‘Bond In Motion’ Exhibition

One of the things I really wanted to do whilst I was back in the nations capital was to visit this exhibition at London Film Museum in Covent Garden. With no-one else interested in going with me it was just a question of finding some time to myself to visit this fairly pricey place (£14.50 entry), and thankfully that opportunity arose the day after we returned to London from our mini trip back to my hometown.

This museum boasts as having the largest official collection of original 007 vehicles and is the largest display of its kind ever staged in London. The majority are loaned from the archive of EON Productions who produce the movies and the Ian Fleming Foundation who have located and restored many of the vehicles.

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The ticket sellers at reception advise you to start upstairs on the upper mezzanine that features some examples of the production company’s concept art and storyboards which was interesting enough but it’s downstairs where the real excitement exists as that’s where you can see the vast collection of vehicles representing almost all of the 23 Bond movies thus far.

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Each and every vehicle thankfully has a large TV screen next to it looping the moments it was seen in the film which is a great idea and really adds to the occasion as it isn’t too easy remembering the role each car, motorbike or whatever played in the movie.

There are about 50 James Bond vehicles on display and below are a selection of them:

Skyfall (2012): Honda CRF250R – The motorcycle which Bond rode through the streets and bazaars of Istanbul as he chased an assailant in the films pre-title sequence.

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Quantum Of Solace (2008): Aston Martin DBS & Montesa Cota 4RT – The former was heavily damaged after a chase at the beginning of the film in Siena, Italy. The motorcycle was rode through the streets of Haiti which in reality were filmed in Panama.

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Casino Royale (2006) – Aston Martin DBS V12 – A product placement deal with Aston Martin was probably the main reason this one featured on screen. The car only features a spare gun and a defibrillator and was destroyed during Bond’s pursuit of Le Chiffre.

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Die Another Day (2002): Aston Martin V12 Vanquish – The infamous car possessing a rather silly gimmick; the ability to effectively become invisible at the push of a button.

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The World Is Not Enough (1999): Q’s Retirement Recreational Boat – The boat which Bond rode along the Thames, and even under it, in hot pursuit of an assassin.

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Tomorrow Never Dies (1997): BMW R1200C & BMW 750iL – The stolen motorcycle was ridden through the streets of Saigon with Bond and Wai Lin handcuffed together. The car was remotely controlled by Bond during a chase inside Brent Cross shopping centre car park in London which doubled up as ‘Hamburg’.

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The Living Daylights (1987): Aston Martin V8 + Cello Case Sled and case – The combination of 007 and Aston Martin were reunited for Timothy Dalton’s first outing as the double agent.

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A View To A Kill (1985): Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II & Renault 11 2XE – Bond is driven around in the impressive Rolls whilst the Renault features in an early car chase as 007 pursues an assassin through Paris at high speeds whereby it loses its roof and manages to  jump onto and off a sight-seeing bus.

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Octopussy (1983): Acrostar BD-5J Jet & the auto rickshaw – This mini-folding jet was  originally owned by Budweiser and can be seen exiting a horse-box. The latter was driven through the streets of Udaipur with Bond as a passenger rather at the controls.

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The Spy Who Loved Me (1977): Lotus Esprit S1 – Q delivers this special submarine car to Bond in Sardinia. It is equipped with anti-aircraft missiles.

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Diamonds Are Forever (1971): Honda ATC 90 ATV & Ford Mustang Mach 1 – The dune buggy that went after Bond whilst the car is owned by Tiffany Case and during theLas Vegas chase it manages to balance on two side wheels to drive through a narrow alley although it mysteriously exits on the other two wheels in one of the great 007 movie goofs.

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You Only Live Twice (1967): “Little Nellie” – the aircraft flown by Bond to try and locate Blofeld’s hidden rocket base from the air. The weapons include two fixed machine guns, rocket launchers, heat-seeking missiles, rear-firing flame guns and aerial mines.

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Goldfinger (1964): Rolls-Royce Phantom III & Aston Martin DB5 – The Rolls was  owned by Auric Goldfinger and driven by Oddjob; one of the great Bond villains. The Aston Martin prototype has appeared in many Bond films but with slightly different number plates.

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There’s a photo opportunity allowing you to don a tuxedo (top half only) and recreate the gun barrel scene which features in all the movies. This could be pretty cool but £8 for something that could just as easily be done online for free was not worth it in my eyes!

There’s a cafe and souvenir shop beyond the main gallery which you need to pass through to exit the place. The cafe is surrounded by a few artefacts as well as a GoldenEye pinball machine and the gift shop is a place like no other with just about every conceivable product having the ‘Bond In Motion’ label on it. Needless to say that the 007 fans were lapping it all up!

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The London Film Museum is open 7 days a week from 10am and is located at 45 Wellington Street in Covent Garden. It is open for the rest of this year.

