Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Spy Who Loved Me

The Spy Who Loved Me was slightly more coherent in its storytelling than The Man With the Golden Gun – though it was still full of holes and unexplained threads (the microfilm story sort of fell apart, and what exactly did Stromberg have to gain from everyone having to live underwater?). However, I enjoyed this movie much more because of the landscapes, a much-improved Bond girl, a fantastic henchman in the character of Jaws, and shades of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service storytelling.

One thing I noticed – when Triple-X ran down her knowledge of Bond, she mentions he was married once. Again, we return to the eternal question – is Bond a pseudonym associated with the 007 identity (therefore the Bonds between the series are not necessarily connected), or is he a continuous character? My money is on the same dude.

Plot in twenty words or less: The villain plans to sink Earth’s continents as part of his maniacal vision to make everyone live under the sea.

How it’s aged: Although there were some seriously 70s aspects to this movie – the disco music while skiing and the Lotus Esprit – this Bond didn’t feel as dated as others. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but this was the first Bond movie that felt like it could have plausibly been made very recently, save for some of the bad green screen effects, the portrait of Lenin in the Moscow office, and some of the clothing. My guess for this is based on several reasons.

The first is that even though James Bond still had his womanizing tendencies intact, there was much less overt misogyny than in recent Bond movies. Second, the scoring felt more contemporary – and I noticed a lot of classical music was used compared to previous Bonds. Third, as my friend Dominic noted, the film was very color-saturated and highly atmospheric. Did the departure of Harry Saltzman have anything to do with it? After reading Blog, James Blog’s review, I think Scott’s note about EON not being able to use much of Fleming’s story is a really good observation – this had to factor in as well. Scott’s brilliant retelling of the impact of Jaws on the movie industry may also explain why this Bond simply feels so different.

Something that was just weird and/or WTF y’all: I thought there were fewer WHAT?! moments in this movie compared to previous Bonds – maybe due to less overt racism and sexism? So that’s a good thing. I am still confused by how one takes a train from Egypt to Sardinia. Perhaps through the train ferries?

Obligatory feminist commentary: Agent Triple-X was his equal in many ways, and didn’t play second fiddle or a dumb bimbo the way several recent Bond girls did. One of my favorite Bond girls in a long time. Plus, her dresses were pretty damn fantastic. This movie did have some teenage boy moments, like when the guy on the submarine caught a glimpse of her taking a shower. However, this felt pretty benign compared to a lot of recent Bond shenanigans.

Completely hypothetical cultural reference points: Dominic called this one early on – the music box used by Agent Triple-X played Lara’s Theme from Dr Zhivago.

Superficial Thing that did not Amuse Me: I’m sort of getting tired of the very formulaic ending of many Bond movies up to this point – some big vessel/ship/thingamabob captures a smaller vessel. The passengers are taken prisoner in some isolated warehouse/nuclear reactor/factory and overseen by guys in orange/red/white uniforms (and they always have a monorail!) while they have 3/4/5 minutes to prevent final destruction of the US/UK/Russia. Meanwhile, the baddie is torturing/imprisoning Bond/the Bond girl in his evil mancave/lair/den while some other poor sucker gets eaten by piranhas/sharks.

On second thought, maybe I just need to get over my irritation and embrace it. I watched the Moonraker trailer and it seems like a snake gets introduced into the final sequence so, variety, I guess?

Superficial Thing that highly Amused Me: Let’s be honest, that hookah rifle was pretty awesome. So was the pocket microfilm reader, and Bond’s label-maker/telex watch. Glad to see some good gadgetry back in this movie, because it means I get to see more of Q, who I find adorably cranky.

Interesting and possibly dubious thing I learned from Wikipedia: Stanley Kubrick advised aspects of stage lighting during a secret visit to the set.

Martini rating: Five martinis martini-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: New Belgium 1554 & Leinenkugel’s Snowdrift Vanilla Porter
Food eaten: Vegetarian chili & cheese straws
Viewed on: October 27, 2013
Viewing Partner: Boyfriend, Cat, Sasha Holiday, Dominic LeFihre*
*Not her/his real name. All my viewing buddies are getting Bond-girl/Bond-baddie aliases.


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The Man with the Golden Gun

Ugh, this might be my least favorite Bond movie since Diamonds Are Forever. I really should have written this review as soon as we finished watching the movie, because the storyline was so incomplete but also forgettable. I had to ask Boyfriend what went down in the movie so I could try to remember (usually I take pretty copious notes during Bond-viewing, but even my 3 pages of notes didn’t really help) some details as I sat down to write this review. Boyfriend saw my pathetic attempts at recapping the plot, so he made a guest contribution below. Also, it turns out that our flying car dreams may have a promising future.

Plot in twenty words or less: There is a golden gun. And a laser. A FLYING CAR. Plus, Sheriff J.W. Pepper.

Plot in twenty words or less, as told by The Boyfriend: Bond tracks down a hit man and ends up having to recover stolen solar energy technology.

How it’s aged: This movie has a lot of WELCOME TO THE 70s moments, perhaps most embodied by the shot of the minimally-covered derriere at Bottoms Up.
Something that was just weird and/or WTF y’all: Tying up Nick Nack on the mast of a ship was the cherry on top of a total WTF sundae of lots of things related to his character. One of our viewers was like, THAT NAME? REALLY?

