Criterion Corner: Hiroshima mon amour

Hiroshima_Mon_Amour_1959

Happy Friday, everyone. Brian Matthew Kim here for the third installment of Criterion Corner. Last week I ranted about Carol Reed’s The Fallen Idol, so this week I’m going to cover a movie I really love: Alain Resnais’ directorial debut, Hiroshima mon amour (1959).

What I like about it: Marguerite Duras’ amazing screenplay. Emmanuelle Riva and Eiji Okada’s performances. The use of stock footage to highlight the atrocities of the atomic bomb. An interracial relationship featuring the rare dynamic of a white woman with an Asian man. How Rasnais captures loneliness, isolation, and displacement.

Favorite scene: The opening. You see two bodies, limbs tangled up in an embrace, but no faces. Light comes in at an angle, reflecting off their skin. They look to be covered in ash (which later switches to a gold-like, glittery substance) and then there’s a dissolve and the bodies are clean, glistening with sweat but otherwise pure. There’s no explicit nudity in the whole sequence, but it’s one of the most intimate series of images I’ve ever seen on film.

Fun fact: Eiji Okada didn’t know how to speak French. He learned his lines phonetically, syllable by syllable.

Criterion Corner: The Fallen Idol

fallen idol

Hey, everyone. Brian Matthew Kim here for another installment of Criterion Corner. Last week I highlighted my favorite Criterion thus far (Paris, Texas), so this week I want to focus on a movie that I did not enjoy: Carol Reed’s 1948 thriller (?), The Fallen Idol.

What I don’t like about it: SO. MANY. WHITE. PEOPLE. As in, the entire cast is white. Now, I know this was 1948, but those “it was a product of its time” arguments are bullshit. And I guess people of color are technically included, however only through the stories of the white man (Mr. Baines, the idol). Baines concocts some seriously fucked-up stories for the young boy, Philippe, who admires him so much. Stories such as: single-handedly quelling an African uprising, shooting (and killing) a native African, and shooting lions. I’m surprised Mr. Baines isn’t wearing a safari hat and a monocle –- he’s practically the face of imperialism. And it would be cool if maybe this were some metaphor about imperialism and how white men have overstepped their boundaries, but spoiler alert: the white guy goes free at the end. Also, I thought the actor who played Philippe (Bobby Henrey) was super annoying and frustrating.

Least favorite scene: Near the middle of the movie, Mr. Baines and his wife get into an argument. Philippe spies on the two of them, running from one vantage point to another. Before he can reach his new spot, Mrs. Baines has fallen to her death. Did Mr. Baines kill her in cold blood? Was it in an accident? This scenario could create a lot of suspense, but Reed instead shows you how Mrs. Baines dies. For a movie that so closely follows Philippe, it’s weird that we get an omniscient, 3rd-person perspective at this moment. I feel like it undermines a lot of tension and suspense that could otherwise develop in the latter half of the movie.

Fun fact: Assistant Director Guy Hamilton once said Bobby Henrey “couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag” and had “the attention span of a demented flea.”

Criterion Corner: Paris, Texas

paris texas

Hey there, everyone. Brian Matthew Kim here. As the resident Criterion Collection expert, I’d like to share with you a few highlights I’ve discovered over my four years of regular Criterion viewing. But rather than focus on the films I enjoy, I’m going to alternate between movies I really like and movies I really dislike. For today’s inaugural entry, I’d like to discuss my favorite Criterion thus far, Wim Wenders’ 1984 road movie (?) Paris, Texas.

What I like about it: Gorgeous cinematography. Ry Cooder’s slide-guitar score. Harry Dean Stanton and Nastassja Kinski’s performances. Sam Shepard’s dialogue. A slow movie that never feels boring. A pre-Quantum Leap Dean Stockwell. The contrast between setting (oftentimes stark, empty, or soulless landscapes) and the characters’ rich humanity.

Favorite scene: If you haven’t seen this movie and you don’t want me to spoil the end, then stop reading now. I mean it. This is your last chance. Okay, so: The conversation (i.e. two monologues) between Stanton and Kinski. Not only are they amazing monologues, but they also flip my feelings about these characters. For most of the movie I empathize with Stanton –- he’s portrayed as the protagonist. But the conversation at the ends shows that he’s actually the bad guy –- he’s the one to blame for their relationship falling apart. It’s jarring that this quiet, gentle man I’ve grown to like is capable of such darkness. And the way the scene is staged –- with one-way glass –- is just even more heartbreaking. There’s always going to be something between them that makes normal conversation impossible.

Fun fact: According to its Wikipedia page, Paris, Texas was both Kurt Cobain’s and Elliott Smith’s favorite movie of all time. I don’t know what that says about me.

Robinson Crusoe On Mars #flashmoviereviews

The film Robinson Crusoe On Mars (1964) proves how little movie producers knew about space exploration, including (but not limited to) geology, construction of oxygen tanks, battery power, linguistics, monkeys, what counts as walking distance in mountainous terrain, and the atmospheric perspective required for a matte painting of the landscape of Mars.

Also basic storytelling points like transitions between scenes, how quickly someone might pick up a language from another planet, how to convey a sense of time passing between moments, not using the same two shots of flying saucers to convey a whole fleet, and what constitutes a dramatic ending to a film.

I’m giving this film 2 out of 5 stars because, despite it’s abundant, obvious flaws, it still has a sort of rough charm–the appeal of a B-movie–plus, despite being set in space, it actually manages to be an adaptation of Robinson Crusoe in more than name only.  Yes, the main character takes a “Man Friday.”  Yes, the main character’s quest to conquer an already conquered land hits on the racist/colonial aspects of Robinson Crusoe.  (Yes, I’m surprised I had anything like this to talk about, too.)

And, with Adam West in a small, supporting role, a monkey in a space suit, and gratuitous use of the phrase “coy sausage,” there’s just enough here to keep me in my seat.

A light, poorly-made train wreck.  Good for a laugh.  It’s available on DVD, so I’m sure it’s in discount racks everywhere by now.

Enjoy!

– John Rice

Moonraker AKA James Bond vs Space.

