Edited by Catching Bullets, 25 October 2012 - 06:23 PM.
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Posted 25 October 2012 - 04:57 PM
Posted 25 October 2012 - 06:27 PM
I spotted a copy of your book in my office today, Mark. Going to try and have a read of it, and report back.
Edited by Catching Bullets, 25 October 2012 - 06:35 PM.
Posted 06 November 2012 - 03:30 PM
Edited by Catching Bullets, 06 November 2012 - 03:32 PM.
Posted 09 November 2012 - 10:06 AM
Great news! Best regards to the ladies!
Posted 07 December 2012 - 11:26 AM
John Cork (screenwriter, co-author of JAMES BOND - THE LEGACY and numerous and definitive Bond documentaries) has just written a great review for CATCHING BULLETS.
Fun, passionate and oddly moving, a memoir through movies...
Mark O'Connell's memoir-cum-Bond love letter arrives with some heady endorsements. Barbara Broccoli (producer of the Bond films with Michael G. Wilson) -- "a wonderfully funny and touching memoir" -- and Maud Adams (Bond girl from The Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy and, if you really know where to look, a cameo in A View to a Kill) -- "warm, funny and only ever complimentary."
Mark comes to Bond from a unique perspective. Like most Bond fans, he was smitten near adolescence, but he had a further connection--his grandfather was the personal chauffer of Albert R. Broccoli, a name that has appeared on every Bond film save two (Casino Royale, '67 and Never Say Never Again). Mark reviews the films mostly in the order in which he saw them, telling an abridged story of his life using the movies as touchstones. This one conceit makes this book stand out above the crowd.
The book is an easy, fun read, but filled with numerous astute observations. Mark, himself a professional comedy writer, enjoys the humor and absurdity of Bond's world, and this shows in his prose. He has fun with language, at one point calling Bond "spychedelic escapism." That can only be read with a smile on one's face! The films are "bullets." A gathering of Bond fans is a "Royale." He refers to the decade of 007's birth as "the 60s." I've read more reviews and essays on the Bond films than I care to admit, but Mark's passion for (most of) the films and life in general helps this book tremendously. He knows not just about 007, but he knows how to write it down cleverly.
Where the book really takes off is when Mark allows himself to explore his own story and that of his family. Quite frankly, as much as I enjoyed reading his thoughts on the Bond films, I much preferred reading about Mark's journey, his childhood, teen years and his coming into (and coming out in) adulthood. I wish there had been more. The emotional excitement of discovery of a Bond film screening on TV, the hand-drawn posters, the thrill of finding an article in a magazine, Mark describes these wonderfully.
Despite its breezy tone, the book is remarkable accurate in the details. There are a handful of exceptions that I'll note for the purists. Few will notice when Mark attributes a scene setting to "(Felix) Leiter's New York apartment" that it is actually a suite at the Royal Orleans hotel (made famous by a Led Zeppelin song about transvestites and a hotel fire). Fewer will care that one Bond girl's bruises came not from "belt straps," but a whip made from the tail of a stingray. Some will wince when they read a more overt typo, "This is a Bond bullet lensed by the man who shot one of Steven Spielberg's most influential films (Lawrence of Arabia, 1962)." Mark must have intended to write "David Lean." Sometimes, Mark writes a bit past clarity. He notes that Sean Connery "announced his departure before shooting was complete" on You Only Live Twice. Mark is referring to Connery announcing he would not continue to play Bond in future 007 films. Connery did complete filming You Only Live Twice and supported the film.
Later, Mark mentions working with an a stuntman "before he went off to die in a submarine for The World is not Enough." If the reader knows the film--and its production history--there will likely be little confusion that the stuntman lived, but still.
Asian geography may not be Mark's strongest subject. O'Connell writes, "When Bond is allegedly gunned down by a Japanese agent," he refers to a scene where a "Chinese girl" (as she is described in dialog) helps stage 007's death in Hong Kong. A quick review of the scene would have even allowed him to correct the dialog from the scene ("very best duck," not, "good duck."). Later, Mark writes about a scene on a Japanese beach in Die Another Day. The scene is set in Korea. Mark stumbles over the dialog from Licence To Kill when he claims Pam Bouvier wonders why "I can't be your secretary?" The line is reversed; she is asking why Bond can't be her secretary.
Lest anyone be deterred by the above nitpicking, it comes in contrast to some laugh-out-loud fun. Writing about The Man with the Golden Gun, Mark states, "It would be nearly 30 years and The Fellowship of the Rings (2001) before Christopher Lee lived again in a rock with a dwarf kicking at his heels."
