Tag Archives: Live And Let Die

Sam Smith Sings for SPECTRE: Here’s to Alliteration

Because, it seems, alliteration is all we’ve got.

When are they going to learn that a Bond song that’s not titled after the movie is a really terrible idea? I’ve stated before that for a song to be truly considered, in my opinion, it has to be named after the film title. Not that a film-titled-song is a guarantee of success (most people despise Die Another Day) but I do think it’s essential to creating the perfect theme. Unfortunately, the SPECTRE theme is no exception.

If you haven’t heard it, check out Sam Smith’s WRITING’S ON THE WALL which I know is available on Spotify.

ssmith

My first thoughts were that the musical score is SPOT ON. Nailed it. Sounds just like it should, especially coming off of SKYFALL. 

Without the musical score, the lyrics fall. Hard. In fact, the pacing and the lyrics feel like they could easily be applied to a Disney movie. Or maybe the next sappy John Legend loves Chrissy Teigen song. Don’t get me wrong–I love both of those possibilities. But they’re not Bond.

I have a few specific problems with the lyrics that I will address.
“I want to feel love” Bullshit. First of all, no. Bond? No. Secondly, remember the time he was married? I thought that sort of cured the love thing. Thirdly, I think there’s some point in one of the books where he talks about falling for all the women he bangs. [If I wasn’t supposed to be doing work for grad school right now, I’d dig out my notes. Maybe later.]

“If I risk it all” Don’t you, always, James? Haven’t you, already? Did you forget Teresa Bond? This is all for Queen and Country. You’re not delivering papers on an especially traffic-y street, my good man.

“When you’re not here I’m suffocating” This is just too much. Unless it’s referring to the job. In which, yes, Bond, you can’t survive without your 007 status. Not for long, anyway, the films suggest.

I’m a little bummed at the content, as well. Given the prominence of Spectre (the organization), the word’s association with ghosts, phantoms, spirits of the past, and all the skulls and imagery that have been produced for the film, that this isn’t more haunting or isn’t hitting at some of those areas. The context we know seems rife for songwriting.

There’s just something about WRITING’S ON THE WALL that is so soft after vulnerable after the strong, deliberate, willful SKYFALL. Initially it’s off-putting and inconsistent, but I know Smith knows more about the film than we do, so I can’t hate too much for that reason.

Also, I’m just going to say it: the falsetto is distracting. It takes me out of the Bond trance. I wonder how this will work on screen.

All of that being said, if you know Bond themes, you know they are often highly time specific. Songs like SKYFALL and GOLDFINGER and LIVE AND LET DIE are rare, especially when you consider the popularity of Adele and Paul McCartney And Wings. Artists like Madonna, Duran Duran, Garbage, and ultimately Sam Smith, contextualize the film within the world and time it’s produced. That in itself has a value and a place in the Bond Canon.

I admit the song needs to be imbibed in the context of the film, and I look forward to seeing and hearing it in theaters this fall. I like the song enough. I just wish it could have been more.

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This might make you uncomfortable

I’m going to talk about porn and dudes masturbating.

That being said, I don’t know that it actually should or will make anyone uncomfortable. But maybe there is still some nice person out there who doesn’t know how big of an ass I am when drinking, or that I always roll with a low filter or moral sense of decency. That person just might not want to read this.

I can’t remember why the topic came up, but it did. NYE. At a party. With people I had only just met (so much for tact). It’s sort of a, “What came first, the boner or the fantasy” question. Was it a basic porn convo turned personal? I don’t think so (again, just meet these people). I’m thinking it was a nostalgic look back at our early, formative years. The years when our social life was watching Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman with the family. And somehow that turned into porn. Because Dr. Quinn was hot. And from 1993-1998, and the following years of reruns where we undoubtedly were still watching and still developing, dudes my age totally got hard over her.

This conversation went two places. First, the hotness of Jane Seymour. You see, I was a bit–okay,very–surprised to hear two guys confess to going solo for the doc. I mean, this lady?

Doctor Quinn

But apparently so. Two out of two guys confirmed it. Naturally, I started arguing that pre-Quinn Jane Seymour was way, way, way hotter. Because she is:

Getting ready

Reading Cards

Almost dying

.

The guys weren’t alive to see Solitaire in realtime, and they weren’t big Bond fans, but I’d like to think that, if they saw 22-year-old Jane and her virgin hotness in Live and Let Die, they’d be all over it. Even now.