 

moonraker01

Sigh

 

1) Cold Opening: James Bond is flying the not-so-friendly skies, putting the moves on a sexy stewardess, when SURPRISE, Bond is about to die, not only because the woman prefers flight attendant, but because she’s also a bad guy.007 is told at gunpoint by the male flight attendant, who prefers Stew, that he’s going down with the plane. A scuffle ensues that ends with Stew bailing out with a parachute. Alone and certain to die in the fiery wreck of the crash, Bond reflects a moment on a plan of action when SURPRISE Jaws pops into the film from thin air, jumps out of the plane with his parachute and drags Bond with him, to provide him with a convenient escape. In an amazing feet of skydiving acrobatics, Bond wrestles the parachute from metal mouth and leaves him to free fall to his death, while he glides to safety. Jaws falls head first into a circus tent and survives which proves SURPRISE he’s a fucking X-Man with regenerative healing powers that will stop his imminent death about twenty more times before the film is over. I give this nonsensical opening one cigar, and only that much because it’s mercifully short.

X

It’s time to come home, Jaws.

2) The Song/Opening Credits: Jaws should be a metal-mouthed flap-jack segues into the same type of shadow play I lauded in The Spy Who Loved Me, underscored with the last appearance of Shirley Bassie, singing the titular song. Unlike in the last film, the opening sequence only foreshadows the absurd awfulness of the movie ahead. As for the song: not the best Bond song, but a good one. And can you really go so wrong with Shirley Bassie? I’m giving this three cigars on the song alone, adding nothing but a solid “Fuck you, James Bond” for the sequence and another “Fuck you, James Bond” for dragging poor Ms. Bassie into this mess and sullying her good name. She did “Goldfinger,” have you no decency?

Bassey

“I think James Bond is the spy who didn’t love me.”

3) The Villain: Our diabolical mastermind attempting to take down James Bond is a millionaire with a space fetish named Drax. Picture Orson Welles, at the end of his career, minus the booming voice, gravitas or genius. His original, not copied, sinister plan for the world? The exact same plan Stromberg had in the last movie, except in space. That’s right, Drax wants to destroy the planet with super powered lasers so he can start society anew on his space ark. Instead of following Stromberg’s plan of choosing the best, brightest and most talented people for his new society, he goes his own way and chooses based on how hot they are, in hopes, I can only guess, of having a massive post-armageddon space orgy. Oh, yeah, and as I said, Jaws is still alive so Drax hires him to kill Bond, because, why not. Jaws attempts his mission at every turn right up until he falls in love and becomes a good guy. I’m giving one cigar here, not because of anything the villains do or say, but because I like the image a full swinging 70’s style space orgy.

Moonraker-3

“Ok penis heads, shoot your load.”

4) The Plot: Take a minute and pull up my review of The Spy Who Loved Me. While you’re at it, forget this film and go watch The Spy Who Loved Me. Are you still reading? You really want this? Ok, here it goes. Take the plot I described from the superior Bond movie and add the following: A space shuttle called the Moonraker is hijacked and taken. It’s either owned by Drax, or being rented by Drax from the government, it’s kind of unclear. What is clear is that Citizen Sham has had his own rocket stolen from space and is kicking up a lot of shit because it’s been taken. Now when I say it’s clear Drax stole his own ship, I don’t mean to us, the poor, inflicted upon audience, I mean to everybody! MI6 knows. James Bond knows. Fuck, if Goodnight was in this movie, even she would know and she has the IQ of a sea slug. Bond is sent to Castle Von Drax to investigate, meets his head scientist Dr. Goodhead (you’re reading this right) and his racist Asian caricature of a man servant. After several failed attempts to kill Bond, in the confines of his own mansion, on Bond’s overnight visit, Drax allows Bond to lay some pipe with his assistant, liberate some incriminating evidence from Drax’s safe, and have a goodnight’s sleep and continue on with his mission.

Asian

“Me given great dignity in this role.”

After leaving the Drax compound, the assistant Bond sleeps with is fed to some dogs for her betrayal, and Wong the racist manservant begins his doomed quest to kill 007. One such attempt has Bond escape in a Gondola, which sprouts wheels as he drives it through a crowded courtyard, past a pigeon that does an honest to Christ double take. Yes, they fucking loop the film of the bird moving its head to make it appear that it has done a double take at Bond’s Pontiac Gondola. It was at this point of the film I actually yelled at my TV “Fuck you, James Bond.” Eventually Bond drops Charlie Chan to his death, in a grand piano, after a fight that could have been choreographed by Inspector Clouseau from the Pink Panther movies. Bond runs into Dr. Goodhead again, only to discover that SURPRISE she’s a spy too (you know, like XXX). Jaws is hired to kill Bond, meets a cute mute girl in pigtails, cartoon hearts flutter around their heads while the beautiful music of love swells. Eventually everyone is in space, not being murdered by Drax and being given plenty of time to avert the coming space orgy. Once Drax reveals only the hottest of the hottest hotties will be given spot on the orgy ark, (if this ark’s a rockin, don’t come a knockin’) Jaws’ cripplingly poor body image saves the day, causing him to defect and help Bond in his mission. With everyone else’s space sex ruined, Bond and Goodhead get vertical in zero gravity, bringing this abomination to an end. It gets a full five “Fuck you, James Bonds,” but only half a stank cigar.

Pink Panther

“Now pay attention 007 and I’ll teach you how to toss a chinaman.”

5) Rapey Meter: Man, I hate having to give this movie anything more than one cigar in a category, but as this is a cartoon, it isn’t rapey at all. Bond has some consensual sex (getting one of his partners killed, surprisingly not with his 00 strain of VD). Jaws legit falls in love with a woman who he respects and literally holds hands and skips with. (The baddass, metal-mouthed assassin from the last movie skips. He fucking skips!) The only real thing I can deduct a cigar for, besides the film’s lack of a real space orgy, is the dismal name Goodhead. So there you go: a begrudging four cigars.

moonraker-jaws

Next on Maury: Giant Metal-Mouthed Hencmen and Mutes Who Love Them.

