Monthly Archives: May 2013

You Only Live Twice

You Only Live Twice is the last of the five movie Sean Connery streak before we’re introduced to George Lazenby (side note: I’ve never seen On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and am really looking forward to it,  given the place it holds in Bond fandom). Something that occurred to me while marinating on our transition to the next Bond (and of course, back again to Connery in Diamonds are Forever) – is James Bond supposed to be a static character throughout the movies? I can’t believe I never considered this before. Or is ‘James Bond’ simply the agent name for whoever is holding the 007 designation at any given time? Seems like the folks at the fan site MI6 call horse-hockey on a lot of the continuity theories.

Plot in twenty words or less: SPECTRE is inflaming the Cold War by capturing space ships. The Americans and Soviets freak out. The UK stays smug.

How it’s aged: Not very well. One always has to grant a certain amount of cheesiness to space scenes made during this period, but the SPECTRE spaceship-eating rocket was pretty silly. James Bond’s “Asian makeover” (which covered all the bases between wtf, WTF, and W. T. F.) was totally unnecessary, especially since the only appearance-related outcome of it was he ended up looking like the love-child between the Three Stooges’ Moe and Ringo from the Beatles. All the super-weird racism in this movie made me think I need to start dropping some Edward Said into these reviews. And when we finally get a glimpse of Blofeld, it’s hard for those of us who saw Austin Powers before the earlier Bond movies to think of anything else besides Dr. Evil.

Something that was just weird and/or WTF y’all: Besides the things noted above, did anyone catch Blofeld’s poor cat freaking out when all hell was breaking loose on the volcano base? Ugh, I hated that part.

Obligatory feminist commentary: Well, this is pretty obvious… the scene where James Bond is bathed by the gaggle of women, catering to pretty much every awful stereotype about Asian women’s alleged sexual  submissiveness, was probably the low-point of this movie. Also, I couldn’t quite get a handle on the scene where Bond is told he’ll be marrying a woman who resembles a pig – is this to throw him off when it turns out she looks just fine?

Also, WTF was happening with Helga Brandt’s terrifying torture scene? If the roles were reversed (a man trying to make out with a restrained woman) we’d rightfully look at this as something seriously non-consensual. But I guess in the world of James Bond, we’re supposed to just view this as something that’s all in a day’s work for 007, culminating with each character playing deliberately into the trap that’s been set up and Bond remarking “The things I do for England” as he takes off Brandt’s dress. Hmmmm.

Here are the good things I can manage to recall: Bond doesn’t make any obnoxious comments about Aki’s awesome driving skills, plus she gets to wear some pretty cool-but-normal clothes in the chase scene (I seem to recall a nice beige sweater and skinny pants). Both Sasha Holiday and I were like FINALLY A BOND GIRL GETS TO WEAR NORMAL, FLATTERING REAL PEOPLE CLOTHES THAT I MIGHT ACTUALLY WEAR.

Completely hypothetical cultural reference points: Boyfriend and I both liked that this was the first time someone yelled at Bond for smoking. This movie was released in 1967, and by this time, the landmark US Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking (published in 1964) had percolated through mainstream culture. According to the National Library of Medicine, by 1968, a majority of Americans believed in the link between smoking and cancer.

Superficial Thing that did not Amuse Me: I really wish someone had explained, how, exactly, James Bond did not die after the scene in which he was completely shot up. Did they preemptively insert a metal plate under his skin? Did all the bullets simply get embedded in the mattress? I know the answer is just “Dude, he’s James Bond, he doesn’t die” but this is so unsatisfying to me. Is this some “a magician never reveals his tricks” nonsense? I NEED TO KNOW.

Superficial Thing that highly Amused Me: I love Q’s dorky pleated man shorts so much. I tried and failed to find a picture. That just means y’all have to watch the film yourself!

Interesting and possibly dubious thing I learned from Wikipedia: I can’t do justice to this in my own words, so I’ll just quote it: “As the screenwriter of the previous Bond films Richard Maibaum was unavailable, Roald Dahl, [yes, that Roald Dahl] close friend of Ian Fleming, was chosen to write the adaptation despite having no prior experience writing a screenplay except for the uncompleted The Bells of Hell Go Ting-a-ling-a-ling.”  (Source!!) (Also, seriously, click the link for the “The Bells of Hell” – Gregory Peck + Ian McKellen ?!?!?!)

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

Administrative information concerning this viewing:

Drinks consumed: Beer. I forgot to note down what it was.

Food eaten: We ate before the movie.

Viewed on: May 12, 2013

Viewing Partner: Sasha Holiday, Mystery Man, Boyfriend and Cat.

*Not their real names. All my viewing buddies are getting Bond-girl aliases.

Posted in review. Tagged with .


