Showing posts with label bond. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bond. Show all posts

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Bond Watch: The Man With the Golden Gun (1974)



The last time I remember watching The Man With the Golden Gun (1974) was during a summer sleep-over in middle school.  At the time, my folks had a tent, and Peabo and I had the bright idea that we'd set up the tent in the backyard and sleep out there.  Of course, this was summer in Texas, and about 9:00 someone figured out it was really hot in that tent, so we went inside to watch TV until it cooled off outside.  The Man With the Golden Gun was just starting, we watched it, and then just slept inside, because camping in your yard makes no sense.

Flash forward to 2016:  As the movie wrapped up this time, Jamie and I had differing opinions.  This is more or less one of the better Moore movies, says I, and Jamie found it "very silly".  I guess it boils down to how you feel about Sheriff JW Pepper, slide whistles and elaborate, carnival-like death traps.  These things, of course, I take deadly seriously.

Bond is told a master-assassin, Scaramanga (Christoper F'in' Lee!) is gunning for him and is taken off his current case about a missing solar energy scientist.  He goes after Scaramanga, tracking him around the planet, and it seems the two cases could be dovetailing.

The cast is an interesting ensemble.  The aforementioned Christoper Lee, model/ actress Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, HervĂ© Villechaize (Tattoo from Fantasy Island) and some Bond stalwarts like Lois Maxwell.  And, of course, Roger Moore.

The locations include Hong Kong and Thailand, and more than one person I've met has been to "James Bond Island" in Phuket.

I kind of dig the change of pace in this movie - that it's an equal to Bond picking a fight with him to see who's the better man.  Of course, that gets an echo of sorts in Skyfall, but Javier Bardem didn't have a shooting gallery with a Roger Moore life-sized doll, did he?  No.  He did not.

This one features karate schools, a half-assed boat chase, an amazing car trick (completely undercut with highly questionable sound effects), lasers, and lots of good stuff.  Including a flying car.  Like, a legit flying car.

I dunno.  I enjoyed it.



Monday, June 20, 2016

Bond Watch: Live and Let Die (1973)



At the risk of sounding super creepy, what I really remembered from this movie was Jane Seymour.  I knew I hadn't seen this one during my Bond-sprint post 7th Grade because I was totally shocked to find out, in high school, that Paul McCartney and Wings had offered up a song for a Bond movie when Guns N' Roses covered the song on Use Your Illusion I.  While I'm certain I'd heard the Wings version, I don't think I'd ever quite put 2 and 2 together (because I could not have cared less about Wings until about that point).

When I was in college I lived in a dump of an apartment that happened to be (a) close to campus, (b) furnished and (c) featured cable.  And, in that year ('94-'95), TBS started showing Bond movies on an infinite loop, and it was then that I finally saw Live and Let Die (1973).  And, as a 19 year-old, it was kinda hard to ignore Jane Seymour, who I was mostly familiar with from Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and Somewhere in Time.

"It shall be I and Yaphet Kotto that you will remember from this movie, for very different reasons!"

But, as they say, I showed up for the Jane Seymour, I stayed for the bat-shit plotting and boat chases.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Bond Watch: Diamonds Are Forever (1971)



This may be the true start of "silly Bond".  Or, at  least, a more lighthearted Bond franchise.

Diamonds Are Forever (1971) saw the return of Sean Connery to the role after the George Lazenby experiment (and, yes, we skipped On Her Majesty's Secret Service because we'd watched it just prior to starting on the chronological viewing of Bond films, but we'll get back around to it).  He looks comfortable in the role, picking up the thread of revenge for the death of Diana Rigg at the conclusion of the prior movie.  Oddly, it's not stated directly, but Bond tracks Blofeld to a secret lair where he manages to dispatch him before the credits even roll.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Bond Watch: You Only Live Twice (1967)


We give You Only Live Twice (1967) the most prized of all Signal Watch awards: The Stefon (the award for the movie that has EVERYTHING).

