Wednesday, November 4, 2015


Roger Spottiswoode, Toronto, Sept. 10, 2007

DIRECTOR ROGER SPOTTISWOODE DIRECTED TOMORROW NEVER DIES ten years before I photographed him at the film festival, where he was promoting Shake Hands With The Devil, a film based on the story of Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, and a project more of a piece with the politically-tinged work he seems to prefer. You could, of course, say that Bond films are also political, and they are - in about the same way that pornography is about relationships.

I definitely saw Tomorrow Never Dies in the theatre, since I didn't own a television when it came out. My experience of Bond films has never been wholly cinematic; as I said when I started this series, I saw all of the Connery Bonds on television, and most of the Roger Moore ones as well, though I tuned out of the series when it became almost pure camp. I only ended up seeing the Timothy Dalton Bonds years later, on DVD, since I spent most of the '80s poor and a film snob and recoiling from the later excesses of the Moore era.

I re-connected with the franchise with the Pierce Brosnan Bonds, and remember being quite happy with Tomorrow Never Dies when I saw it. There was no comparing it to From Russia With Love or Goldfinger, to be sure, but it was on a comparable level with later Connery Bonds like You Only Live Twice - epic and high style, and pitched just at the point where arch touched the border with camp.

Roger Spottiswoode, Toronto, Sept. 10, 2007

These are not kind portraits. Spottiswoode has what you might call a "lived-in" face, and even the relatively soft light on the courtyard patio at the Hotel Intercontinental on Bloor Street couldn't hide the deep wrinkles cross-hatched into his face. Like the Monica Bellucci portrait I did at the same film festival, circumstances suggested a stark portrait, and I filled the frame with Spottiswoode's face.

I didn't do this out of malice; Spottiswoode was perfectly decent to me and the interviewer from the free national daily where I worked. I had been doing these two-minute hotel portraits for several years by this point, though, and my reaction to situations where I had to work with almost no control over the setting or styling of a shoot was to submit to the restrictions and document - at least a little artfully, I hoped - the people who were being put in front of my camera.

It was a working method that was still influenced by two real variables - the cooperation of the subject and my own inspiration. I could make up for a deficit in the former with more of the latter, but sometimes the balance wasn't right. With the Spottiswoode portrait, I think I came up with a fairly decent result. In tomorrow's post, though, I wouldn't be so lucky.


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