Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Too much cowbell! or James Bond and the Temple of Doom

Now that MGM's been broken up into pieces and bought up by Columbia and Warner Brothers, is it not the Ozymandias of the seven big studios?  And what's to become of its glorious film collection?  1985 was a banner year to be sure for MGM, unleashing Gymkata and the last Roger Moore Bond film A View to a Kill.  When I was growing up, my dad told me about the awesome stunts that opened the majority of the Bond films.  I didn't get to see the rest, which is probably ultimately for the best.  But I do seem to recall that we got to watch parts of A View to a Kill in one of our middle school or high school classes.  I didn't take good notes during that time, which is a real shame.  Nostalgia about that period in a person's life is gold.  Gold, Jerry!
And so, with all that said, so far I haven't been able to torture myself with a complete re-screening of A View to a Kill, but I've seen most of it and reintegrated it into my adult conscience.  When I see films like this now, I think about the locations.  In trying to keep up with Lucas and Spielberg, the Bond films worked harder than ever to keep up with the bar those two were raising.  We do some serious globe hopping here, but a lot of time is spent at this very very expensive looking French chateau, apparently called Chantilly.  Reminds me of Barry Lyndon, for some reason.  Must be the hats.  Roger Moore hanging out with Patrick Macnee, this is surely also about the generation gap as much as it is about former KGB agents wanting to play in the big American capitalist game.
If I were Christopher Walken, I would probably decline Bond-centric interviews and comic-cons.  He seems to be free from the stench side of the Bond franchise, anyhow.  But View is worth it to see him at work.  His cowbell moment in this movie is surely when he's preparing to sell his plan to drown Silicon Valley.  But he looks like he's having fun with Grace Jones as well.
Now I know a lot of you out there think Sean Connery's the best Bond, with Daniel Craig or Pierce Brosnan a close second.  But Roger Moore brings a certain panache to the role, and of course has all the right Bond priorities.  Take his big skiing scene at the beginning.  Once he enters the submarine disguised as a dirty glacier, he pulls out of his coat a tin of caviar, a bottle of vodka, and the mission: a next-gen microchip.  He then proceeds to get it on with his young, attractive shipmate.  In fact, he gets it on with four lucky girls in total in this film!  Man whore to the max!  Not to mention the double entendres: "I got off eventually," etc.  My favourite has to be when he turns on the fire engine's siren and he pulls over a guy with a truck full of explosives.  "Where's the fire?" he asks.  Bond says "On your rear end!"  Well, can't argue with results.
Of course, with a film like this, it's the little details as well.  This was perhaps the film that launched Dolph Lundgren to superstardom in Rocky IV, and launched the creepy guy from Murder One on a long and illustrious career.  He still had some hair back then!  Also, Alison Doody who would end up being in Indiana Jones 3.  And, of course, the big homage to The Blues Brothers where the fire engine jumps the raising bridge.  Screw believability; Cletus the Bridge Operator knows what the audience wants: we want to see some cop cars all smashed up!  After the last cop car falls, NOW it's time to lower the bridge!
And of course, it's a sport to trash Tanya Roberts' performance, but I say she didn't have much to work with.  She goes home from her rough day at the State Geologists' office to her palatial California mansion.  I believed her back story!  She used to be rich, but lost most of her money fighting greevil (greedy, evil) Walken in court over... whatever.  She may not be the greatest actress in the world, but she is kinda purdy, and purdy enough for Bond, apparently.  Frankly, Moore's the worse actor.  Take the scene where he hastily tries to convince Roberts that he's not James Stock from The Financial Times, but rather James Bond, Secret Agent.  "You've got to trust me," he says.  Shyeah, right.  And this is a Bond fan talking! 
No, I think what people are referring to when they trash Tanya Roberts' performance is when Zorin picks her up in his airship.  Bond tries to warn her.  "Look out behind you!" he says, but to no avail.  Somehow, she let down all of humanity when that happened.  I try to focus on the positive: listen to her performance in the last shot of the movie, when she's getting it on with Moore in the shower.  If that's not acting, nothing is!
I forget what else.  For some reason, a lot of anti-Bond wrath is aimed at Die Another Day.  Partly because of Madonna, which I have no problem with.  But you gotta like the gadgets!  An invisible car, for God's sake!  Sure, there's some LCD glow to it, but c'mon!  But I will allow that even Bond would have trouble outrunning the sun, but maybe I'll just have to watch it again... I won't hold my breath.  Anyway, if there's a Bond film unintentionally campier than AVATAR... I mean, AVTAK, I frankly don't wanna know about it.  No wonder the Cold War was a tie.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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