The London Film Museum in County Hall on the Southbank closed at the end of last year.

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Madame Tussaud’s Waxwork Museum

One of the things that my mother-in-law wanted to do in London was to visit this very famous and hugely popular waxworks museum. I have to say that I’d never had too much enthusiasm for going to this place which may surprise regular readers (yes, such people do actually exist!) who have witnessed me travelling wide and far just to get my picture taken with a statue of some sort. However, I have always had a slight problem with there being so many of them in one place and the rather high entry fees probably put me off a bit too!

Before we arrived in England though, I went online and was able to book the four of us some tickets for an early evening visit which were sold at 50% lower fare and I guess £15 per ticket in this day and age ain’t so bad. The first part of the museum is a red carpet affair with some of the world’s biggest and most famous movie stars on show. It certainly hits you how busy this place is which took me a little by surprise as whenever I’ve seen friends pictures on Facebook at this place it’s looked like there’s been plenty of room and space to wander freely and get your photo’s taken with the stars! However, in reality it’s a mad crush and you’ve gotta almost force your way through to the front to get that all-important picture. Luckily my wife and mother-in-law were pretty good at that and soon got into the spirit of the place whilst my father-in-law and I took a little longer to adjust to the hordes of people in attendance.

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The stars on show in this area included Sean Connery, Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bruce Willis, George Clooney, Dame Judi Dench, Daniel Craig, Arnold Schwarzenegger (all pictured) as well as Russell Brand, Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Emma Watson, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and many more.

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We then proceeded along the walking route to the ‘Sport’ section where I got my hands on the World Cup alongside England great Bobby Moore, met David Beckham again (there’s a model of him and his wife in the ‘Party’ zone) and got to hang out with rugby and tennis legends Jonny Wilkinson and Boris Becker.

It was in this section that I realised you really have to pick and choose the ones you want to get photographed with although I’m sure there are some people who do each and every model. Global superstars of past and present like Pele, Rafael Nadal, Tiger Woods and Usain Bolt featured among British talent like Tom Daley, Mo Farrah, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Lewis Hamilton and so on. All interesting to me but pretty much unknown by my wife and her parents!

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We passed through the royals (just too many people waiting for picture opportunities) and culture sections fairly quickly before stopping at the music section which was stocked full with models of pop queens like Madonna, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Adele, Cheryl Cole, Kylie and Rihanna. Other legends like Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Freddie Mercury, the Beatles and erm, One Direction were on display.

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In terms of the waxwork models the World Leaders zone was pretty much the last area of real interest with the likes of Barrack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Boris Johnson and David Cameron (but no Japanese politicians!) featuring among others not that my wife knew who the latter two were when she took the above photograph! We finished off things with the Spirit of London ride; a black cab ride through periods of British history such as Elizabethan and Victorian era’s, Shakespeare, the Plague, the Great Fire of London, The Industrial Revolution, the World Wars, the swinging sixties and so on

The finale was the Marvel Super Heroes and their 4D movie experience went down way better than expected having had to wait nearly twenty minutes to see it.

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Overall, we probably spent about 90 minutes in the place which in all honesty was fairly quick and proof that you could easily stay there for a few hours. Someone came up with the idea of stopping for dinner afterwards at the nearby Wetherspoon’s pub next to Baker Street Underground Station and my father-in-law finally got the chance to sample some fish and chips and a pint of Guinness.

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Top 10……Movie Locations Where You Can Stay

Hot on the tail of the top (double oh) 7 hotels featured in James Bond films here are the top 10 recommendations for other places where you can spend a night amidst movie history. Just to get things clear you have to pay to stay in all of the listed accommodation rather than just rocking up and pitching a tent outside the filming location!! This list, which is in no particular order, will take you around the globe and offers the full spectrum of price range.

1. Sidi Driss, (from $9 per night) Matmatat-Al-Qadimal, Matmata (Tunisia): Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) – No surprise that this one is featured. Coach loads of tourists stop off here every day yet very few of them actually stay the night! That’s probably because it’s very dirty with poor service! I was the only guest when I stayed there…..but it was a privilege to spend the night at Luke Skywalker’s home! Cheap too!More details here.

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2. On On Hotel (from $3 per night), 19 Phang-Nga Road, Talad Yai, Muang, Phuket  (Thailand): The Beach (2000) – Another ridiculously cheap place to stay. Leonard DiCaprio checks in to this rundown “Kao San Road” backpacker place but its nowhere near the legendary Bangkok spot where western travellers congregate. It is in fact way, way down south in Phuket town. More details here.

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3. Imperial Palace (from $49 per night), 3535 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109  (USA): Austin Powers International Man Of Mystery (1997) – This Nevada state city has been used in many movies over the years and could probably have it’s very own top 10 list (now there’s an idea!) but just the single hotel for this entry and that’s Alotta Fagina’s penthouse suite where Austin shagged her rotten to use his exact words!! It’s since been re-named as The Quad Resort & Hotel. More details here.

