On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

oooh, looking forward to this one! George Lazenby’s one & only outing as Bond. Starts right off with a car chase and then a girl in the most 60s dress ever trying to drown herself. So romantic! She can’t be that far gone, she only just waded in. He’s pretty sexy for not being Sean Connery. Wait! It’s a trap! No shit.

BIFF! BAM! JUDO CHOP!

The titles are weird. Flashback clips? It’s disorienting.

Hmmm. He’s not actually all that cute. He has one of those long mobile Michael Palin British faces.

Yo, if it’s a trap the 1st time you chase her, maybe just maybe it might be the second as well? I mean, duh.

Oh god I covet that lamp.

Bond, in a brown high end leisure suit, is being kidnapped. Ah, to the docks.

Oookay, there’s a dwarf sweeping floors. That was random!

I think this is Italy. No, apparently it’s Corsica. Extremely melodramatic place. With swelling strings. Pity the screenwriter wasn’t drowned in the first trap.

What she needs is a man! A man to dominate her! A man to make love to her! A man to barf a little in his mouth. I added that last bit.

Moneypenny in a black and white plaid suit! OMG that suit!

So he quit. Now all the songs are playing as he pulls out souvenirs from every movie…what is this, the tacky Bond film? It’s too meta.

Oh a bullfight. Yay. Ok ok these animals all died long ago when I was in preschool. Still, Jesus.

Bokeh! That means LURVE!

A combo copy machine & safe cracker – handy! And Bond looking at Playboy. In the hallway. Gross. Just, gross.

KNIFE SHOES LADY! I love her so much!

VW bug!

Bond in a kilt. In a harem! Full of babes in craaaaazy fashions! And dinner rotates in.

And Bond rotates into a curly headed girl.who is being hypnoTIZED. By disco lights. And then another girl. The magic dick survives cast changes!

Where is Blofelds cat? Also, Blofeld smokes funny. Do all super villains hold their cigarettes like that? Awkward.

Sure, lock Bond in with the clockwork that runs the cable car, what could possibly go wrong?

The hypnoTIZED unwitting secret agent chicks are being controlled by makeup! Ah ha, the dark side of Sephora revealed.

Ski chase! One ski chase!  Several minions down. Now an ice carnival…I didn’t realize this was a Christmas movie, remind me to not watch it next December.

OK the stock car race chase on ice was exceedingly cool. And now, a blizzard. And a barn and his true bokeh spit curled love in a mink coat.

More skiing. Some really sweet shots. Avalanche!

What is a secret lair without a super top secret elaborate bobsled run escape route? Every lair should have one! Also the Winter Olympics would be more interesting with live ammo.

Whoa holy shit, wedding! With M & Q ! And a teary Moneypenny. I didn’t expect this, now why do I suspect it’s going to end badly. ….Surprise..the obligatory dead girl.

and end on a weepy pathos soaked note.

Well! That was pretty terrible! And also long! This was the worst one yet. Worse than You Only Live Twice. Worse than From Russia With Love. The lair sucked. The love interest got too serious. Not enough Q and Blofeld dropped his cat, who said mew indignantly. Knife Shoe Lady didn’t kick anyone and the script was full of howlers. I give it a C- : would be a D but the scenery and the skiing and the bobsled battle almost redeem it.

Posted in James Bond | Leave a comment

Trolls and the Alt Right

What with the world ending and all, I’m spending a lot of time on Twitter – aka The Resistance, I guess, it will not be televised, it will be sort of retweeted – and as usual I’m also on Instagram a lot. I’m unsurprisingly thus starting to attract my share of “alt” rightwing trolls. I am oddly a little flattered by this because hey it means that I must pose some sort of threat, old fat me, sitting in my blue enclave in my red, red state. And I am a threat too motherfucker, do not doubt that. I might . . . leave a passive aggressive note! Actually I don’t know what I might do. Which is kind of what I want to talk about here.

