Monthly Archives: April 2013


Introductory note: I watched Goldfinger on Sunday night the 14th and filed my notes away to complete the review the following evening. In the interim, the awful explosions at the Boston Marathon happened. My boyfriend and I both have personal connections to the city. We’re incredibly saddened by this tragic, awful story. Our hearts go out to all those affected, and our gratitude to the brave first responders and medical personnel. Between the events in Boston and the Waco explosion, it seemed tasteless to run this post on its regular schedule given the plot-line – so I hope you’ll forgive the delay. -Eira

Goooooooldfingeeeeeer, the man with the Midas touch…..

Y’all, I was so excited to revisit Goldfinger. This is the earliest Bond movie I had seen prior to starting Church of Bond, and I remember loving it the first time around. On re-watch, it did not disappoint, at all.

And you heard it here first: whenever I form a rock band, the name is totally going to be Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus.

Plot in twenty words or less: Fort Knox is going to be blown up to disrupt the world economy and so Goldfinger can get RICH.

How it’s aged: What struck me about this movie was how, while the plot could obviously never happen in 2013 (not the least of which is the idea that it’d take 2 hours for everyone to uncover your takeover of Fort Knox….), it still feels less dated than the first two Bond movies. And despite many of the cringe-worthy moments (and there are plenty) it’s a movie that still feels incredibly fresh and glamorous. The flirting grows more sexy and less campy, Bond begins to completely toy with his enemies the way a cat plays with a bird before taking it out, and his humor is just so, so good. For example, the “shocking” scene at the beginning really captures that blend of suave wit that 007 is known for. Bond also seems to hit his stride, even displaying a bit more sassiness than I could recall from the first two. I wonder how much of this was Sean Connery just getting really comfortable with the role.

I’m one of those people who will go see almost any movie (well, except horror movies because I am a big wussy), and my sole criteria for my review is “Was I entertained?” If a movie doesn’t entertain me, I’m not interested. Life is too short. As I was watching the epic chase scene that involves all of the following elements:

  •    Passenger ejector seat!
  •    Old lady with a machine gun!!

….All I could think was:

  •    I am so fking entertained right now!!!!

And that’s when I think I really fell in love with the Bond franchise back when I saw Goldfinger the first time. Because if nothing else, I am always entertained by Bond movies.

Oh, and the other reason Goldfinger rocks? Bond finally gets a decent car. WITH A BIG RED BUTTON.

Something that was just weird and/or WTF y’all: At least there was no yellow face this time, but why were all the Asian worker extras in stereotypical outfits?

Obligatory feminist commentary: With the introduction of Pussy Galore, I think we’re seeing an interesting duality emerge in Bond movies. There are the “window dressing” women who only appear in the movie as existing solely for Bond’s amusement and are fairly expendable (they’re lucky if they get more than a scene) – and then there are the “women with names.” Meaning that they’re significant enough, storyline-wise, that they get the dignity of a full-name (see: Masterson, Jill and Tillie, and Galore, Pussy). Usually this includes the Bond Girl and maybe some other women important to the story who Bond at least flirts with, if not sleeps with.

While doing some background reading on Rosa Klebb for the From Russia with Love review, I ran across several mentions of Pussy Galore being a lesbian. I didn’t totally recall this from the first time I watched Goldfinger, so I kept an eye out during this viewing. There are certainly suggestions that she is a lesbian, but to a modern viewer, these are only “suggestions” insofar as one would suggest that any woman not falling immediately to Bond’s charms is totally super-duper gay.

The interwebz tell me that the Ian Fleming novel definitively casts Pussy Galore as a lesbian (and Tilly, too!), and not necessarily for the most progressive storyline. And Bond’s “overpowering” (ew) of Pussy Galore’s tough shell and/or sexuality brings us to another running theme of many Bond movies: sex scenes characterized by not-entirely-enthusiastically-consensual interactions. I think saying “Well the movies were a product of their times and other movies do it too!” is an insidious cop-out, because, uh, this stuff is still happening as recently as Skyfall. Let’s hope it tapers off at some point in the franchise (I say ‘tapers’ since I’m not confident we’re going to have a feminist Bond anytime soon).

Completely hypothetical cultural reference points: The shadow of Goldfinger in the room right before Bond gets knocked out and Jill Masterson gets gold-fied reminded me of Hitchcock’s famous silhouette. Also, following the scene with the laser in Goldfinger’s lair, I kept thinking “Huh, isn’t this like an updated version of an Edgar Allan Poe story?” Upon going through the interwebz, I might have been thinking of The Pit and the Pendulum.

