Sunday, November 19, 2006

Story Substance More Than Fluff

As a young teen, I spent a lot of time curled up with different Ian Fleming books. I was caught in the imaginative twists and turns of James Bond 007. I’ll admit to reading each one of them long before I saw any of the movies. This young reader was impressed with Fleming’s storytelling skills. I also read his Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang book before I ever saw the film.

I read all of the hype about the “new” James Bond, Daniel Craig and the release of the movie, Casino Royale. Bound for a movie yesterday afternoon, the new Bond film looked like about the best choice. My wife sounded a bit skeptical since her preference would usually be a comedy or romantic comedy. The length of the film was also a concern (almost 2 1/2 hours). She looked over the other possibilities and agreed with the choice. We joined moviegoers around the country and saw Casino Royale.

The length of the film wasn’t a concern because from my view there were no slow spots and the time passedCasino Royal in a blink of an eye. The difference was the intricate story and various twists and turns in the plot. Most of these types of movies are filled with special effects and fluff. Now there were plenty of special effects but not as much gadgetry and fluff in Casino Royale from my view. As the photo shows, there is a bit of card playing in this movie. I’ve been playing cards since I was old enough to hold them and especially during the summers at my grandmother’s house (who was a lifelong Baptist).

One of the indicators that I use about the depth and interest for a film is my discussion after the movie with my wife. The twists in this movie are at times subtle. Instead of walking out and saying, “We’ll not be back to that one.” We had the opposite reaction and a stimulating discussion about the various twists and turns of the plot. It showcases the excellent writing in Casino Royale which is always foundational to a good movie.

As you write fiction, can you build enough tension into the plot with subplots and twists and turns to keep the reader engaged? It’s one of the keys to excellent thrillers. It was certainly built into the fiber of Casino Royale. I’m looking for an excuse to see it a second time. It was that good.

6 Comment:

At 8:59 PM, Blogger R.G. Left a note...

I always love your movie reviews, Terry (especially when we get your wife's perspective, too). Keep 'em coming.

At 12:42 AM, Blogger Dineen A. Miller Left a note...

I'd wondered about the subplots on this one. I haven't seen it yet, but fully intend to. Glad to hear it "held its weight." Finally, a decent Bond flick. They'd become so far fetched.

Speaking of substance. Have you noticed the changes in television? Some of it's a bit too secular for me, but I have to give these writers credit for pushing the limits of creativity. It's nice to see the legal and medical drama molds broken for more variety and ingenuity.

At 6:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous Left a note...

Terry, my husband and I saw Casino Royale this weekend too and loved it. Our story was almost identical to yours - I went in dragging my heels, and came out wanting to go see the movie again and buy it on DVD when it comes out. Ken and I talked about the plot and characterization and hooks and surprises the rest of the day. Daniel Craig is the best Bond ever! And as always, Judi Dench was wonderful as M.

At 7:13 AM, Blogger Richard Mabry Left a note...

Let me know how you and your wife like "Happy Feet" if you see it in the near future.
Fluff is more my style for relaxation. I used to say that if I wanted drama and pathos, I'd just go to the office for a while. You know...the romance of medicine.
Thanks for the movie reviews. I really do enjoy them, and your choices haven't steered me wrong yet.

At 7:21 AM, Blogger Karen Left a note...

Sorry, Deborah, Sean Connery was the best Bond ever. But you are probably too young to have appreciated him when he played Bond. I must admit, I tried hard not to like Craig but he grew on me. A good part of that though was the way the movie finally got around to making me care about his character. Part of that was the basic Fleming storytelling that they followed. I was concerned that it would be more a "Mission Impossible" Bond film but I came out wanting to know the rest of the story. To coin another cliche--I'll be back.

At 4:54 PM, Blogger Chris Well Left a note...

I still have some trouble with them hitting the restart button and still having Judi Dench as M. (How can they have a "Bond Begins" story with the M from the FUTURE?) Of course, armed with your review (and several of the comments), maybe I can convince my wife to go see the film -- then when I see it for myself, I can pretend there is a secret "time travel" subplot that makes it all work.


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