img082

So, I posted this photo, which I am quite proud of, on Instagram. I took it at the Women’s March on Asheville on January 20 with my 35 year old fully manual East German Praktika 35mm camera fitted with a nice Zeiss 50mm lens and a roll of Ilford 400 speed black and white film. Then I printed it at the Asheville Darkroom (and actually there’s a better print than this one but I’m saving it for a show I think I’m having in May/June at the DeSoto also it’s too big for my scanner) and scanned it and uploaded it and here, free of all digital manipulation, it is. Old school FTW! And the likes on Instagram started rolling in, but then along came a nasty little comment from one “joseph” a young man whose insta feed is closed to the public but whose profile says Make Europe Great Again. He says “LOL Way to win people over. Lewd pictures and violence”. And the other day I got some other, equally stupid, flack I have fortunately forgotten on Twitter.

I have been thinking about the lewd picture thing all day, though. Is it a lewd picture? No.  This is what lewd means: crude and offensive in a sexual way. Since this image is most assuredly not sexual, nor intended sexually, than no – not unless you think that all depictions of female genitalia exist only for your sexual arousal. And there, right there, that’s the problem. This assumption erases any perception of women as human beings – it’s Handmaid’s Tale territory. And to hear it voiced about all over the internet by Nazis scares the fuck out of me. That, Nazis, is why we marched. Because these are our bodies and they do not exist to be grabbed, to be groped, to be bartered around like poker chips.

But I thought about it too, because honestly, I am an old prude and the stark depictions of female genitalia in this sign and some other signs shocked me a little at first. Not too much and not for long, but I mean, you just don’t see vulvae everywhere. They are not the ubiquitous cock n’ balls of bathroom graffiti, are they? No, people don’t draw them much. They just aren’t out there in the same way (outside the thoroughly opaque little booklet in the Tampax box that we all pored over in 7th grade) and so this is, in fact, kind of shocking – and kind of liberating, too. I like the idea of reclaiming our anatomy from the male gaze.

As for violence? I’m firmly on the punching Nazis side. Sorry. You gotta take sides and if you will note, this sign says fight BACK. If they start it – and they did, or he did, the trumpacabra, Cheeto Benito, the pussy grabbing monster in the White House – then yes, we will fight right back. And if that means that we go to the streets and we really do fight, then, well, this old fat lady who has never been in an actual physical fight in her life will go to the barricades, terrified, but angry enough to get there. I will fight back.

And I am fighting back in my tiny way with images like these. I’m also calling my senators, although that’s probably pointless here in already fascist North Carolina, but maybe it will do something. We must all do something, now, because it’s too late to sit on the sidelines.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You Only Live Twice

here I am, watching Bond films while America burns. My DVD player is making a grinding noise, let’s hope it holds on. There is much Bond left to watch, assuming the world holds out. It’s even odds, right now.

Live Blog

Space! Space was new and shiny then. ..but that is one fake ass space capsule. Being eaten by another, bullet shaped space capsule. Is this the first dead astronaut of thriller cinema?

Aaand cue  Bond in bed with an Asian chick, saying something racist. Well then he dies, fair cop.

The song! Stranger danger comes up, no seriously, those are the lyrics. Holy shit it’s Nancy Sinatra – and the screenplay is by Roald Dahl!

Postcard view of a much smaller and less polluted Hong Kong.

Divers…are bodies in sea burials always mummified? Oh look, he’s alive! Moneypenny on a submarine! And M’s office, beautifully & completely replicated on a sub. I do love these movies.

Moneypenny says, how was the girl? This is kinda creepy, right?

Ooooh snobby: A first in oriental languages at Cambridge. Also he can tell where vodka comes from, which is more than I can do.

Tokyo! Sumo wrestlers!

James just took a dude out with a couch. In what I think is the lair set from Dr. No. It looks suspiciously familiar.

Babe in blue dress and scarf tosses him down a slide! Round TVs! Bond is wearing spats. Or really weird shoes.

Serving girls. Horrifying sexism at this point. “Your English girls would never perform this service” “I will enjoy serving under you.” Yikes. Ugh.

Car chase! With amazing cars! They’re skyping in the car! With a totally cool screen built in the dash! Helicopter picked up car with giant magnet! And ditched it in the ocean. A little harsh perhaps.

