed revelant today. Despite the late 20s/early 30s wardrobe and slang, the so-called “Bright Young Things” were not really different from the Twenty and Thirtysomethings in the dating scene, today. I felt as if I had been watching some comedy-drama about a marriage, set in the late 20th or early 21st centuries. As a sideline, I also enjoyed the movie’s East Coast setting and set designs by Cedric Gibbons. And I especially liked Shearer’s wardrobe, designed by the famous Adrian.

I realized that the movie had a “happy ending” that many modern viewers do not care for. But for me, it was an ending in which both husband and wife were humbled. They not only forgave each other, but forgave themselves. Hell, I bought it.

“THE MOVING FINGER” (1942) Book Review

”THE MOVING FINGER” (1942) Book Review

Published in 1942, ”THE MOVING FINGER” is an Agatha Christie murder mystery about a small English town rocked by a series of poison pen letters that lead to suicide and murder. This particular novel featured the elderly Jane Marple as the story’s chief detective, despite the fact that the character only has a minor role.

Set during the early years of World War II, Jerry and Joanna Burton are disaffected siblings from London society who take a country house in idyllic town of Lymstock, so that Jerry can rest from injuries received in a wartime plane crash. They are just getting to know the town’s strange cast of characters when an anonymous letter arrives, rudely accusing the two of not being brother and sister, but lovers. They quickly discover that these letters have been recently circulating around town, indiscriminate and completely inaccurate. One of the letters eventually hits its target, when a local woman commits suicide after receiving hers. The story’s narrator – Jerry Burton – becomes suspicious that the woman’s maid may have witnessed something. Before he can alert the local police, the maid becomes a murder victim.

Author Agatha Christie has been known to admit that ”THE MOVING FINGER” was one of her favorites:

””I find that another one [book] I am really pleased with is ”The Moving Finger’. It is a great test to re-read what one has written some seventeen or eighteen years before. One’s view changes. Some do not stand the test of time, others do.”

I wish I could agree with the renowned mystery writer. I really do. However . . . I found ”THE MOVING FINGER” to be very unimpressive. It struck me as pedestrian and rather sloppily written. It seemed as if Mrs. Christie did not put much effort to create a well written. Even worse, this is supposed to be a Jane Marple novel. Yet, the elderly amateur detective did not even appear in the story, until the sixth chapter and appeared in a few scenes. And the novel only possessed eight chapters. Apparently one of the characters, the vicar’s wife, had decided to summon the one person she felt could solve the case – namely Miss Marple. Unfortunately, the elderly visitor from St. Mary Mead was used by Christie as a minor, deus ex machine style character. Which I found disappointing.

The only interest I found in ”THE MOVING FINGER” was the romance between Jerry Burton and Megan Hunter, the twenty year-old daughter of the woman who had committed suicide. I found it interesting, due to Burton being an interesting narrator. However, I also found his condescending attitude toward Megan and the ugly ducking/beautiful swan motif that surrounded her character and their romance barely palatable. All right, I found it damn annoying. But I must say that it was a hell of a lot more interesting that the main mystery. Speaking of which, it was not much of a mystery to me, considering that I was able to guess the identity of the murderer by the third or fourth chapter.

I am major fan of Agatha Christie. I have been one for years – ever since I was thirteen years old. But I must admit that ”THE MOVING FINGER” proved to be quite a disappointment to me. It seemed like a hastily written murder mystery, in which the main detective has only a few brief appearance. It also possessed an annoying romance between the novel’s slightly condescending narrator and a gauche twenty year-old. Christie could have done better than this.

“AMERICAN GANGSTER” (2007) Review

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“AMERICAN GANGSTER” (2007) Review

For the first time in nearly two months, I saw a movie that managed to more than spark my interest. I am talking about the new crime drama directed by Ridley Scott called, ”AMERICAN GANGSTER”. The movie, which stars Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, told the story about drug lord Frank Lucas (Washington) and the New Jersey cop who brought him down, Ritchie Roberts (Crowe).

Set between 1968 and 1976, ”AMERICAN GANGSTER” began with the death of Harlem mobster and Lucas’ own boss, Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson (Clarence Williams III). Following Johnson’s death, Lucas found himself embroiled in a rivalry for control of Harlem. Realizing that he lacked the cash to assume control, he began a scheme that cut out middlemen in the drug trade and buying heroin directly from his source in Southeast Asia. He also organized the smuggling of heroin from Vietnam to the U.S. by using the coffins of dead American servicemen (“Cadaver Connection”).

The story also focused upon the man who had eventually captured Lucas, namely a New Jersey cop for Essex County named Ritchie Roberts. Roberts turned out to be a rare case amongst the law enforcers in the Tri-State area – namely an honest cop. When he and his partner, Javier Rivera (John Ortiz of ”MIAMI VICE”) stumbled across a cache of untraceable drug money, Roberts had insisted that it be reported. This one act not only drove his fellow cops (apparently honest cops were not trusted) to ostracize both Roberts and Rivera, and drove the latter to overdose on drugs that happened to be part of Lucas’ new product called ’Blue Angel’.

