The music of James Bond has topped the charts around the world, as evidenced by this rare Japanese 45 RPM release of John Barry's famous theme song.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Last Friday's tribute to the music of James Bond at Carnegie Hall was a magnificent evening of entertainment. The New York Pops, under the direction of conductor Carl Davis, did justice to the canon of great film themes that have characterized the 007 movies. To the relief of Bond fans, the Pops did nothing to "soup up" the arrangements of the familiar songs, opting instead to perform the traditional arrangements. The two hour-plus event managed to incorporate almost all of the main title themes which were played more or less in sequential order, and it was especially rewarding to hear Burt Bacharach's The Look of Love included, despite the fact that it derived from the mostly-detested 1967 slapstick version of Casino Royale. Carl Davis proved to be an amiable and entertaining emcee, as well as conductor, providing fun anecdotes in between every song. He did make one minor mistake however, by claiming that the first Bond song to hit the charts in America was A View to a Kill. Of course, almost all of the previous songs had charted to some degree and several were smash hits, with three earning Oscar nominations. Davis was aided and abetted by two superb talents who alternated singing the title themes: Mary Carewe and Simon Bowman. Both brought passion and excitement to their renderings of the songs, and I confess that even the weaker ones (i.e The Man With the Golden Gun) seemed to resonate better than they do in the actual films. Happily, Davis provided some much-appreciated "bonus" tracks including John Barry's Dawn Raid on Ft. Knox from Goldfinger and Marvin Hamlisch's Journey to Atlantis from The Spy Who Loved Me. The Pops' performance of the latter made me appreciate this particular theme more than I had in the past. Most intriguingly, Davis opted to perform an extended musical sequence from perhaps the least-popular score of the series, GoldenEye. Curiously, Eric Serra was the only composer not acknowledged by Davis in his introductions. (Could it be because it's been said that the music from this sequence- the tank chase- was actually inserted into the film by uncredited composers?)There were some omissions that were disappointing: Davis included We Have All the Time in the World from On Her Majesty's Secret Service but unfortunately did not include John Barry's brilliant main title theme for that film, which is arguably the best of the series.While Bond fans were probably grateful the Pops skipped Die Another Day, one wishes they had included Barry's beautiful theme song for Octopussy (All Time High). Similarly, the decision to close the show with the dreadful Quantum Of Solace theme proved that all the Pops' women and all the Pops' men couldn't make this sound like anything but the wail of a banshee. (The "composer" Jack White bragged that he came up with the song in twenty minutes, which makes one wonder what took him so long.) Among the encore tracks was a most-welcome performance of k.d lang's Surrender, the closing song from Tomorrow Never Dies. Davis correctly pointed out that this was to be the film's opening song until it was bumped by Sheryl Crowe's composition (of which it can be said that I seem to be the only person on earth who expresses admiration for her contribution to the series.)
The Maestro: Carl Davis
I was a bit dubious that the Carnegie Hall regulars and season ticket holders wpuld be very responsive to the Bond tribute, but I couldn't have been more wrong. Three elderly women in front of me said it was one of the best evenings of entertainment they had witnessed in the legendary venue. I concur - and I will also say that it's one of the few times I was able to enjoy a major James Bond event without having to fly to London.
(For more on the New York Pops, click here to access the official web site)
Amy Adams follows her Oscar-nominated performance in Doubt with the starring role in Sunshine Cleaning.
is dignity in all work.” True enough, whoever penned that famous phrase, even
if he never had to meet Perez Hilton. What would make an interesting addendum,
though, is that finding that dignity
is a story worth telling. Example: Whatever happened to the former high school
cheerleading captain who dated the quarterback? You remember Rose? She’s now a
single mom working as a housecleaner and having an affair with a married cop.
is the jumping-off point for Sunshine Cleaning,
a new dramatic comedy starring Amy Adams (Doubt,
Junebug) as Rose Lorkowski and Emily
Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) as her
tells herself the maid work is just a transitional phase while she gets her
real estate license. Norah is still living at home with their father, Joe (Alan
Arkin), a salesman with a long history of ill-fated get-rich schemes.
to get her troubled son into a better school, Rose persuades Norah to partner
with her in the more lucrative niche market of crime scene clean-up. After
passing the gag-test initiation rite of their first rookie job (a finger shot
off in a domestic dispute case) the sisters find themselves elbow-deep in the
gory aftermath of suicides, murders and other forensic horror-scenes.
her new business Sunshine Cleaning and tackling it with the same, cheery zeal
as her former cheerleader self, Rose quickly learns the rules and ropes of her
unlikely new market. (For instance, there are products out there specially
formulated for cleaning up a “decomp.”) Norah dutifully labors alongside her
sister, not exactly grateful for the new job, but not exactly complaining
the sisters realize a reparative bond is forming between them, they also
realize that they are approaching this traditionally macho,
are-you-tough-enough job in a radical new way: as women. Screenwriter Megan
Holley (in her first produced screenplay) drives the point home in one touching
scene in which the sisters are called to the home of an elderly woman whose
husband has just committed suicide. Rose, sensing the newly widowed woman’s
shock and confusion, sits with her on her front porch, silently holding her
hand. She won’t allow herself to cry, even as the widow allows herself finally
to break down.
odd new life is building to a personal epiphany, and when it comes, it occurs
in the one place she had hoped to redeem herself on the most superficial of
levels – at a baby shower attended by her former high school classmates. It’s
one of the film’s best scenes, and also shows off the impressive depth of
understanding Amy Adams brings to her roles.
also really could identify with wanting to be more than you are,” said Adams of her role, “in a different place that you were
born into, to sort of elevate your status in the world. That’s something I
think a lot of people identify with.”
in the arid, chain store landscape of Albuquerque,
(although the screenwriter originally placed the story in Baltimore), director Christine Jeffs makes
the most of the Southwestern city’s locations, aided by cinematographer John
from a few too many nakedly sentimental subplots cued with emotive, acoustic
guitar (a tiresome indie convention) which, if cut, might have kept the story
leaner and more on its true, emotional track, Sunshine Cleaning is a welcome take on a real, “purpose-driven
Sunshine Cleaning opens in theaters
on March 27th.