Pan out for a rooftop dock fight. It’s like watching the rituals of a vanished civilization.

Torture babe in sequined gown. Impressively aquanetted hair. And insta sex. And yet another complicated murder plot.

Tiny yellow personal helicopters. They had better tech in the 60s. Including shiny silver spaceships with perfect skinny robot legs! Ah that is a thing of beauty.

Spectre cat dude is here!

Evil lair has evil monorail. And piranha. Aqua net lady is fish food and evil Japanese industrialist of funky white hair  has kill Bond mandate.

Ninjas! They’re noisy ninjas.

and the requisite dead girl.

Pearl divers! Dead girl easily replaced. This movie is a little more upfront with the racism / sexism. Pity because it’s otherwise pretty cool.

Replacement girl’s virtue is no match for Bond’s magic dick! She is actually pretty badass. I would not, myself, want to climb a mountain in a white bikini.

The round monorail car is about the most stylish thing ever. I want one.

Send in reserve astronaut. Bond meets Blofeld! And his peculiarly lethargic kitty. Why doesn’t that cat run for it? Here at last is the villain of a thousand parodies. He’s pretty ripe for parody.

Big lair firefight. How did the Noisy Ninjas rappel in with those swords? How did Bond know about the piranhas? He wasn’t there for the demos.

Oh look crazy Americans about to start global thermonuclear war. This is not working out as well as a piece of pure light escapism as one had hoped. Is it possible Bannon is Blofeld’s son? It would explain a lot.

Hmm. Nancy is singing again and Bonds tryst with his replacement Japanese girlfriend is cancelled by a submarine and also some inexplicable lava. It’s over. Phew, because this was just not as good as Thunderball. The really upfront sexism and some nasty Asian stereotypes, plus plot holes: C+ But, excellent tech and an entertaining if a bit National Geographicy Visit to 60s Japan, where women knew their place, ugh. Anyway, I am floating off until next time, sadly without Sean Connery in my space capsule.

Posted in James Bond | Leave a comment

Women March

We marched. It was fucking AMAZING and I feel better than I have since early November. The official counts are saying 10,000 people in Asheville and I suspect it was more than that. Incredible signs, incredible people, let’s say it again, LOUD: NOT OUR PRESIDENT. He did not win. And we will get him and his entire filthy crew of shit encrusted thieves and vultures out to the dungheap of history where they belong. NOT ONE STEP BACK.

Here are some phone pictures from a truly inspiring day. In a couple weeks there will be film pictures! Yay!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Thunderball

ok I am going to try to live blog this. I have not been historically successful at the live blogging thing but, hey! Here we go!

James Bond and a guy in a black dress are smashing up zillions of priceless antiques…JETPACK!!

Dude. That was cool.

Ok, the song! It’s… better than goldfinger. But then so is dental surgery. Accompanied by swimming women and spear fishing.

Paris. Eyepatch dude with a karmann ghia. Oh hey it’s Spectre! Very minimalist boardroom for Evil. Nifty electrocution and body disposal unit though.

Damn, that’s sexual assault. Also sexual blackmail… ugh.  But naturally once she has been exposed to the magic dick of Bond it’s all ok.

This is all rather opaque – who are any of these people?

Ah ok – they’re highjacking a jet full of atomic bombs – did they always run training missions with live bombs in the 60s? Yikes.

Hmmm, can jets DO that?

Submarines. This is all very Jacques Cousteau.

The Bahamas. A casino. The clothes!

Ah the old tape recorder in a book trick.

A new Felix Leiter! Every movie there’s a new one.

Shark pool! Dead minion! Q! Q in a Hawaiian shirt!

Being into your brand is all well and good but maybe if you’re running a Top Secret Evil League you might consider being less free with the company logo jewelry, tattoos and luggage tags. Just a thought.

And – that was the point at which I got absorbed in the movie and gave up live blogging. That movie was good. Best yet, by kind of a wide margin. It hangs together, almost makes sense and the scenery and gadgets are alarmingly good. Like, that submarine wouldn’t look out of place in any given recent underwater documentary. Is it possible so little has changed in 50 years? The face masks are rounder and the air tanks are bigger, but otherwise, you’d never know. That is, I’d never know, since even though I grew up on the coast, my exposure to scuba and underwater hijinks is, well, nil. So maybe they are wildly different! The bathing suits surely are. Sean Connery looks adorable in his little powder blue short shorts.