The movie not only focused upon Lucas and Roberts’ professional lives, which would eventually lead to the former’s arrest in 1975; it also focused on their private lives. Whereas drug lord Lucas is a loyal family man and faithful husband, honest cop Roberts turned out to be a notorious philanderer who had allowed an old friend and local mobster to be his son’s godfather.

Director Ridley Scott did a superb job of steering the audience into the world of the drug trade, East Coast organized crime and law enforcement from the late 1960s to the mid 1970s. With Steve Zillian’s script, he also managed to give the audience a clear view of capitalism and its corrupting influence on mobsters, the police and local neighborhoods. This was especially conveyed in two scenes. One featured a conversation between Lucas and competitor Nicky Barnes (Cuba Gooding Jr. in a cameo role), the former gave the latter a lesson on brand names and other forms of capitalism. It seemed that Barnes had been selling his product using Lucas’ brand name of Blue Angel. Believe or not, drug dealers apparently did stamp brand names on their products. Why not? Alcohol and tobacco companies do. The other featured a segment on how corrupt cops like NYPD Detective Trupo (Josh Brolin) extort both money and drugs and cut into the mobs’ profits by selling the latter on the street.

Also Scott and Zillian gave the audience a look at the devastating impact that street drugs had on society – including soldiers in Vietnam, local citizens of Harlem and cops like Roberts’ partner, Rivera. Scott managed to re-create this setting without allowing the movie’s setting to slide into a cliche. I got so caught up in the movie that by the time it ended, two hours and forty mintues had passed without me realizing it.

In 1995, both Washington and Crowe did a movie together – a science-fiction thriller called, ”VIRTUOSITY”. Needless to say that by the time the movie’s first half hour had end, I realized it was a stinker. And yes, it did deservedly bomb at the box office. Fortunately for Scott, he was lucky to work with the two dynamic actors’ second collaboration. And both Washington (as Lucas) and Crowe (as Roberts) were lucky to co-star in a movie that turned out to be twenty times better than “VIRTUOSITY”. Washington effortlessly re-created both the charm and the menace of the drug lord. And Crowe infused his usual intensity into the solidly honest Roberts. “AMERICAN GANGSTER” was also blessed by a solid cast led by the likes of Cuba Gooding Jr. as the very splashy drug kingpin Nicky Barnes, the intense John Ortiz as Roberts’ drug addicted partner, Javier Rivera, Ruby Dee as the staunchly emotional Mama Lucas and Josh Brolin in his deliciously corrupt portrayal of NYPD Detective Trupo.

It would be nice to see “AMERICAN GANGSTER” receive numerous Academy Award nominations during the movie award seasons. However, its chances of winning Best Picture seems dim, following the success of another crime drama that won Best Picture, namely Martin Scorcese’s “THE DEPARTED”. If you have not seen “AMERICAN GANGSTER” yet, I recommend that you do so. If you have, why not go see it again? I know I plan to do just that.

“Neighbors” [PG] – 3/11

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“NEIGHBORS”

Part 3

As usual, Leo was the first member of the Halliwell household to reach the breakfast table. All of the activity from last night, along with the orbing and healing had whetted his appetite for a large morning meal.

His wife emerged from the kitchen, carrying a platter of scrambled eggs and bacon. She placed it on the dining table. “Here we go. Now if only Phoebe and Paige would get their butts downstairs.”

“Our butts are right here,” Paige’s voice announced gaily. She and Phoebe slid into empty chairs, opposite Leo. “Oooo! This looks nice. I haven’t had a breakfast like this in ages.”

Piper sat in the empty chair next to Leo. “That’s because you’ve never hung around long enough to enjoy one, when you were working. Phoebe?” She glanced at the middle sister. “Can you pass me the butter?”

A somewhat subdued Phoebe passed the small bowl of butter to her older sister. Leo frowned. He understood her bleak mood. Which had been around ever since Cole agreed to give her the divorce. Both Piper and Paige expressed bafflement over Phoebe’s attitude. After all, she had longed for a divorce from Cole for the past few months. Perhaps she wanted the divorce. But Leo suspected that some inner core of Phoebe’s still longed to be with her ex-husband.

“By the way,” Piper added, “I got a call about an hour ago. From Olivia McNeill’s grandmother. It seems she has invited us over for Sunday brunch.”

Biting into a slice of toast, Paige frowned. She chewed on her food and swallowed it. “Did you accept? I thought we had decided to be discreet. Even with other witches.”

