Daniel Craig


Eddie Temple (Michael Gambon), who was not reprised in Viva La Madness.

Sidney (Ben Whishaw) and Tammy (Sienna Miller) who also weren’t reprised.

Near the start of Layer Cake, [xxxx] and Morty go to lunch with Geno and Jimmy Price at Pepe’s Barn.  As far as we are concerned, that scene and the conversation between [xxxx] and Price at lunch, and then in the bathroom, were outstanding, having perfectly conveyed the path of the book, overall.  They are just two scenes of many outstanding ones in Layer Cake, as Connolly is most genius at language, obviously proving that out with giant scenes for Eddy Temple, and Geno and frankly, most of the people who had speaking parts.  When [xxxx] gets kidnapped and filled in?  Phenomenal.  And then again, when Eddy fills [xxxx] in with the layer cake speech at the end.  And then, in the movie, [xxxx] shows why he’s already up the layer cake farther than Mr. Temple knows, or Mr. Ryder, in the movie.  You know we are bigger on the movie’s ending, where he leaves with a leg up, than the book’s most disappointing outcomes.  And you know why.  So we’ll not get into that, though as always, I would certainly entertain comments, as it has become a spirited discussion between the fans of the book.

There was no big setup moment.  Or good setup moment.  And frankly, we thought the first 100 pages were extremely tedious and uninteresting.  But the sequel, Viva La Madness, a good ten years in arriving after Layer Cake, perhaps got it done in other ways, as we have walked away about as best we could be satisfied with a story in which Connolly skunked nearly a dozen worthy characters.  It bothers us also that he didn’t really write any that were that stirring either.  Viva La Madness opens slowly and leaves you wanting for old characters.  Look, I think you knew I’d be honest.  Gene, Mr. Temple/Mr. Ryder, Tammy, Trevor & Shanks, Tiptoes, Billy Bogus, and many of the flashback characters, in the very least, were all compelling characters who all the fans have really gotten attached to.  How could you not?

Here’s another thing, while we are airing the complaints.  It doesn’t sound like him in all parts.  I don’t really know what’s going on there.  But Connolly was using phrases that seemed out of character.  Again, comment me on that if you like.  It would be too difficult to explain and we do not wish to be so overly critical.  We said what we needed to say on that.

But the book does start to satisfy.  And when you are in full clip, you are reading this beast furiously.  Because Connolly is that kind of writer.  He writes a good, compelling, fun story.  And because the characters are a bit too drab or a bit too “heads the balls”, you want the two good characters, our man [xxxx] and Mr. Mortimer to win more than ever.  Anything else will be indecent.  And that is what we always said from the start was the problem from the first book, then corrected in the movie, and then seen to not need correcting in the new novel.  The good guys win.  Finally.

And they get laid.  On my word, [xxxx] gets laid, finally, and the pussy is very good.  That’s great.  We who are rooting for him want him to get laid.  So they gave us that as well.  The book is really not as colorful as the first.  It’s also not as black and white.  It’s quite grey, in fact.  And that should be one’s outlook, and perhaps not so black and white.  Remember, they are commodities traders, and they do make fair compensation.  It is a business at which men like them are successful.  That they do not complete the $100M score, and only come out with a several million dollar score is really nothing to cry about.  This book goes down over a period of about twenty days.  So if you are getting 3M to walk away with, you have been fairly compensated for those twenty days worth of work, especially if you are already a murderous drug dealer.

We have to say we really like it.  We liked the ending.  More grey.  That black and white first book, was really tainted in our mind, by the ending.  You don’t have that here.  The characters we like are rich and safe.  Yay.  The plot is well developed, and complicated, and it is a real page turner.  Exactly what you want.  But we just weren’t feeling these new characters.  We are sure that Connolly and Vaughn will punch them up better if/when the movie becomes a reality.  So we are not gonna cry about that.  If a book is not perfect you are going to have to live with some flaws.  Connolly might have had the one truly great story that made Layer Cake the lightning bolt it was.  That is not going to be easy to duplicate.  But it’s a good sequel to Layer Cake and was well worth buying and reading and anticipating as we did.

Smiler’s alright, but the Venezuelans and the other Brit’s were just brutal, not interesting.  Sonny and Roy? The Toff?  Ih.  He’s alright.  Ted Granger?  Not really impressed.  But this book was funny, and was compelling from about page 100 through to the end.  We did not expect this book to be better than or equal to Layer Cake.  As we have suggested, that may be impossible for Connolly.  But if you like this kind of fiction, drug crime fiction, it’s really the only game in town, and the very big boys who Connolly describes are doing very similar things to the things that Connolly describes, especially in business.

