Film critics can’t agree: Was Roger Moore the best Bond?
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You never forget your first time. For me, it was with Sean Connery, the Scottish actor.
Yup. He was my first. My first Bond, James Bond, at an Upper East Side Manhattan theater showing "Goldfinger." He's always been my true Bond love.
The New York Times critic A.O. Scott was walking in Brooklyn when he heard the news of actor Roger Moore, a later Bond, dying at 89. He heard it via a nearby derisive comment about Moore ("the worst Bond") by a millennial father with his kid.
Scott was moved to quickly make the case online (not Brooklyn street to millennial dad) as to why Moore was the best.
He calls him a gen-X Bond, as opposed by my Baby Boomer Connery Bond, and wrote that the character "is a cartoon superhero in evening wear, a man whose mission is to embody — and, therefore, to transcend — a secondhand, second-rate age, to be cool and clever in a world determined to be as lame and dumb as possible. Nobody did that better than Roger Moore."
He was too droll by half for me, though he won huge points with me when I was a features editor at the Chicago Tribune. He agreed to my demand of his publicist that he eschew the usual boring locale (a Ritz-Carlton hotel room) for a typical celebrity interview. Instead, I said he'd lunch at a small joint in an Italian neighborhood with Lynn Van Matre, a wonderful and iconoclastic by then former rock music critic who's since passed.
"Normally I don't drink at lunch," he told her. "But by now it's dark in Switzerland." And so he drank.
There were many homages to Moore yesterday from critics, including Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian, who wrote, "The Connery Bond was feared and admired, and the same went for the Brosnan Bond or the Craig Bond. But the Roger Moore Bond was loved."
But, I inevitably concur with fellow boomer Nell Minow, a corporate governance expert who doubles as the finest movie counselor for parents via her crystal clear "The Movie Mom" reviews.
She emailed from Washington, "For me, it will always and forever be Sean Connery. I’ve found in talking to friends that it most often is a function of which Bond was in theaters when they were 12, so Connery qualifies for me on that basis alone, but as a Bond fan from the beginning, I still think he has the best combination of nerve, instinct, sophistication, and the ability to enjoy every aspect of the job."
And Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post chimed in (appropriately) from the Cannes Film Festival, saying, "My favorite Bond is the Sean Connery Bond, if only because my favorite Bond is the Ken Adam Bond."
"Adam, of course, was the production designer behind those wildly imaginative, futuristic sets we associate with the franchise at its most visionary and kitschy; Connery fit right into that aesthetic's suave contours and winking absurdism."
"Just as at home in that universe as Bond's Aston Martin and exploding attaché case, Connery was perceptive enough as an actor to understand that a big part of his job was to be a compelling and convincing screen object."
My first was the best.
A Fox skinback
Fox now can claim the very definition of fake news as it derides the awful "mainstream media" for producing same. That's because it concedes — in spineless, austere, nearly indecipherable fashion — that a conspiracy-laden story about the death of a Democratic National Committee staffer is B.S.
But you'd never know it from the spartan sort-of-correction it ran. (Poynter) Or that Trump spokesman Sean Hannity suggested it could prove "one of the biggest scandals in American history."
The thrust of the right-wing, conspiracy-filled, internet-driven craziness promoted by Hannity, and in recent days given credibility by Newt Gingrich, was that the Clinton camp had the guy murdered due to his contacts with WikiLeaks.
Last night, Hannity became a tower of Jello as he ducked the matter "out of respect" for the Rich family. Meanwhile, some of the many self-respecting, top-notch journalists at Fox might bitch internally about the gutless, opaque correction — assuming not all their bosses aren't busy huddling with defense lawyers about sexual harassment complaints.
How Google can learn more information about you
Axios' Sara Fischer explains how Google "can now link mobile ads to in-store sales, 'the holy grail' for a lot of online marketers" and "is overhauling its marketing analytics platform, with a machine-learning based set of tools that will to measure user engagement with ads across search, display, video etc."
A bottom line: "What's being collected isn't changing (what you buy, what you click, what you read), but the applications are getting smarter at linking all those actions together — especially on mobile." (Axios)
The pace of Trump news
New York Times columnists Gail Collins and climate change skeptic Bret Stephens engaged in a fun back-and-forth online in which the latter broached "Acceleration. The pace of news, of scandal, of Trump. It’s like a hot dog-eating contest. We’re shoveling in the Trump news with little time to chew it over and even less time to digest it."