Piper heaved a sigh. “We might as well accept. After all, Elise McNeill was one of Grams’ closest friends. An old friend from college, as a matter of fact. She used to be one of Grams’ teachers.”

“I’m surprised that none of you recognized Olivia McNeill, the other night,” Paige said between bites.

To Leo’s surprise, Phoebe spoke up. “Piper and I never really knew her. At least I didn’t. Piper may have remembered her from high school.”

“I remembered her. Only a little.” Piper reached for another slice of toast. “Prue knew her best. They had graduated together, after all. Only . . .”

Leo asked, “Only what?”

Piper continued, “Well, they didn’t like each other, very much. Olivia McNeill had this Auntie Mame persona that rubbed Prue the wrong way. However, I heard that she and Andy Trudeau were good friends. Which irritated Prue even further. I’ll have to ask Darryl about her.”

“Auntie Mame, huh?” Leo chuckled. “That’s Olivia, all right. She’s very unorthodox. In fact, the entire McNeill family is.”

“And you told them all about us,” Piper added accusingly.

Sensing trouble, Leo immediately rose to his defenses. “C’mon Piper! You’ve met Olivia. She has a real talent for making others talk. It’s a wonder she doesn’t have psychic abilities.” He paused. “Although her younger brother does.”

“Her younger brother?”

Leo added, “Harry. Harry McNeill. He’s a telepath. And her older brother, Bruce, has the power of transfiguration. Like his dad.”

A slight frown appeared on Piper’s face. “Bruce?” Then clarification lit up her eyes. “Ohmigod! Bruce McNeill! He’s the executive chef at one of San Francisco’s top restaurants, the Golden Horn. And it’s owned by his mother, Gweneth . . .”

“Gweneth McNeill,” Leo finished. “She’s a very good cook.”

Piper rolled her eyes. “Are you kidding? She’s one of the finest chefs around. And Bruce, I understand, is developing a similar reputation. Wow!”

“So, culinary talents aside, just how strong are the McNeills?” Phoebe asked.

Leo stared at her. Phoebe did not seem particularly interested in Piper’s rhapsody over the McNeills’ profession. However, she did look rather miserable. So miserable, in fact that it nearly broke Leo’s heart. Come to think of it, Cole had seemed rather subdued, last night. Speaking of which . . .

“Leo?” Piper’s voice cut into his consciousness. “Phoebe asked how strong were the McNeills.”

He automatically replied, “Oh. Uh, very strong. The Power of Three is stronger, of course. But the McNeills are as strong as you are . . . individually.” The sisters looked impressed. Leo added, “By the way, Olivia had a visit from a warlock, last night.”

The Charmed Ones immediately became alert. “Is she all right?” Paige asked, looking concerned.

Leo nodded. “Yeah. After I had healed her.”

“She must have been hurt pretty badly,” Phoebe commented. “It’s a miracle that she was able to vanquish the warlock. Or did she?”

Leo paused. He found it difficult to say these next words. But the Halliwells, especially Phoebe, deserved the truth. “Uh, no she didn’t.”

Phoebe frowned. “What do you mean? The warlock got away?”

Taking a deep breath, Leo continued, “It was Cole who saved her. He had vanquished the warlock.”

While Piper and Paige reacted with consternation and surprise, Phoebe’s face turned pale. “Cole vanquished the warlock?” Paige demanded. “What was he doing there? Don’t tell me that he’s still trying to prove how ‘good’ he is.”

“He was saving Olivia’s life,” Leo replied calmly. “And she lives in the apartment below the penthouse.”

Phoebe took a deep breath. “I don’t recall her living in the building when . . .” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “When Cole and I lived there.”

“Olivia had just moved into the building on Tuesday.”

Silence enveloped the breakfast table. Paige, Leo noticed, shot sympathetic glances at Phoebe. Who now looked even paler. Meanwhile, Piper began picking at the food on her plate. Time to lighten the mood. “So,” Leo continued with false joviality, “do you all still plan to visit Elise McNeill?”

The three sisters stared at him. Leo had a pretty good idea what their answer would be.

* * * *

Olivia strode along the corridor of the police station’s second floor. As she passed the Men’s Room, a familiar voice cried out her name. She halted in her tracks.

“Olivia, wait up!” Darryl Morris caught up with his redheaded colleague. The pair eventually continued along the corridor. “So,” the tall man asked, “how are you? I’ve tried to get in touch with you, yesterday, but you were away from the station, most of the day.”

The nervous edge in Darryl’s voice caught Olivia’s attention. She had a pretty good idea why he seemed on the edge. “How am I?” Olivia gave her companion a pointed stare. “What are we? Mere acquaintances? Why do you sound so formal? Or is there something you want?”

“What makes you . . .?” Darryl began.

“Darryl? Enough of the bullshit, please!”