So we have to say kudos.  We were immediately satisfied.  We sat on writing this for many months, as we read it fairly immediately upon release.  And our opinion hasn’t changed any.  We’ve seen a lot of people reading the ‘Layer Cake Sequel Approaches’ post, so we may as well let you know our thoughts.

Viva La Madness should be a satisfying read for Connolly fans.  And they should want to see it on the big screen, where once again, the book will outdo the movie.  But we say all this while fully acknowledging that Connolly is a master in the genre, and we have to thank him for bringing some compelling stories to us.  Thanks JJC.  But if we could suggest for next time, please bring back some of the old guard.  There would be no questions as to any book’s interest level with some of those characters in the mix.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)       

The grounds of beautiful Santa Anita Park (above), which has given HBO’s new series “Luck” unprecedented access.

We can imagine some of the criticisms of what we feel is a budding hit series, HBO’s new drama “Luck”.  The first few episodes seemed incredibly veiled, cloaked in terseness, as though the show was afraid to give away too much, too soon.  On top of that, anyone not acquainted with race track vernacular and etiquette, as I am not, had another layer of code to wade through.  But from early in episode one when the four amigos put together a complex pick six parlay, led by Jerry, a degenerate gambler genius, who reasoned out the long shot selection of Mon Gateau, a horse they now own, a person like me who fancies a good gamble–especially a good parlay, which is where the real money is–could feel that Luck was cultivating a certain electricity and excitement at Santa Anita.  And when Mon Gateau went out and won its race,  which was captured brilliantly in it’s full glory, as one would expect from a David Milch production, and the four amigos had won the 2.6M pick six, we felt that gambler’s high that only comes when a good wager goes green.

Jerry (Jason Gedrick), who tempts fate by playing in high stakes poker games he usually loses, has already lost a good portion of those massive pick 6 winnings, but the flawed nature of this character has hit home, making his storyline all the more interesting to us.  The four amigos made him the point man for the acquisition of Mon Gateau, and his street smarts both sealed the acquisition and secured that ace trainer Escalante (John Ortiz) would continue working with the horse, who, it seems very few people have the patience or nature to get along with.

While Jerry, to us, has stolen a portion of the show, there can be no doubt that this endeavor belongs to the legendary Dustin Hoffman, whose Ace Bernstein character has just been paroled from prison, taking a Cocaine possession charge for his grandson, that landed him 3 years in the fed.  While the first few episodes were exceedingly murky especially in regard to the Bernstein character, the plot has done enough to direct us toward a Bernstein revenge plan against those who have wronged him and his family.

In our minds, Bernstein is the next great HBO character, and will fall in line with the likes of Al Swearengen and Tony Soprano.  And to see Hoffman on HBO in his first ever television gig has been an immense gift for acting buffs and an all time coup for the network, with the credit going to Hoffman and David Milch.  To see Hoffman in scenes with his driver/confidante/right hand man, Dennis Farina (who could forget Farina as crime boss Jimmy Serrano in the all time DeNiro classic “Midnight Run”?) has been a real treat, and they are brilliant together.  And what about Hoffman’s first scene with our guy, Michael Gambon, who played Eddie Temple in Layer Cake, and who delivered on one of our all time favorite film monologues that ended with him telling Daniel Craig, “Welcome to the layer cake, son.”?  Gambon, most well known to youngsters for his work in the Harry Potter films, plays an ex and again business associate of Bernstein’s named Mike, dubious of character at best, and who was probably behind Ace’s set up and 3 year jail term.

Mike:  ‘How’s your grandson, Ace?’

Ace:  ‘He’s good.  Don’t talk about my grandson again.’

Mike:  ‘He’s very lucky to have someone do what you did for him.  Really, he’s good?’

Ace:  ‘You better fucking pray to fucking God every day he stays that way.’

There could be no doubting that Hoffman would bring his trademark electricity to the role, also establishing instant rapport with Patrick Adams (Mike Ross, Suits), who Ace has chosen to be his go between with the villainous Mike.  When Adams, playing young lawyer Nathan Israel, is first enlisted by Bernstein, the uptight young man is mock chided for “answering a question with a question.” When Israel is a bit more comfortable with Bernstein, in a subsequent meeting, he asks, “so what will I be doing to earn my keep?” Bernstein replies, “so what do you think you’d be good at?” Israel retorts, “answers a question with a question.” After Israel reports back to Ace the details of his first meeting with Mike, he tells him he’s not sure he can continue because of his conscience.  Bernstein replies, “that’s because you’re an honest man.  So far.”