 

6) Wild Card: Here’s where I get as convoluted as the plot: I’m giving two cigars because I like the idea of the space orgy; one cigar for the strange array of Goodhead’s gadgets, such as poison tipped dart pen and flame thrower cologne bottle; one cigar for getting to see Q snippy with Bond; one cigar for seeing 007 dressed as an extra from The Good the Bad and the Ugly; two cigars for the last line of the movie, which is Q explaining Bond’s sexual spacecapades as “attempting reentry.” Now I’m deducting a cigar for every time Professor X’s favorite student should have died but didn’t: 1) The freefall from the plane; 2) crashing full speed into a 7UP castle, from a runaway skytram; 3) falling off a waterfall. I’m then taking another cigar away for Jaws biting through a steel cable; one more for the Jaws in love plotline and two for being a blatant rip-off of a much better movie. That leaves zero cigars for the wildcard.

moonraker-7up

He smashes right into it. It collapses around him. He should be dead.

All in all, that’s one cigar for Moonraker. In lieu of my usual wrap up, let me suggest other movies you should watch instead of this one. The Spy Who Loved Me for your Bond fix. Happy Gilmore for your Jaws fix. Space Jammin’ for your space orgy fix.

 

Moonraker-double-taking-pigeon

“Space Jammin’? That sounds more interesting than a Gondola with wheels.”

The Spy Who Loved Me AKA James Bond vs Ringo Starr’s Wife

 

Bond in a Boat

This is where the movie ends: not with a whisper but with a bang.

1) Cold Opening: We start on just another boring day in the life of a submarine commando, sitting pretty at the bottom of the sea, possibly in an octopus’ garden in the shade. While her Majesties Royal Navy kill time playing cards, awaiting their orders, the submarine, which may or may not be yellow, is hijacked and made to look like it has been destroyed. Though the dastardly Russians look good for the crime, we find out the same fate has befallen one of their very own submarines, which was definitely red. Cut to the bedroom of super Ruskie Spy XXX who is getting down and dirty between the sheets in the ways only a secret agent is trained for. The phone rings and XXX answers revealing that Russian James Bond is actually a sexy lady and the guy she’s with is… just some guy she’s seeing. Cut again to a cabin on a snow mountain, where the real deal James Bond is in the middle of his most famous of spy maneuvers: the bang and bail. “But I need you, James” the woman he has just finished sexing up says. “So does England,” he replies and takes off down the mountain on a pair of skis. But as Admiral Ackbar would’ve pointed out, had he been there, it’s a trap and a band of Russian assassins begin a chase that ends in all of their grisly deaths by 00 Slalom. No fuss, no muss, no long standing repercussions with the death of these spies… or so Bond thinks as he parachutes off the mountain, flying the Union Jack behind him. Among the dead, however, is XXX’s boy toy from the last scene, and our plot is sufficiently set up. All in all, raise your English fag, light five fine Cuban cigars and get ready for one hell of a Bond flick.

anya-red-dress

I present to you XXX.

2) Song/Opening Credits: As James parachutes off the mountain, he drifts into the credits, having his Union Jack cradled by two giant shadow hands. The lovey Carly Simon song, “Nobody Does It Better,” begins and plays over a romance in shadows between Bond and XXX, illuminated only by the occasional British flag waving in the background. Now, I’m not usually a fan of my Bond song having a different name than my Bond movie, (like if the movie Live and Let Die was called Give the Other Fella Hell it would’ve been intolerable. Or if Goldfinger was called The Man With the Golden Touch it would’ve been a Lulu song) but in this case the subtlety and beauty of this song make it work and I’m lighting another round of five cigars, hoping Moore’s tenure as James Bond ends before I get mouth cancer.

Shadowplay

“So I’ve been auditioning for this commercial for De Beers. Wish me luck.”

3) The Villain: Meglo-maniacal Stromberg, (who was originally supposed to be our old pussy-stroking friend Bloefeld, but wasn’t because Ian Fleming lost the rights to him) has a dream! A dream where all men, women and children who aren’t obliterated by the coming nuclear holocaust, of his design, will live as equals under the sea. Yes, he knew in 1977 what it took Sebastian the crab until the mid-nineties to figure out: it’s just better down where it’s wetter and everyone could say “Hakuna Matata” if they ditched their land-locked lives and began repopulating the Earth in an Atlantis of his making. Though you might not believe Stromberg’s real goal is to live the life aquatic, without Steve Zissou, and that he’s ultimately out for a big score or some other promised ransom, starting his underwater doomsday cult is actually his end game, which he proves by shooing away Bond’s promise of a payoff if he stops his insane machinations.

Stromberg

“Sebastian the crab? Tasted good with some butter and a side of Flounder.”

Joining Stromberg on the underwater crazy train is the most iconic henchman in the whole Bond series, Jaws. Standing seven feet tall, with literal teeth of razor sharp steel, this silent assassin is tasked with murdering a bunch of Stromberg’s associates, in order to keep the underwater pleasure project a secret. Eventually, Jaws runs afoul of XXX and 007 and the deadly game of cat and mouse and… Russian dog(?) begins. With a true visionary villain and the brute force of a super-powered henchman, we light four and a half cigars for this section, deducting a half because Jaws does come off as a bit superhuman, which leans the action a little bit too close to comic book territory.

Jaws

“My teeth are rusting, help.”

4) Plot: So by now it’s evident, I love this movie, so yes, it’s getting a full five cigars here. In addition to all the underwater doomsday fun I’ve already mentioned, we have a smart spy movie that takes a female Russian agent, puts her on equal footing with Bond, and intelligently explores the foibles and misconceptions of the Cold War outlook of we are the good guys, they are the bad guys; we stand for democracy and they don’t think like human beings; our stockpile of nuclear weapons is blessed by the Lord Jesus Christ and their stockpile of nuclear weapons are spawned by Satan. Add onto this the mostly one-sided affection and respect Bond has for XXX, and the subplot of XXX vowing to kill Bond for murdering her lover, you have a genuinely smart and well written Roger Moore Bond movie. And I do hope you’re paying, 007, as it is only rough terrain after this flick.

reagan-trump

“Mr. Gorbachev, if a horny British spy and Ringo Starr’s wife can get along, then maybe there’s enough jelly beans for everyone.”