The tall man sighed. “All right. I just wanted to know if you got anything new on that body found in Lafayette Park, the day before yesterday.”

Olivia paused in the middle of the corridor and stared at her colleague. Then she grabbed his arm and dragged him toward an alcove where a candy machine stood. “Okay, Darryl. I have a question for you. How long have you known that the Halliwells were witches?”

Shock, denial and wariness flashed in Darryl’s dark eyes in rapid succession. “What are you . . .?”

“Darryl? Please don’t tell me otherwise. I know they are the Charmed Ones. Hell, I knew that Prue would be a witch before she did. And you were acting pretty odd that night at Lafayette Park. Besides, the Halliwells’ grandmother and my grandmother were old friends.”

Suspicion gleaned in Darryl’s eyes. “Wait a minute. Does that mean you’re a . . . witch?”

Olivia nodded. “Been practicing magic since I was fourteen.”

Darryl shook his head in disbelief and sighed. “Oh God! There are more of you?” Then he added, “Did Andy ever knew about you?”

“Not at first.” Olivia paused. “I had told him just before his death. He knew about Prue and her sisters, right?”

A touch of sadness briefly dimmed Darryl’s expression. “About a month or two before he was killed. I learned the truth about six or seven months later.”

“Oh. May I ask you one last question?”

Darryl replied, “Ask away.”

Olivia hesitated. Unable to keep her new neighbor out of her mind, she asked, “Do you know Cole Turner? I believe he was . . .”

“Yeah, I know him. He’s Phoebe Halliwell’s husband. Well, ex-husband.” Darryl eyed her warily. “Why? Have you met him? Has he caused any trouble?”

Olivia shook her head. “No. He’s been a perfect gentleman. As a matter of fact . . . he’s a neighbor of mine. I live right below him. And he saved me from a warlock, last night.”

“I don’t want to hear anymore about it.” Darryl waved one hand in the air.

A sigh left Olivia’s mouth. “Okay. I didn’t realize that the subject of Mr. Turner was that disturbing to you.”

Indignation flashed in Darryl’s eyes. “He’s more than disturbing. He’s dangerous! Did you know that he’s a demon? Or that over half a year ago, he became the leader of the Underworld?”

“That would be the Source,” Olivia added.

“Well, he eventually got Phoebe pregnant with some kind of spawn of evil and made her evil, as well. That man – if you want to call him one – put the Halliwells through a lot of hell. They vanquished him,” Darryl continued, “but unfortunately, he came back from the dead. And he tried to win Phoebe back by trying to some kind of Good Samaritan.”

Olivia commented dryly, “Didn’t work, huh?”

Darryl shook his head. “No, thank God. Phoebe made it clear that it was hopeless. Their divorce became final, yesterday.”

“Hmmm.” Olivia walked away from the machine.

Close on her heels, Darryl continued, “Look, I guess you don’t think he’s all that bad, considering that he saved your life. But I wouldn’t put it past Cole that he did it to impress Phoebe.”

“Gee! Thanks!”

Darryl grabbed her arm. “Olivia, all I’m trying to say is be careful. I mean the man is a half-demon. At least I think he is. He has caused a lot of misery. Especially to people I care about. And I don’t want you to be next on his list.”

Olivia gave Darryl a reassuring smile. “I assure you Darryl, you have nothing to worry about.”

* * * *

The intercom on Cole’s desk buzzed. His secretary’s voice announced, “Mr. Turner, you have a call on Line 3. It’s Mrs. . . uh, Miss Halliwell.” A pause followed. “Your wife.”

From behind his desk, Cole froze. Phoebe. What did she want, now that the divorce papers had been signed? Cole – rather reluctantly – picked up the telephone receiver. “Hello?” he greeted. “Phoebe?”

Her words came out in a breathless rush. “Cole? What’s going on? Leo just told us what happened last night, with Olivia McNeill. What were you doing in her apartment?”

Resentment and a little anger sparked within Cole. He did not care for the accusatory tone in Phoebe’s voice. After taking a few deep breaths, he calmed down. “I was saving her ass from a warlock. Or did Leo forget to add that?” Damn! He had not meant to sound so sarcastic or bitter.

A pause followed before Phoebe replied, “No, he didn’t. I’m just curious as to why a . . . why you would bother to save her. You’re not exactly in the habit of saving strangers on your own. What were you trying to do? Impress me? Because it’s too late for that.”

“I wasn’t trying to . . .” Once again, Cole felt the anger within. He could not believe this! All he did was try to save some woman he barely knew and now, he was being accused of some ulterior motive. Granted, he had been guilty of this in the past. But not now. Not when it was too late. “Dammit Phoebe!” he shot back. “Don’t you think it’s a little late for me to impress you? All I did was try to save her! It was . . . I don’t know. I guess after helping you and your sisters for over a year, I guess I’ve developed a habit of saving innocents. Hell, I didn’t even know that Leo was her whitelighter!”