With all of the obvious big money on the line, and with Bernstein already spending a fortune to buy a 5.1% stake in the race track, while leading others to believe he will bring lucrative casino and parlor gaming to Santa Anita, the stage seems set for the sting, and we expect it will bring out the duplicitous nature of some.  In the first episode, Ace tells Gus that he doesn’t trust anyone, but that in Gus’s case, he gets a pass.

In light of the congratulatory cake that Gus and Ace received in episode 6, a message to Gus emblazoned upon it that read not “Way to go Greek” but rather “Wait To Go Greek”, which was presumed as having something to do with Gus’s horse winning a race, from Mike and his crew, until Gus says out of earshot of Ace, “No icing error, this.”

Gus is obviously receiving a signal from the other side, but is he really one of them?  Or are they possibly threatening him?  All still part of the unrevealed plot.

While Ace has shown a forthright business nature in meetings with his board of directors, with the head of the casino, and with Escalante, whom he confronts over the training of the horse Ace secretly owns, Pint of Plain, he has also shown a tremendous soft side for the animal, spending one night in a chair in the barn outside the horse’s stall to see him through the night, and beaming in conversations about the animal.  Bernstein is truly at peace when the horse is at peace, and is livid when he feels Escalante is misusing the horse as a means of manipulating the odds.  Escalante, a major player in Luck, is a gruff trainer and a difficult guy, and Bernstein calls him to the carpet right away, because he wants to know if Escalante is a trainer or a gambler.  Escalante replies, ‘who says if you’re one it means you can’t also be the other?’

To his credit, the hardened Escalante does obviously love the animals he trains, and seems to respect both Jerry and Ace for their smarts, and for the way in which they care for their animals.    Also, Escalante doesn’t seem to know that it was Bernstein who got Escalante his break in the business, by suggesting that the stables hire him when he was only a kid who seemed to always be hanging around the horses.  We feel this is a resting plot line right now that will be revealing itself in good time, which Luck most certainly is, a veritable cornucopia for TV fans, replete with two forms of lightning in a bottle.  They have captured the tension, intensity, and magic of the races themselves, a tall order when filming with the animals, and also, the magical chemistry between fantastic castmates performing edgy, well written scenes.

We even get to see more of Kerry Condon practically naked (Octavia from Rome), who jockeys Walter Smith’s (Nick Nolte) star horse, Gettn’up Morning.

We like everything about Luck, including the song.  If you’re behind on your Luck, you have some great television to look forward to, and for those caught up, while only 3 episodes remain, Luck has already been renewed by HBO for a ten episode run beginning next January.

Lucky for us.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

The new release date is now November 1st, 2011, according to www.borders.com.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/welcome-back-to-the-layer-cake-as-sequel-approaches/

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George Harris and Daniel Craig in Layer Cake (above).

“This monkey business is in your blood, under your skin.  You aren’t getting out, you’re just getting in.  You’re only getting started…”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnUUuPUmq6w

Eddy Temple, or Ryder is it?  We hardly knew ye.  For it is fact, now confirmed, the rumor that author J.J. Connolly has only reprised one other character in his soon to hit sequel to Layer Cake, Viva la Madness.  That character, as we have speculated, is Mr. Mortimer, pictured above with [xxxx], played by Daniel Craig. 

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/03/06/welcome-to-the-layer-cake/

It’s not as though we have a problem with Morty by any means, but some might ask how dare he skunk so many other dynamic characters, especially Eddy Ryder and Gene?  Well, we’ve got other news also gleaned from Connolly interviews.  He has not sold the rights to Viva la Madness and doesn’t sound positive that it will make it to the big screen.  Connolly said he hopes to hear from Matthew Vaughn who he hopes will ring Daniel Craig.

Everyone should remember that Layer Cake was done on a tight budget, that Craig was not yet a movie star at that time and that Vaughn was a rookie director on the film, most certainly an expense saved.  And now, Craig is just about the biggest movie star on the planet.  That Layer Cake helped get him the role of 007 though does in no way ensure that Craig actually reprises the role of [xxxx].