After the frantic shenanigans of Goldfinger, producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman clearly believed they were in some sort of race against The Devil who would consume their souls if they did not keep making bigger and crazier James Bond films.  Thunderball went all over the place, winding up in a massive underwater battle and then out of control hydrofoil battle.

You Only Live Twice has:

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Caine Watch: The Ipcress File (1965)



The Ipcress File (1965) is one of those movies you see mentioned a lot, especially in conjunction with the name "Michael Caine", but I'd never actually seen it, myself.  Just as Bond movies were taking off, Bond producer Harry Saltzman decided to launch a competitor to Bond's sexy, sly cartoonish spy adventure and gave us a spy somewhere between Bond and George Smiley.*  His world is not about bureaucracies being very sneaky against each other, nor is Harry Palmer going to drive a high end sports car with a smoke screen and rockets, either.

What really stood out for me, though, was that Harry Palmer - at least in this film (and he's in 3-5 films, depending on how you count them) - feels like a very real sort of person in comparison to James Bond.  Chalk this up to Michael Caine's talents or a very clever script, but Harry Palmer is a semi-ne'er-do-well who is happy having a government check, finds all this easier than working for a living, and is riding out this "spy" gig he's got going on until the gravy train runs out.  In the meantime, he peeps on people and doesn't particularly care for the rest of the rubbish paperwork.

Until he's changed offices and put on a real assignment.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Bond Watch: Thunderball (1965)

this poster does a surprisingly good job of summing up the movie


This was the one Bond movie that, even during the 7th grade sprint of renting Bond movies back to back all summer, somehow I never picked up.  I don't know why.  It's possible it was checked out.  Even stranger, I always assumed I'd run into it on cable or at the Paramount during the summer, but it never showed, or I never came across it.

So, here in 2016, I finally watched the movie.

Unfortunately for me, I had triple-checked the plot of Thunderball (1965) over the years to make sure I really hadn't seen it, and - yes, that movies absolutely was the one where the guy crashes a Vulcan with two atomic bombs into the ocean near The Bahamas and ends with a wicked underwater fight.

Don't worry.  If I had that spoiled for me over and over and still enjoyed the movie, you'll be fine.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Bond Watch: Goldfinger (1964)

So, we just finished Goldfinger (1964), and I may have mixed myself a Vesper halfway through.



A Vesper is:

  • 3 parts Gordon's Gin
  • 1 part whatever Vodka I have around (Tito's.  God bless Austin, TX)
  • 1/2 part Lillet 
  • and a lemon twist

Shaken, not stirred.  And operate no heavy machinery after enjoying one.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Bond Watch: From Russia With Love (1963)



As I mentioned in my chat on Dr. No, Jamie got us the "50 Years of Bond" BluRay boxed set for Christmas.  We're fans of 007, and it looks like we're going to gradually make our way through the Bond movies in chronological order.

I should also mention, I'd seen this movie another time in recent years, but my comments were brief, to say the least.

It's amazing to see the jump from a sort of rough sketch of Bond movie we get with Dr. No (1962) to a full Bond film with From Russia With Love (1963).  Of course, if you start in the Marvel Cinematic U, even the much-celebrated Iron Man that launched the whole enterprise feels a bit primitive in comparison to what we're now getting.*

This adventure sends Bond to Istanbul in 1963 as the Cold War is underway.  SPECTRE has recruited a top SMERSH agent (Rosa Kleb, who has effectively defected to SPECTRE), but only the top Kremlin brass have that intel.  This agent grabs one of the top SPECTRE prospects, played by Robert Shaw, to execute the plans given to her by the chief SPECTRE strategist.  Their plan is... incredibly convoluted - but they'll have an attractive staffer at the Russian Embassy in Russia throw herself at Bond with the gift of a Russian code-device.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Bond Watch: Dr. No (1962)


It's been so long since I've seen Dr. No (1962), and I remembered so little of it, that I'm calling this the first time I've seen the movie.  I remembered a few things from the movie - the look of Dr. No, Ursula Andress and Quarrel, the local fellow who rightfully does not want to get all that mixed up in Bond's adventures.