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4. Tiki Motel (from $?? per night), 7301 Santa Fe Avenue, Huntington Park, Los Angeles (USA): The Terminator (1984) – John Connor was conceived at this very run-down in what is perhaps the most pivotal point in the whole Terminator franchise. You could stay in the same room where Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese did the deed but in all honesty you probably wouldn’t want to! More details here.

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5. Royal Eagle Hotel (from $627 per night), 26-30 Craven Rd, London W2 3QB (UK): Trainspotting (1996) – The boys take a break from Scotland and head down south to London to do a drug deal. Sick Boy leads the guys out of Smallbrook Mews, across Craven Road in a parody of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover. The “small-time wasters” then wander into the Royal Eagle Hotel. More details here.

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6. Grand Hotel Evropa (from $30 per night), Vaclavske namesti 25, Prague (Czech Republic): Mission: Impossible (1996) – This was the headquarters of mysterious arms dealer Max (Vanessa Redgrave) in the first of this action spy film series based on the TV series from the 60’s and 70’s. More details here.

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7. Westin Grand (from $274 per night), Friedrichstrasse 158 – 164, 10117 Berlin  (Germany): The Bourne Supremacy (2004) – The luxury hotel where Landy stays. Bourne cleverly finds out at reception that she is staying in room 235. He then watches her leave from his position on the 4th floor and then takes the stairs down and goes through the hotels revolving doors where he gets in a taxi and follows her to the CIA hub. More details here.

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8. Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce Hotel (from $216 per night), Wollestraat 41-47, Bruges (Belgium): In Bruges (2008) – Dark, comedy thriller featuring Colin Farrell (Ray), Brendan Gleeson (Ken) and Ralph Fiennes (Harry) with the former two Irish hit-men lying low in the Belgian city at this canal-side hotel. More details here.

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9. Four Season’s Hotel (from $750 per night), Teyfikhane Sok No 1 SultanahmetIstanbul 34110 (Turkey): Midnight Express (1978) – This used to be the infamous Sultanahmet jail depicted in this biographical crime drama. More details here.

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10. Plaza Hotel (from $550 per night), 768 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019 (USA): Crocodile Dundee (1986) – What could be better than washing your backside in the same bidet that Mick Dundee (presumably) washed his posterior in? Well sadly that can’t be done here as the facilities don’t have bidets! The interior scenes were shot in the studio but you could still pretend and shout it from the window down to pedestrians on the street below!  More details here.

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Review: Films Set In Japan – Rhapsody In August (1991)

On August 9th 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki and over 40,000 people were instantly killed including (as far as this film story is concerned) the husband and a few siblings of a woman who is now the grandmother of four children. Whether or not Akira Kurosawa made this film or not, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will never be forgotten but what is perhaps surprising in this film is that there’s no real antagonism towards the Americans and instead it’s a simple reminder to all humanity that the consequences of not respecting one another can be catastrophic.

The Japanese title of this film is ‘Hachi gatsu no kyoshikyoku‘ and interestingly the Hollywood star Richard Gere would go on to star in another Japanese related film starting with the same first word by way of ‘Hachi: A Dog’s Tale‘ (2009) telling the story of the iconic dog. Of course he’s way more famous for his other film roles (‘American Gigolo‘, ‘Pretty Woman‘, ‘An Officer and A Gentleman’ etc) and he does only feature in the final third of this movie but that’s more than enough to merit its inclusion in thisTokyo Fox series! It’s not the first time a Kurosawa movie has been reviewed here though as ‘Kagemusha‘ (1980) was also included for similarly vague reasons relating to the executive producers!

For once this is quite a short Kurosawa film (98 minutes) and it’s also not one about samurai warlords laden with symbolic references to Japanese society. Instead, we see his most humanistic film which is quite moving at times and is a poem against war and the scars it leaves on the minds of those who have suffered.

The main person to have endured agony here is an elderly woman called Kané who is  living a peaceful care free life close to nature in the Nagasaki countryside, but the memory of the disaster continues to haunt her and she is forever laden with heavy memories of the past. She is the most intriguing character and a convincing one at that. She displays a range of emotions including suffering, wisdom and forgiveness as embodied by the phrase “blame it on the war” which she continues to repeat throughout the movie. She tries to communicate this message to her four grandchildren who seem interested in their country’s sorrowful history and it is kind of through their eyes, as well as their naive words, that Kurosawa lets us in on the tragedy.