In other places, Mark makes acute points. He pins down a key emotional arc issue (such as they are in most Bond films) with GoldenEye. He accurately identifies the best line of dialog ever uttered in a Bond film, and no, it's not the iconic, "Bond, James Bond," but one that when you read what Mark has to say about it, you realize just how right he is. There is even some prescient writing about Judi Dench as M: "if you have Judi Dench as a recurring actor in your series of films, you use her," he states. Then he goes on to speculate about, "turning a 007 film into [a]...road-movie curio where Bond and M pair up for a mission and share driving." This was written before Skyfall, and I would love to have seen the expression on Mark's face when Bond and M started wheeling down the road in the Aston Martin together in that film!
While the book celebrates the Bond films more than analyzes them, occasionally Mark goes off with both barrels, and this is a beautiful thing! Even if you love, for example, the score to GoldenEye, you can also appreciate Mark's viscous pen stabbing away at it. "If there was a bad Sting cover act, then "Experience of Love" would be its encore." "It would be better to have no James Bond Theme than hear it slain on a kettle drum and kazoo for innovation's sake." And it gets better, but buy the book for the rest!
The Bond series has been honored in print many times. Many are large, coffee-table volumes packed with lovely images. Others are serious, academic analyses. There are biographies of key players, production histories and wise-cracking pocket guides. All have their place. Three I have co-authored. But Mark's book stands out for its unique link to the notion of growing up with Bond, of finding your own journey while embracing a hero of your youth. Some anonymous author opining about the virtues of some 80s Bond film can be generic. When one understands the emotional vulnerability of the child who viewed it, and the sense of escape that film offered, it ceases to matter whether you, the reader, enjoyed it or not. When the story is well-told, you understand it.
That is what fiction offers to us at its best - a way to interpret our lives. Fiction is the loves we want, the adventures we can't have, the deaths we will cheat, the lives we will never lead. It is the counter-point to our existence, the dreams we have with our eyes open. Mark captures a bit of that in this love-letter to 007. One feels after reading, that the Bond films aren't bullets, but kisses from a not-so secret lover who comes around every couple of years to add spice to Mark O'Connell's life, and to ours.
(This article was originally posted on Amazon.com)
Edited by Catching Bullets, 07 December 2012 - 11:28 AM.
Posted 07 December 2012 - 12:12 PM
Posted 17 December 2012 - 10:55 AM
Awesome review, very well deserved. It's an awesome book.
Thanks Dustin! Seasons greetings to you!
Posted 14 February 2013 - 06:40 PM
In the world of high adventure, who needs a voiceover man on a trailer....?!
(No Maurice Binders were injured in the making of this trailer)
Posted 26 March 2013 - 02:24 PM
“Well I knew the price of eggs was going up, but isn’t that a bit high”…..
Best wishes for the Easter break wherever you are in the Bond world.
Edited by Catching Bullets, 26 March 2013 - 02:26 PM.
Posted 09 May 2013 - 12:13 PM
In the chapter The Britpop Bullets: GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies, O'Connell makes mention of the Cool Britannia era into which the first two Brosnans were born - an era of Blur, Oasis, Pulp, and, as O'Connell puts it, "the Ghosts of Cool Past - Vespas, sideburns, Gazelle trainers, flared denim and vintage TV themes." It was a time when the 1960s and 1970s were back in vogue.
Funnily enough, it wasn't until a decade later that Eon would give us Bond films that were genuinely Britpop - Craig's 007 has some of the northern "laddishness" and rough edges of a Liam Gallagher, not to mention a decidedly retro look. CASINO ROYALE is drenched in 1960s style, while the visuals of QUANTUM OF SOLACE evoke the conspiracy thriller doom and gloom of the early 1970s.
Looking, however, at the Bond films that were actually released during the Britpop period, it's hard to see them as part of that prevailing cultural mainstream. There is nothing Britpop about Brosnan's look or persona, while his Bond films don't seem influenced by the 1960s or 1970s - they seem like 1980s John Glen outings meeting 1990s Hollywood action blockbusters (not that there's anything wrong with that). It seems to me that the likes of DIE HARD, CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER and SPEED were more important influences than anything "Britpop" (not that O'Connell argues otherwise).
Britpop/Cool Britannia did end up having a big influence on Bond, but it took ten years to kick in.
Hey Loomis, the suggestion in this part of CATCHING BULLETS is always that the Britpop wave facilitated a path for Bond to return. Regardless of the final film GOLDENEYE became, the Bond ingredients of vintage cars, bespoke tailoring, the retro statement of a tile sequence and matinee villainy were not a million miles from Bond's era-siblings such as the GET CARTERS, ITALIAN JOBS, CARRY ONS and QUADROPHENIAS that were suddenly part of youth culture all over again. And of course it was the beginning of a mid-1990s time when Britain and British culture was relevant to the point of being at the top of the pile for the first time in quite a while. GOLDENEYE in 1992 would not (possibly) have had the same impact or anticipation.