Silence greeted Cole’s ears. Then he heard Phoebe take a deep breath. “I’m sorry, Cole. It’s just . . . well, Leo’s news took me by surprise. And I thought . . .”

“Yeah, you’ve made it pretty clear on what you thought,” Cole interjected. Then he silently muttered an oath. He had not meant to sound so harsh. Or did he?

“Cole . . .”

It became Cole’s turn to sigh. “Look, Phoebe, let’s just end this conversation before it turns into a screaming match.”

One last pause followed. “Fine,” Phoebe replied in a choked voice.

Struggling to control his own swelling emotions, Cole hesitated. Another silent moment passed before he continued, “Shit! Phoebe, I’m sor . . .”

“Bye Cole. Maybe I’ll see you around.” Phoebe hung up.

Cole slowly replaced the receiver on the telephone. He swerved his chair around, and found himself facing the large window that overlooked San Francisco. While he brooded.

* * * *

Later that evening, Olivia stood inside her kitchen, putting the final touches on a dish she had just prepared. A dessert called Floating Island. Her “thank you” offering to her new neighbor, for saving her life.

Olivia picked up the dish, left her apartment and strode quickly toward the elevator. Once inside, she shifted the dish to one arm and punched the button for the penthouse. The only one in the building. Olivia wondered how Cole Turner managed to get his hands on it, let alone keep it after disappearing last summer. The lucky bastard.

The elevator delivered to the top floor. Olivia walked out and headed straight for the penthouse’s double doors. She hesitated. What the hell was she doing? Her new neighbor was a half-daemon. A half-daemon who was at least over a hundred years old. And who for at least two months, had been the leader of the Source’s Realm. That is, if Leo and Darryl were correct. So why did she bother with this visit? Especially when common sense would have dictated that she avoid him at all costs?

Olivia could only conclude that gratitude for saving her life had contributed to her decision to pay her new neighbor a visit. After all, Cole Turner really had no reason to help her. She was not a Halliwell. If she really must be honest, Cole reminded her a little of Richard. Her fiancé of long ago. Well, not that long ago. Richard had been dead for less than a year. Olivia saw the same intensity, loneliness and conflicted emotions that used to radiate from Richard’s eyes when they first met. She knew that Cole was not another Richard, despite their similarities. But she could plainly see that he had endured a lot over a period of time. And that he desperately needed a friend.

She rang the doorbell. A minute passed and no one answered. Olivia rang the doorbell again. This time, one of the doors slowly opened. She caught her breath at the sight of the man that filled the doorway. He wore nothing but a pair of trousers and a sleeveless T-shirt. Good God! No wonder Phoebe Halliwell had fell for him like a ton of bricks! It seemed like a miracle that the other Halliwells did not follow suit.

Cole’s blue eyes grew wide at the sight of Olivia. “What are you doing here?” he demanded.

“Excuse me?” Olivia shot back.

Consternation flitted across Cole’s handsome face. He sighed heavily. “Sorry, I . . . I didn’t mean to sound rude. May I help you?”

Olivia held out the dish in her hands. “Actually, I’m here to give you this. It’s called Floating Island. Just a little thank you gift for saving my life, last night.” She placed the dish in Cole’s hands.

He stared at the dessert. “I . . . uh, thanks. Although to be honest, I’m not really that . . .”

“Oh, you should try it,” Olivia insisted. “It’s really quite delicious. Well, hopefully. Floating Island is one of my mom’s specialties and she is much better at making it than I am.”

A nervous cough. “Look, I’m grateful for the . . . uh, gift, but I’m not really hungry at the moment. I’m trying to watch my weight.”

“Really?” Olivia allowed her eyes to roam appreciatively over his masculine figure. “I’d say that a diet is the last thing you need to worry about.”

“Okay, look,” Cole returned the dish to Olivia, “thanks for the Floating Land, or whatever you called it, but no thanks. I’m not interested.”

A spark of anger ignited within Olivia. Then she took a deep breath. ‘Calm down, Olivia. Calm down.’ “You don’t have to eat it now,” Olivia continued in her most calm voice. “Just keep it in the . . .”

“I . . . don’t . . . want . . . the . . . damn . . . thing!” Cole literally shouted in her face. “UNDERSTAND??”

Her control over her anger slipped and Olivia’s temper exploded. “Yeah, I understand! Christ! All I was trying to do is be a friend! There’s no need to be rude!”

“A friend, huh? I bet you wanted more than that!”

Olivia’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “What the hell did you mean by that?” she hissed.

