Why hasn't Eon been able to hire great writers?

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  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,972MI6 Agent
    edited November 2015
    Virgil37 wrote:
    Gassy Man wrote:
    Oh, and in terms of the rat scene, yeah, if you want to use long expository dialogue, the way you do it is in voiceover. That's how Diamonds are Forever did it with regard to the explanation of the diamond smuggling and Colonel Smithers' lecture.

    This is how V for Vendetta did it 30 years later:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJK-_UkjR8U

    Voiceovers are often considered weak storytelling -- show the scene by itself. But what's even weaker is a guy walking out of an elevator giving an expository speech.

    A voiceover? really? that's it? and the rat monologue out? It's not just "a guy walking out of an elevator". It's Javier Bardem and his performance, and telling a story that conceals very well its expository nature with a powerful metaphor. Again, thankfully the speech is in the movie.

    The blocking of the scene could have been different, but I like it as it is. You have the audience struggling to see him, and wondering what is he going to do, then slowly revealing him visually as well as through his words. It builds tension effectively.
    No, I'm saying if we have to suffer through an expository speech, then at least show us something -- like the examples I cited. And, yes, we could see the actual rats, the burying of them, and the emergence of the two victors. You know, actual storytelling. Instead, we get a guy walking and talking out of an elevator -- that's all he does. He doesn't do anything else. At least Goldfinger not only had the good grace to explain the caper to us with some props and gestures -- while Bond is eagerly listening so he can get word to the authorities -- but did it in a room with some visual interest. Nothing remarkable or engaging in the Skyfall scene except to people who for whatever reason are impressed by such things.

    Best case scenario, we don't even have the expository speech to begin with. Better writers don't rely on them. But this is the least creative scene in a movie that has its share of unremarkable scenes.
  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,972MI6 Agent
    Virgil37 wrote:
    Gassy Man wrote:
    I am in terms of it being great writing. It has qualities I like, and it's better than Quantum of Solace. But the accolades of "best Bond movie ever" and so forth -- especially as regards the writing -- are hyperbole, in my opinion. Like I said, everyone is entitled to their personal tastes, and some people are just wowed by currency or popularity (and I'm not saying that about Virgil). But I remain unconvinced that Skyfall is greater than a good Bond film. It doesn't even match Casino Royale or any of the Connery era films, and I'd put On Her Majesty's Secret Service in there, too.

    So in the end, we agree after all. You went from passable script to "not better than a good film", so it's good, which is what I've been saying all along. I would never call SF "the best Bond movie ever". Not by a long shot. But saying it's bad scriptwriting or even passable is not accurate in my opinion. SF is a solid movie, with flaws, but intense as hell. The kind of intensity that can be built only with a solid script. By design, not improvised.
    No, I think the writing is still crap. I said the film is good. Its performances, some imagery, and its sentimentality raise it above the mediocre, illogical script. But not by that much. Had it not had a solid cast, it would have been much less received.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Western Mass, USAPosts: 9,061MI6 Agent
    Virgil37 wrote:
    Not in my opinion, dear Chrisisall. I reserve the "standard crap" category for...others... ;)
    TND had a more internally logical story than SF. A rehash of past elements? Of course. An embrace of 90's firepower? Definitely. But it made more sense than the TWINE elements thrown into a narrative blender with the different outcome. :007)
    Dalton & Connery rule. Brozz was cool.
    #1.TLD/LTK 2.TND 3.GF 4.GE 5.DN 6.FYEO 7.FRWL 8.TMWTGG 9.TWINE 10.YOLT/QOS
  • Virgil37Virgil37 Posts: 1,212MI6 Agent
    Gassy Man wrote:
    Virgil37 wrote:
    Gassy Man wrote:
    I am in terms of it being great writing. It has qualities I like, and it's better than Quantum of Solace. But the accolades of "best Bond movie ever" and so forth -- especially as regards the writing -- are hyperbole, in my opinion. Like I said, everyone is entitled to their personal tastes, and some people are just wowed by currency or popularity (and I'm not saying that about Virgil). But I remain unconvinced that Skyfall is greater than a good Bond film. It doesn't even match Casino Royale or any of the Connery era films, and I'd put On Her Majesty's Secret Service in there, too.