As the memorial day is approaching Kané learns that her only living brother is in Hawaii (having made his fortune in pineapples) and wants to see her before he dies but she is a little reluctant to go despite the grandkids urging her to. Next, the parents return from their very own Hawaii trip and, hoping to get in on the wealth of the Hawaiian family, they try to persuade Kané to go. However, when the son of Kané’s brother (Richard Gere), suddenly arrives in Nagasaki, the parents are sure it’s because he wants to end the proposed visit because they guess he must resent the idea that his own country caused the death of Kané’s husband a.k.a. his uncle.

There is a very nicely filmed scene in the latter part of the film where the four kids and their granny are sitting under a blue moonlight whilst the adults are just obsessed about the wealth of their distant relatives. ‘Rhapsody In August‘ has pretty much no soundtrack other than the natural sounds of wind, water, traffic and people as well as the old organ in the house which one of the older boys plays at opportune moments.

A range of themes are touched on throughout the film such as the effect of the atomic bomb on both nations, the attitudes of the three generations and the effect of American culture on the Japanese. The film moves along at a slow pace and I was a little disappointed that there was no conflict at any time. There are chances aplenty to make Clark (Gere) feel guilt for what his country did but he was let off and spared any real pain or discomfort as everyone bowed their heads, apologised and forgave one another.

The ending is a all a bit weird for me as a violent thunderstorm erupts over the village which Kané believes to be a new bomb fallen on Nagasaki leading her to run desperately for cover chased (eventually) by her entire family in a scene that is a little theatrical but one that has a lasting impact with the broken umbrella coming to represent a flower of peace or something like that!

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Tokyo Fox Rating 6/10

Review: Films Set In Japan – Godzilla (2014)

Despite all the recent Godzilla features and movie location stuff on here I didn’t actually realise that this Gareth Edwards directed version was set in Japan (in part) until I saw it at the cinema the other day. I just assumed it was all set in the USA and though the second half of the film was in Hawaii, Nevada and San Francisco, the first hour or so was all set in Japan. As a movie locations geek it should be noted that the majority of this production was filmed in Vancouver, Canada.

Well, what do you know but it was the first half of this 123 minute movie which I preferred. A fair few people have complained of Godzilla getting very little air time but I don’t have a problem with that. In my opinion, the beast does not need to be seen immediately but its appearance is built up whilst delivering a terrifying off-screen presence with a foot here and a tail there!

This incarnation of the the giant lizard is told from a human perspective and Bryan Cranston’s character Joe Brody seemingly gets all the character-driven stuff from the moment we first see him in 1999 working as an engineer at the fictional Janjira nuclear plant in Japan. Having been tracking oncoming tremors, a fateful event occurs at the reactor on the morning of his birthday which see his wife (Juliette Binoche) killed and the city sealed off for all eternity.

Fifteen years on and Joe’s son Ford (Taylor-Johnson), who is now a US Navy Officer living in San Francisco with a wife and kid, has to fly to Japan to bail out his father who has been arrested for trespassing. Joe’s still overcome with grief and is a crackpot conspiracy theorist living in a tiny apartment where the wall is covered in news clippings, maps and charts. Joe manages to convince Ford to accompany him to their old home to retrieve some vital information he recorded and whilst in the quarantine zone they find that it’s not at all contaminated thereby enhancing Joe’s opinion that the government covered up the true cause of the disaster. However, after recovering the data, soldiers appear and detain them within the plant’s ruins.

It’s thereafter that all the monster stuff begins to happen with “MUTOs” (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) appearing on the scene which didn’t really catch my imagination but then again I’m not really a fan of kaiju (monster) movies. The rest of the film is carried out in the States with the US Navy task force getting involved which see’s the bad CIA guy (David Strathairn) from ‘The Bourne Ultimatum‘ (2007) yet again in charge and standing in front of a wall of screens and monitors giving out instructions. Like so many other actors in this film though he was under-utilised which was perhaps a little surprising given how his distinctive voice was used in the promotional trailers.

British director Gareth Edwards is obviously a man with a great knowledge of, and affection for the previous works of Godzilla (stuff that I have actually slagged off a fair bit on this site throughout the years!) and there are plenty of nods of affection to the original 1954 film without any of the horrors repeated from the almost universally panned 1998 Roland Emmerich film of the same name.

The awakening of the MUTOs leads to the stirring of the pre-historic predator known as “Gojira” as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) says before reverting to the English name for the rest of the film. I particularly liked the opening titles with the grainy archive footage showing missiles and atomic bombs being used in the Pacific Ocean and we get to see them again as it later emerges that the existence of the giant monster has been kept secret by the U.S. government since 1954. The re-appearance of Godzilla results in atsunami and with this film also touching on another sensitive subject by way of nuclear power, things could be slightly uneasy for some Japanese people. It is quite clear that this movie could never have been made in Japan as local directors might be uncomfortable turning such matter into a big budget production.

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Tokyo Fox Rating 6/10