Of course we couldn’t let modern day Jane go unmentioned. She’s a success story for women everywhere: Still smokin’ in Wedding Crashers.

Kitty cat

This Jane-gasm lead to our second convo off-shoot: The evolution of porn.

Our youth was the end of a gilded age, The Dirty Mag: Penthouse, Playboy, Maxim, and those other up-high, cover-covered-for-decency publications with sexy women. That was porn. Sure, there were videos, too, but not a lot of youngsters like us would have been into the hard stuff yet. The magazine was attainable, hideable, exciting. Hotties on family friendly TV shows (I’m talking to you, DJ Tanner and Monica from Touched by an Angel) provided a sensory stimulant to nighttime wanks that paper just couldn’t do. But then the internet came around. “A/S/L?” in chatrooms lead to role play by people who were too young to really understand it. Sexual pop-ups were a growing concern (hah. double entendre). By the time we were in college, video stores’ porn sections were diminishing due to widespread legs for free all over the interwebs. Now, DIY actor-director-videographers are making their own movies, and chics in long distance relationships everywhere are immortalizing their 20-something bodies by sending videos and images that their manfriends promise to delete after viewing. (Girl, don’t be stupid. If he wanted to see it bad enough when you were in another time zone, he probably also wants it bad enough after it ended and he’s all Jane-Seymour-ed out. Be glad he’ll remember your tits as they were, before you got old.)

The dawn of a new era.

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Best of Bond: Gadgets and Cars

BEST BOND GADGETS

Bond movies ooze with gadgets. Everyone uses them, steals them and develops them. But to be considered for this list, the item must be given to Bond by Q. The gadget is not just developed in the Q branch, and not stolen by Bond–there must be a direct link from Q to the gadget to Bond. It also must be something novel and not obvious. The breathing device in Thunderball is helpful, but it’s not like it transformed from a vase. The Walther PPK also fits the Q-to-Bond bill, but the gun is just a gun. Gadgets are disguised, unexpected, and definitely quirky.

1. Briefcase (From Russia with Love)
2. Little Nelly (You Only Live Twice)
3. Camera gun (Licence to Kill)
4. Key ring finder (The Living Daylights)
5. Explosive pen (Goldeneye)
6. Ring camera (A View To A Kill)

Q explaining the briefcase in "From Russia With Love"

This briefcase that is standard issue for every double-o in the film. It includes a rifle with infrared telescope, ammunition, 50 gold sovereigns, tear gas disguised as talcum powder, and a throwing knife. And you have to know how to open it properly, or suffer the consequences. Bond ends up having access to two of these when he’s fighting off the Super Russian on the train. Little Nelly is my favorite (she’s in my favorite movie, hello!) so she may have a biased spot on my list. The innuendos are great and the lil’ chopper defends herself from some rather large opponents. Plus she went from pieces to product in no time. On the other hand, I don’t think she actually accomplished anything. Tough call. A Polaroid camera gun is so late 80’s, but so awesome. As a camera, it has an infrared laser flash. Transformed into a gun, it is activated by an optical palm reader that only operates for James’ palm. Not only an incredibly practical device, the key ring finder has some less common, more spy like capabilities. If only my finder released stun gas when I whistled the first bars of God Save The Queen, or exploded when I let out a coy wolf-whistle. Frankly unexciting, but ultimately important due to Boris’ nervous ticks, the explosive pen arms with three clicks and disarms with three clicks. A great opportunity to prove the pen is mightier than the sword, as James points out. Lastly, the ring camera just seems like a smart doodad for any spy.

Honorable mentionsLicence to Kill has my favorite unofficial gadgets, including exploding milk-bombs, a deadly walkman, and the ghettoblaster. Live and Let Die has the sexiest gadget, which is a magnetic watch that unzips a lady’s dress with “sheer magnetism, darling.” Casino Royale has the most sensible gadget for Bond’s line of work: a defibrillator.

BEST BOND CARS

The Bond car. Some people treat this concept rather liberally. A gondola, a double-decker bus, a moon rover? Neat, but no. It’s Bond’s car, and it preferably was given to Bond by Q, accompanied by an unnecessary demonstration.

1. Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger, Thunderball, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies)
2. Aston Martin Vanquish (Die Another Day)
3. Lotus Esprit (The Spy Who Loved Me)
4. BMW 750 (Tomorrow Never Dies)
5. Aston Martin Vantage (The Living Daylights)
6. BMW Z8 (The World Is Not Enough)

James with the illustrious DB5 in "Goldfinger"

The DB5 is the iconic Bond car. Since its first appearance as the main Bond car in Goldfinger, many films have paid homage to it. The original model included bulletproof windows, a revolving license plate with correct plates in different countries, audiovisual range for homing device, smokescreen, oil slick, machine guns, blades that extend from the hubcaps, and an ejector seat. The Vanquish or Vanish as MI6 renames it, has “all the usual refinements” according to the new Q. This includes an ejector seat (what’d I tell you about homage?), torpedos, target-seeking shotguns, tire spikes to conveniently climb ice walls, and adaptive camouflage, which uses tiny cameras to reflect the surrounding area so the car looks invisible. INVISIBLE. The Esprit is pretty badass, with its smoke screen, missiles, harpoons, torpedos, ink screen, and bomb. It outran a motorcycle, car, helicopter and then turned into a submarine and outran a mini sub and some men wielding harpoons. For the least physically attractive BMW of the series, the 750 is fantastically functional with its machine guns, rockets, GPS tracker (new-ish at the time!) and remote control via cellphone. As for the Vantage, Bond benefits from its missiles, wheels lasers, bulletproof glass, outrigger and tire spikes for snow, turbo speed, and self-destruct. The Z8 is a nice little ditty: titanium armor, remote start, missiles, sweet steering wheel detonator, and six cup-holders! It looks pretty, too.

Worst Bond Car: The award for worst Bond car goes to the Aston Martin DBS. Although it appears in the more recent Daniel Craig movies–reason enough to give it the boot–it’s also the honeymoon car of Mr. and Mrs. Bond. She died in it. FAIL.


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Best of Bond: Villains and Minions

I’m not as opinionated in this area, so it’s a little hard for me to rank these things. But, as much as I like watching James woo women and win at cards, I think the movies would be lacking if there wasn’t a detestable opponent for him to face.

BEST VILLAINS

1. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (From Russia with Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds are Forever, For Your Eyes Only)
2. Max Zorin (A View To A Kill)
3. Elektra (The World Is Not Enough)
4. Elliot Carver (Tomorrow Never Dies)
5. Gustav Graves (Die Another Day)
6. Hugo Drax (Moonraker)

Blofeld

Blofeld needs no reasoning, just look at his resume. Zorin is basically interchangeable with Christopher Walken, who is, himself, a badass. His sidekick is May Day who is the scariest female alive and he sleeps with her. That takes balls. Elektra is sexy. She’s cunning and successful with most of her plan. I mean, she totally dupes M. Carver is a lunatic… and I love it. Maybe it’s because I was a journalism major so I have to believe in the power of media, but damn, man, great plot. Fantastic evil master plan. Way to fuck with people in a new-age style. Graves is creepy–like ugly creepy. His sneer is terrifying, his cover (ya know, he’s not actually Gustav Graves, right?) is effective, and he built an ice castle. Drax, eh, I don’t have much to say. I just liked his Noah’s Ark plan, so, good job.

WORST VILLAINS

1. Le Chiffre (Casino Royale)
2. Francisco Scaramanga (The Man with the Golden Gun)
3. Aris Kristatos (For Your Eyes Only)
4. General Orlov (Octopussy)
5. Largo (Thunderball)
6. Dr. No (Dr. No)

Le Chiffre in "Casino Royale"

Le Chiffre weeps blood from one eye, and his plan is to regain lost money at a high-stakes card game. For real? Scaramanga‘s calling card is his third nipple and a special golden bullet. He uses a midget to instigate The Most Dangerous Game-like hunt, and all he wants is to kill Bond. And use the solex agitator. Is that a swanky vibrator or a new washing machine piece? Bond ruins Kristatos‘ plan by throwing his oversized device off a sheer cliff. It was that easy? Plus, the man has a creepy fetish for little girls. I don’t think Orlov ever does anything. He has grand plans for taking over Western Europe with a circus bomb. Epic fail. I know Largo doesn’t do anything. Like an amateur, he steals things in an attempt to extort money. He wears an eyepatch, his female sidekick does better with Bond than he does, but he’s still too insignificant for Bond to kill. Largo’s mistress-turned-Bond-Girl gets him with a harpoon. Dr. No couldn’t escape death because of his metal hands. Hah.