For good or ill (for you people), Jamie's Christmas gift to me was a 2012 boxed set of "50 Years of Bond", so, yes, I now have every single Bond movie on BluRay, so you can probably expect we'll be looking at a lot of Bond over the next few months.

The timing isn't entirely coincidental (I just asked for confirmation on this).  Jamie ordered the set partially because (a) she knows I've always liked Bond, and I've become more interested in Bond in recent years and (b) I was reading the books.  Also, Jamie (almost) always likes Bond, so it's not like I need to wait for her to go to bed to put one of these movies on.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Signal Watch Reads: "Live and Let Die" by Ian Fleming (aubiobook)



Reading the first two Bond books is a bit of an odd experience.  This is still a Bond that's not yet been made into a film, and the books feel oddly slight, especially in comparison to the meandering nature of the typical Bond movie.  I'm not sure if I should rehash that the Bond of the book, at this point, is not equipped with super-science gear or any of the trappings I think of when I consider my first exposure to Bond via the movie For Your Eyes Only.  And after the exotic locales of the first book (to Americans, anyway), setting much of Live and Let Die in Harlem and then St. Petersburg, Florida is oddly pedestrian despite the death traps and odd goings on.  But with the 3rd act change in scenery to Jamaica, it does move the action to a locale I readily associate with the Bond franchise and, of course, Ian Fleming's base of operations when writing his Bond novels.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Signal Watch Reads: Casino Royale (1953) - audiobook

One Christmas in my youth, I recall buying my dad a post-Ian Fleming Bond novel, something I thought to be an amazing find.  "Don't worry, Dad!  Yeah, that Fleming guy is dead, but Bond lives on!".  A year later I asked him about the book and he admitted he'd never bothered to read it because: "it wasn't Ian Fleming."  While I felt like maybe I'd wasted a present on The Admiral, I do recall that the book's description seemed a lot edgier than what was in the movies and, thanks to the interaction, developed the notion that we don't need to follow a series after the originator has died.



It's funny, because I have no idea if The Admiral ever read those original Bond novels.  He would have been in the right age range when they were coming out and I still remember he and The KareBear applauding me when he found me and my brother watching Goldfinger.  But, no recollection of the books on a shelf anywhere in the house.

In college, JAL did inform me how much he enjoyed the novels, but I wasn't much of a "reader".  Well, I was, but mostly non-fiction and comics.  And, since then, I think Picky Girl has been the biggest proponent of the Bond novels around these parts.

I'm slogging through the final Parker novels, which have lost a lot of the verve I enjoyed from the beginning of the series, and I'd been thinking of getting into the Bond novels as my next series, so I gave Casino Royale (1953) a whirl to see how it fit my tastes.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Bond-Watch: Spectre (2015)



So, I'm not entirely certain how to write about this film, because it is absolutely a continuation of the last three Bond movies, which I enjoyed a lot, but I can't say I've rewatched them a dozen times.  So, first recommendation - while you don't have to have seen the last few movies (there's exposition), if you have time to rewatch them real fast before showing up, certainly can't hurt.

Luckily, I've seen Skyfall a few times, so I remembered, for example why that building in the middle of London had a hole in it.

I also don't want to spoil a movie I'm certain most of you will go see.  So... yeah.  But, in general, Jamie, SimonUK (who loves Bond the way I love Superman), and Jake all liked the movie okay.  Well, not Jake.  He fell asleep.  Long day for Jake.

You guys likely know I'm a fan of Daniel Craig as Bond and the current take on the franchise.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bond Watch: On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

I like James Bond.  I mean, I like Bond enough that there's a tag on the topic here on this site.  But I was never a total die-hard James Bond fan.  He's sort of like Superman in that we all generally know about the character, but, holy smokes, between books, movies, different version of movies, behind-the-scenes ownership rights intrigue, etc...  there's a lot to keep up with.  Hell, there was even a James Bond Jr. cartoon at some point.

