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It sounded promising, with Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”) as director and Peter Morgan (“Frost/Nixon” and “The Queen”) as writer, with Daniel Craig returning and, perhaps most intriguingly, Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz as the villain. But the status of the next James Bond movie has been shifted from on hold to canceled entirely. Has Jason Bourne done what all those bad guys could not? Has he wiped out James Bond? Have modern, shaky camera, gritty spy movies and mundane real-life spy stories like the recent arrests of deep cover Russian spies in the suburbs made it impossible for us to enjoy the glossy elegance of the Bond series after 22 films? Or can he be re-booted again, even re-Bourne?
The Guardian’s film blog has a good discussion about Bond’s future prospects. On one hand, James Bond is one of the world’s great brands, with all-but-guaranteed box office sales. On the other hand, the recent entries in the series, arguably everything since Sean Connery, have been infomercials stuffed with product placement and mired in retro notions of glamor that are uncomfortably outdated.
I don’t doubt that Bond will be back. The franchise still has value. But this stumble should be an opportunity to refocus on story, not stunts, and entertainment, not product sales.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has a sobering blog post from Michele Simon about the latest F is for Fat release, an annual report from the Trust for Healthy Americans. The Trust describes itself as Trust “a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority.” Its board of directors is headed by former Senator Lowell Weicker and filled with medical professionals and public health experts. So how does PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi get two pages in the report for corporate PR about how Pepsi is going to play a part in promoting healthy eating? And, as Simon points out Pepsi says this:

We firmly believe companies have a responsibility to provide consumers with more information and more choices so they can make better decisions… I believe the food industry can play a leading role in this area. In fact, we must play a leading role… It’s a challenge, but increasingly PepsiCo and other companies recognize and accept our responsibility to help our associates and consumers succeed.

while it pours hundreds of millions of dollars into fighting efforts to counter the effects of sugary, high-fat food products like those sold by Pepsi?

Harold Goldstein, executive director of the highly effective non-profit, California Center for Public Health Advocacy describes what Nooyi left out of her statement:

She doesn’t mention the highly sophisticated multimillion dollar national marketing and lobbying campaign they have undertaken to promote themselves as good corporate citizens and undermine efforts to establish state and local policies to reduce consumption of sugar sweetened beverages, which have been the single leading contributor to the obesity epidemic.

The Trust for Healthy Americans should be calling for more accountability from the makers of sodas and snack foods, not giving them a place for vague platitudes masking actions that undermine the very efforts they claim to support.

Two movie classics celebrate big birthdays this week. “Back to the Future” turns 25 and “Airplane!” turns 30. Both helped to define their eras and stood the test of time as enduring favorites.

One of my favorite critics, Ali Arikan, has a superb tribute to “Back to the Future.”

Marty McFly has more in common with George Bailey [of “It’s a Wonderful Life”] than the film’s slightly cynical conclusion suggests. His adventure in the ’50s is literally based on self-preservation, but this is only derivative of his true goal. Recall the aforementioned scene at the dinner table, as Marty looks longingly, sadly, but lovingly at his parents, wondering where it all went wrong. The same look adorns his face just before he says goodbye to Doc, and the frequent times he runs into the younger selves of the townsfolk. Ostensibly selfish, his quest is, nonetheless, for the good of the community: personal success is just a welcome by-product. Back to the Future has a joyously optimistic view of the human race: it believes that, given the means, we would stand up to the physical laws that govern the universe (which Carl Sagan famously called “god”) just to make our loved ones happy. No wonder the film’s signature tune is called The Power of Love.

Hard to believe, but we’re only five years away from the time Marty McFly visits in part 2, the one with the flying skateboards.

“Airplane!” was in some ways a throwback to some of the wilder comedy of the vaudeville era like “Hellzapoppin'” and its joke-a-minute structure was in part influenced by the television show “Rowen and Martin’s Laugh-In.” Coming just ten years after the Oscar-winning “Airport,” it seemed a brash, subversive, iconoclastic upending of just about everything ever taken seriously. It was a surprise success. Made for just $3.5 million, it earned 83 million in North America alone and is 10th on the American Film Institute’s list of the funniest movies of all time.

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