5) Rapey Meter: I don’t really have much to say with the rapey/sexist meter. Bond is used sexually by XXX, he makes sexist remarks about women drivers, which is served right back to him. He’s out smarted by his counterpart as many times as he outsmarts her, and both top-notch spies are obviously portrayed as equals. Of course, this movie, as all Bond movies up to this point, ends with the couple having stranded ocean sex in a boat, but at least this time you’re not left feeling dirty, like you’ve just witnessed a sex crime. Five cigars all around.

tied up

“Seriously, you’re choice of pictures are way more rapey than this movie.”

6) Wildcard: Obviously five cigars here, but if you really need the breakdown: 1 cigar for the MI6 and Q lab being set up in a pyramid in Egypt; 1 cigar for Bond’s submarine car; 1 cigar for Bond shooting Stromberg in the balls; 1 cigar for Jaws being defeated at the hands of a giant magnet and one cigar for Bond’s response to M’s inquiry of what he was doing, after getting caught in his post-mission water fucking, “Keeping the British end up, Sir.”

Bondmarine

“We all drive in a yellow Bondmarine!”

All in all, we get 4.9 cigars making this easily one of the best and most enjoyable films in the series. So pour a martini (or whiskey or whatever the fuck Moore is drinking in these films), light a cigar and get ready to enjoy the quest for Orgy Atlantis that is The Spy Who Loved Me. And before you judge the movie without seeing it take a note from Bond’s book “Mmm, maybe I misjudged Stromberg. Any man who drinks Dom Perignon ’52 can’t be all bad.”

ringo-starr

“Ok, Barbara, time to stop slumming here and come home.”

The Man With the Golden Gun AKA James Bond vs the Superfluous Third Nipple

Duel

Martinis at midnight and pistols at dawn.

1) The Cold Opener: Open on a beautiful, tropical beach, to a shirtless Francisco Scaramanga (played by the wonderful Christopher Lee) and a near naked mirror-mirror universe Bond girl. Close up on Christopher Lee’s bare chest as we count not one nipple, not two nipples, but three oddly shaped man teets. Scaramanga and the nega Bond girl enjoy a sip of expensive champagne before beckoning for Nick-Nack Francisco’s butler/henchman/heir/friend (question mark), played admirably by Hervi “The Plane Boss, the Plane” Villichez. After serving his boss his morning booze, Nick-Nack consults secretly with a high priced assassin in a cheap suit, explaining that when FS shuffles off this mortal coil, he gets the mansion. Once the trap is set, Nick-Nack lures Scaramanga inside, where he avoids the assassin’s bullets amongst a bevy of fetishistic carnival play, ranging from animatronic gangsters, hypno lights, multi-mirrored walls and other assorted fun house goodies. By the end, Scaramanga reunites himself with the titular golden gun (which was sitting on a pedestal in the middle of the room the whole time), uses the impractical one bullet shot the gun fires to put a deadly whole in the cheap suit, reloads and spins around just in time to shoot a Madame Tousaud quality wax figure of 007 himself. It’s exciting, trippy and a lot of fun, which is why I’m lighting a full five cigars, not even deducting any for being tricked into seeing Christopher Lee shirtless.

third nipple

One, two, three. Seems right… WHAAAAAAT?

2) The Opening Credits/Bond Song: This is a really hard section to rate for this flick because it’s where it will lose most of its cigars. Whereas the movie is fast-paced and fun, the opening itself will only score two dank cigars whose express purpose are to be gutted by teenagers and filled with danker weed. To start with, the song (performed by Lulu of “To Sir with Love” fame) is a fast-paced go-go pop song with lyrics more on-the-nose than the ones I wrote drunk for On Her Majesties Secret Service.(He’s got a powerful weapon, he charges a million a shot, an assassin second to none, the man with the golden gun). Pair that dreadful piece of noise with an opening so boring I had to watch it three times on Youtube in a row and still couldn’t remember anything about it. According to my notes, though, there are watery images of guns and women that seem to be out of sync with the song’s tempo. This is easy the worst credit sequence and song thus far in my exploration of MI6, and it really should have only gotten one cigar, but I couldn’t, with a good conscience, run the risk of this movie scoring lower than Live and Let Die.

third nipple moore

Will the real third nipple, please stand up.

3) The Villain: This is a real no brainer and, of course, will be getting a full five freshly rolled Cubanos right off the bat. Christopher Lee as the titular man with the golden gun, himself, Francisco Scaramanga, an assassin who hunts for the thrill and charges for the business, using a gun with a one bullet capacity to prove that he never misses his target. Living his life in the comfort of wealth and the shadow of complete anonymity, the Man with the Golden Gun is a man you don’t want to learn your name (you see how it’s done, Lulu? A little class. Not so obvious. Maybe slow down the tempo of the music). Scaramanga is everything you could want in a Bond villain, tapping into the delicate relationship in literary archetypes of the hero and the shadow. He’s the Sarumon to 007’s Gandalf, the Count Duku to Bond’s Obi-Won, the Nega Duck to James’ Darkwing Duck. He’s the man Bond could have easily grown into without MI6, Queen, and Country to guide him.

Lulu“I had a bigger Twitter following in 1977 than this site will ever have; don’t tell me how to write a damned pop song.”