If your return visit to the Layer Cake has been decidedly negative so far, take heart.  Whatever the machinations are of Hollywood and big business, we are very confident that this sequel will do what is almost impossible in the realm of entertainment, which is to succeed on an artistic level.  But Crack, haven’t you trashed Connolly for being a cheap artist who uses cheap tricks like the unrevealed narrator, and who writes in the first person, making for standard junk fiction?

Yes and no.  We aren’t expecting the second coming of War and Peace, some great achievement in high fiction.  What we are expecting is the second coming of Layer Cake, only more expansive.  Layer Cake goes international.  Connolly might not write high fiction, but he is definitely in the Premiere League of regular fiction.  We have missed his sterling dialogue and have waited anxiously for this sequel, which you can pre-order now in advance of its September release. 

Crack, didn’t you pan Connolly for Layer Cake’s inconsistent ending, crediting Vaughn for cleaning up the story and making for a better film than book, something rarely done in the history of fiction to motion picture?  Yes.  Connolly though also had a major hand in the way the story was reworked (he wrote the screenplay), and while we don’t necessarily agree with what he did with [xxxx] at the end of the book to get an innocent American tourist killed in the park instead of Klaus, the Amsterdam pill syndicate’s gruesome henchman, we do now understand his logic, as a major advocate of legalization, that the illegal drug world is chaotic and violent and that the more involved people are in it, the less control they will have over their lives.

Obviously that is true, and is perhaps an even better rationale for legalization than financial exploits.  After all, a book is a different entity from a movie, and Connolly didn’t have the same interest in keeping [xxxx] likable as say, Sony and Columbia Pictures did.  Connolly does have a keen interest in presenting his world, where the dons are the least trustworthy of all, and we feel he has a lot to work with even without the embarrassment of riches that were the bulk of his original book cast.  With Mort having sufficient connections in the Caribbean and in the cocaine world, with that world being [xxxx]’s only real trade, and now having him relocated to Venezuela, a stone’s throw from the coast of Colombia, we are expecting to see all the tricks on the highest level of that trade, including the latest in international smuggling and money laundering that Connolly has now had about ten years to research and write up.

Whether he makes it to the big screen again or not, take heart friends, for [xxxx] is indeed alive.  Watch the alternate endings on your DVD!  Sidney does not kill our protagonist on the steps of Pepi’s Barn with that gun shot.  As you may know from the end of the book.  And as you also may know, [xxxx] is forced to relocate to the Caribbean or risk being prosecuted for killing an American tourist. 

It all makes for a great beginning for Viva la Madness, which we think will provide us with a look into a world which combines gritty London gangster, tropical locales, and an episode of Locked Up Abroad in South America.  Jimmy Price, London’s godfather and chief rat, had his brains and those of his boxers splattered all over his backyard.  The London underworld is out of whack, pardon the pun, and coke prices, even at insane wholesale levels, have skyrocketed, as Connolly also set up well at the end of Layer Cake.  Re-enter [xxxx] later this month.

How does [xxxx] actually re-enter the United Kingdom?  And how are we to forget the characters we have come to love?  We’re confident leaving all that to Connolly. 

Crackbillionair (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

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AMC, the top dog in creating cable dramas, even ahead of the always busy new programming department at HBO, debuted its third original program this summer–Rubicon–starring James Badge Dale, who you may have caught in HBO’s Pacific.  Their first two originals, Mad Men and Breaking Bad, are probably finest A and finest B, when it comes to acted dramas on television right now.

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https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/mad-men-don-and-betty-up-to-old-and-new-tricks/

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The bar is obviously set high on Dale, who will no doubt be compared to Jon Hamm and Bryan Cranston, and on a show that takes its name from the Greek pass that the Roman army took on the orders of Caesar in 49 B.C., and which has come to mean “a limit that when passed or exceeded permits of no return and typically results in irrevocable commitment.”  Dale, playing Will Travers, an intelligence analyst at a high level think tank, is a widower who lost his wife and daughter in 9/11, and who mostly lives an isolated existence.  Travers’ father-in-law and boss, David Hadas (Peter Gerety), is killed in a train crash, and Will is quickly offered his old job of team leader.  While Will was conflicted about remaining in their employ, he takes the job so he can pursue the mystery of what really happened to his father-in-law, who sent him a number of clues as part of a code he wanted Will to break in relation to his murder, we presume, which started with him parking his car on the morning of the train crash in spot # 13–something the superstitious Hadas would never do unless he was trying to get someone’s attention.