Superficial Thing that did not Amuse Me: Pretty sure I saw palm trees in the background when Oddjob was driving Mr. Solo to the airport in Kentucky. Friends, I grew up across the river from the great state of Kentucky (in Cincinnati) and I’m here to tell you I did not see palm trees on the regular until I moved to New Orleans.

Superficial Thing that highly Amused Me: Anyone else notice James Bond’s bathrobe-jumpsuit (er, “playsuit”) thang? I’m still confused by rompers and jumpsuits in general (how do you pee?!) but if anyone can make it look good, it’s Sean Connery.

Interesting and possibly dubious super-awesome thing I learned from Wikipedia: “[Honor] Blackman was the first of two “Bond girls” older than the actor playing James Bond, and she was the oldest actress ever to play a Bond girl.” Also, Honor Blackman is definitely THE coolest name of all time.

Martini rating: Seven martinis martini-glass-1-32px_blogjamesblogmartini-glass-1-32px_blogjamesblogmartini-glass-1-32px_blogjamesblogmartini-glass-1-32px_blogjamesblogmartini-glass-1-32px_blogjamesblogmartini-glass-1-32px_blogjamesblogmartini-glass-1-32px_blogjamesblog

Administrative information concerning this viewing:
Drinks consumed: Ginger ale and bourbon

Food eaten: Black bean tacos and buttermilk pie bars

Viewed on: April 14, 2013

Viewing Partner: Dudes of the house aka Boyfriend and Cat

Posted in review. Tagged with .

Goldfinger review coming soon guys, I PROMISE!

Hey Church of Bond-ers, I watched Goldfinger and have written a very rough draft of the review, but the full thing won’t go up until next week. Also, Pussy Galore is too awesome of a character not to devote more text and feminist bantering about, so if anyone has some really awesome citations for her portrayal in the movie (especially in contrast to the novel), please dump some links on me.

Posted in administrative.

Goodbye Roger Ebert. You will be greatly missed.


Posted in news.

From Russia With Love

In the second James Bond film, we encounter the other big Cold War bogeyman: the Russians™. Along the way, we stop by Venice, Istanbul, and some underground canals that would be cool except for the footage of swarms of rats running through the crevices.

In 007’s second film, the sex gets dialed up a few notches, we see the official debut of Q with some handy gadgets (we’ve all had that moment where we needed a magnetized canister of tear gas attached to our briefcase, right?), and the James Bond theme song becomes a complete ear-worm with multiple uses throughout the film. The opening credits in the second movie look and function a bit more like what we’re used to – a short opening (usually tense) scene, the credits, and then Bond being dialed up for his mission. And the credits incorporate cool music with lots of sexy lady parts in silhouette.

Plot in twenty words or less: The evil SPECTRE organization is playing the Russians and the Brits off each other over a stupid cipher machine.

How it’s aged: I’m on the fence with this one. It’s much less campy than Dr. No. However, it’s very hard for me to get past 007 slapping Tatiana like it’s no thing. On the other hand, I felt like all the women had (slightly) more agency than we saw in Dr. No. Everyone smokes like chimneys, but I feel like pointing that out about any pre-1970s movie is just a big Duh. Everything in the Gypsy scene is godawful, but I don’t have a lot of faith that the current movie industry would deal with this much better today. Apparently this is quite a highly-ranked Bond film, which surprised me, since I didn’t like it as much as I wanted to. Gentle readers, what do you think about how this one stands the test of time?

Something that was just weird and/or WTF y’all: What in the hell was happening with the camera perspective whenever Evil SPECTRE #1 was in the scene? The first time it kept shifting around, I thought I was having balance issues (yes, while sitting on my butt on the couch…), but then it kept happening and I just thought “You guys, cut it out, we know you’re evil because of the white cat, you don’t need to keep moving the camera around too.”