A sneer formed on Cole’s lips. “Leo must have told you all about me. The half-demon who became the Source? And since I saved your ass, you’re probably wondering what makes me tick. Am I right?” The sneer disappeared, followed by an intimidating stare. “Well, I’m not in the mood to tell you what makes me ‘tick’. Not to you or anyone else. So, if you don’t mind, I’d like to be left alone. And the next time you find yourself dealing with a warlock or demon, I suggest you holler for Leo!”

“Thanks for the advice!” Olivia shot back scathingly. “Meanwhile, enjoy the dessert!” Using her telekinesis, she sent the Floating Island out of the dish and right smack into Cole’s face. Then she spun on her heels and marched toward the elevator, feeling very humiliated.

END OF PART 3

“DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER” (1971) Review

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”DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER”  (1971) Review

I might as well be frank. After my recent viewing of ”DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER”, I have come to the conclusion that it just might truly be the worst Bond movie ever released by EON Productions. I certainly view it as an unworthy follow-up to the superb ”ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE”. Yet, despite my low opinion of the movie, I also found it to be very funny.

The movie’s pre-credits started the movie out with a montage featuring Bond’s search for Ernst Stravos Blofeld, head of SPECTRE and the man responsible for the brutal murder of the agent’s wife of a few hours, Teresa Bond. And yet . . . the movie had never clearly stated that Bond wanted revenge for his wife’s death. Rather curious. I suppose that Broccoli and Saltzman wanted the audience to forget about ”OHMSS” . . . and at the same time, remember that Bond had a reason to seek revenge against Blofeld. The movie eventually unfolded a tale featuring a diamond smuggling operation from South Africa to Amsterdam and finally to Las Vegas. Apparently, the operation seemed to becoming to an end, since two assassins – the very funny Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, played by Bruce Glover and Putter Smith – seemed to be killing every courier/link that formed the smuggling ring. Her Majesty’s government, worried that the stability of the diamond market might be threatened if all the hoarded diamonds are released at the same time, ordered MI-6 to investigate. M assigned Bond to investigate the matter. At first, the British agent (along with diamond smuggler Tiffany Case, Felix Leiter and the CIA) discovered that a reclusive American millionaire named Willard Whyte might be behind the smuggling operation and the murders. But this proves to be a red herring and Bond finally realized that Blofeld (whom he thought he had killed in the pre-credit sequence) had taken control of Whyte’s business operation to use the diamonds to create a satellite with a powerful laser on board in order to blackmail the world. And of course, Bond destroyed Blofeld’s operation before the villain could blow up Washington D.C.

What is it about ”DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER” that made it such a terrible Bond movie? One of the main culprits had to be Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz’s screenplay. Their first mistake came in the form of Bond’s search for Ernst Stravo Blofeld in the movie’s pre-credit sequence. It all seemed so vague . . . almost pointless. In fact, it seemed as if the screenwriters and producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman had been torn between a desire to make fans forget about ”OHMSS”’s tragic ending and a fear that those same fans might not forget. Which would explain why the movie’s opening found Bond traveling from one location to another in search of Blofeld. He even managed to nearly strangle one contact with her bikini top, titillating certain fans of the franchise. Yet, not once did Bond ever mention his late bride or her murder – obviously the main reason behind his search for SPECTRE’s leader. I could not help but conclude that the entire sequence was nothing but a cop-out.

And the story had failed to improve following the opening credits. I never could understand why Her Majesty’s government had deemed it necessary for MI-6 to investigate a diamond smuggling operation. Why not seek the assistance of an agency like Interpol or something? And why would the CIA be interested in such a case? Both MI-6 and CIA’s interest all came about before the revelation of Blofeld using the diamonds to create a weapon to extort the major superpowers. And I never could understand this.

Bond’s investigation took him to Amsterdam, impersonating one of the links in the smuggling operation – Peter Franks. From this point forward, a serious of implausible moments appeared in the story. After a fight with the real Peter Franks, who had appeared at Tiffany Case’s Amsterdam apartment, Bond planted his own wallet in the dead smuggler’s jacket. Tiffany discovered the wallet and expressed dismay at the idea of someone killing ‘James Bond’. Could someone please explain how a diamond smuggler would know about a MI-6 government agent, yet have no knowledge of Blofeld or the fact that he had been her actual boss? And there are more implausible moments to follow:

-After Mr. Slumber prevented Bond from being incinerated, Bond accused him and Shady Tree of giving him bad money (they saved him, because he had switched the real diamonds for fakes). Yet, he pocketed the ’bad money’and used it at one of the Vegas hotel/casinos.
-Bond and Tiffany found dead prostitute Plenty O’Toole in the latter’s Vegas swimming pool. Apparently, there had been a scene in which Plenty (who had been dumped out of Bond’s hotel room and into a swimming pool by gangsters working for Tiffany) had returned to Bond’s room and found Tiffany’s purse. If this is true, I can see why this scene had been cut, because it lacked sense. But why had EON Productions failed to cut the scene featuring the discovery of Plenty’s body, as well?
-The stunt featuring Bond’s two-wheeler driving of Tiffany’s Red Mustang through a narrow alley seemed . . . questionable.
-Why on earth did Bond bother to wear a tuxedo in order to break into Willard Whyte’s penthouse?
-Since Blofeld had left instructions to Bond (impersonating as SPECTRE minion, Burt Saxby’s voice) over the telephone to kill Willard Whyte, how did Saxby learn of the assignment in order to appear at Whyte’s house to do the job?
-Why would Tiffany be suspicious of a Blofeld in drag and tail him, when she never knew how he looked in the first place? And I doubt that she knew about the cat.

”DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER”’s script had ended in a rather disappointing showdown on a SPECTRE-controlled oil rig off Baja California. Come to think of it, Blofeld’s “death” and Bond’s showdown with Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd seemed equally lame.

The movie had also marked Sean Connery’s last appearance as the agent in an EON Productions’ Bond film. He returned following George Lazenby’s decision not to continue with the Bond role. Granted, Connery’s performance had its moments. He seemed to be at his funniest in this movie, displaying a true flair for comedy. And his elevator fight with Joe Robinson (portraying Peter Franks0 made it apparent that he had not lost his touch with action films, following a four-year hiatus from the Bond franchise. And yet . . . I could not help but wish that Lazenby had continued his tenure as James Bond, following ”OHMSS”. Perhaps the Australian’s presence could have guaranteed a more serious follow-up to Tracy Bond’s death. Then again . . . perhaps not. And despite Connery’s comedic touch, he seemed to have lost some of the fire that had made his earlier performances as Bond so memorable. In fact, he seemed to have sailed through the entire movie without any true depth.

There seemed to be a split opinion amongst fans regarding Jill St. John’s performance as smuggler Tiffany Case. Some viewed the red-haired Tiffany as a funny, smart and sassy woman. Others regarded her as nothing more than a bubble-headed bimbo. Personally, I agree with both views. I liked St. John’s sharp portrayal of Tiffany in the movie’s first hour or so. She portrayed the smuggler as a sharp-tongued woman who was shrewd enough to keep Bond’s paws off of her, until she needed him for her advantage. And she helped Bond infiltrate Willard Whyte’s desert laboratory. But once Blofeld was revealed to be alive, Tiffany became this idiot bimbo who allowed herself to get caught by Blofeld; and who helped Bond on the oil rig and later against Wint and Kidd with great ineptitude. Her character seemed to have lost its steam by the movie’s last half-hour.

Charles Gray, who had been last seen as a murdered MI-6 agent in ”YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE”, became the third actor to portray SPECTRE leader Ernst Blofeld on screen. I have to give points to the British actor for being the wittiest villain in the franchise’s history. Although he had spent most of his on-screen time in the movie’s second half, more witticism streamed out of Gray’s mouth than any other actor or actress. And as funny as he was, this abundance of witticism had also lessened his impact as a villain, I am sorry to say. This seemed rather odd for an actor like Gray, who has proven to be more intimidating in other roles.

”DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER”’s supporting cast had seemed at best, a mixed blessing. Not many Bond fans have been impressed by Norman Burton’s gruff performance as CIA agent Felix Leiter. Frankly, I found his gruffness rather amusing. Speaking of gruffness, Bernard Lee seemed downright acerbic and hostile during his brief appearance as M. Neither Lois Maxwell and Desmond Llewellyn as Moneypenny and Q, respectively, came off as memorable in this movie.

Marc Lawrence and Sig Haig had portrayed two of the gangsters who popped up during Bond’s first day in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, they came off as movie gangsters from a 30s crime melodrama, instead of modern day thugs. Donna Garratt and Trina Parks portrayed Willard Whyte’s bodyguards, Bambi and Thumper. I must admit that they were memorable, although Ms. Parks had struck me as a bit of a drama queen. Lana Wood (Natalie Wood’s younger sister) portrayed the unfortunate Plenty O’Toole. And honestly? I now feel that Ms. Wood was one of THE WORST actresses to appear in a Bond movie. Okay, make that the second worst. I consider Marguerite Le Wars, the actress who played the photographer in ”DR. NO” to be the worst.

Speaking of bad acting, who on earth had the bright idea to cast Country-Western singer, Jimmy Dean, as Willard Whyte? No wonder he had never pursued a movie career. Dean must have been the biggest ham in the movie, considering his tendency to bellow nearly every word that came out of his mouth. Hollywood star Bruce Cabot (”KING KONG” [1933]) seemed like a waste of time in his role as Blofeld minion, Burt Saxby. What a shame, especially since ”DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER” was his last film. The movie’s bright spot came in the forms of Bruce Glover and Putter Smith as Blofeld’s assassins, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd. Glover and Smith portrayed these two hitmen (and possible lovers?) with wit, style and a delicious touch of menace. It seemed a shame that they were killed off in one of the lamest action sequences of any Bond film.

