Quantum of Solace — the makers speak.

Several online writers went to London recently to take part in a roundtable interview with some of the key people involved in Quantum of Solace. Three bits from their collective reportage leapt out at me.

First, Ain’t It Cool News quotes producer Barbara Broccoli to the effect that the storyline begun in Casino Royale (2006) will come to an end with this new film:

This is a continuation, but I think the story kind of completes here. I think you know we had a lot of unanswered questions at the end of CASINO ROYALE, and this story just kind of completes that cycle and will go on to other different stories from now on. . . .

And remember, CASINO ROYALE ends with “The bitch is dead.” And you know that his heart’s broken, and we don’t really believe him when he says that. So this is sort of his journey to understanding what happened and putting it to rest.

So it sounds like the first two Daniel Craig films will be pretty closely linked, but any further films will revert to the more episodic formula that characterized the franchise prior to the reboot.

Second, CHUD.com quotes director Marc Forster, who is better known for his arthouse fare, on the sort of creative freedom he had while making this presumptive blockbuster:

I really made the movie I wanted to make, so if the movie doesn’t work it’s really my responsibility because they gave me the tools and the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do. They supported me and fought for my vision to the end, and the great thing is why I put myself in this situation because before in all my films I had creative freedom, I had final cut, control; on this film they, on that size of film – over 200 million dollar movie – the great thing is about that they basically are the ones I’m dealing with. Usually on that size of movie I’m dealing with the studio and the bureaucracies of the studio and a room of executives asking me questions and, because it’s about so much money that there’s the anxiety and the pressure is so much higher. Here in this situation I’m just dealing with Barbara and Michael, and basically they’re dealing with the studio, but it’s their sort of the family franchise, and that’s makes it much easier because [if] I have an issue I can’t get done, I said ‘Look I need this, I need this, I need this, can you get it for me?’ And they say ‘Okay, let us look at it, we will try to make it.’

Finally, IGN.com reports that the film will be only 106 minutes long, and thus it “looks to be the shortest but most action-packed Bond movie yet.”

That’s interesting, since Casino Royale was the longest of the Bond movies to date — so they’ve gone from the longest film in the franchise to the shortest film in the franchise, just as they have gone from the oldest director in the franchise to the youngest director in the franchise.

And just for the record, here are the previous Bond films — including the “unofficial” films that were not produced by the Broccoli family! — with their lengths as reported on the backs of their DVD covers:

1962 — Dr. No — 110 minutes
1963 — From Russia with Love — 111 minutes
1964 — Goldfinger — 110 minutes
1965 — Thunderball — 125 minutes
1967 — Casino Royale — 131 minutes
1967 — You Only Live Twice — 117 minutes
1969 — On Her Majesty’s Secret Service — 142 minutes
1971 — Diamonds Are Forever — 120 minutes
1973 — Live and Let Die — 122 minutes
1974 — The Man with the Golden Gun — 125 minutes
1977 — The Spy Who Loved Me — 126 minutes
1979 — Moonraker — 121 minutes
1981 — For Your Eyes Only — 128 minutes
1983 — Octopussy — 131 minutes
1983 — Never Say Never Again — 133 minutes
1985 — A View to a Kill — 131 minutes
1987 — The Living Daylights — 131 minutes
1989 — Licence to Kill — 133 minutes
1995 — GoldenEye — 130 minutes
1997 — Tomorrow Never Dies — 119 minutes
1999 — The World Is Not Enough — 128 minutes
2002 — Die Another Day — 127 minutes
2006 — Casino Royale — 144 minutes

For what it’s worth, I do think it’s interesting that the two films in which Bond has had his most serious relationships to date happen to be the two longest films in the history of the franchise.

I also think it’s curious that, with one exception, the 1960s spoof version of Casino Royale was longer than any of the “real” films until the 1980s. Don’t comedies normally err on the side of brevity?

Yet another movie not screened for critics?

A handful of films are coming out in the next few weeks that are aimed at what you might call the “red state” crowd — conservative, Christian, or both — and, as such, none of them are coming to Canada. So I haven’t got a clue what sort of access to these movies critics will have on the American side of the border. But it does seem that at least one of these films will avoid the press altogether. Lou Lumenick reports that An American Carol — a political satire starring Jon Voight as George Washington, Kelsey Grammer as George Patton and Kevin “younger brother of Chris” Farley as a Michael Moore style documentarian — will not be screened for regular movie critics before it opens October 3. For more info on the film, see Entertainment Weekly and the Hollywood Reporter, watch the trailer below, and make of it all what you will.