A healthy media path in Boston
Can you be a news service on the health universe and both lure general interest readers and charge pretty sold subscription fees because of your sophisticated fare?
That's what Stat may be on the path to ultimately pulling off, heading toward 10,000 subs at $299 apiece. (Digiday)
Here's a tale of a little-known hero via The Daily Beast (with funding help from the Pulitzer Center): Emily Feldman's "This Man Helped Save a Thousand Escaped ISIS Slaves in Iraq."
It's a profile of the understated Mirza Dinnayia, a Yazidi activist and humanitarian who "quietly helped track down, vet, and transport more than 1,000 survivors of ISIS captivity — mostly women, who had been kept as sex slaves, and their children — to Germany."
"The unprecedented rescue and asylum program was born of an unprecedented crisis: the genocide of the Yazidis at the hands of ISIS."
The Trump bottom line in Israel
As Trump left town, David Brinn, managing editor of the Jerusalem Post, concludes that precious little of substance was transacted even if "Trump said all the right things to leave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ministers cheering like they were pubescent teens at a Justin Bieber show."
"After Trump's helicopter flew off to the airport to whisk him to the Vatican for the next stop on his great religions tour, Netanyahu and Abbas were likely back at their offices unloosening their ties, and going back to what they've been doing for years — not talking to each other. Until the next U.S. election, they're off the hook."
Bitcoins and its ilk
Ben Thompson, who operates the respected Taiwan-based tech site Stratechery, opines on digital currencies by noting, "Marc Andreessen is fond of observing, most recently on this excellent podcast with Barry Ritholtz, that all of the dot-com failures turned out to be viable businesses: They were just 15 years too early (the most recent example: Chewy.com, the spiritual heir of famed dot-com bust Pets.com, acquired earlier this year for $3.35 billion)."
"As the aphorism goes, being early (or late) is no different than being wrong, and that’s true in a financial sense. I would not be surprised if the ongoing run-up in cryptocurrency prices proves to be, well, a bubble. However, bubbles of irrationality and bubbles of timing are fundamentally different: One is based on something real (the latter), and one is not. That is to say, one is a myth, and one is merely a fable — and myths can lift an entire species." (Stratechery)
Need a Trump news snooze?
"If you’ve started feeling panicky every day between 5 and 6 p.m. because the volume of Trump news and notifications are just too much, there is a solution for you in the Quartz iPhone app: The app was updated Tuesday to let users turn on a '24-hour political timeout' that will not show them any news or notifications about DJT for one full relaxing day." (Nieman Lab)
"Relationship between ESPN co-hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic has deteriorated, according to insiders." (New York Daily News)
Plans for Wired
Nick Thompson, the new editor in chief of Wired via The New Yorker, says when it comes to his digital plans, "The first step is to try to figure out what our paid content model will be. We went to a paid content model for The New Yorker and that was hugely successful." (Adweek)
"One of the reasons The New Yorker got so big was because we started making so much money on our website from our subscription model that we were able to hire more writers who write more good essays, and that makes you more money so you hire more writers and you sort of create this virtual cycle."
Local newspaper executives, are you listening? Make money by getting people to pay for quality content, and hire quality people. It's not that complicated.
An HBO postscript
HBO premiered its Bernie Madoff movie starring Robert De Niro on Saturday, which seems a coincidental but fitting prelude to this Bloomberg scoop:
"A firm hired by the U.S. to distribute $4 billion to victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme has racked up $38.8 million in billings over four years. The investors are still waiting for their first checks, though."
From White House pool reporter Carol Lee of The Wall Street Journal this morning: "Per Vatican pool material sent earlier: The pope and Melania were actually talking about potizza, which apparently is a Slovenian treat. Not pizza."
The morning babble
"Fox & Friends" did a quickie on Trump's de facto fly-by at the Vatican, CNN dug into the Manchester tragedy and Trump's 2018 budget (how it double-counts savings and screws the poor?) and MSNBC raised doubts about the tenor and substance GOP questioning of John Brennan at a House hearing yesterday.
And Jim VandeHei of Axios was a good counterpoint on "Morning Joe" to the assembled's assumption that Republicans up for re-election next year are in Trump-inspired peril. Even crunching Trump's own low approval ratings, he made the case via polling numbers as to why such generalization are a bit premature and facile right now. And he's right.