Friday, November 30, 2012

Fanboy Friday: Top 007 Bond Songs

Image via Wikipedia:

Welcome to the first edition of Fanboy Fridays here on Jetpack Wonder Stories. Every Friday I'm going to try to write about something nerdy that I like, because I'm a huge dork and also like alliteration. Thus;

I have a special fondness for the James Bond franchise. When I was but a wee tween back around the turn of the century, the Connery/Moore/Dalton films (on glorious VHS) were a staple during summers at my cottage when we'd finally exhausted the supply of half-decent movies available at the video store in town. Around the same time I used to spend the summer making epic feature-length films in the backyard with my Dad's camcorder. When I re-watch them for giggles I can definitely see just how much the genre conventions and plotting of the 007 films influenced my young writerly mind.

And the songs. The songs. During this same period, my taste in music hadn't yet evolved into anything more than a protoplasmic ooze. The six cassettes I owned in the summer of 1999 were the original Broadway cast recording of The Buddy Holly Story, the Phantom Menace soundtrack, two greatest hits collections (the Mamas and the Papas and Louis Armstrong, respectively and bizarrely), and, of course, a two-cassette collection of the main title songs from the James Bond films. Thus, that world of blaring brass sections and wailing melodrama had a significant influence on my taste in, and love of, music. When a new 007 movie comes out, I'm almost as excited about there being a new opening titles sequence as I am about the film itself.

In honour of the just-released Skyfall (run, don't walk, to your local cinetorium and see it. Really.) and the fact that I've now published a blog on the internet and thus my opinion matters (I am definitely 100% qualified for this), I bring you my top double-oh-seven Bond Songs (see what I did there? Ha! Ha! Ha.)

In descending order!

#007. K.D. Lang - Surrender (Tomorrow Never Dies)
Surrender is an almost perfect Bond song, which is sad, because it was bumped to the end credits of Tomorrow Never Dies in favour of Sheryl Crowe's kinda-satisfactory theme tune. Penned by David Arnold (score composer for all the Brosnan and some of the Craig entries), it's full of brass and very blatantly recalls the classic John Barry themes from the Connery era.

#006. A-Ha - The Living Daylights
I'm a big New Wave fan and I've always been kinda confused as to where exactly that predilection came from. Recently I've decided that A-Ha's The Living Daylights is definitely (at least in part) to blame. I specifically remember playing Game Gear games with this song on my Walkman and feeling like a complete little nine-year-old badass.

#005. Adele - Skyfall
I wish I'd called this sooner, because Adele doing a Bond song makes pretty much every kind of sense. Her voice is a perfect successor to Shirley Bassey's work on Goldfinger and Skyfall is an impeccable song right from the opening horn thing.

#004. Shirley Bassey - Goldfinger
Speaking of which, this song is a classic in every sense of the word. Big, brassy, lyrics that are pretty much literally about the plot of the film - it's great. Also, I'm indebted to John Barry's Goldfinger soundtrack in general for being such a heavy influence on the excellent Janelle Monae.

#003 - Chris Cornell - You Know My Name (Casino Royale)
I hate Soundgarden. There is nothing at all interesting about them. That being said, Chris Cornell can hang out at my house and drink my beer for as long as he wants for writing this song. "Arm yourself because no one else here will save you" is one of my favourite lyrics from any Bond tune, and a go-to watchcry of mine if I ever need a shot in the arm of sticktoitiveness and/or pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstrapsitiveness.

#002. Carly Simon - Nobody Does It Better (The Spy Who Loved Me)
I am not a big fan of the more ballad-y Bond theme tunes (Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, et cetera), but this song... is perhaps one of my favourite songs ever, even more than my #1 pick. Nobody Does It Better is an incredibly sexy song and is excellent even out of the context of being a Bond song. Just like...

#001. Paul McCartney & Wings - Live and Let Die
...this song. Nothing will top this song. Pretty much the first rock-and-roll James Bond theme, it is still, to this day, absolutely and utterly fantastic. The fact that it gets airplay outside of being a James Bond theme does it so much credit - it is objectively a fantastic song in its own right, and has been the best of influences on later songs in the series, from A View to a Kill to You Know My Name (which is heavily influenced by it.)