    So in the end, we agree after all. You went from passable script to "not better than a good film", so it's good, which is what I've been saying all along. I would never call SF "the best Bond movie ever". Not by a long shot. But saying it's bad scriptwriting or even passable is not accurate in my opinion. SF is a solid movie, with flaws, but intense as hell. The kind of intensity that can be built only with a solid script. By design, not improvised.
    No, I think the writing is still crap. I said the film is good. Its performances, some imagery, and its sentimentality raise it above the mediocre, illogical script. But not by that much. Had it not had a solid cast, it would have been much less received.

    Sorry, I misunderstood. To me saying a film is good with a bad script is like saying a building is nice but the architect's design is horrible. Impossible. We'll have to agree to disagree then. I certainly don't agree with 99,9% of your posts regarding this issue.
  • Virgil37Virgil37 Posts: 1,212MI6 Agent
    chrisisall wrote:
    Virgil37 wrote:
    Not in my opinion, dear Chrisisall. I reserve the "standard crap" category for...others... ;)
    TND had a more internally logical story than SF. A rehash of past elements? Of course. An embrace of 90's firepower? Definitely. But it made more sense than the TWINE elements thrown into a narrative blender with the different outcome. :007)

    I'm not easily provoked, contrary to what you appear to think. :))
  • chrisisallchrisisall Western Mass, USAPosts: 9,061MI6 Agent
    Virgil37 wrote:
    I'm not easily provoked, contrary to what you appear to think. :))
    That's no fun! :#
    :))
    Dalton & Connery rule. Brozz was cool.
    #1.TLD/LTK 2.TND 3.GF 4.GE 5.DN 6.FYEO 7.FRWL 8.TMWTGG 9.TWINE 10.YOLT/QOS
  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,972MI6 Agent
    Virgil37 wrote:
    Gassy Man wrote:
    Virgil37 wrote:

    So in the end, we agree after all. You went from passable script to "not better than a good film", so it's good, which is what I've been saying all along. I would never call SF "the best Bond movie ever". Not by a long shot. But saying it's bad scriptwriting or even passable is not accurate in my opinion. SF is a solid movie, with flaws, but intense as hell. The kind of intensity that can be built only with a solid script. By design, not improvised.
    No, I think the writing is still crap. I said the film is good. Its performances, some imagery, and its sentimentality raise it above the mediocre, illogical script. But not by that much. Had it not had a solid cast, it would have been much less received.