I hadn't seen On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) since the summer circa 1987 when my brother and I went to Video Station and rented a new James Bond movie every day or two.  And, frankly, I wasn't remembering a bit of it until Bond put on his kilt and wandered into the dinner party at about the 1/3rd mark.  Which is weird, because this is the movie that opens with Diana Rigg, an actress so associated with Avengers and other work that I'd forgotten she was ever a Bond girl.  Maybe THE Bond girl, depending on your definition.



What I had known for years was the following:

  • This was the one starring George Lazenby, the man who was not asked back
  • People really, really seem to like this one, or at least refer to it a lot
  • Connery still came back for a couple more of these

Friday, December 7, 2012

Signal Re-Watch: Skyfall (2012)

Not much to say.  I met The Admiral at the movies and we watched Skyfall, me for the second time.

I think on this go-round I got to appreciate a little more of Sam Mendes' direction and how taught the movie is as a Bond actioner.  I pondered getting up and hitting the men's room, but there was never a place in the movie I thought it'd be all right and I wouldn't miss anything.  That might be too much info, but it's a pretty good sign that I didn't want to miss 180 seconds or so of a movie I watched just a couple of weeks ago.

It's not a flawless movie, but, gosh, I still like it.  It has a lot of the traditional Bond issues tied up in Bond's misogyny, and I'd like to see that tackled a bit differently just to shake things up a bit in a future installment, without inserting some Mary Sue she's-better-then-him-at-everything-wink-cute character.

I look forward to seeing who shows up as the next villain and what sort of plot/ issues we'll see in the next film.  I don't see Daniel Craig's Bond in a Moonraker repeat or fighting dudes with submersible secret bases - but I think Mendes and Craig can put out a compelling Bond without going totally sci-fi.

Anyway, Connery will probably always be Bond in my head, but I am pleased that a new generation can think of Daniel Craig as "their" Bond.  I'm a fan.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: Skyfall (2012)

The trick with any franchise character is that, after a while, they can take the path* of becoming less a character and more a collection of quirks and ticks that become recognizable to the audience, but there's not really much of anything there behind the catchphrases, costume, etc...  It's pretty common in sitcoms.  And you can sort of tell when a character (or, heck, public persona of a real person) has hit this point when they become readily satirized and spoofed with a few tell-tale signs.

I think, in a lot of ways, Bond had become a sort of nebulous concept of "things that happen in a Bond movie".  Particularly during the tail end of the Moore-era and again in the Pierce Brosnan era, you can blame the actors to some extent, but the scripts and directing never sought to do much but move the Bond-shaped character through Bond-like situations that were pretty awesome when Connery brought it to the big screen, but by the time I was watching Pierce Brosnan driving around in a tank in a tux with perfect hair, I think I hung it up on Bond after GoldenEye.**



I'm not reporting anything new in remarking that Daniel Craig in Casino Royale completely rejuvenated the Bond concept for a lot of us, and despite many missteps that harkened back to the doldrums of circa 1980-era Bond, Quantum of Solace had its moments - even if it didn't live up to the promise of Casino Royale.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Signal Watches: For Your Height Only

So.

How do you make a Bond-knock-off better?  You cast a homunculus of an action star who the audience will adore.  I am, of course, speaking of Tom Cruise in all four Mission Impossible movies, but that's not what we watched this weekend.

Saturday night Doug was here, and that meant he came with media fit to seer the brain.  In our case, it was the 1981 spy thriller For Your Height Only, starring internationally renowned superstar, Weng Weng.



For years The Alamo Drafthouse has shown clips of this film as part of their pre-show, enough so that I knew exactly what this movie was when it started.  And, frankly, if they don't show some of this before SkyFall, I'll be shocked.

I've now watched this movie, and I could not tell you what it was about.  Golden banana thieves?  Evil bakers?  Kidnappers?

Everything about this movie holds together a bit like when you're in college and you watch a movie while drinking and try to remember the plot later.  I was stone cold sober, and yet trying to hold the movie in my mind is like waking from a sweaty fever dream wrapped in pool of prescription medicated hallucinations.

