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Roger Moore

December 1, 2012

Double-ovember, For Your Eyes Only

For Your Eyes Only: Roger
127min, Action, 1981

Twelfth Bond film

Villain: Aristotle Kristatos, Blofeld 

Bond Girl(s): Melina Havelock,
Countess Lisl von Schlaf,
Bibi Dahl

I’ve always said that there really hasn’t been a bad Bond film. Nope they’re all good. Sure we have a few weak ones, but over 50 years that’s pretty damn unbelievable.

Roger is a fun Bond to watch. But he did seem to get old for the part, to the point I believe they should of started over. For Your Eyes Only should of been the last for him. Because I honestly think this is one of his strongest films and I believe you should always go out when your on top. To give you an idea, after this was Octopussy (1983) and then A View to a Kill (1985) (his final). So yeah should of left on FYEO, but hey it is what it is so…

Intro: Don’t care for that intro. Could of been better, really so much better. Blofeld killed Bond’s wife, should of been a better revenge intro…Thou the song is pretty good. In fact its so good it still plays on the radio to this day!

The first half of For Your Eyes Only is a bit weak but the last half is Roger at his top. Roger is everything but a serious Bond, but here he gets there a little bit. It is his Bond’s most serious and I like that.

The film has some thrilling scenes in it. The two big ones are the Ski Chase and Cliff Climbing sequence. Before this was Moonraker, which is what it is. It was a big film with big special effects. For Your Eyes Only went back to the realistic approach and that felt refreshing.

I picked Roger as my word because when I watch this film he’s the one that really pulls everything together. This is do to the some what serious approach we get from Roger’s Bond and I like that. Also when you look at that poster the first thing you notice is Roger, right? Yeah that would be a little sarcasm.

All in all Rogers best film.

Just a side note: Two actors that appear in this film are on HBO’s Game of Thrones, that’s pretty neat I think!…Or not, man I’m a loser!

November 8, 2012

Double-ovember: Live And Let Die

RISKY

First, we’re going to replace the tried and true Sean Connery with relative unknown Roger Moore for Bond.  Then we’re going to give him the first African American Bond girl.  Then we’re going to give him the first African American Bond Villain.  Then we’re going to base the story in Harlem, urban Louisiana and a fictional island nation.  Finally, we’re going to throw in supernatural elements like legitimate fortune telling and voodoo.  To say that Live And Let Die was a RISKY proposition would be an understatement.  Though its most thought of as “Bond versus The Black People”, Albert Broccoli’s can take solace in the fact that they brought 007 into a world he’d never gone before.

The culture shock to the franchise was no accident.  Blaxploitation was big at the time and the studio looked to jump on that bandwagon.  And financially, it payed off.  Though, with such a departure from the normal Bond fair, the film itself feels like its a rushed, poorly constructed amalgamation.  Director Guy Hamilton has directed four of the most iconic Bond films of all time.  Live And Let Die is easily his weakest outing.    
When Sean Connery dropped out as Bond, the studio wanted to cast an American actor.  Everyone from Burt Reynolds to Clint Eastwood were considered.  Thankfully, they went with the star of The Saint tv series Roger Moore.  Moore is infamous for playing Bond with a lighter tone than any other actor in the part.  But while Live And Let Die has painfully slapstick moments in it, Moore plays Bond mostly straight compared to his later films.  He wasn’t as good as Connery but audiences could now buy him as Bond.

Rosie Carver, played by Gloria Hendry is the first African American Bond girl.  And that is about as fascinating as she gets.  If you thought Agent Goodnight was a vapid character, Rosie makes her look like Beatrix friggin’ Kiddo.  Again, this era of cinema was replete with shallow, one-dimensional female characters.  But even for that time, Rosie is way more femme than fatale.  Her counterpart in the film, Solitaire, doesn’t fair much better in that regard.  However, she is at least an interesting character.  Would be conquerors using soothsayers to guide them stretches as far back as Macbeth and as recent as that 300 and Immortals.  Jane Seymore, famous for Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman and selling strange jewelry, does a decent job of making Solitaire stand out as a character.  Unfortunately, her storyline is underutilized and abandoned as most of the more interesting characters in this film are. 
Kananga…oh boy…Kananga.  Overconfidence is usually the undoing of most Bond villains and film villains in general.  But no more so than Kananga.  There are at least five times he has Bond dead to rights.  Not only does he not kill him, he makes a point to explain master plan and show off supposedly secret facility.  Dr. Evil would even raise an eyebrow to this.  The phrase, “Let me show you exactly how it works Mr. Bond” should never be uttered by a Bond villain.  Its much better to see Bond figure it out himself and save himself rather than relying on dumb luck and dumb villains.  As a character, the only positive I could say about Kananga is that he has style and charm on par with Bond.  However, he is incredibly small potatoes for MI6 to deal with.  His plan?  From the way the film started, I thought Kananga had a beef with MI6 and was systematically taking them out.  Sadly, that is not it.  I’ll have to wait until Friday to get that storyline.  Kananga, however, plans to get the country addicted to heroin so he can become the world’s biggest drug dealer.  Yes, really.  As the first African American Bond villain, the stereotypical corner he’s painted into is nothing short of laughable.  This was a job for the DEA or Shaft or Kojak.  Not a British secret agent.  It just feels like a waste of 007’s time.  Kananga’s henchman Baron Samedi is memorable but again, completely squandered.  His showdown with Bond lasts about as long as it takes James to order a martini.  You set up a character that apparently can never die and just shuffle him away.  
Live And Let Die is a bit too discombobulated and drab for a Bond film.  It’s only real accomplishment is the successful launch of Roger Moore into the role of Bond and an Oscar nominated title song.  A song that ranks in my top 3 of best Bond songs of all time.  Sing it along with Paul…hop in your “pimpmobile”…yes…there is a “pimpmobile” in it…go see…then tell me I’m wrong.   
November 2, 2012