    Sorry, I misunderstood. To me saying a film is good with a bad script is like saying a building is nice but the architect's design is horrible. Impossible. We'll have to agree to disagree then. I certainly don't agree with 99,9% of your posts regarding this issue.
    I can live with that. -{
  • Absolutely_CartAbsolutely_Cart NJ/NYC, United StatesPosts: 1,740MI6 Agent
    Skyfall's third act was meant to be stylized. It's definitely different than what I was expecting (something very rare in a Bond film). I'd rather have what Skyfall did (warts and all) than another "Raid the villain's evil lair, save the girl and make love in a raft". I agree Skyfall's writing could have been better, but honestly, it's not one of the first films in the series I'd single out for having bad writing.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Western Mass, USAPosts: 9,061MI6 Agent
    Skyfall's third act was meant to be stylized. It's definitely different than what I was expecting (something very rare in a Bond film). I'd rather have what Skyfall did (warts and all) than another "Raid the villain's evil lair, save the girl and make love in a raft". I agree Skyfall's writing could have been better, but honestly, it's not one of the first films in the series I'd single out for having bad writing.
    Thing is, it could all have been achieved with a few writer's brain cells firing more coherently.
    Give me a raft "oh James" before a faux serious bunch of felgercarb.
    Dalton & Connery rule. Brozz was cool.
    #1.TLD/LTK 2.TND 3.GF 4.GE 5.DN 6.FYEO 7.FRWL 8.TMWTGG 9.TWINE 10.YOLT/QOS
  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,972MI6 Agent
    Skyfall's third act was meant to be stylized. It's definitely different than what I was expecting (something very rare in a Bond film). I'd rather have what Skyfall did (warts and all) than another "Raid the villain's evil lair, save the girl and make love in a raft". I agree Skyfall's writing could have been better, but honestly, it's not one of the first films in the series I'd single out for having bad writing.
    The thing for me is I don't object to the smaller scale -- though it's funny to me that people find the Venice house scene in Casino Royale "anti-climactic" but not this -- but the way in which it is handled. We can get personal and Bond to that place, but the ham-fisted writing makes Bond look like a goof. Not inexperienced, mistaken, or imperfect, but a goof. It only works if you either don't think about it and just accept the premise on emotional value or rationalize the behavior. But by that point in the film, none of that should be needed -- everything else should have driven us to this logical and cathartic conclusion. I really do think the problem is the writing team of Wade and Purvis, as I generally found all of their Bonds except Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace to have this problem, but its worst in Skyfall.
  • Absolutely_CartAbsolutely_Cart NJ/NYC, United StatesPosts: 1,740MI6 Agent
    The Craig era is a very conflicted period from a writing perspective. Compared to a number of the older Bonds, they're less reliant on formula and more committed in trying to tell a real story. But compared to the hundreds of well-written original movies out there, they're standard action movies.

    Coming out of groundbreaking Casino Royale in 2006, the Craig era had so much potential and could've gone in a wide array of different directions. QoS and Skyfall had good ideas for their stories, but the execution was a little sloppy. And Spectre, from what I'm hearing, is the most formulaic Craig film.

    Craig era: Good for Bond standards. Kinda underwhelming by IMDB250 standards.
  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,972MI6 Agent
    {[]
  • LoeffelholzLoeffelholz The United States, With LovePosts: 8,993Quartermasters
    Gassy Man wrote:
    I really do think the problem is the writing team of Wade and Purvis

    We won't agree on some writing things (I enjoyed Silva's monologue as a character intro more than you did), but you can always rely on me to help you sharpen the long knives for P&W :v {[]
    Check out my Amazon author page! Mark Loeffelholz
    "I am not an entrant in the Shakespeare Stakes." - Ian Fleming
    "Screw 'em." - Daniel Craig, The Best James Bond EverTM
  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,972MI6 Agent
    Gassy Man wrote:
    I really do think the problem is the writing team of Wade and Purvis

    We won't agree on some writing things (I enjoyed Silva's monologue as a character intro more than you did), but you can always rely on me to help you sharpen the long knives for P&W :v {[]
    That I appreciate :) . I will say, too, that "crap" is too strong a word, and I withdraw that. I went back and listened to some of the dialogue, especially in the casino and shaving scenes, and it's better than I recall. So, I'll say that that aspect isn't as bad. I think the reason Skyfall causes me so much consternation is the weakness of the plot and internal logic, yet the film keeps being touted as so great. In that respect, I find it underwhelming, but it does have some redeeming dialogue elements.
  • Virgil37Virgil37 Posts: 1,212MI6 Agent
    Gassy Man wrote:
    Gassy Man wrote:
    I really do think the problem is the writing team of Wade and Purvis

    We won't agree on some writing things (I enjoyed Silva's monologue as a character intro more than you did), but you can always rely on me to help you sharpen the long knives for P&W :v {[]
    That I appreciate :) . I will say, too, that "crap" is too strong a word, and I withdraw that. I went back and listened to some of the dialogue, especially in the casino and shaving scenes, and it's better than I recall. So, I'll say that that aspect isn't as bad. I think the reason Skyfall causes me so much consternation is the weakness of the plot and internal logic, yet the film keeps being touted as so great. In that respect, I find it underwhelming, but it does have some redeeming dialogue elements.

