Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
'No Good Deed' Reviews: And the Twist Is That It's Good! (Not Really) 'No Good Deed' Reviews: And the Twist Is That It's Good! (Not Really) Studio Cancels All Screenings of 'No Good Deed' to Preserve Shocking Twist That It's Probably Terrible Studio Cancels All Screenings of 'No Good Deed' to Preserve Shocking Twist That It's Probably Terrible The Availability Gap: What We Lose When Netflix Wins The Availability Gap: What We Lose When Netflix Wins Mysteries of Laura Review: Debra Messing on NBC Mysteries of Laura Review: Debra Messing on NBC Comparing Lena Dunham to Woody Allen Is Unfair — to Lena Dunham Comparing Lena Dunham to Woody Allen Is Unfair — to Lena Dunham Daily Reads: The Death of Adulthood, the Future of Film in 'Snowpiercer' and More Daily Reads: The Death of Adulthood, the Future of Film in 'Snowpiercer' and More 'The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them': 'Between Just Enough and a Bit Too Much' 'The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them': 'Between Just Enough and a Bit Too Much' Why the Unanimous Praise for 'Boyhood' Is Bad for Film Criticism — and for 'Boyhood' Why the Unanimous Praise for 'Boyhood' Is Bad for Film Criticism — and for 'Boyhood' 'While We're Young': Noah Baumbach's Xer-Millennial Comedy Ponders the Difference Between Sharing People's Lives and Stealing Them 'While We're Young': Noah Baumbach's Xer-Millennial Comedy Ponders the Difference Between Sharing People's Lives and Stealing Them Now Streaming: 'Silver Linings Playbook,' 'Beginners' on Netflix Now Streaming: 'Silver Linings Playbook,' 'Beginners' on Netflix 'The Cobbler' Reviews: 'Makes Me Want to Upgrade Everything I've Ever Seen Half a Star' 'The Cobbler' Reviews: 'Makes Me Want to Upgrade Everything I've Ever Seen Half a Star' 'A Walk Among the Tombstones' Reviews: A Liam Neeson Movie Worthy of Liam Neeson 'A Walk Among the Tombstones' Reviews: A Liam Neeson Movie Worthy of Liam Neeson Daily Reads: The 50 Worst Movies Ever Made, The Last Blockbuster Video Stores and More Daily Reads: The 50 Worst Movies Ever Made, The Last Blockbuster Video Stores and More Criticwire Classic of the Week: Federico Fellini's '8 1/2' Criticwire Classic of the Week: Federico Fellini's '8 1/2' 'The Duke of Burgundy': With Butterflies and BDSM, a Kinky Romance Woos Critics 'The Duke of Burgundy': With Butterflies and BDSM, a Kinky Romance Woos Critics 'The Expendables 3' Torrent and the Techno-Utopian Delusion 'The Expendables 3' Torrent and the Techno-Utopian Delusion David Lynch on 'Eraserhead,' Women in the TV Industry David Lynch on 'Eraserhead,' Women in the TV Industry Did 'Edge of Tomorrow' Just Get a New Title for Home Video? Did 'Edge of Tomorrow' Just Get a New Title for Home Video? 'The Counselor's Extended Cut Is Inspired Madness 'The Counselor's Extended Cut Is Inspired Madness Daily Reads: Why Toronto Is the Best Place for Female Filmmakers, In Praise of Fincher's Women and More Daily Reads: Why Toronto Is the Best Place for Female Filmmakers, In Praise of Fincher's Women and More

Steven Soderbergh's Favorite James Bond Movie

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire November 4, 2013 at 4:20PM

Everyone's a critic, and that includes Steven Soderbergh on James Bond, David Cronenberg on Stanley Kubrick and William Friedkin on Terrence Malick.
9
Majesty's

Everyone's a critic, and that includes people who make movies as well as people who write about them. In the past week, William Friedkin has thrown an elbow Terrence Malick's way, and David Cronenberg claimed that Stanley Kubrick "didn't understand horror." But Steven Soderbergh has always been more of a lover than a fighter when it comes to others' work, conducting a book-length interview with Richard Lester, serving as a guest interlocutor on commentary tracks, and now sticking up for the most beleaguered of James Bond movies: On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

For most people, George Lazenby's single-film turn as Bond is a Trivial Pursuit answer, but for Soderbergh, it's "cinematically... the best Bond film and the only one worth watching repeatedly for reasons other than pure entertainment (certainly it's the only Bond film I look at and think: I'm stealing that shit)." That assessment comes by way of his website Extension 765, where you can buy T-shirts decorated with obscure film references, read up on his favorite whiskey, and, evidently, read his thoughts on underrated franchise entries.

Soderbergh, with whom "retirement" evidently sits quite well, weighs in at length on the film, even standing up for Lazenby's performance while admitting that he never quite works as Bond, in large part because "Bond" was still unconsciously defined as "Sean Connery." Mostly, though, he just geeks out on the visuals.

Shot to shot, this movie is beautiful in a way none of the other Bond films are -- the anamorphic compositions are relentlessly arresting -- and the editing patterns of the action sequences are totally bananas; it’s like Peter Hunt (who cut the first five Bond films) took all the ideas of the French new wave and blended them with Eisenstein in a Cuisinart to create a grammar that still tops today’s how fast can you cut aesthetic, because the difference here is that each of the shots -- no matter how short -- are real shots, not just additional coverage from the hosing-it-down school of action, so there is a unification of the aesthetic of the first unit and the second unit that doesn’t exist in any other Bond film. And, speaking of action, there are as many big set pieces in OHMSS as any Bond film ever made, and if that weren't enough, there's a great score by John Barry, some really striking sound work, and what can you say about Diana Rigg that doesn't start with the word WOW?

Sodebergh isn't blind to the film's faults, and even has a few suggestions, including whacking out a chunk around 1:06: "It’s just Bond screwing chicks and stuff we learn eventually in other scenes." But as someone who owns an autographed picture of George Lazenby, he admits he's not entirely objective.

This article is related to: From the Wire, Steven Soderbergh, James Bond, William Friedkin, Terrence Malick, David Cronenberg, Stanley Kubrick


E-Mail Updates