Tuesday, May 23, 2017

farewell mr. bond, but not goodbye

Roger Moore died today. Last night, a bunch of people died in Manchester. I'd rather think about the former than the latter. So, I'm watching For Your Eyes Only. I grew up on this movie. Roger Moore was my James Bond. This one, Octopussy, A View to a Kill--I've seen these movies far too many times considering I never made a deliberate effort to watch them repeatedly (as I obviously have with other films). For Your Eyes Only, especially. It was on one of those first VHS tapes my family had. It was one of the movies we watched regularly.

It has been a while since I last watched it, though. This very 80s (or really, 70s) music as Bond goes after Blofeld (who I never really had much context for when I was a kid and we'd watch this; he was just some bald guy who randomly tried to kill Bond and then Bond murdered him, and that alone is also so very 80s. Then the music video opening credits with vaguely naked women dancing in silhouette. (Visuals that meant very different things as I got older, of course.) Of course, Bond has always been of his time, depending on when the particular film was made, when the particular actor was cast. 1980s Bond was over-the-top, deliberately and explicitly. His Bond gadgets were insane; a miniature jet plane hidden behind a fake horse's ass, for Cold War's sake. Rambo might've had his explosive arrowheads (a few year's after this particular film) but Bond has a car that explodes rather than be broken into and... actually, I'm not remembering too many weird devices in this one.

And, he's a womanizer, he drives like a crazy person, and risks his life at every turn. Plus one liners. He's quintessential 1980s. And, the plot is almost immediately complicated.

And, I'm just going to watch for a bit.

 

 

 

 

 

The sound effects stand out, just cliched gunshots and ricochets, and that divebombing plane sound... It's basically what no action movie should ever be. But in 1981, and I first see this thing when I'm five, oh how this movie works.

Plotwise, like any Bond film, it is all over the place. But, that is what Bond films do. And as a kid, sitting down for more than an hour and a half, that's kind of what you need. Star Wars works because it jumps from location to location, setpiece to setpiece, introduces characters, kills them, introduces more. Throw in a session or two of offscreen sex with different partners, some complex Cold War politics and spy machinations, and you've got a Bond film. The only reason, I'm pretty sure, that I can remember which sequences (like the skiing) are in which film is because I've seen these few Bond films so many times. Specific sequences were in the Dalton Bond films or the Brosnan Bond films, and I'm not so knowledgable. Didn't have those on regular repeat. (Same goes for Connery Bond films, because I saw those out of their context.)

 

 

 

 

 

Bond is such the ideal of cinematic masculinity for the time. Better at everything than anyone. One of the greatest biathletes goes after him and misses his shots and falls on a jump. Bond inadvertently gets into the elevator for the ski jump and of course he can make the jump just fine. He speaks all the local languages. And, all he has to do is be near Bibi and she connives her way into his hotel room to sleep with him.

(Odd plotting sidenote: Bond initially went to Greece because Melina's parents were killed for going after the ATAC device in the sunken ship, but he didn't even bother to look for the device before just heading back to England then to Italy. Somewhere along the way, the film forgot to be clear about him assuming that the exchange of money at the pool was for the device and not for murdering the Havelocks. Seriously, I loved this Cortina action as a kid, and it's still pretty good (though entirely unbelievable), but this sequences bears basically no connection to the earlier part of the film. If the Havelocks' murder meant someone already had the device, Bond didn't really need to go to Greece in the first place.


But, hey, random farmer with cow as Bond jumps over a small house, and chickens inside of course as Erich Kriegler crashes through it. So, who cares if the plot makes sense (or if anyone ever bothered to make sure that it made sense)?

Really, though, now Bond wants Melina's father's notes? So, the device has not been found (I remember the underwater sequence later, of course, but I'm trying to be here in this viewing), and the sequence in Cortina served no purpose. Gotta love Bond films. Like someone in the production had an idea for a skiing sequence, so they just throw it into whatever Bond film is in the works.)

He gambles and wins. He knows local cuisine and wines. Sharks ignore him to eat other people.

 

 

 

 

 

And, he kicks a car down a cliff. Rambo never kicked a car down a cliff. John Matrix never kicked a car down a cliff. John McClane never kicked a car down a cliff.

Best moment watching now--upon entering the sunken St. Georges, Bond, who is the best at everything and even knows about oxygen helium mixes for diving, bumps his head. No dialogue to go with it, of course. I don't think it was scripted. Just whoever was actually in the suit for that shot misjudged how high his helmet was. But, it's nice to see Bond do at least one thing badly.

 

 

 

 

 

I never really knew Roger Moore for much else than his Bond films. I'm not sure he was even that great an actor. But, his Bond films were a fixture of my childhood, and my early experience with film.

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