Obligatory feminist commentary: Goodnight is officially the worst Bond girl so far. I have a foreboding sense the Bond girls are going to go downhill for the next several movies, but I really hope I’m wrong. The butt-kicking school girls who fought off dudes twice their size at the Generic Asian Martial Arts Lodge were pretty awesome, though.

Completely hypothetical cultural reference points: Between this movie and the last, there is definitely a whiff of the Dukes of Hazzard’s “General Lee bridge jump” going on anytime J.W. Pepper is in a car chase scene.

Superficial Thing that did not Amuse Me: The way they tossed the kid from the boat was really not cool

Superficial Thing that highly Amused Me: J.W. Pepper’s temper tantrum about not buying a Thai elephant souvenir because “It’s like the Democrats”

Interesting and possibly dubious thing I learned from Wikipedia: Christopher Lee was Ian Fleming’s step-cousin

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

Administrative information concerning this viewing:
Drinks consumed: Red wine
Food eaten: Spiced nuts
Viewed on: October 12, 2013
Viewing Partner: Boyfriend, Sasha Holiday, Dominic LeFihre*
*Not her/his real name. All my viewing buddies are getting Bond-girl/Bond-baddie aliases.

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Live and Let Die

Hey y’all, the Bond reviews are back! After some very hurry-scurry weeks months, I was finally able to wrangle some of my Bond fan friends and we got back to Bond with Roger Moore’s first turn at 007: Live and Let Die. I had seen LALD at least once before and remember it being a total hoot (especially since I first watched it after moving to New Orleans). Every time I meet someone who is on the fence about Bond but is into all things New Orleans, I start raving about the scene with the second line coffin, since it might be one of my favorite movie scenes of all time. Let’s get started, shall we?

Plot in twenty words or less: A drug lord is about to flood the market with heroin. Bond jaunts through New Orleans, NYC, and an island.

How it’s aged: In some ways this movie is totally, ah, “of its time” so to speak. It has many elements of a blaxploitation movie (well, at least how white people probably conceived a blaxploitation movie) with a bunch of dudes calling Bond a honky and some unbelievably righteous sideburns. I have a weird affinity for any movie sent in 1970s New York (see: Annie Hall, the Warriors, Taxi Driver, Hercules in New York) because my mind does this word association thing where I go “pre-Giuliani New York:Patti Smith”. And Patti Smith is timeless, y’all. So I’m generally pro-any movies set in 1970s NYC, because I think some of the urban decay depicted in 1970s NYC still feels relevant in the context of our current anxieties over other cities like Detroit. </ramblings of an urban geography major with Midwest roots>

Something that was just weird and/or WTF y’all: I think it goes without saying at this point that James Bond movies have a “complicated” relationship with anything resembling ethnic and/or cultural traditions outside of white upper-class Britain. And in LALD, voodoo is no exception with the “natives sacrificing the white people” motif.

Obligatory feminist commentary: There are beaucoup anxieties in this film surrounding the virginal (white) Solitaire’s place among Kananga’s (black) inner circle. When she loses her virginity with Bond (which, let’s face it, he orchestrates), she apparently loses her use to Kananga as a fortune teller, the same fate that befell her mother. Bond arguably liberates her by sleeping with her, but the whole thing has way too many undertones of historical “white slavery” panic. The intertubez tell me that the filmmakers thought about casting a black actor for the role of Solitaire (with Diana Ross! be still my beating heart!) but they decided to keep Fleming’s portrayal of Solitaire as white. Readers of the blog have asked before whether I plan to read the Fleming novels. I’ve been hesitant, but as it sounds like many of his novels are pretty retrograde, it might be an interesting exercise to see how the more recent movies have interpreted his writing.

Also, WHAT is up with Moneypenny becoming more frumpy with every Bond movie? Q and M don’t seem to age, but Moneypenny is just turning into this sad pathetic spinster. I’m so glad Moneypenny gets a reboot as a strong woman in the most recent Bond movie.

For all the issues surrounding female sexuality in this film, you have to give credit where it’s due, with Rosie Carver being the first black woman we see Bond with – and to the film’s credit, I don’t recall any cringeworthy comments about this. The film treated their relationship as totally normal (well, except for her real identity).

Completely hypothetical cultural reference points: This is not a specific cultural reference, but in this movie I noticed that Bond no longer has chest hair (which prompted me to regretfully google several ridiculous phrases).  As this Slate article points out, there were dudes with hairless chests before Sean Connery. I guess Roger’s very radical departure from Sean’s very hairy chest was fairly noticeable, though.

Superficial Thing that did not Amuse Me: The very fake snake they were using in the voodoo ceremonies? Really? You couldn’t have gotten some harmless real snake?

Superficial Thing that highly Amused Me: This is something that only folks who know New Orleans well would notice, but both Moisant (now Louis Armstrong) and the Lakefront airport were used – even though filming suggested the airport scenes were at a single location.

Interesting and possibly dubious thing I learned from Wikipedia: There was some serious battle going on to bring an American actor as 007 for LALD. Thank Dog this did not happen…

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: Rogue Mocha Porter and Willett Rye (4 year)
Food eaten: Pita chips and hummus
Viewed on: August 25, 2013
Viewing Partner: Boyfriend, Cat, Sasha Holiday, Dominic LeFihre*
*Not their real names. All my viewing buddies are getting Bond-girl or Bond-villain aliases.


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All the Bonds is Almost Here

Hi y’all. This is the new home of the blog formerly known as Church of Bond. Don’t worry, all the previous reviews are still here. Review of Live and Let Die will be going up this weekend! Eira

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