4) The Plot: Bond is sent a message that implicates Francisco Scaramanga (the Man with Golden gun, Bond points out, abusing my good graces on using the title as dialogue), has been paid to put a hit out on 007. After being strong-armed by M off his current case, concerning the disappearance of some energy conservation scientist, Bond takes one of his famous work leaves for revenge and attempts to track down the elusive assassin. Having only a name, and the location of his last hit to go on, 007 travels to a strip club in Beirut to warm up the cold case of who killed 006. After meeting the dancer who was with 006 on his last day on Earth, Bond proceeds to literally charm her clothes off in an attempt to obtain her lucky charm: the golden bullet collected from the dead agent’s body. After a few near swipes, amidst a goon fight, Bond swallows the charm and rushes to the local CVS for some laxatives (yup, not kidding). Once he collects his evidence, Bond threatens a weapons maker with a bullet to the crotch and gets the vital info he needed: the location of Scaramanga’s paramour. After shaking the paramour down for information, with his penis, Bond meets up with his ditzy assistant Goodnight; a character who single-handedly reverses at least a decade of woman’s liberation. After promising to, but not sleeping with her, Bond goes back on the golden gun trail only to find out that he was never a target to begin with (what!?) and Scaramanga’s real target was the missing scientist from Bond’s last mission (what a twist). With the weird energy conservation sub-plot reinserted to the film, Bond continues hunting Scaramanga, tapes a fake third nipple to his chest to pass as him, fights a bunch of ninjas, gets Goodnight kidnapped and eventually winds up on Golden Gun Aisle to watch Scaramanga show off the literal laser death ray he’s built with the scientist’s piece of technology. Francisco challenges Bond to an ultimate gentlemen’s duel: pistols at dawn, and Bond puts an end to Scaramanga’s cribbing from Diamonds are Forever with one shot from his Walter PPK. Finally alone on a literal slow boat to China, Bond and Goodnight start making it a very goodnight, only to have the mood spoiled by the ankle biting Nick-Nack (that’s not a slur at little people, he bites Bond’a ankle). After making short work (pun intended) of the henchmen, Bond gets back to his favorite past time: sex on a boat in the ocean.

Knick-Knack

“The boat, boss, the boat. Just give Bond a few minutes to finish up.”

5) Rapey Meter: Again, we have a tough category to call: whereas Bond doesn’t outright force himself on anyone, Goodnight is so slow in the movie that having sex with her would be tantamount to seducing the mentally disabled. Also, Scaramanga pulls a Diamonds are Forever Bloefeld and has Goodnight walking around his evil lair, after kidnapping her, in a skimpy bikini. Only it’s worse because I have no doubt Scaramanga showed Goodnight the titular golden gun was really his penis, and again, she has the mind of a six-year-old. On this alone I’d light no more than two cigars, but because Bond fights alongside two fetishized, teenaged kung-fu Asian school girls with nary a sexual look, I’ll add a third.

Britt-E-1

“I was promised pudding and help learning the alphabet.”

6) Wild Card: Hashtag honesty time: I loved this movie and was going to give it a full array of five cigars in this category, but I must, in good conscience, deduct two cigars for the appearance of nobody’s favorite racist southern cop from Live and Let Die: J.W. Pepper. That’s right, the rootin’ tootin’ sheriff who chased 007 down in the last movie is coincidentally vacationing in Thailand, where Bond is on his mission and, even more coincidentally, he is driving the car Bond commandeers to save Goodnight. Remembering Bond as “that British agent from the last movie,” he becomes James’ sidekick for a bit, using his obnoxious American bluster to get himself arrested (and hopefully murdered). I will, however, restore one of those cigars because right before this, Bond is a dick to a child by promising him money if he helps him, then pushes him in the water instead, after the kid legit helps him.

the kid

For just 007 cents a day you can sponser one of James Bond’s illegitimate children.

7) All in all, the second outing of Roger Moore gets a solid four cigars, because despite its problems it is one of the most fun Bond movies in the series so far. And as M puts it best “So if I understand it, Scaramanga got away – in a car that sprouted wings?”

flying car

The man with the golden gun, or the man with the impractical car?

 

James Bond Review Part 9: Live and Let Die

Live and Let Die AKA James Bond VS All the Black People in the World

Authors Note: As we are now entering the Roger Moore Bond era, there will be a few tweaks to my rating system that you need to be aware of. 1) The films of this actor will not be rated out of vodka martinis, as Roger Moore barely, if ever, orders one in his stint as 007. Instead, he will a get rating between one and five cigars, as Moore smokes more tobacco penis symbols than Sigmund Freud. 2) The Rapey Meter will be a lot harsher, deducting points for things I probably would have glossed over Connery for (if not applauding his restraint). Moore is less sexually aggressive and more flirty than Connery, however the portrayal of women in his movies are a bit more sexist, so the bullshit algorithm I use, though staying the same, will be recalibrated with this in mind. Now to the movie!

Roger Moore Live and Let Die.PNG

“This never happened to the other guy.”

1) Cold Opener: The name of the game is assassination. Open on New York City where a very boring meeting of UN delegates is happening. A black man sneaks into the translator booth and replaces the British delegate’s feed with ear dynamite, which he uses to kill him. Jump to the French Quarter in New Orleans. A parade of black people are having a somber funeral procession while an innocent white agent looks on. Touched by the event he asks a strange black man who’s funeral it is and is stabbed to death. The procession than becomes a lively party that scoops up the dead agent into the coffin and dances away with him. Jump to San Monique AKA an island in the Caribbean. A scary gaggle of black folk are all going crazy with their uncivilized voodoo rituals. If that isn’t enough to terrify the average white man, a wild-eyed voodoo priest comes dancing out, looking like a character from a Dave Chappelle sketch, holding a ridiculous green snake. Not scary enough, Jive Turkey? Well dyn-o-mite, there’s white guy tied to a wooden stake who gets sacrificed by these colored savages. Now I know this is a send-off to Blaxploitation movies, but all I can say is “too soon, guys” and give a half cigar for this for the offensive racism and lack of James Bond. It does get the half, however, because of the ear dynamite.

live-and-let-die-2151

Dave Chappelle’s last Chappelle show sketch.

2) Opening Credits/Bond Song: Overall, this is a really cool sequence and a fantastic song. We get Sir Paul McCartney, a year after the breakup of the Beatles, writing and performing an out of the ordinary, more rock than usual, Bond song. In the background, attractive black women brandishing guns (and sometime voodoo body paint) are sharing the screen or are engulfed in flames, with a cool effect of one woman’s head becoming a fiery skull to a key tempo change in the song. I’m not only giving this a full five cigar opening, but I’ll use the flames from the credits to light the round.

Live Opening

Only you can prevent forest fires.