    Now we disagree 100%. The dialogue could be better :) . But I can live with that too -{ .
  • Virgil37Virgil37 Posts: 1,212MI6 Agent
    Skyfall's third act was meant to be stylized. It's definitely different than what I was expecting (something very rare in a Bond film). I'd rather have what Skyfall did (warts and all) than another "Raid the villain's evil lair, save the girl and make love in a raft". I agree Skyfall's writing could have been better, but honestly, it's not one of the first films in the series I'd single out for having bad writing.

    SF's third act is rare indeed , and I too rather have that than "raid villain's lair" kind of thing.
  • CmdrAtticusCmdrAtticus United StatesPosts: 1,102MI6 Agent
    Just want to throw in a couple of points having studied filmmaking and having been directly involved in filmmaking.

    Filmmaking as an art form is supposed to be, above all, a visual art form.
    Ideally, a filmmaker should be able to tell a story with only visuals - no words at all. The way a scene is lit and the way the pacing and cutting is achieved in the editing. How things are emphasized through closeups or the angle of the camera. How an actor's expression can reveal an entire thought or feeling. How images are used to foreshadow future events. This can all be achieved with a camera and without music or dialogue.

    When I think of well written scripts and filmmaking, I always think of the early days of television and shows like The Twilight Zone. You could watch an entire story that today they would be blow up into a three hour movie filled with fx and it was all displayed in under a half hour. Simply amazing. Not to mention the fact that they still hold up after repeated viewings all these years later.

    The reason I bring this up is to demonstrate that as important as dialogue is to a film (and it was in those days), it didn't dominate the story. It was an equal partner with the visuals. Good filmmakers don't need talking heads to communicate the meaning of a scene, but will usually try to make sure that the dialogue and visuals balance each other to the extent that the audience's attention to it will be focused not on one or the other but on what is being communicated as a whole.

    I watched an entire episode of a Twilight Zone that I had not seen in decades and pretty much had forgotten what it was about. I was getting bad audio reception at the time so just turned off the sound and watched just to see if I could figure out what the story was. I may have missed some well written dialogue during that experience, but from the way it was staged and filmed I understood what the story was about. Try watching just a few scenes from a good film where you don't have the dialogue memorized sometime. See if you can figure out what the scene is about. If it's really well done, you should be able to do this.

    In regards the entrance and exposition scene of Silva in SF, I personally found it to be well crafted. Should they have done a voice over showing the visuals of the rat story as they did in the beginning of DAF? Yes, it could have been filmed that way, but for me, it would have taken away from the visual impact of our first view of Silva and what he was all about - an unusual looking man surrounded by the technology that was the tools of his power. Staging the set with the modern tech of the servers within the ruins of an empty building reinforced the visual contrast to me of modern mobile technology vs the decay of something permanent and fixed to a place and time. It emphasized to me the weapon Silva used to such a lethal effect. Instead of a villain walking among a stockpile of bombs or automatic weapons, we have one walking among his digital ones.
    It was another way to show how Silva's manipulation of communications could be just as deadly and even more so, than any terrorists use IEDs.

    This scene reminded me of the expository scene from The Maltese Falcon. Sydney Greenstreet's villain spends a bit of screen time explaining the history of the falcon to Humphrey Bogart. Director Huston doesn't use any cut away visuals to show this history - the entire subject is given in the dialogue. What makes me watch it over and again is the performances of the two actors and the way Huston shot it. I get this same feeling when I watch Silva's entrance then interaction with Bond throughout the scene and why I can repeatedly view it. There are many villain introductory scenes similar to this that come to my mind such as Lugosi's entrance in Dracula - appearing and descending the staircase in the castle - no, not much dialogue, but the visual is there. If I had to change anything about Silva's entrance, I would have shown some rats scurrying about in an area nearby and when Silva reaches Bond's chair, he would be shown to be carrying some morsels of some food that he tosses to them and that they begin fighting over (and in a more morbid film, it would be something like a human digit, but that would be over the top here).

