Tag Archives: Daniel Craig

The Shooting Party

IMG_0273I was on a stag do at the weekend for Sarah’s cousin’s husband to be, Ash. Being in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside clay pigeon shooting was the activity of choice.

It would be my first time at such an event and I rather fancied that it might unfold rather like this classic scene from Moonraker with Roger Moore. Of course it didn’t and I didn’t own such a jacket.

Sure, I’d played the likes of Time Crisis and Operation Wolf (showing my age) in the arcades but never shot a proper gun. A few years back I did a red letter day activity at a ‘Spy Academy’ which involved shooting at targets with an air-rifle and survived (just) paintballing at my very own stag do. This though was a whole different league, for starters I wasn’t in a dress!

charles-martin-smith-as-agent-oscar-wallace[1] Daniel Craig had proved something of a nifty shot with a shotgun in Skyfall although I felt more one part the character played by Charles Martin Smith (minus the Armani suit) in The Untouchables – naturally I’ll be now forever weary in lifts – as I was reminded several times that I was more used to holding a pencil than looking down the barrel of a gun.

Get-Carter[1]The other part was that of Jack Carter, with the upturned collars on my overcoat, tousled hair (it gets a bit of a kink in it when its longer echoing that of Mr Caine’s, sort of) and of course the double barreled shotgun a la Get Carter. Not that I tried brandishing it naked in the street or dangled an ‘Alf Roberts’ look-a-like from a multi-storey car park or anything.

IMG_0304Sarah’s dad, Jeff, looked one part pissed off Papa Smurf with a shotgun meets Anthony Quinn in The Guns of Navarone.

Turns out I didn’t fare too badly for a first timer as I scored an impressive 20 out of 30 ‘kills’, 22 took the crown, from someone else who had never picked up a gun. Jay is a fireman so he probably got a little excited when people were shouting ‘fire’. It took a while to get my eye in and get comfortable in holding the shotgun but once you got tracking the clay down it was a fun experience. I even quipped “get off my land” after one successful double ‘kill’.

There is certainly no doubting the power of such a weapon and safety was of course of paramount concerns throughout. The other thing that took a bit of getting used to was the small kick back that it gave after firing, wedged into your shoulder it took the brunt of it and left me with a small bruise and sore arm. I’m sure it’s only because you are new to it.

IMG_0294The other thing was that when you popped open the barrel on the gun we were using the spent, still smoking cartridges just jumped out, often hitting me in the face in the process in the beginning. It all added to the experience and smoke and smell coming out of the chamber was terrific. It was just like after using one of those cap guns with the pinkish paper caps that went off when your toy gun hammer hit them.

Being new to it all it kind of reminded me of playing snooker or golf, having to judge what you are doing before you do it and, quite literally, where you are taking your next shot. For me I also found it similar in not being as successful if you were trying too hard, so I just tried to relax, look down the barrel and control my breathing.

It was funny, with the ear plugs in that was practically all you could hear, your own breathing. At times it did seem to unfold Sam Peckinpah style in full slow motion as they clays seemed to hang in the air for an eternity.

We even went for our own Peckinpah style moments with some nifty slo mo of Ash’s dad and the automatic shotgun he was using. His automatic shotgun chucking out spent cartridges had an air of The Wild Bunch about him when filmed with the new slo mo option on my camera.

IMG_0331The Magnificent Seven we might not have been, especially as there were actually eight of us, although if you squint Shaun could sort of pass for Yul Brynner.

We may have started out as The Mild Bunch but as usual with these things you just get into your stride as you come to the end.

IMG_0325We might not have been Untouchable but nobody left with less than a 50% hit rate and I’m sure you might find some of us home on the shooting range again soon. I think it is safe to say that we all earned our spurs on the day.

Jaws – still top of the blockbuster food chain

Jaws is released on Bluray for the first time in the UK on Monday 3rd September, I look back to my first viewing of this newly spruced up print of the classic Spielberg thriller on the big screen back in June. And yes, I’ll be buying it again, adding it to my pan and scan VHS copy, my widescreen VHS copy and both the 25th and 30th anniversary DVDs.

My journey to see Jaws, my all time favourite film, has been 10 years in the making and after all that time, all those viewings, it didn’t disappoint. Put simply it was Jawsome.