Before the crash, Travers was depressed, and had confided to Hadas that he missed his family and that he hated his job.  After the crash, Will is quickly offered the promotion, though the dirt wasn’t dry on Hadas’ casket, literally.  Will is approached by Kale Ingram (Arliss Howard), who is the highest ranking employee to work “downstairs”, at  Hadas’ funeral.  Will says he’s going to reject the offer, but pleas from co-workers, and more importantly, clues from David, compel him to change his mind.  A retired analyst, Ed Bancroft (Roger Robinson), who Will has just met but who may now be his only confidante, figures out that a piece of information that David left Will was a match book code–one where each person has the same book, and they look up a series of letter postions to put a message together–ingenius, because it can never be cracked without knowing what book was used.  David had given Will a book right before his death, and Will looks up the letters which form the sentence, “they hide in plain sight.”

Obviously Hadas is referring to Will’s co-workers and superiors.  Will’s assistant (Jessica Collins) happens to be secretly giving info to Kale Ingram about the different members of the team.  Kale makes a point of asking if Will is overly preoccupied with David’s murder.  Kale may very well know what happened to Hadas, and their boss, Truxton Spangler (Michael Christopher), it looks like, may be part of the group responsible for Hadas’ death.  Will’s first meeting with Spangler was tense, at which, Spangler shows them a picture of George Beck, a German Muslim person of interest to the agency, and says of the two guys in the photo with him, “I’d like to know who they are.”

Will, who walked up to the roof and stood out on the ledge for a minute, before walking in and taking his new job, has eyes on him.  His rooftop dalliances are being photographed (by Isiah Whitlock Jr., who played state senator Clay Davis on The Wire), and Will is being followed.  David, who gave him his motorcycle before he died, left Will a revolver, and a strip of coded numbers inside the seat–numbers we would later learn correlated to the dates the Yankees won their 27 championships, something David knew Will would know. 

David wasn’t the only person to die early on in Rubicon, as in the very first scene, we see billionaire magnate Tom Rhumor (Bill Murray buddy Harris Yulin), upon seeing a green four leaf clover on his morning paper, take out a gun and blow his brain’s out.  The clover was significant to Will, who spotted a trend in the crossword puzzles of a few major papers, that there was a pattern of clues representing the 3 branches of government, and the fourth–the intelligence community–all represented by a four leaf clover.  Will would piece together the signifcance, that the crosswords were a go code for revenge killings, after another analyst tells him that a similar pattern in 11 newspaper crosswords in 1983 came right after a terrorist attack, and that a few days later, a number of senior Hezbollah money men went missing.

Will thinks that David’s train crashed because of that go code, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this all connects to George Beck, and has terrorist implications.  It wouldn’t surprise me–in fact–I predict that at some point we will learn that the agency where Will works knew the towers were going to fall.  Will, to find the truth, must pass the rubicon, and probably has already.  Dale plays an intellectual, not a brute, so it should be interesting to see how he handles himself with that gun, and with the weird shadowy types who are following him.

Will Travers may not be Don Draper or Walter White, and the vague intrigue of Rubicon may not yet compare with beauty of Mad Men or the grit of Breaking Bad, but Will is a character to root for on an intelligent show.

Will Travers, welcome to the Layer Cake.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/03/06/welcome-to-the-layer-cake/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/04/18/layer-cake-author-on-the-drug-problem-we-should-be-more-grown-up-about-it/

–Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

Daniel Craig, best known as 007 but beloved to us from his awesome portrayal of coke and ecstasy dealer, [xxxx] from one of our favorite films, Layer Cake, was seen making out with a man outside a California gay bar. 

Or was he?

The original story, broken by the National Enquirer, has been met with a flurry of contradictory reports in recent hours, but none conclusive.

http://perezhilton.com/2010-05-26-daniel-craig-gay-scandal

http://www.gossipcop.com/daniel-craig-roosterfish-gay-bar-kissing-man-james-bond/

The only thing that is conclusive is that Craig was at the gay bar with a bunch of gay people.  Ouch.  Look.  We don’t care, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that this news has shaken, if not stirred us, as we have a different image of Craig than the one being widely reported.

Craig is expected to reprise the role of [xxxx] in a sequel to Layer Cake.  The sequel will be based on John Connolly’s much anticipated novel, Viva la Madness, slated for release in 2011.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/03/06/welcome-to-the-layer-cake/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/04/18/layer-cake-author-on-the-drug-problem-we-should-be-more-grown-up-about-it/

Now give the man his privacy.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

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