Shaken, not stirred

Co-written by Anneleen Boullart, Stijn Poffé, Timo Vandemaele and Hakim Zemni. A few weeks ago, the Belgian Media & Entertainment (M&E) team went on a ‘mini-teambuilding’. For the record: the ‘mini’ refers to the number of people attending (4 in this case) and the shorter timeframe (late afternoon/evening), definitely not to the intensity nor good spirits of them. The program that day was twofold: first attend a movie together and review it as M&E consultants using typical film critics-lingo like ‘backstory, build-up & pay-off’. Second was experience a live recording of Café Corsari (a Belgian TV talkshow) and get inspired as to what it takes to make a successful live tv talkshow.

Media & Entertainment goes Café Corsari

Café Corsari is what you could call Belgian’s answer to Letterman and Leno, albeit with significantly lower budgets and significantly more local celebrities taking the seat in the sofa of course.
However that day, world class athlete & celeb Kim Clijsters headlined and discussed her retirement from tennis. Sadly, Kim excelled in her Clijsters-vintage flatline-intonation, truly challenging our attention span. Luckily cougar-heartthrob Pieter Embrechts shared his love for ‘words’ in a compelling and passionate way. His appearance really titillated our curiosity to check out his new ‘Man Over Woord’ series. Finally topchef Peter Goossens and wife shared their personal story of how to overcome burnouts and depression as a mature couple.
So how was this live, up close and personal talkshow experience?
First of all, the venue itself is not a proper tv studio but a revamped pop-up studio @Zuiderspershuis in Antwerp. Café Corsari is shot in a real café, in other words. That makes it in terms of feeling, authentic vibes and setting a much appreciated perfect match of course. The match between co-presenters De Soete & Braeckman still feels somewhat off, however. As this is the first series of the program they’re getting better at it every day but that day it seemed they were still dry-running and discovering their style rather than capitalizing on their complementarity. Neither of them is really funny, neither of them asks seriously intelligent questions; neither of them is the provocative badboy-archetype you’d expect in this setting, neither of them has the improvisation skills worth tuning in for every day. So although the saying goes ‘two heads are better than one’, we still need some further proof of that.
Eitherway, Café Corsari is definitely an inspiring (free of charge!) and entertaining evening out with friends and colleagues that beats going to mediocre plays or boring movies.
Speaking of which… Before heading to the Zuiderspershuis, we went to see Bond’s Skyfall @Kinepolis (incidentally a customer of ours :-)) . So what did we make out of that?
Skyfalling from tradition…
In 22 movies and over 5 decades (!), the world saw James Bond as a somewhat predictable super-agent working for the British government: not afraid of excessive gun action, using lethally ingenious gadgets along the way and effortlessly seducing a hot fling during working hours was the cocktail we got used to over the years. In the 23rd movie however, director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition,…) decided to break with tradition and focus more on 007’s backstory.
Of course, not everything changed. Bond still visits exotic settings like Shanghai and Macau, he still seduces the girl and still gambles in casinos. But although the movie starts in a typical Bond-like high speed pursuit there is a surprising and atypical end to this notorious establishment scene. Our hero (the effortlessly cool and uber-sexy Daniel Craig) is literally shot off the roof of a high speed train by a fellow MI6 colleague, while whizzing over an Istanbul outskirt bridge! As Bond crashed into the abyss as a result the Skyfall-penny fell for all of us. Supported by the song title and Adele’s decent take on a Bond-theme song, all of us were pinned to our seats for a moment, wondering if Bond would really be dead. No way he could’ve survived thát fall.
“Is he really dead?” “Wow, that would be a cool start for a Bond Movie: Bond is dead.” “Naah, they would never do that…” “Are you sure?” “I don’t know!”
No worries, he will die another day! But the shot will have significant consequences for the rest of the movie. After a period of heavy drinking and meaningless sex on the beach (where Mendes breaks with tradition too as a significantly lower amount of skin is shown compared to Bond standards), Bond is lead back to London to make an unexpected appearance at M’s home who in the meantime wrote his obituary and digested his demise. From then on, Bond’s loyalty to M will be continually tested. Again, a break with his traditional dog-like loyalty for Her Majesty’s top-spy played by Judi Dench.
The plot became clear early in the movie: Revenge-seeking ex MI6’er Raoul Silva, magnificently embodied by an ever-surprising blond Javier Bardem, stages his own detention in order to get to M.
Gay Bond-ing?
In the meanwhile allegedly juicy details were unlocked about James Bond’s past. Indeed, a shred of dialogue between Raoul Silva and Bond was the cause of all kinds of online discussions about Bond’s sexuality. Now that we saw the fragment, this felt to us more a case of deepening the image of danger and pure evil in the person of Bardem’s character rather than referring to homosexual escapades of 007. At least, that’s our reading of the passage.
What was more of a surprise to us is that we learned Bond’s mom is French! We clearly read ‘Monique Delacroix’ on her tombstone, so no doubts about that. (maybe she’s Walloon
All of this was just the build-up for the clattering and never-ending final scene at James Bond’s home town, Skyfall – Scotland. Not all of us appreciated this long stretched sequence of action scenes reminiscent of the Home Alone movies but with a bigger budget …
“Come on just blow the place up! We have to get going”, said M&E team leader Hakim who knew Café Corsari was an hour drive away but starting in less than an hour.
The bigger they are, the harder they (sky)fall
Long story short, here’s our final Skyfall verdict (which btw might be biased by the time pressure of having to leave the movie theatre): the story was not always coherent, too predictable and even left us a few times wondering if there were some scenes deleted. Movie fanatics looking for a brain breaker will not be overwhelmed by this flick. But that’s not what Bond is or should be about. True Bond lovers that love the macho-fantasy world of impossible action, sexy chicks and perilous gadgets might be disappointed too because of the many breakings with tradition. So, who loves this new Bond movie? Probably adolescents and action movie fans looking for an effortless action movie where settings and shootings are more important than plot or storyline. All in all, Sam Mendes made a mainstream entertainment movie that probably pays off in terms of box office but won’t go into the legendary shortlist of the top James Bond’s like Goldfinger, Dr. No or You Only Live Twice.
At least not in our shortlist. So…’shaken, not stirred’ this time, Mr. Bond.

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