Double-ovember: The Man With The Golden Gun

STYLISH

The first Bond film I’m reviewing this month was the first Bond movie I ever saw.  So, it might explain my love for Roger Moore.  Yes, Sean Connery is the best Bond.  Yes, Moore was more punchline than punch.  But as a kid, he was my introduction into the world of Bond.  And the world of The Man With The Golden Gun was a world that shattered any preconceived notions I had for a good guy versus bad guy film.

James Bond isn’t some “golly-gee” farm-boy from Smallville who does whats right no matter what.  James Bond isn’t some selfless trust fund baby who strikes fear in the hearts of criminals when night falls.  James Bond isn’t some nerdy photographer with superpowers who is entirely hung up on responsibility.  James Bond is actually…well…an asshole.  Hell!  He’s somewhat of a misogynistic asshole.  Double Hell!  He’s somewhat of a cold blooded murdering misogynistic asshole.   James Bond doesn’t wear a mask to protect the people he cares about.  He doesn’t use an alias to protect the government he works for.  He doesn’t fight fair.  He doesn’t follow orders.  He might technically be the worst spy on paper ever.  And we love him for it.   He’s the longest running antihero in cinema history.  Bond does things that we want to do, but our better natures won’t allow us to.  And he does them with STYLE

The Man With The Golden Gun, or Bond IX, is about 007 tracking down and killing the world’s  deadliest assassin before he returns the favor in kind.  An assassin that uses a golden gun.  Um…that’s it.  Sure, there is a solar energy subplot tossed in there, but its more sub than plot.   The film can be summed up in caveman terms.  Bond hunt bad guy.  Bond find bad guy.  Bond kill bad guy.  It is such a simple and badass premise, its a wonder why Hollywood action films nowadays, other than Dredd 3D & The Raid, overcomplicate themselves.  The Man With The Golden Gun sets up a fight between two pitbulls and lets them duke it out in the final act.    
A Bond film is usually measured by three primary factors.  The Bond girls, the Bond gadgets, and the Bond villains.  Let me start with the girls.  Unlike our misogynistic hero, I like it when Bond’s femme fatales have equal footing with him.  Sadly, in The Man With The Golden Gun, the Bond girls are lacking in any type of equality.  They fall into archetypes used many times before and after this film.  The reluctant mistress of the villain and the admiring rookie agent.  However, they serve as little else than a subservient pawn piece for Bond to move around.  Maud Adams’s character of Andrea Anders pales in comparison to the character of Octopussy, who she played years later.   Mary Goodnight is literally described as the “astoundingly dumb blonde British agent”.  So you know what you’re getting there.  You can attribute the minimized Bond girl personality to either the era or the fact they wanted to focus more on the villain.   However, it becomes a glaring weakness of the film.  
As far as the gadgets go,  they are few and far between in this film.  The only one of any real importance is the infamous golden gun.  Again, when I was a kid, nothing was cooler than Christopher Lee assembling his golden gun and blowing someone away.  Being older now, I can see how people can see it as goofy.  However, you have to respect the elegance and simplicity of the idea.
    
The Man With The Golden Gun has arguably the greatest Bond villain of all time in Francisco Scaramanga.  He is played superbly by the always devious Christopher Lee.  A cousin of Bond scribe Ian Fleming.  Allow me to put his awesomeness in the proper perspective.  For recreation…RECREATION MIND YOU…Scaramanga practices killing people by…KILLING PEOPLE!  He makes arrangements for their arrival to his home, disarms himself, pays them…TO TRY AND KILL HIM…then beats them to the punch.  He’s so cool, the cold open of the film is entirely dedicated to him.  He has skill.  He has STYLE.  He has a third nipple.  Uh…yeah…he has a third nipple…but who cares?!  He more than holds his own with Bond.  To this day, I measure all Bond villains to him.  And Nick Nack.  Ohhhhhh Nick Nack.  It takes balls to have a henchman in a Bond film be a dwarf.  Herve Villechaize’s great performance propelled Nick Nack into becoming one of the most iconic Bond characters of all time.  There wouldn’t be a Mini-Me without a Nick Nack.   
In the lexicon of Bond, The Man With The Golden Gun always stands out near the top.  Not because it is the best film.  Its not.  It stands out because it possesses so many of the STYLISH elements of the James Bond franchise.  Put on a tux…order a martini(You know how)…sing along with Lulu…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.  
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