What else? The parade scene is awesome and one of the two things I remembered from the movie – the other was the death by sauna chair towards the beginning, which scared me. Good lord I was a paranoid morbid kid. I wish I’d gotten jujitsu skills from all my exposure to 007 movies but no, I ended up with anxiety about unlikely death scenarios and a twisted fondness for bad pickup lines.  There’s a bad lady who does not fall for the magic dick of Bond and says so. She’s kind of impressive but, naturally, she dies. The death count is high in this movie. I would personally not really want to work for anyone who summarily executed my coworkers but hey, motivation is where you find it.

Anyway, a solid outing, definitely my favorite so far – I give it an A.

Posted in James Bond, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

goldFINGAAAAAH!

Today is my daughter’s birthday. She is quite old – I did make a sort of New Years resolution where I was going to stop lying about my age, or at least stop obfuscating it, but when it comes right down to the wire (and by wire I mean not only such things as admitting how old my oldest child is but also giving my age to the tired cashier at Ingles who really doesn’t care and knows perfectly well I am if anything too old to be buying such cheap wine) I find I just . . can’t quite. So we will go on saying gently that she is now 30something, which is to say considerably older than I was when she was small and I was watching that show in, I think, reruns. ANYHOW! We went shopping! We went to the mall which used to be moribund and depressing and eerily fascinating and is now booming because they yanked the roof off and added the magic word outlets to the name. Happy Birthday A! Yay mother daughter shopping and having the exact same conversations in the dressing room as every other mother daughter pair in there! It was nice.

And now, on to Bond. I watched Goldfinger, which is better than From Russia With Love and worse than Dr. No and definitely has the most horrible song, perhaps of all time. Really, no, the song is BAD. I want to link it here for you but I can’t bring myself to google it in case I have to hear a few bars and my head explodes. Just take my word for it.

Goldfinger seemed creepily familiar to me. I thought, oooh, I have so seen this and then I looked up when it first played on TV in the states and YES, I was 9 years old and I am pretty sure that my entire family watched it together. That is exactly the right age to be scarred for life. The sexual innuendo – immortal lines such as “Sorry, can’t talk right now – something big has come up.” (OH GOD CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT THE AUGUST SEAN CONNERY UTTERED THAT WITH A SMIRK) went right by me but the idea that you could die if painted has remained as a point of anxiety in my psyche ever since. I don’t know if it’s true – if you are all painted gold, do you die? Who knows? Has it been tested? On poor naked guinea pigs? I can’t stand it – but whenever I see someone in body paint, I immediately want to make sure they have left a blank space at the base of their spine to prevent insta death. It worries me. It has always worried me. And I won’t even wear makeup, although that might not be connected.

So, besides the terrible dangers of body paint, what else do we learn from Goldfinger? Well, that Fort Knox is small, ugly, and surprisingly easy to break into with a crack team of young women pilots. You would think they would be a bit more serious about patrolling their air space but noooooooo.  You also learn that super villains go in for really overly complex lairs – a map would do, really, you don’t need a revolving pool table and three D model – but oh GOD the whole ranch house lair is so mid century perfect, fieldstone, fireplace, dungeon cells: the works. It looks like a spread out of a 1965 House and Garden with added minions. This is prescient, because the movie came out in 1964.

What else? It’s been a few days and it’s already fading blissfully from my memory. There is something to be said about advancing age: you don’t have to remember every minute of James Bond movies forever. Odd Job and his slice-y bowler hat makes his first appearance – I think he’s in other movies too, but we shall see. James Bond’s magic dick turns the otherwise quite in control Pussy Galore (if you have a strong (for a Bond film) female character, you have to give her a demeaning name, because otherwise people might get confused) into a weak and clinging vine who will do his bidding, surprise, surprise. There are cool cars; we get to venture into Q Branch and see things exploding and hmmmm, James plays golf. Felix Leiter is there, although he seems older than he did in Dr. No. And at the end GoldFINGAHH, who just wanted to make all the gold in Fort Knox radioactive so that . . . so that. . . I have no idea why, maybe just for shits and giggles, something something, evil Red Chinese, was duly vanquished, the gold was saved and James and Pussy G. flew off, or jumped off, or got off, together.