3) The Villain: So we have Yaphet Koto, an actor I love, at the evil helm, playing the dual roles of Kananga and Mr. Big. By day, Kananga is a mild-mannered UN delegate, but by night he is the nefarious gang leader/burn victim Mr. Big. Call him what you will, but at the end of the day he is a bad ass voodoo wielding, drug smuggler with a one armed henchmen (Tee Hee), and tarot reading Bond girl (Solitaire played by Jane Seymour) and the ability to mobilize every black person, except one, in the entire world. On his coolness alone, I’m lighting five cigars.

Live_and_Let_Die_Characters

Can you guess who the villains are in this picture?

4) The Plot: A bunch of stuffy white people are killed by black people and 007, now played by known stuffy Brit Roger Moore, must find out why. Accompanied by Felix Lieter (this time played by David Hedison) Bond traverses the globe from Harlem, to New Orleans to an island in the Caribbean, to figure out the mystery. The whole adventure Bond is stalked by a strange voodoo figure known as Baron Samedi who, though creepy, doesn’t do much. Bond shows up unannounced at Kananga’s door step and isn’t killed. Instead he lures Dr. Quinn Tarot Reader away from Kananga, who is more than happy to go, showing that a British penis is much more powerful than a black one. After being betrayed by every black person in the movie, except CIA agent Quarrel (who should have been playing Leiter, but instead gets killed), Bond loses Dr. Quinn and gets kidnapped by Mr. Big who literally rips his face off and reveals himself to be Yaphet Koto (record skip! Whaaaaaaaaaat?). After being handcuffed to a chair and told he would be killed if his white penis destroyed Solitaire’s fortune telling ability, Bond is released after Kananga confirms Dr. Quinn’s lack of powers. By the end of the movie, Bond has proven that voodoo is a black people silly superstition and Kananga reveals his plan: to produce and distribute heroin, for free, through his Fillet of Soul restaurants, until every other heroin supplier is out of business. Once he holds the monopoly (or at least Boardwalk) he will jack the heroin price sky high, both doubling his clientele and destroying his competition. It’s so crazy, it just might have worked, except Bond plugs a pump into him and blows him up like a floaty pool toy until he pops. The day is saved, Dr. Quinn needs to play doctor with Nurse Bond and they’re both getting ready for the dirty business in their train car when Tee Hee sneaks in and nearly kills them all with his claw hand. After being tossed out the window, Bond gets down to fucking and the audience is treated to an unresolved Baron Samedi gleefully riding on the front of the locomotive. This plot is messier than a six-year-old brat’s toy room and I’m leaving out the southern racist cop and black CIA agent to e-scared of voodoo to be a professional. All in all, one cigar is being lit here because, as much Bondsense that goes on in this movie, it is kind of fun.

New Orleans

“The hard part wasn’t planning this massive strike on Bond, but on getting our choreography straight.”

5) Rapey Meter: Remember the whole plot line I mentioned about Dr. Solitaire Tarrot Card Reader losing her ability to see the future after Bonding in the bedroom with 007? Well, he literally fucks the power and evil out of her, changing her from a villain with vision to a useless, doting little girl. Remember the black CIA agent (Rosie Carver) I mentioned who turns on him after a voodoo scare? He sleeps with her then threatens to kill her, answering her logic of him not being able to pull the trigger after said sex by saying “Well, I certainly wouldn’t have killed you before.” All in all, pretty sexist and more than a bit rapey so I’m making this a two cigar round.

download

“Will you still love me tomorrow? Since we finished, I can’t tell anymore.”

 

6) Wild Card: Here’s where my review gets as convoluted as the plot of the movie, so do pay attention, Jive Turkey, and let’s count the pluses and minuses. First off I’m taking the whole box of cigars away for the uncomfortable racism in the film. When I said all the black people in the world are against Bond, I’m including the aforementioned CIA agent, as well as everyone living in New Orleans, San Monique and Harlem (including the cab driver who randomly picks him up and doesn’t know him from Adam). I’ll add two cigars because I’ve often bad-mouthed Roger Moore as Bond, but I genuinely like his portrayal here. I’ll add another for Tee Hee, who’s only issue is he needed more screen time, and still another cigar for James Bond’s Pitfall Harry impression by jumping on the backs of alligators to escape peril. I’m then removing two cigars for Agent Quarrel’s death, which does nothing to further the story, but robs the audience of a cool character who is black and not evil. I’m taking another cigar because the actor who played Quarrel would have been a great Leiter, but I’m adding a half of one because Baron Samedi is a cool character (would have been a full one if he did more.) Finally, I’m adding a cigar and half for the awesome, soulful cover of “Live and Let Die,” we see in the night club James is abducted from. This gives us a total of three cigars.

B.J-Arnau-624x400

“Just take a listen.”

 

7) So, when you were young and your heart was an open book, you used to love this movie (I know you did, I know you did, I know you did), but when this ever changing world in which we live in, makes you not rank so high, Live and Let Die (gets a total of two and half cigars). Don’t agree with my review? Visit my Gofundme page to contribute to my ongoing bribes to raise the Bond reviews because, honestly “For twenty bucks I’d take you to a Ku Klux Klan cook out.” – Cab Driver.

baron samedi

“I’m just gonna sit here a while.”

 

James Bond Review Part 8: Diamonds Are Forever

Diamonds are Forever aka James Bond VS The Amazing Mr. Blofelds

1) Cold Opening: Despondent over the murder of his wife, Bond sheds his young Australian face for the old familiar grizzled Scotsman and literally punches a trail through all of Blofeld’s known associates until he reaches the man himself. After killing Blofeld while he’s taking a mud bath, Bond is left to face off with non-other than Blofeld. It is revealed that old Ernie has been using mud to create body doubles of himself and Bond makes sure to put the real Blofeld in the ground, literally, smothering him to death in a hot mud bath. You know by now I don’t like cold open shenanigans, and this Blofeld (played by Charles Gray) gives us nothing but that, with his game of will the real Slim Blofeld, please stand up. For that I’m taking two vodka martinis off the bar, but replacing one with a voucher for a buyback, because Bond kicking ass and taking names was way cool, leaving this as a four martini opening.

diamonds-are-forever2

“You too can have your very own Blofeld blowup doll for three easy payments of several million dollars in diamonds.”