Edited by Catching Bullets, 09 May 2013 - 12:13 PM.
Posted 11 May 2013 - 12:13 PM
Yes, this leapt into my mind for some reason:
Yep, that is exactly what I was alluding to... thanks sir.
Posted 27 September 2013 - 12:24 PM
CATCHING BULLETS has some grand news...
Splendid Books are delighted that Mark O’Connell’s book CATCHING BULLETS - MEMOIRS OF A BOND FAN has been shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize 2013.
“We always knew that Mark’s book was very funny, incisive and honest but it is wonderful to have it confirmed by its shortlisting for the Polari Prize,” says Steve Clark, Publishing Director at Splendid Books.
The winner of the Polari First Book Prize will receive £1,000 through sponsor Société Générale UK LGBT Network.
“For my eccentric tale of a 1980s childhood and James Bond obsessions to find a place alongside four other skilled and worthy works for the Polari First Book Prize is a massive privilege,” says Mark.
“Getting noticed by the Polari judging team – let alone shortlisted – is an honour and underlines Polari’s key support of new voices, new writing and new perspectives, even if one of the 2013 batch does include Roger Moore obsessives and their wasted love on Bond girls. Since Catching Bullets has been published the response and feedback has been so encouraging and often personal. It turns out I wasn’t the only one who grew up loving 1980s cinema!”
Speaking on behalf of the judges, Suzi Feay said: “The judges were delighted to see a growth in submissions this year, particularly from new female authors.
“From such a strong longlist, it was difficult to narrow down the choices to the final six, but we feel they represent the strongest individual voices with the most engaging tales to tell – whether it’s lifting the lid on the ‘Gaysian’ girl scene; a blisteringly funny tale of council house life in Scotland and the north; the witty confessions of a Bond fanatic; a tough female cop with a secret; and finally, a shape-shifting monster of a historical antihero who would give Peter Ackroyd a run for his money. These are books to dazzle, amuse and beguile.”
The winner will be announced in November.
Edited by Catching Bullets, 27 September 2013 - 12:24 PM.
Posted 28 September 2013 - 10:14 AM
Superb - coincidentally, I have just bought and taken receipt of this book and am looking forward to reading it.
(Late to the party, as ever)
Posted 28 September 2013 - 09:59 PM
Congratulations sir. I will be looking for this book post haste.
A question though: Does one have to have grown up in the UK to apprecite this book fully?
Posted 03 October 2013 - 12:32 AM
Congratulations! I still need to read your book because it sounds really interesting.
Posted 12 October 2013 - 10:28 PM
I am about half way through this book and I was tempted to get myself in order to write a review of sorts. But then, reading the above, I feel John Cork has encapsulated all that I had to say, and has said it far better than I ever would.
I was also going to very cleverly pick up on a few issues of nitpickery, but Mr Cork found these as well in terms of belt straps / stingray tails and the Pam Bouvier secretarial line that got reversed. That said, and hereby making my own contribution to veracity, I believe the shower door in Golden Gun was not shoulder height to Ms Adams, but indeed full length.
But in this, I share some of the traits of Fleming fans of yore that looked into the accuracy of all that was sold them. Nothing more.
So far it is a cracking read, heightened I think due to my empathising with some of the author's random continuity-jumping discovery of all the films. I am ten years older than O'Connell and had an even worse and far longer timespan in my exposure to the films. Sorting out the various actors, the order in which their tenures were held, together with the reading of the Fleming novels which, to all intents and purposes, had little to do with the films - it made for a trying time but one that I feel was made more special because of it. By this I mean those discovering Bond today will have immediate access to all film and book sequential libraries in a heartbeat's instance which might offer less of a 'journey'.
Posted 13 October 2013 - 09:57 AM
Well, I Was half way through it but last night turned into a marathon reading session and now it is finished - unfortunately.
I can honestly say without reservation, I cannot remember having enjoyed reading a book on Bond so much, from very first to very last page. It was an absolute joy reading O'Connell's timelined introduction to the Bonds in his slightly mocking but oh so reverential and knowledgeable manner. And as John Cork above, I too enjoyed the parallel path of the author's life which, in keeping with the nature of the Bond commentary, was equally light and not angst ridden.
An out and out success, right down to the 'off-screen karate chop' on the last page. Delightful, and Very recommended.
Well done sir.
Posted 15 October 2013 - 05:16 PM
Thank you Simon. They are very kind words.
Glad you liked it so much. Tell the world!!