I am having fun with this. I’m three movies in and I still like James Bond. Next, Thunderball!

Posted in James Bond, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Bond James Bond

django-and-perdita

It snowed! We got about 5 inches of snow and early this morning, despite my fearsome hangover, I took the dogs out for a run in it. It was fun! We took a shortcut home and fell down a lot! I saw a deer! The dogs ran everywhere! And then they slept all afternoon and that was nice too. I should have done the same.

However! This post has nothing to do with snow. This post is about JAMES BOND because I have decided to watch all the Bond movies in order. I was going to live blog them but that didn’t work out well: it’s hard to type on the tablet, it plays hell with my knitting (I can’t watch movies without knitting) and I end up just writing things like Wow and OMG and Fuck, male gaze much? So! Here is a post about the first two movies. It may be edited to add something about the third movie, which I’m probably going to watch tonight.

I grew up with James Bond. Didn’t we all? The movies were on TV and occasionally we even went to the theatre to see them. I am beginning to remember that we went to a lot of movies when I was a kid. My younger brother and I were talking about this and we think our parents dropped us off at the movie theater rather more frequently than might be considered kosher nowadays. But it was the 70s and they were pretty much the opposite of helicopter parents – submarine parents, perhaps? You rarely saw them unless they surfaced for a mission? Anyway, I got a lot of early exposure to James Bond and I’m fine with that. As we grew older, they were on TV and then, for a while in the early 00s, they always ran Bond marathons during the holidays, and we would all settle in and watch obsessive amounts of James Bond. So, as you can see, I like James Bond movies. I have philistine taste in movies anyway: Roger Moore is the James Bond of my childhood and I’m even okay with that. Explosions! Villains! It’s all good! But I wasn’t sure if I’d ever seen them all and now, now with your help, gentle reader, I’m going to remedy that.

Turns out, I hadn’t seen them all. I watched Dr. No and then From Russia With Love last week and I don’t think I had ever seen either of them all the way through or maybe even at all. From Russia With Love was completely unfamiliar, but parts of Dr. No rang a few distant bells. Dr. No, it turns out, is a really a pretty damn good movie. From Russia With Love, not so much. Anyway, there are possible spoilers from here on in if that sort of thing bothers you. If there can be spoilers for movies that are older than I am when I ain’t no spring chicken. I have a theory that all the Bond movies are going to follow the same plot, so we will see if I am right. This is off the top of my head, by the way, I didn’t get this from anywhere.

That plot is:
1. Off to an exotic locale|
2. Weird shit is afoot, people getting knocked off. There’s a car chase.
3. Bond doesn’t trust the local spies – they might be corrupt. But he has one (wisecracking, male) friend!
4. Sexy interlude with either the main girl or some subsidiary girl who might well be in the pay of the enemy.
5. Bond’s friend gets offed.
6. A different exotic locale.
7. Villain! Lair! Minions! Doomsday device! Captured! It looks bad!
8. Bond saves the day. Vengeance for the friend!
9. Off into the sunset by water with the main love interest.
10. Villain or possibly subsidiary villain resurfaces! Peril!
11. Villain vanquished, back to floating off with the girl while the credits roll.

