We watched two movies on the first day of the 14th Mumbai Film Festival–both documentaries, both about filmmaking–but one was definitely more entertaining than the other.
Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 is a richly detailed yarn about how the most famous celluloid spy came into being. The film goes into a lot of detail: from the words of author Ian Fleming to the moving picture embodiments by Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and now Daniel Craig; some insights into the convoluted manner in which producer Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli came to produce the films, and make himself an inseparable from the legend and legacy of the spy series; and the truth behind the hiring and firing of some of the actors who played the iconic role.
And while the film has zero trouble maintaining audience attention, and is truly funny in parts, I felt like it skipped over certain parts of the history. The true extent of certain legal battles are discussed only in passing, and mostly from the point-of-view of the victors. The film hints at uncomfortable truths within the 50-year-old history of this franchise without really confronting them.
But then again, this is the year of celebrating the Bond franchise and in the face of a new release and the acknowledgment that the franchise has been around for five decades it seems a little churlish to expect any more truth than director Stevan Riley included in the fim.
As a celebration of Ian Fleming’s famous character this movie does a great job of informing and entertaining. I’m glad I caught it on the big screen.
We also caught Conteurs D’Images by Noelle Deschamps, a largely ‘talking heads’ documentary about creativity in filmmaking, largely from the perspective of screenwriting. The film features Guillermo Arriaga, Jacques Audiard, John Boorman, Akiva Goldsman, Michel Gondry, James Gray, Emir Kusturica, Maïwenn (the only woman interviewed for this film), Indian filmmaker Pan Nalin, Frank Pierson, and Jaco Van Dormael.
Of this cast of filmmakers Mr. Gray was the most entertaining, Mr. Audiard was the most opaque, and Mr. Gondry was probably the surliest. The film intercuts conversations with random (sometimes disconnected) exterior shots, as well as scenes from the movies the interviewees have been involved in. And while it doesn’t run (that) long, the film doesn’t quite come together.
Ms. Deschamps runs eQuinoxe, a non-profit, twice-yearly screenwriting workshop in France, and this is her first film. Given that information, one cannot help feeling that Conteurs D’Images feels less like a film and more like a dissertation. Which has its place in the world I suppose, but I was left a little cold by it all.
Way to much talking, not enough revelation for my liking.