It is somewhat fitting that Jaws has been re released as part of the centenary celebrations of Universal Studios in June, smack bang in the middle of the summer blockbuster season, as Jaws is the grandaddy of them all, the first film to have such a large (at the time) opening, and the first to hit that magic $100 million mark. In more ways than one it is the big fish.

37 years have passed since Jaws first swam onto our screens but it still more than holds its own against today’s output, in fact it is the filmic equivalent of what Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) calls the shark, ‘the perfect eating machine’.

As a piece of cinema Jaws was always the near perfect piece of cinema and now, cleaned up frame by frame and looking like it was practically shot last week, this lean mean thriller machine became the closest to cinematic perfection it has ever got.

Put simply, you can forget your Star Wars, forget your toying with special effects, nipping, tucking or even adding here and there (yes you Mr Cameron, Mr Lucas – sounds like Are You Being Served – and Mr Scott), this is cleaned up but otherwise untouched, and still has the same shark and still has that primal fear in buckets, along with the chum.

Spielberg has clearly learnt from his ‘walky talky’ medling with E.T. and left Jaws exactly as it was, save for giving it a fresh lick of paint and thankfully modification free.

It may sound obvious but never having seen the film on the big screen the first thing that hit me was that it all looked so big, from the (thankfully) old fashioned Universal logo to each and every character introduction, counting the fictional Amity Island in that.

With such a large canvas, that had also expertly been cleaned up, we are able to feel even closer to that (really rather sunny and bright for the most part) world and see and notice so many small things in the background that I hadn’t done before. It was practically like seeing the film for the very first time.

Jaws still packs a punch (or should that be bite radius) of a juggernaut. The opening Chrissie attack sequence has never looked so uncomfortably clear, her nakedness making you almost feel voyeur like – making it even closer akin to the shower scene it Psycho in that respect – right up until that moment of impact when the John Williams score and sound effects really kick into high gear. If anything its heightened more than ever with the Alex Kitner lilo attack, which in many ways seemed even more powerful. They both form part of my article, Death Becomes Them, charting the ‘best’ death scenes in the Jaws series.

It’s not the 25 foot shark, all three tonnes of it, that dominates the film though, each and every piece of the film he is in is dominated by Robert Shaw as Quint. Scheider and Dreyfuss are no slouches for sure and the way the threesome ping off each other is a joy to behold (the script coupled with the beauty of the extra rehearsal time due to operating problems with the shark et al – read Man vs Beast for my take on the making of) but Quint has never been so dominant, so alive. He chews scenery like the shark chews his boat, the Orca, at the end of the film and his eyes, his eyes are just so piercing a blue that they make Daniel Craig’s look practically dull in comparison. It confirmed to me that more classic Shaw films should be viewed on the big screen but also left a genuine feeling of loss, for the man, Shaw died only three years after the release of Jaws, and for cinema generally as he carved such an impression up their on the big screen, seen as he should be and not on a box – no matter what its size – in the corner of the room.

Jaws never puts a foot wrong, it still has fantastic pace, still thrills and scares a little in all the right places and also makes people laugh in all the places that it is meant to do. Rubber shark or no rubber shark it, like Alien after it, which after all was pitched as Jaws in Space, still taps into that primeval fear and when each and every person bringing that to life is working at the top of their game you can’t go wrong, critically,commercially or for longevity.

The decade wait was well worth it, and I’m pleased that Bruce, as the shark was nicknamed by Spielberg, came back for his noon feeding to mark the hundredth anniversary of Jaws,it mattered not that most of us in that small screening room had seen it hundreds of times, knew exactly what shot or line of dialogue came next we were all in awe of the remastered Jaws and to paraphrase Chief Brody at the end of the film as he blows the great white shark out of the water as it races toward him, we were all smiling like sons of bitches. 

 

Stars in Their Iz: Quantum of Solace

Okay, so she is minus the high powered automatic weopon and the Saville Row suit but Isabelle still manged to echo the poster for the last Bond flick, Quantum of Solace as she had a whale of a time on Southend beach last Friday.

Admittedly I don’t recall Daniel Craig moments later picking up a hand full of stones and then relish throwing them up in the air or then to try to proceed to eat them.