Wednesday, July 12, 2017

LIZ SMITH: Sex and power

Jessica Lange à la Marilyn, c. 1970
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Daniel Craig (and Adele!)  Are they on board for the next Bond movie?  Also Alexander Skarsgard Loves Jessica Lange, and Cyndi Lauper Just Wants Her "Working Girl" to Have Fun!

“EVERYTHING in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power,” said Oscar Wilde.
SEX and power are the two main, ah — thrusts — of Ian Fleming’s James Bond books and the Bond movies.  The films have thrown in some humor — the eagerly anticipated 007 one-liners. But sex, power and villainy are the significant ingredients. And gadgets. Although that aspect has dimmed in recent years.

Of all the screen Bonds, two have embodied the sex/power ideal to the nth degree; the first man with a license to kill, Sean Connery, and the current spy, Daniel Craig. 
Sean Connery and Daniel Craig as 007.
The others have all had their charms — Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan most famously.  However, neither seemed especially dangerous. (Although, I wrote recently, and I meant it — Brosnan is more Bond-like now, at a gruff, realistically thickened age 64, than he was during his smooth, slender tenure as 007!) 
Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan.
Most of the Bonds become weary of their chores and inevitable typecasting, except for George Lazenby who played Bond only once, in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” Or Timothy Dalton, who did it twice. (“The Living Daylights,” “License to Kill.”) 
George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton as Bond.
Sean Connery became famously irritable about it all around the time of his 4th Bond, “Thunderball,” which is considered by many 007 aficionados to be his best outing in the role.  But there would be three more for him, including “Never Say Never Again,” a sly comment on Connery insisting he was through shaking his martinis. But, money stirs everything.
Sean Connery in "Thunderball."
More recently, after the completion of  2015’s “Spectre,” Daniel Craig uttered the immortal words, “I’d rather slash my wrists” than do another Bond film. 

Now, according to that bastion of accuracy, Britain’s Daily Mail, Daniel Craig will definitely sign on for another 007. Or is about to definitely sign on.  Something is definite, anyway.

Interestingly, the phenomenally popular singer Adele is also part of this Bond package, according to reports.  Her rendition of “Skyfall” for the 2012 movie of the same name was so popular and award-winning, that producer Barbara Broccoli wants her back.  (Adele is divine. But — nostalgia being a powerful thing — I’ll always have a soft spot for the classic Shirley Bassey songs, as well as Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does it Better,”  Tom Jones’ “Thunderball,” “Nancy Sinatra’s “You Only Live Twice,” Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die” and even Matt Monro’s schmaltzy “From Russia With Love.”)
The Craig news — if indeed it is accurate — has been a stab in the heart to the fans of two stars.  For years Idris Elba’s name has been bandied about.  Elba has expressed himself as flattered but never seemed hungry for the role.  The last time he spoke on the subject, he said he was “too old.”  (Mr. Elba is now 44. Daniel Craig is 49.)   More realistically, the actor, who has just signed on for a 5th season of his acclaimed series “Luther,” likely understands that the franchise will simply never vary too far from the character created by Ian Fleming.  James Bond will never be a woman, gay, Asian, Latino, Arabic or African American.  This is not unusual.  I mean, do you think you’ll ever see a man of color play Batman?  Or a Korean Captain America?
Idris Elba in 'Luther' (Photo: BBC)
The other contingent of disappointed fans belongs to Tom Hardy. The actor, 39, is known for films such as “RocknRolla,” “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy,” “The Dark Knight Rises, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Revenant” and “Legend.”  As well as TV’s “Peaky Binders” and the current, mesmerizing “Taboo.” Hardy is rough and dark and nasty-sexy.
Too "Hardy" for Bond.
That might be the problem — he’s too rough, dark and nasty-sexy.  Daniel Craig has been the most visceral and violent Bond.  But there’s visceral and then there’s ... vivisection!

In any case, until production starts and Mr. Craig appears on-set, nothing is written in stone, even if it’s been written in ink. The next Bond isn’t due on screens until late next year.  There’s many a slip twixt the lip and a Walther PPK.

... Jessica Lange, you have a fan! Well, you have lots of fans, but this one is super hot.  I do mean Alexander Skarsgard, most recently seen as Nicole Kidman’s twisted hubby in “Big Little Lies.” (He was also much admired on the vampire series “True Blood.”) Skarsgard tells W magazine: “My first crush was Jessica Lange in ‘Tootsie’ ... I had never felt anything for a girl before that.  I was just mesmerized by her.  I watched the movie over and over again because of Jessica Lange. I’m still not over her. Every time I meet someone, I compare her to Jessica Lange in ‘Toostie.’  That’s probably why I’m not married.”   Mr. Skarsgard has good taste.
Skarsgard's crush — Jessica Lange in "Tootsie."
And Miss Lange, who I last saw at party after a screening of the first two episodes of “Feud” a while back, has maintained her beauty. More than that, her wonderful quality of vulnerability — that Tennessee Williams damsel-in-neurotic-distress vibe.  I’ve always felt that Lange, somewhere along the line, should have been the one to portray Marilyn Monroe. She would have been brilliant and respectful — not the usual drag-queen impersonations. 
... I KNOW it has already been announced, but I was late seeing this news, so — maybe others were as well.  Cyndi Lauper, who won a Tony Award for composing the score to Broadway’s “Kinky Boots” might be looking at another one of those shiny spinning discs.  She will write the music and lyrics for the stage adaptation of the 1988 movie “Working Girl.”  (This won an Oscar nomination for Melanie Griffith as the ambitious but unsure of herself, Tess Magill.) Sounds totally up Lauper’s alley.  She always wanted girls to “have fun.”  But she also wanted them to know and show their true colors and prove themselves in a man’s world — time after time.  (Okay, okay — I’ll stop now.  I can’t fit any more Lauper song titles into that sentence!) 
Melanie Griffith in “Working Girl.” 
... FINALLY, this Friday at Barnes & Noble (150 East 86th Street)  Patti LuPone, Christine Ebersole and Scott Frankel — the composer of their big hit — “War Paint” will appear, promoting the release of the show’s CD (from Ghostlight Records). There will be chat with Patti, Christine and Scott, and a CD signing. Merriment is promised.  Call 212-369-2180 for more info.
Contact Liz here.