2) Opening Credits/Bond Song: Right off the bat, I’m proclaiming this as a five martini opening. You get the amazing Shirley Bassie back to belt out a song that is arguably better than “Goldfinger,” to a credit sequence that fits the song and movie perfectly. You have Blofeld’s cat, pretty much walking us through the different uses of diamonds, after her right eye becomes a diamond itself. We see head diamonds, finger diamonds, belly diamonds, choker diamonds, pussy diamonds and cat diamonds, all modeled amongst the credits.

maxresdefault

“These are the cat diamonds. The pussy diamonds are exactly what they sound like.”

3) Villain: Hashtag spoilers, none of the Blofeld’s killed in the cold opener was the real one, leaving him as our main antagonist, which is of course not revealed until the end. I’m giving this incarnation of Blofeld three house liquor martinis, for a few reasons. A) He has neither the look of Donald Pleasance, nor the charisma of Telly Savalas. B) It’s explained he gets reconstructive surgery after the last movie, but last I checked you can’t grow back hair. If you could, I’d have thrown in with SPECTRE a long time ago to get my flowing golden locks back. C) He uses voice changing equipment, much like ghost face from Scream, to trick a billion-dollar company into smuggling diamonds for him so he can create a giant space “laser” (for the reference refer to my post about James Bond VS Austin Powers), which was inspiration for both Golden Eye and the Ronald Reagan mad scientist idea of Star Wars.

reaganmissiles

Ronald Reagan stars as James Bond in “A Mind Half Gone.”

4) The Plot: After taking down the man who killed his wife, Bond is ready to get back out in the field so he can get to the fucking and killing we expect from a 007 movie. Sent out to investigate a large scale diamond smuggling ring, Bond takes a cue from Lazenby and goes undercover as diamond smuggler extraordinaire Saxby, whom he kills in front of his contact and brilliantly swaps ID’s with. Enter my two favorite characters Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint, who are assassins with an unknown benefactor who kill anyone and everyone who come in contact with the diamonds. Bond shacks up with villainess Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) using the power of his mighty penis to bring her to the side of good. By the end of the film Bond is taken prisoner, switches the laser control key with a mix tape full of marching music, allows Blofeld to escape through a plot hole, destroys the laser and takes a cruise with Tiffany where the forgotten assassins (it had been about forty minutes since we saw them last) pose as boat staff and attempt to kill the pair with disastrous consequences. It’s a bit convoluted, but doesn’t have the usual scenes that drag the film down, so I’m pouring three and half vodka martinis.

tumblr_lizaaxh8H51qhnae7o1_500

“You left out my drag show.”

5) The Rapey Meter: So for our last outing with noted wife beater/Bond girl rapist Sean Connery we have a film that has no rapey moments from 007 himself. He has one sex partner, Tiffany Case, through-out the whole movie. He almost sleeps with casino-fly Plenty O’Toole (seriously Peter, you name your daughter Plenty? For shame), expect she’s thrown out of Bond’s hotel window, into the pool below, before any consummation can happen. Blofeld, however, is super rapey as, after he abducts Ms. Case, he makes her walk around in a tiny bikini while she’s in his lair so he can ogle her and make crude remarks to guests. But this meter ain’t here to punish Bond for the actions of his villains, so we get a full five vodka martinis.

Case

“This is me being held hostage.”

6)Wild Card: I’m pouring five vodka martinis for the following reasons: A) Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd are a gay couple, which are not portrayed flamboyantly, nor as comedy, nor is their sexual preference even a plot line/reason for villainy. They are simply two gay men allowed to be characters outside of being gay, which is more progressive I ever would have thought a Bond movie capable of. B) Q uses a Q Branch device to cheat at the slots in a Vegas casino, showing absolutely no interest in the money as he leaves a trail of unclaimed riches behind him, all in the name of science.

7-Q-Diamonds-Are-Forever-Radley-Golf-Club-Tie

“It’s not cheating if it’s for science.”

7) That leaves this imbalanced, but perfectly fun Bond movie at a three and a half martini rating. And for a bit more on the nature of diamonds: “Hardest substance found in nature, they cut glass, suggest marriage, I suppose it replaced the dog as the girl’s best friend.” – James Bond.

diamonds3

“I’ve never really liked dogs.”

James Bond Review Part 7: On Her Majesties Secret Service

On Her Majesties Secret Service AKA James Bond vs Matrimony

1) Cold Opener: A beautiful, deserted beach spans the horizon, with the calming waves lapping on the shore. The beautiful Diana Rigg runs toward the ocean, possibly looking to shuffle off the mortal coil. Enter James Bond, whose face hasn’t been revealed. Sensing possible poon-tang, faceless Bond leaps from his car and rushes to her rescue. After subduing her, and fending off unknown goons with guns, Diana Rigg wriggles out of his grasp, steals his car and escapes. Finally turning around, it’s revealed that Bond isn’t Sean Connery (record skip, whaaaaat?), but instead an Australian model named George Lazenby. Not wanting to draw attention to the change in actors, the studio never addresses the change in face, but does have Bond look square in the camera and state “this never happened to the other guy.” All in all, let’s pour a full five martinis for Diana Rigg in a bikini and the only instance of breaking the 4th wall in the franchise.

Lazanby

You know what also never happened to the other guy? Getting fired after one film.

2) Opening credits/Bond Song: Here’s where things get tricky: the credits are nothing more than “Last Time on James Bond,” showing literal clips from the previous five movies, with a straight forward orchestral score. This normally wouldn’t warrant more than one, boring martini made with house vodka, however there are two factors at play here. Number 1: The unofficial bond song of this film is a beautiful Louis Armstrong tune called “All the Time in the World,” which plays a heart breaking roll at the end. Number 2: the film maker felt the title was too long for a Bond song, without becoming comedic, which makes sense. So for now I’m going to serve up two house martinis for the bland opening and write my own version of an honest bond song, which I’ll add to this at the end. If you comment that mine is spot on my two martinis ruling stands. If you comment on my failure, I’ll raise the drink minimum accordingly.

majesty4

“Dr. No, I’m not in this movie.”