I am trying to think of a Bond movie directed by Guy Hamilton that has really impressed me. So far, I cannot think of one. ”DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER” is certainly not that movie. Granted, it has its bright points – the witty humor, a sassy Tiffany Case in the film’s first half, a great fight scene between Connery and Robinson; along with Bruce Glover and Putter Smith. I would also like to add that I also enjoyed the film’s musical score by John Barry and the theme song, performed by Shirley Bassey. Granted, the song lacked the excitement and brashness of ”GOLDFINGER” and the lyrical beauty of ”MOONRAKER”, but I still managed to enjoy it. But considering some of the second-rate performances found in this movie, along with poor editing and piss poor writing by Maibaum and Mankiewicz, ”DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER” strikes me as being the complete nadir of the Bond franchise. And that is saying something about a movie that I still enjoy watching . . . much to my continuing surprise.

Memorable Lines

Mr. Wint: The scorpion.
Mr. Kidd: One of nature’s finest killers, Mr. Wint.
Mr. Wint: One is never too old to learn from a master, Mr. Kidd.

Sir Donald Munger: Tell me, Commander, how far does your expertise extend into the field of diamonds?
Bond: Well, hardest substance found in nature, they cut glass, suggest marriages, I suppose it replaced the dog as the girl’s best friend. That’s about it.
M: Refreshing to hear that there is one subject you’re not an expert on!

Mr. Kidd: Well, they’re both aboard, and I must say Miss Case seems quite attractive…
[Mr. Wint glares at him]
Mr. Kidd: …For a lady. [pause] Heh heh heh heh!

Plenty O’Toole: Hi, I’m Plenty.
Bond: But of course you are.
Plenty O’Toole: Plenty O’Toole.
Bond: Named after your father perhaps?

[Plenty O’Toole is thrown out of the window by some goons perhaps from the 10th floor, and lands in the middle of the hotel’s swimming pool]
Bond: [looking down] Exceptionally fine shot.
Slumber Inc. Attendant: I didn’t know there was a pool down there.

[to a rat]
Bond: Well, one of us smells like a tart’s handkerchief.
[sniffs]
Bond: I’m afraid it’s me. Sorry, old boy.

“Listen, you can drop me off at the next corner. This whole thing is getting a little out of hand. No regrets, but when you start stealing moon machines from Willard Whyte, GOOD bye and GOOD Luck!” – Tiffany Case

Blofeld: Tiffany, my dear. We’re showing a bit more *cheek* than usual, aren’t we?
[Tiffany takes the cassette out from her bottom and hands it to Blofeld]
Blofeld: [to the guards] Take her below and lock her up with Mr. Bond.
[the guards take her to a cell]
Blofeld: What a pity, such nice cheeks too. If only they were brains.

Tiffany: Oh, James.
Bond: Oh, yes. What were you about to ask me?
Tiffany: James, how the hell do we get those diamonds down again?

[Bond tastes the Mouton Rothschild wine served]
Bond: The wine is quite excellent. Although for such a grand meal I would have expected a claret.
Mr. Wint: But of course. Unfortunately our cellar is poorly stocked with clarets.
Bond: Mouton Rothschild IS a claret. And, I’ve smelled that aftershave before, and both times – I’ve smelled a rat.

“Making mud pies, 007?” – Blofeld

Bond: What do you intend to do with those diamonds?
Blofeld: An excellent question. And one which will be hanging on the lips of the world quite soon. If I were to break the news to anyone it would be to you first, Mr. Bond, you know that.

Blofeld: You killed my only other double, I’m afraid. After his death, volunteers were understandably… rather scarce.
Blofeld Double: Such a pity. All that time and energy wasted, simply to provide *you* with one mock, heroic moment.

Bond: Saxby!
Willard Whyte: Burt Saxby? Tell him he’s fired!

Bond: Surely, sir, there’s no need to involve our section on a relatively simple smuggling matter.
M: Sir Donald has convinced the PM otherwise. May I remind you 007, that Blofeld is dead. Finished! The least we can expect from you now is a little *plain*, *solid*, *work*.

“Well go on, go on, it’s merely a lift. Or should I say elevator? In any event I’m sure you’ll find it far more convenient than mountaineering about outside the Whyte House.” – Blofeld

Tiffany: “Well, that’s a switch!”
Bond: “What’s that?”
Tiffany: “The wolf being guarded by the three little pigs!”

“I expected at least one head of state… Your pitiful little island hasn’t even been threatened!” – Blofeld

“As you see, Mr Bond, the satellite is, at present, over Kansas. But if we destroy Kansas, the world may not hear about it for years.” – Blofeld

3/10