Obligatory feminist commentary: Oh boy, we have a lot of material to work with here. So much so that it spilled over into the next section. As I mentioned earlier, I think the women in this movie had slightly more agency than in the first Bond movie. And by “slightly” more agency, I mean vocalizing their desires for Bond, as opposed to the desire being uni-directional from Bond. Sylvia Trench got on the phone with 007’s office to say no, he’d be busy with her a bit longer. Moneypenny seemed a bit more sassy in this movie (I agree with Blog, James Blog’s take on one of the scenes with Moneypenny). Bond girl Tatiana Romanova was not quite as annoyingly helpless as Honey Ryder from Dr. No, but still not fulfilling any kind of full-length bad-ass potential (in all fairness, she did save Bond’s life at the end from SPECTRE #3 aka Rosa Klebb). Tatiana was also not reserved in telling Bond how much she wanted to bring sexy back with him.

I’m having difficulty sorting out my feelings on the scene between Rosa Klebb and Tatiana. Rosa Klebb is a pretty hardcore female villian – she socks a dude in the gut with brass knuckles, after all. Also, poison-dagger shoes, WHAAAAT. And a large part of me feels that feminism can check a big to-do off its list when we have evil lady villains as low, down, mean, and dirty as the guys. But given that female villainy and gender performance does not exactly exist within a vacuum, the portrayal of Klebb recruiting Tatiana was laden with something that felt borderline homophobic. Portraying an unattractive, tough as nails woman (they might as well have added the subtitle clearly a lesbian!!! in case you weren’t getting the hint) touching Tatiana and speaking to her in a suggestive manner made me wonder if back then, this portrayal had more to do with the Russians™, or the fact that a female villain really had to fit a certain mold.

I’m super curious about this dynamic. Some cursory searching of the Bond-fandom and academic intertubes suggests that Bond films have a complicated (should I say ‘evolving’?) relationship with gay characters, particularly in their frequent role as villains. Sam Mendes (director of Skyfall with Javier Bardem as the most recent gay villain) stated that “I think there’s a huge homoerotic undertow in a lot of Bond movies.” I’ll try to pay attention to this in future viewings. (Side note: Has anyone read Catching Bullets? After reading this interview it’s going on my to-read list)

Completely hypothetical cultural reference points: Two things about this movie brought to mind the Godfather (which came out in 1972, about 10 years after From Russia with Love). First, the white cat being petted by a big dude in a bigger chair (to be fair, the Don’s cat was a gray stripey one). Second, the main character using physical violence against a woman in the second movie, and therefore pretty much putting a real damper on that whole suave gentleman thing. In the second Bond movie, 007 gets pissed when Bond girl Tatiana Romanova won’t give him information on who she is working for after Kerim Bey is killed. In the second Godfather, Michael Corleone hits his wife Kay after she discloses her abortion to him. I really loved Michael Corleone’s character in the first Godfather and seeing him lash out at Kay didn’t make me think “Oh well, he’s just a human being with flaws”, it made me think “Wow, you really suck and I don’t like your character as much anymore.” I had a similar reaction with Bond slapping Tatiana. It was totally unnecessary, and left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m all too familiar with the fact that violence against women in movies back then (and today, for that matter) is very common, but it’s something that, despite its preponderance, always makes me distinctly uncomfortable to watch. 

Superficial Thing that did not Amuse Me: Why do people always pull grenade pins out with their teeth? Is this actually a thing people have ever been taught to do? Apparently I am not the only one who is wondering about this.

Superficial Thing that highly Amused Me: I love the way Bond inspects a room, and am only half-joking when I say I could see myself doing the same thing on a future trip.

Interesting and possibly dubious thing I learned from Wikipedia: Apparently there was a lot of DRAMA while filming: a helicopter crash, a car crash, and a sunken boat. Also, the Brits didn’t allow live filming of rats (what a bunch of boring nanny-state party poopers), which explains the awful separate footage of rats.

Martini rating: Three martinis martini-glass-1-32px_blogjamesblogmartini-glass-1-32px_blogjamesblogmartini-glass-1-32px_blogjamesblog

Administrative information concerning this viewing:

Drinks consumed: Baltika beerIn my quest to start quasi-matching my viewing food and beverage consumption to the themes/locations of the movies, I set out to find a Russian beer (caviar is not my thang, and vodka turns me into an evil wildebeest). Thank you, Dorignac’s (the best is better!), for delivering on this one. This Russian wheat beer from Baltika was totally acceptable (and tasted faintly of bananas).

Food eaten: Homemade pierogies with mashed ‘taters, caramelized onions and cottage cheese filling. Girl Scout shortbread cookies.

Viewed on: March 31, 2013

Viewing Partner: The dudes of the house kinda-sorta watched it with me. Dudes here meaning my boyfriend and my cat.


Posted in review. Tagged with .