3) Villain: this is the second installment that features Ernst Stravo Blofeld, this time played by lollipop sucking, who loves ya baby, Telly Savales. His plan? To prove he is a descendent from a royal line, known for their lack of earlobes, all while using the brainwashed women from his mountain top rehab clinic to mount an offense at the world’s governments. This is a performance and plot so over the top I can’t help but breaking out the authentic Russian vodka, popping open the imported pearl olives and serve up five chilled martinis.

On-Her-Majestys-Secret-Service-Blofeld-Telly-Savalas

“If super villainy doesn’t work out, baby, I think I’ll become a cop.”

4) Plot: it’s been three years since Blofeld slipped through Bonds fingers and MI6 is getting fed up with 007’s inability to track him down. After a temper tantrum and the threat of resignation, Bond is granted a three week leave to track down Ernie Bloe on his own dime. Going directly to the nearest casino, Bond runs into Diana Rigg, who bets a ton of money she doesn’t have on a losing roll of the dice. After covering her debt, Bond takes her (boom boom boom lets go back) to his room where she bangs and bails, reversing the 007 sex trope. Shortly after, her infamous mob boss father has 007 kidnapped and we get twenty minutes of Bill Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, as the mob boss trades Blofeld’s whereabouts for Bond’s compliance in breaking his wild stallion of a daughter (add in air guitar licks as necessary). Being a smart, independent woman, Mrs. Rigg has none of this shenanigans, forces her father to give up his information and attempts to send Bond on his way, being pleasantly surprised when he stays anyway to have a serious, committed relationship with her based on attraction and respect.

Emma Peel

There is no caption necessary here. She is just the most breathtaking Bond girl ever.

Eventually Bond hightails it to Blofeld’s mountain top rehab clinic, donning a kilt and a Scottish accent, performing a task no previous Bond ever had: pretending to be someone other than superspy James Bond. Under the guise of Sir Hilary Bray, family tree expert, Bond infiltrates Blofeld’s retreat to uncover his dastardly plot. Ignoring the gaping plot hole that Blofeld should have recognized Bond from the time he blew up his super-secret lair, foiling his plans in the last movie, it is refreshing to see actual espionage. After sleeping with a few English patients, getting caught and imprisoned, escaping and having a long ski battle scene, Bond thwarts Kojak and has a very touching wedding ceremony, joining in holy matrimony with the only woman who he ever saw as his equal: Mrs. Peel from The Avengers. On the way to their honeymoon, however, Blofeld performs a Compton style drive-by, killing Mrs. Bond. The movie ends with Louis Armstrong playing over Bond cradling his murdered wife, assuring himself she was fine because they had all the time in the world. Obviously this is a five martini plot, if for no other reason than when a Bond movie makes you teary-eyed you need to drown those sorrows quickly and get your male bravado back up and running.

W9 77

“Edina, darling, once I’m out of Blofeld’s rehab we’re gonna go on a two decade bender that will be absolutely fabulous.”

5) Rapey Meter: We have some close calls here, but I really feel this is one of the least Rapey 007 films in the franchise. First off, it’s implied Diana Rigg only sleeps with Bond the first time to repay her gambling debt, but after she pulls her bang and bolt she leaves Bond with an envelope full of cash that says “I always pay my debts,” making it clear that he was the one used in this scenario. Next, he sleeps with two woman in the rehab clinic, in the same night, who practically attack him because he’s the first man they’ve seen besides Kojak in months. Full disclosure, they do think he’s gay and, instead of setting them straight about his sexuality, Bond quips about not usually doing this, but the girl in question being special. While deceitful, his feigned homosexuality was more for his mission and played no part in the seduction. Couple that with the fact that Tony Curtis’ similar ruse in Some Like It Hot, is much more rapey and he’s not even doing it for king and country. Not only will I serve up five full martinis (a rarity on the rapey meter for a Bond movie) I’m also pairing it with a nice steak and seating you at bridesmaid’s table in the Bond wedding.

diana_rigg_tracy_draco_on_her_majestys_secret_service

“If anyone is getting a walter PPK holstered in their Moneypenny,” it’s you Mr. Bond. Now bend over.”

6) Wild Card: I’m giving this a full five martinis for the wild card, but to be clear, it is not because this is one of my favorite Bond movies. It’s not because I think Lazenby is underrated, nor is it because it gives a personal, emotional depth to a character that usually a walking hard-on. It’s not about seeing Bond in a kilt, or seeing Bond actually spy. It’s not the appearance of Joanna Lumley, AKA Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous. I’m ignoring Telly Savalas as Blofeld, and the reveal of the Bond Family motto “The world is not enough.” I’m not even removing any martinis for the racism present during the rehab dinner scene where the Asian girl eats a bowl of rice and the black girl eats a banana (yeah, it was uncomfortable). Instead, I’m basing this rating solely on my love for Diana Rigg, AKA Tracy Bond, AKA Emma Peel.

Motto

Why couldn’t the Bond family motto have been a good movie?

7) All in all this is a solid four martini movie, missing that last one because of the shoddy opening credits. But don’t let that deter you from seeing this unsung classic of the Bond franchise. It might be one of the longest installments, clocking in at two hours and twenty-two minutes, but as Bond says in the end of the film “It’s all right. It’s quite all right, really. She’s having a rest. We’ll be going soon. There’s no hurry, you see. We have all the time in the world.”

three-women

I’m just gonna leave this here and let you all share my uncomfortable feeling.

 

 

On Her Majesties Secret Service

Music and Lyrics by Jason N. Fischedick

Chorus

On her majesties secret service

We fight for king and queen.

On her majesties secret service

We always make the scene.

Whether looking for a Lektor

Or preventing world war two

We’ll be fighting against SPECTRE

Terrorism they will rue.

 

Verse

But there’s always time, to bed a few chicks

Drink some martinis, and never get sick.

We’ll sample the food, from all over the world

We’ll lick all the goodies, I’m talking ‘bout girls.

 

Chorus

On her majesties secret service

We fight for king and queen.

On her majesties secret service

We always make the scene.

We can fight sharks, underwater

We can save the gold reserve.

Kill assassins, kiss some daughters

Throw a quip and strike a nerve