Dr. No (1962) is set in the Caribbean. It serves up almost all the Bond tropes right off the bat, which was kind of cool. I guess I thought they evolved over time, but no,  it started off immediately with the cheesy intro with the bullet hole in the titles, looking much cooler done by hand than it does all fancified and digital today. Actually the clothes and the sets and the props and the cars, oh god the cars, are just all kinds of early 60s awesome. I kept pausing it to ogle. There is Bond, being irresistible (it seems that all the women in the early 60s were in a continual state of, basically, heat. Who knew? They can’t control themselves. Perhaps it was the girdles.) flirting with Moneypenny, being pert to M – actually, in this movie, Bond is very subservient to M and the whole relationship feels much more military than iI remember. Anyway, here is Bond, looking sexy (I have had a crush on Sean Connery since, um, I was 12? Or thereabouts?) and there, in due course, was the requisite love interest and the creepy crazy villain with the exotic lair and fully uniformed minions.  It was quite lean, though, and Bond did not have much tech. I was primed for it to be racist but I thought it was mercifully not too bad given its setting and time period. It was also not overwhelmingly brutal or violent -the varied assassinations were pretty straightforward: bam, shot, done. The first love interest is an Asian girl with a totally sweet record player and a funky bungalow who is predictably in the pay of Dr. No; the second is Ursula Andress in that famous bikini. Ursula Andress is the daughter of a marine biologist who was homeschooled all over the world and has no fear or ethical code. Why this has to be spelled out – she explains how she killed a man with a black widow spider just as a sort of aside –  I have no idea. She seems refreshingly independent but then she asks Bond if he has a woman of his own. Which is kinda stalkery and I was left wondering at the end of the movie how he ever got rid of her. Anyway, it’s a pretty good movie. I give it an A-. This is the standard by which we shall judge all 25 remaining movies.

From Russia With Love was much more, hmm, how shall I put this? Broader. Played for laughs. Less serious, less plausible (OK, Dr. No, a crazed Chinese gazillionaire trying to blackmail the USA by destroying moon rockets for, um, who knows, with, um, radioactive beams of radioactivity is not super plausible, but then Donald Trump is going to be president soon so what do I know about the nature of reality?)  and much fuller of dumb subplots. It’s more convoluted and it suffers as a result, but it does see the introduction of Q and some fancy gadgetry in the form of a killer briefcase. It’s also got a lot more gratuitous violence than Dr. No. There is a beautiful Russian spy. There is the evil Russian lady with the poison knives in her shoes! (I remember her! She must be in more movies! Yay! I love her. Her chosen weapon is just so completely feeble; it’s awesome and I laughed out loud at the end when she resurfaced and tried to kick Bond to death in the shins.)

After an intro featuring a Russian training camp where some blond psycho dude is killing people who look like Bond, the real Bond goes off to Istanbul. SPECTRE (the union of supervillains) is trying to play Russia and Britain against each other so someone can seize a Russian decoder, which looks one hell of a lot like a typewriter. OK, sure, whatever, why not keep this one vital thing in Istanbul rather than, oh,  Moscow? Never mind! As the plot progresses, Bond’s friend and sidekick, who is also completely irresistible to all women, although one cannot really see why, takes him through secret tunnels to the Russian embassy where they watch Russians with a periscope. A lot of the second Tomb Raider game was totally stolen from this movie, by the way. Then they go off to a gypsy camp so there can be bellydancing and a girlfight which is solved by Bond getting it on with two gypsy chicks at once. See above, re, state of heat of early 60s women. The gypsy thing is a bit unpleasant – hence my male gaze note. Fortunately it is over soon and makes no sense anyway! There is a cool part where a Russian guy is shot and falls through a movie billboard. Bob Hope! OMG! Then they all get on a train and before you know it blonde Russian spy Tanya (of course it’s Tanya. There are no other Russian girl names.) and James are acting married and all is well except it isn’t. Ugly lingerie! The sidekick is dead, moment of silence. Aha, here is Russian assassin who is clearly up to no good because he orders red wine with his fish. Why James didn’t just off him then I will never know but noooooo. More train travel, more scenery, a helicopter fight, some explosions, a boat chase into Venice and then the aforementioned shin kicking lady. Almost every point of my plot line is hit (there’s no supervillain lair and showdown. There’s a lair and a supervillain, but James never makes it out there) amid a lot of not particularly good jokes. Racial stereotypes, yes pretty much. Sexism, of course, but at least we have a lady villain. I’m going to call it a B-.

And now, I’m going to go get under some blankets and watch Goldfinger. I will let you know how it turns out!

 

Posted in James Bond, Uncategorized | Leave a comment