    Visually, it seems that they set up the scene from Bond's perspective so that we don't really get a sharp view of who Silva is (as he was up to that point in the film still a phantom behind the scenes) and as he gets closer to Bond (and the audience) his presence visually becomes more clear and in focus until he reaches Bond's chair. I can understand from a director's pov this is set up visually and through dialogue to reveal the character's identity and personality as well as the comparison between himself and Bond.
  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,972MI6 Agent
    People can agree to disagree, of course -- but taking your own reasoning here that you gave about The Twilight Zone, if you turned down the volume on the Silva scene, would you still have understood the rat story? Now, what if they had actually shown what was going on with the rats while Silva was telling the story? Would you have gotten it without even having to hear him say it?
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,486Chief of Staff
    Wonderful post, CA, thank you for that.

    Since you mention The Maltese Falcon (and this ties in with Silva's entrance), can I mention one way in which Huston's filming of Bogart seems to me to have informed Young's filming of Connery? There are several shots in the earlier film of Bogart as Sam Spade simply walking across a room- just the way he walks is character building, telling the audience of what kind of man he is. Similarly, there are several scenes in TB where Young films Connery doing the same. I haven't noticed any quotes where Young says he was influenced by Huston but I wouldn't be surprised if they exist.
  • Matt SMatt S Oh Cult Voodoo ShopPosts: 6,597MI6 Agent
    Skyfall does a great job at visuals, especially considering it didn't have the budget to film overseas as much as Bond usually is filmed. Good dialogue has never been a strong part of Bond films, though I think it has gotten worse in recent years. Some of the best films for dialogue are films written by playwrights, since dialogue is what plays are ruled by. You can read a play and get a complete understanding of it. You can't get the same understanding from reading a film script.
    Visit my blog, Bond Suits
  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,972MI6 Agent
    Barbel wrote:
    Wonderful post, CA, thank you for that.

    Since you mention The Maltese Falcon (and this ties in with Silva's entrance), can I mention one way in which Huston's filming of Bogart seems to me to have informed Young's filming of Connery? There are several shots in the earlier film of Bogart as Sam Spade simply walking across a room- just the way he walks is character building, telling the audience of what kind of man he is. Similarly, there are several scenes in TB where Young films Connery doing the same. I haven't noticed any quotes where Young says he was influenced by Huston but I wouldn't be surprised if they exist.
    But there's at least three things to remember about the Gutman scenes from The Maltese Falcon. First of all, they're in the book. The film is a direct adaptation, and a reasonably close one. The second is the falcon itself is a McGuffin -- it may not even exist at all, and the story makes no effort at all to show it. That's why it's "the stuff that dremas are made of." The point is these people are all willing to kill each other over what may only be an illusion, the irony that Spade, a somewhat shady private eye, actually is the most moral of all of them. The third is that the gist of it is they are playing against each other, not unlike the poker game in Casino Royale. Spade in that scene is both trying to draw meaning out of Gutman -- to con him into revealing the plot and taking on a partner -- and to fool him into thinking Spade has a temper and is reckless. They converse, spar, and size each other up. They discuss the girl. The camera angles change, and Gutman does not only give a speech. Greenstreet's corpulence also makes the scene make sense that he is so sedentary, surrounding himself with luxuries. It's one of the reasons he was a model for Jabba, the Hut. There's a lot more going on than him just walking out of an elevator and making a speech. The dialogue is interactive, snappier, verbal jousting.