Moving right along into Thunderball, also known as “the movie where you can’t decide whether the underwater fight scenes are kinda awesome or excruciatingly awful.” I’m leaning towards the former, even with all the dramatic!!! scoring. We’re back in the tropics again, SPECTRE is up to their no-good evil-doing, and there are lots of babes. I think by now we’ve got the Bond formula down, so away we go!

Plot in twenty words or less: SPECTRE nabbed a couple of bombs, and is blackmailing the Brits and Americans for a gajillion bucks. Plus, SHARK TANK!!!

How it’s aged: I’d say about 1/3 is pretty fresh (mostly in the costuming department: Bond’s very hipster-y shorty shorts, Felix Leiter’s intriguing mod-rockabilly-Super American look, and Domino’s totally hotttt bathing suits), 1/3 is kinda-sorta still relevant (SPECTRE in this movie is sort of taking on North Korea levels of cray-cray by demanding a message to be communicated via EFFING BIG BEN), and 1/3 is just…. oh, no, do we have to go there? levels of embarrassing misogynist grossness (see: Bond telling the massage therapist he won’t rat her out for the incident on the spinal machine if she has sex with him: “my silence has a price”. Ugh)

Something that was just weird and/or WTF y’all: OK, so let me get this straight – one of the Big Scary SPECTRE-seized bombs that was supposedly going to obliterate Miami Beach was on the Disco Volante (I think this will be the name of my first album when I convene my future rock band, Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus) when it ran aground on the rocks, and all that happened was…..the boat exploding in flames? So much for total nuclear annihilation.

Obligatory feminist commentary: In this Bond movie, we get the first for-real Bond girl villian with Fiona Volpe, who doesn’t ever flip over to being on Bond’s side even after getting it on with him. Volpe ends up taking a bullet meant for Bond, while they were dancing in the Kiss Kiss Club. I’m trying to get more into some of the academic writing on James Bond films, and just read an interesting article on the the role of Bond girl villains (which apparently have not been a very consistent presence throughout the franchise). Garland makes the argument that Bond girl villains present a very different approach to sexuality from James Bond: where 007 keeps his sexy times and professional missions clearly delineated, Bond girl villains often don’t and are killed off as part of the storyline (Garland, T. W. (2009). “The Coldest Weapon of All”: The Bond Girl Villain in James Bond Films. Journal of Popular Film & Television, 37(4), 179–188.) Quoting from this article:

Having used sex to place Bond an immediately perilous situation, Volpe cannot help but taunt him because she wishes not merely to defeat him as her enemy, but also to express her desire to sexually possess him and humiliate him. Her open deception makes Volpe a formidable opponent, but ultimately leads to her death because, as the totality of her character, her duplicity produces an inherent contradiction between her mission and her desire (p. 182).

…Of course, this perpetuates all sorts of notions that Bond, as the manliest of men, can separate sex from work in a way that women are seemingly incapable of in most Bond movies. Which is why I think the most radical thing that could be done with Bond is to recast 007 as a woman in future films.

Completely hypothetical cultural reference points: Anyone else catch the part where Bond says “Strange as it may seem, I’ve grown accustomed to your face?” I’m going to go out on an (incredibly) obvious limb here and say this might have been a nod to My Fair Lady. Thunderball was released just over a year after My Fair Lady.

Superficial Thing that did not Amuse Me: What in the hell was happening with Bond’s hat after his meeting with the other 00 agents? He remarked, “I thought I had a hat” when leaving Moneypenny’s office and then shrugged it off, and I was like “ME TOO, JAMES, YOU PUT IT ON THE COAT STAND!” and then it never came back up. WHYYYYYYY?!?!?!?! This was a total Chekhov’s gun moment that was still driving me nuts the day after I saw it. If there was something subtle I missed, someone clue me in, please.

Superficial Thing that highly Amused Me: I know this is just my juvenile 5th-grade sense of humor speaking, but the scene with Bond on the spinal traction machine was so unintentionally suggestive I couldn’t stop laughing. Sorry, James.

Interesting and possibly dubious thing I learned from Wikipedia: So the whole SHARK TANK!!! aspect was no joke. Sean Connery was totally freaked out about filming the scene with the sharks and insisted on the use of a glass partition, and one got through and almost attacked him! Eeeek! And it gets weirder! Apparently someone brought what was allegedly a shark carcass on set (hey, we all know how this goes, right?) and IT ACTUALLY TURNED OUT TO BE ALIVE. OMG WTF!!!!!!!

Runner-up for on-set malarkey is that apparently when the yacht exploded, it shattered windows in Nassau, 30 miles away from filming.

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

Administrative information concerning this viewing:
Drinks consumed: Rogue Dead Guy Ale
Food eaten: Sweet potato and black bean burritos
Viewed on: April 28, 2013
Viewing Partners: Sasha Holiday*, Boyfriend and Cat

*Not her real name. All my viewing buddies are getting Bond-girl aliases.

Posted in review. Tagged with .