Honourable mentions go to Duran Duran's A View to a Kill for also being partially responsible for introducing me to New Wave, Tina Turner's Goldeneye for being written by Bono and the Edge (I love U2. Deal with it, internet), and Madonna's Die Another Day for being objectively one of the worst songs ever recorded and yet incredibly, insufferably catchy.

Oh, and this. You're welcome. See you next friday!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Shameless Plugs: An Excerpt From "Roomies"

Welcome to the first edition of Jetpack Wonder Stories' feature Shameless Plugs, where I blatantly talk about work I'm doing and why you should watch / buy / eat all of it. This week, I'm taking a look at a delightful short film I did about a month ago - Insomniac Productions' Roomies.

Let's start at the beginning. Throughout August and September of this year I was out of the city up in Parry Sound, Ontario, shooting a yet-to-be-released feature film called Stage Fright. More on that closer to its release when I'm no longer under the threat of spoiling anything! Anyway - whilst shooting this feature I met a strapping young man named Kent Nolan, who, in addition to having starred in a couple Terry Gilliam movies, makes me feel like I've accomplished nothing with my life. This is mostly because he and two of his creative partners have recently started up a production company and were about to embark on shooting their first short!

Somehow, I convinced this lunatic that I would be a good fit for the lead role in the aforementioned short film. Without even reading for the part! The fool. The fool.

Me preparing for a shot, with producer/A.D. Katherine Barrell and cinematographer Christine Buijs.
Though technically a short film, Roomies is actually 7 minutes of a feature film script Kent has been developing on-and-off since he was sixteen. A raucous comedy in the style of Superbad, the movie follows "three down on their luck friends [on] a wild twelve hour adventure when [they're] forced to gather a large sum of money to pay their crazed, drug dealing landlord." Sounded like fun to me! I got to play Brandon, the apparent moral compass of the group (as far as I can tell, from the first ten minutes of the movie). Kent and Insomniac Productions made the excerpt, along with two other shorts over the course of three days in order to put together a demo reel to apply for BravoFACT funding. I sincerely hope they get it, because their projects are all fantastic and they're a wonderfully talented bunch.

The shoot was an absolute blast and a ton of fun. This script was hysterical, and I got to work with Kent again, who is a totally rad dude and did a fantastic job directing this short. Directorial debut! I also got to work again with Melanie Leishman (of Stage Fright and Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, who I oddly enough in real life also went to high school with), who played Brandon's high school crush Jenny.

The excerpt takes place at a big party, which is always a crazy time ("Look like you're having fun! But don't talk!") but thankfully Kent and co. bought a prop keg that could turn into a real keg once we wrapped. Good times.

Kent Nolan, Katherine Barrell, and Jono Logan, the producers and the brains behind Insomniac.
 The short is totally hysterical, and can be viewed here on Vimeo, right now! Do it! And, if you like it, check out Insomniac's other shorts and their Indiegogo campaign, which is trying to raise ten percent of their budget to shoot a proof-of-concept pilot for their "Entourage meets Girls, but Canadian" comedy, Issues.

These guys are awesome, make sure to check them out. And me, in the short! In case you missed them, here are those links again!

"An Excerpt from Roomies" on Vimeo

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Action, Adventure, Bloggery!

Hello, internet.

I'm Ephraim Ellis. I'm a Canadian film and television actor and soon-to-be-published novelist (stay tuned for updates on that).

I'm starting this blog because my excellent and remarkably attractive gerlfraaaan Erin has been having a whale of a time writing hers. It looked like fun, and I haven't made an actual serious attempt at writing regular online non-fiction before (my livejournal presence in the mid-oughts doesn't count). I've rather enjoyed my plunge into the succinct world of Twitter over the past two years, but I've longed upon occasion to blather on an opinion or gag for longer than 140 characters.


Hopefully I'll have some interesting things to say. Stay tuned for rambles, tangents, doodles, and a plethora of shameless plugs.