I do know the characters were snappy dressers.

only bad guys would so brazenly mix stripes and patterns

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Signal Reads: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

I was born into the Cold War, and I often wonder if The Kids whose sense of awareness crested after 1992 really understand what it was like.  As far back as 2001, I was taking a martial arts class where the "adult" class meant high school and up.  After class we were putting on our shoes and chatting and somehow I managed to ask one of the kids if they even knew what The Cold War was.  Long story short, he knew it had something to do with Russia, but he didn't know why we may have been in conflict with The Russkies.



It's now been more than 20 years since I sat in class and watched video of Germans dancing on the wall, and I still don't really understand how one day we had An Evil Empire with whom we were locked in the world's worst staring contest, and the next, we had Eastern-block countries cut loose from Mother Russia and spiraling into fresh, new problems (see: Sarajevo) and Russia deciding that a government based on something that looks an awful lot like gangsterism should take the place of the death-mask Stalinist taskmasters.*

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Movie Watch 2012: "The Spy Who Loved Me" and "Godzilla: Final Wars"

Bond

It was Bond week this week at Austin's Paramount Theater.  Sadly, I was pre-occupied and unable to make it to the screening of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, which I really wanted to see.

One summer when I was in middle school, Jason and I would go to the video rental place, return the last Bond movie we'd rented and check out another.  In this manner, we watched every Bond movie but Thunderball, which I still haven't seen.  The problem with this method was that within two years, all of the movies had sort of bled together in my mind, so I could only remember specific set pieces and the occasional Bond girl.

Thanks to TBS and a few other sources, I've watched several Bond movies over since then, and I do like catching the movies over again now, but I make an effort to watch them pretty far apart so they don't blend together again.  And, for the record, Connery, of course.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) stars Roger Moore as Bond, and it's from the point where the Bond franchise became a bit too enamored with quippy one-liners and just took it for granted that women melted under Bond's icy gaze.  It's a fun movie, and it has some great Q gadgets, a phenomenally cool villain base, gadgets and private military (sherbet colored uniforms?  Where do I sign up?!).  The plan is pretty poorly sketched, but whatever.  It's post-Connery/ pre-Timothy Dalton Bond, and its not all that different from what we'd see with Pierce Brosnan later.

And, hey, this is the one with the Lotus that turns into a submarine.

The movie makes an attempt to give Bond a sexy female Russian counterpart, but, truthfully, the base misogyny of the Bond franchise hadn't quite sort through itself, leaving Barbara Bach mostly standing around beside Bond as he Bonds his way around.  I'm not sure Bach is also the most compelling Bond girl, but she does the job.

It's not my favorite Moore entry (For Your Eyes Only, probably), but it does feature "Nobody Does it Better" performed by Carly Simon, which is a pretty great Bond theme - and has a Bond opening sequence that well reminds you why they changed those for the Daniel Craig years, even if it's pretty brilliant.

Godzilla

Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) was Toho's "we can't top this" ending to production of Godzilla movies after 50 years.  I'd heard they'd planned to stop making them prior to the US produced Godzilla starring Matthew Broderick, but after that trainwreck, they felt like they needed to keep making their own films.

I will give Godzilla: Final Wars this:  you have no idea where this movie is going when the movie begins.  I can promise you:  mutants, aliens, Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and a dozen other Kaiju, super ninja fights, matrix-style battles, sexy biologists and reporters, international/ interplanetary intrigue, the destruction of a half-dozen cities on at least four continents and a wildly out of control costuming department.  Oh, and a really amazing mustache.

I don't really know how to sell this movie other than to say: hold tight and leave expectation at the door.

And, f-yeah, Godzilla.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: From Russia With Love

I did.  I totally saw this at The Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane.  Its Connery as Bond.  Robert Shaw all huge and dyed Aryan.  Its a great Bond movie.

Thanks to Jamie, Simon, Leta, JAL, The Admiral and KareBear for coming out.

Also:  if you go down there, may I recommend "The Vesper"?  Its James Bond's cocktail of choice, and its now mine.

I do not have time for this.