Click here if the video file above doesn’t play properly.

The Kendrick brothers — the article’s up!

My article on Alex and Stephen Kendrick — the director and producer of Flywheel (2003), Facing the Giants (2006) and the upcoming Fireproof — is now up at CT Movies.

UPDATE: I just realized my other article on the Kendrick brothers — and the church which produces their films — is up at Today’s Christian. This article has been in print for a few weeks, so it may have been up at the website for a while, now, too.

Physician, heal thyself, so to speak.

Religulous star Bill Maher likes to say that religion is nothing more than fairy tales for gullible grown-ups. But according to Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, the evidence suggests that, the more religious a person is, the less likely he or she is to be superstitious:

The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won’t create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that’s not a conclusion to take on faith — it’s what the empirical data tell us.

“What Americans Really Believe,” a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians. . . .

The answers were added up to create an index of belief in occult and the paranormal. While 31% of people who never worship expressed strong belief in these things, only 8% of people who attend a house of worship more than once a week did.

Even among Christians, there were disparities. While 36% of those belonging to the United Church of Christ, Sen. Barack Obama‘s former denomination, expressed strong beliefs in the paranormal, only 14% of those belonging to the Assemblies of God, Sarah Palin‘s former denomination, did. In fact, the more traditional and evangelical the respondent, the less likely he was to believe in, for instance, the possibility of communicating with people who are dead. . . .

On Oct. 3, Mr. Maher debuts “Religulous,” his documentary that attacks religious belief. He talks to Hasidic scholars, Jews for Jesus, Muslims, polygamists, Satanists, creationists, and even Rael — prophet of the Raelians — before telling viewers: “The plain fact is religion must die for man to live.”

But it turns out that the late-night comic is no icon of rationality himself. In fact, he is a fervent advocate of pseudoscience. The night before his performance on Conan O’Brien, Mr. Maher told David Letterman — a quintuple bypass survivor — to stop taking the pills that his doctor had prescribed for him. He proudly stated that he didn’t accept Western medicine. On his HBO show in 2005, Mr. Maher said: “I don’t believe in vaccination. . . . Another theory that I think is flawed, that we go by the Louis Pasteur [germ] theory.” He has told CNN’s Larry King that he won’t take aspirin because he believes it is lethal and that he doesn’t even believe the Salk vaccine eradicated polio. . . .

There’s more at the link. Make of all that what you will.

Rashomon remade, or rather, re-remade.

Variety says a remake of the late Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon (1950) — set in modern America, rather than medieval Japan — is in the works, timed to coincide with what would have been Kurosawa’s 100th birthday in 2010. Such a film is, of course, unnecessary, but it is not without precedent. The film was previously remade — with Paul Newman, Laurence Harvey, Claire Bloom, Edward G. Robinson and William Shatner — as a Western called The Outrage (1964). Of course, some of Kurosawa’s other samurai flicks were also remade as Westerns around that time, with classic results; consider how The Seven Samurai (1954) became The Magnificent Seven (1960), while Yojimbo (1961) became A Fistful of Dollars (1964). So a new remake need not be a travesty. Variety notes that the forces behind this remake are also working on The Masque of the Black Death, an anime based on a Kurosawa script set in a plague-ridden version of early-20th-century Russia. It, too, is planned for a 2010 release.

Canadian box-office stats — September 21

Here are the figures for the past weekend, arranged from those that owe the highest percentage of their take to the Canadian box office to those that owe the lowest.

Tropic Thunder — CDN $11,420,000 — N.AM $106,805,722 — 10.7%
The House Bunny — CDN $4,760,000 — N.AM $45,587,131 — 10.4%
Burn after Reading — CDN $3,750,000 — N.AM $36,135,221 — 10.4%
The Dark Knight — CDN $49,430,000 — N.AM $521,890,027 — 9.5%
Ghost Town — CDN $470,024 — N.AM $5,012,315 — 9.4%
My Best Friend’s Girl — CDN $765,626 — N.AM $8,265,357 — 9.3%
The Women — CDN $1,730,000 — N.AM $19,321,011 — 9.0%
Righteous Kill — CDN $2,490,000 — N.AM $28,534,233 — 8.7%

Igor — CDN $532,348 — N.AM $7,803,347 — 6.8%
Lakeview Terrace — CDN $951,672 — N.AM $15,004,672 — 6.3%

A couple of discrepancies: Tropic Thunder was #9 on the Canadian chart (it was #11 in North America as a whole), while Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys was #6 on the North American chart (it was nowhere in the Canadian Top 20).