I paid a rare visit to a cinema on Friday and a few things struck me.
Firstly, the sticky-floored, faded glamour of the flea-pit we chose was far more enjoyable to sit in than the new generation of multi-screened monstrosities on the outskirts of most towns and cities. So enjoyable, in fact, that I’d like to go back again soon.
Secondly, our choice of film was fairly appropriate given one of the major news stories of recent times.
We opted for the latest 007 spy-fest, Casino Royale, and a jolly entertaining yarn it was as well. By far the best Bond film for some time, Daniel Craig’s super-spy is a whole lot more believable and watchable incarnation than most of those who have gone before him.
Where Casino Royale scores highly is stripping much of the glamour and escapism from the Bond franchise. There are still plenty of girls and a fair few gadgets and gimmicks, but the film tries hard to paint a much more raw portrait of life as a spy.
It will never be as raw as real-life, of course, but ditching the high-camp and rather too knowing style of recent Bond flicks was the right choice.
The film has also struck lucky with the timing of its release. We are currently immersed in a real-life spy story that takes on unexpected new twists and turns with each new day.
The apparent murder of Alexander Litvinenko through radiation poisoning has captured our collective imagination and brought a rather shadowy world into the spotlight. Type “Litvinenko murder” into any search engine and you’ll get a bewildering list of returns, some based on fact and some undoubtedly fuelled by paranoia and an over-active imagination.
The fact that those in the know have been blithely acknowledging the existence of such clandestine operations as nothing more as just another typical day of 21st century espionage makes the story even more fascinating.
At the heart of the story, let it not be forgotten, is the rather gruesome death of a man. The way in which Mr Litvinenko wasted away in obviously excruciating pain after ingesting such a lethal dose of radiation provides a sobering dose of reality to what would otherwise seem an exciting and intriguing tale.
We are getting some equally eye-opening glimpses into modern society too as the story of his death slowly reveals itself. The underground networks of hired killers, the alleged involvement of governments in international and industrial espionage and the lengths some people will go to in order to silence critics or preserve secrets is both fascinating and alarming in equal measure.
It is still unclear whether we will ever get the full, true story of this particular death.
I have read a few comments that the Litvinenko death will make a great movie. I have to disagree.
The story of his death will make an uncomfortable and unnerving script for a film and provide too much of an insight into a section of our society that most of us would be happier knowing nothing about.
Casino Royale may be grittier than every Bond film that has gone before it. But it is still fictional entertainment.
The death of Alexander Litvinenko is all-too real for comfort.
Truth is stranger than fiction, but it can sometimes be harder to accept as well.