    Unfortuately, all of the scenes aren't online, but here are two that show there's a lot more going on than just exposition:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aogWdNKef2o

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4RGh5iAykY
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,486Chief of Staff
    All true, GM, and of course I agree with what you say- but I do think that Huston's frequent shots of Bogart walking across (say) a hotel lobby bear direct comparison with Young's frequent shots of Connery walking across (say) a hotel bedroom.
    The stories don't compare at all as you say. It's this specific point that I noticed. I'm not comparing the writing of the two films, so this is a bit off-topic, but the way in which the directors film their leading man. And if anyone thinks I'm saying that Sean Connery compares to Humphrey Bogart as a screen idol or icon- you're right!
  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,972MI6 Agent
    Barbel wrote:
    All true, GM, and of course I agree with what you say- but I do think that Huston's frequent shots of Bogart walking across (say) a hotel lobby bear direct comparison with Young's frequent shots of Connery walking across (say) a hotel bedroom.
    The stories don't compare at all as you say. It's this specific point that I noticed.
    Oh, I agree. I think I was piggy-backing on your response to the former post, if that makes sense.

    In my opinion, it's Huston's best film in terms of directing, and I never tire of it. The novel is excellent, too.

    What's interesting, as well, is that through the Connery era, people were still thinking of stage productions, where actors create characters in exactly the way you describe. That's in part one reason why they don't over-rely on closeups, as films after certainly do (in part so they can be shown more easily on TV). A stage actor can't just rely primarily on his or her face to convey a scene.

    And, Connery's physical presence is so strong that Craig imitates the walk in several scenes of Casino Royale and in the scene when he comes to Slate's hotel room. You'll notice he loses this affectation, though, by Skyfall.
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,486Chief of Staff
    Yes, that's true, and probably Mendes was involved since it continues in SP. Anyway, back to those who know about the ever-underrated art of screenwriting!
  • LoeffelholzLoeffelholz The United States, With LovePosts: 8,993Quartermasters
    Hammett's Maltese Falcon is the best, purest 'Third Person Remote' POV I've ever read. You never have any idea what's going on in Spade's head.
    Check out my Amazon author page! Mark Loeffelholz
    "I am not an entrant in the Shakespeare Stakes." - Ian Fleming
    "Screw 'em." - Daniel Craig, The Best James Bond EverTM
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,486Chief of Staff
    Volumes could be written (and probably have) on Hammett and his style, which was directly comparable to Hemingway's. I prefer Chandler, though- being a romantic.
  • LoeffelholzLoeffelholz The United States, With LovePosts: 8,993Quartermasters
    Barbel wrote:
    Volumes could be written (and probably have) on Hammett and his style, which was directly comparable to Hemingway's. I prefer Chandler, though- being a romantic.

    Chandler is practically a magician. Best 'first-person' ever...which is one of the reasons I write Jade in a Fleming-style 'Third Person,' where we get inside the protagonist's head. I'm a bit intimidated by Chandler, honestly.
    Check out my Amazon author page! Mark Loeffelholz
    "I am not an entrant in the Shakespeare Stakes." - Ian Fleming
    "Screw 'em." - Daniel Craig, The Best James Bond EverTM
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,486Chief of Staff
    Understandable- but (and we're off-topic again) you don't have to be: I loved "Blood & Ashes" and completely understood where you were coming from. Oscar ain't Philip but that wasn't the plan, or I'm much mistaken- he can't escape that shadow but he's his own man. Now, when are we gonna hear more from him? :D

    Sidestep: Len Deighton's unnamed main character owes a hell of a lot to Marlowe though in a very different setting- I'd argue halfway between Chandler and Fleming. He's another character where we get inside his head.
  • LoeffelholzLoeffelholz The United States, With LovePosts: 8,993Quartermasters
    Well, thank you sir...I wasn't fishing for a compliment there...Jade deliberately has more violence...for the kiddies B-)

    Back on topic: are P&W ever going to be sacked, or will they die in their job like popes generally do? :#
    Check out my Amazon author page! Mark Loeffelholz
    "I am not an entrant in the Shakespeare Stakes." - Ian Fleming
    "Screw 'em." - Daniel Craig, The Best James Bond EverTM
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,486Chief of Staff
    Well, P&W are delivering the goods as far as MGW & BB are concerned so I'd say there'll be no sacking. Perhaps a mutual parting of the ways somewhere down the line?
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