BEST MINIONS

1. Xena Onatopp (GoldenEye)
2. Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint (Diamonds Are Forever)
3. Necros (The Living Daylights)
4. Nick Nack (Man With The Golden Gun)
5. Tee Hee (Live and Let Die)
6. Dario (Licence to Kill)

Xenia Onatopp in "GoldenEye"

Killing people is like sex for Miss Onatopp. She even kills people during sex. And she moans and screams like a crazy person. Or someone who is really getting off. I think she probably orgasmed when she got crushed in that tree. Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint are the fabulously gay duo. They definitely rock the don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy, but they’re good at what they do. Until the end, that is, with their poor attempt at the bombe surprise. Necros has a special place in my 80’s-loving heart. He kills people with a walkman, throws exploding milk bombs, and is one hell of a rigid chap. Nick Nack has a knickknack sized world, and it makes the inner-kid in me super jealous. And yes, I know that’s not pc. Neither is he. Tee Hee has a mechanical arm because he lost his to a gator. Now he can fuck up gators if he wants. The man’s tough shit. Although Benicio del Toro literally got pulverized as Dario, he was one hell of a go-to guy for Sanchez. Definitely the brawn in the operation.

WORST MINIONS

1. Solitaire (Live and Let Die)
2. Jaws (The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker)
3. Boris (GoldenEye)
4. Osato (You Only Live Twice)
5. Dr. Joe Butcher (Licence to Kill)
6. Oddjob (Goldfinger)

Solitaire in "Live And Let Die"

The epic virgin, the loss of Solitaire‘s purity meant the loss of her fortunetelling skills, which were quite the deal for Mr. Big. To make it worse, it was Bond who defiled the young Jane Seymour. All Jaws does is bite shit. Really? It gets kind of old. And then we find out he has a heart when he falls for that nerdy girl and ultimately saves Bond’s life. Hmpf. Boris is a pervert. He’s also annoying, dirty, looks like he smells, has horrible nervous ticks (his pen clicking detonates a bomb), and he’s not that quick at code breaking and virus sending. Osato is a pansy who won’t kill Bond himself, so after lots of failed attempts from passing off his duty, Blofeld takes care of him. Butcher is Wayne Newton and a corrupt religious figure. Ewww. Oddjob is a baller with his hat, but like Jaws, it gets old. His hat is what really matters. I could probably kill someone with that hat.

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Best of Bond: Songs and Openers

A James Bond theme song is what initially got me hooked on this franchise, and the openers rely on the theme song. Together, they are a package deal that kicks off each Bond flick.

BEST BOND THEME SONGS

I have to give a little disclaimer in each of these breakdowns. First, a song only makes the list if it’s a title song. So, Octopussy‘s ‘All Time High’ can’t make the cut. Second, the song has to stand as a Bond Song. See, Duran Duran’s ‘A View To A Kill’ was a huge success–the only Bond theme to make No. 1. However, I hear that song and I think 1980s and 1990s music. I don’t think Bond. Third, the song lyrics better relate to the film. Finally, I don’t know anything about music, so I cannot speak intelligently on the matter, but good Bond songs are distinct. They mix a slow and fast pace, properly use instrumental moments, and have strong, clear, and often distinct solo vocals.

1. Diamonds Are Forever (Shirley Bassey)
2. Live And Let Die (Paul McCartney and Wings)
3. Goldfinger (Shirley Bassey)
4. The World is Not Enough (Garbage)
5. GoldenEye (Tina Turner)
6. Thunderball (Tom Jones)

WORST BOND THEME SONGS

1. Another Way to Die (Alicia Keys and Jack White)
2. Licence to Kill (Gladys Knight)
3. Man with the Golden Gun (Lulu)
4. The Living Daylights (a-ha)
5. Moonraker  (Shirley Bassey)
6. All Time High (Rita Coolridge)

Another Way to Die from Quantum of Solace is a duet. And it sucks. Just like the movie. Licence to Kill is wholly unforgettable. Even though I literally just watched the opener two hours ago, I still can’t remember it. Man with the Golden Gun rhymes like a bad poem I wrote in second grade. The Living Daylights is just boring. Moonraker and Octopussy‘s All Time High are kind of off–a little slow and a little too much about loving 007.

Shout out: Although it’s not a title theme, Casino Royale‘s ‘You Know My Name’ by Chris Cornell is a great, great song for the introduction of James Bond. Had the opener scene included the merest hint of nudity it certainly would be the best combo.

BEST BOND OPENERS

Again, a disclaimer, or rather more of a foreword to the listings of Bond openers. A Bond opener is not what the film starts with–that is more of a foreword or overture. The Bond opener is the part that comes just after, and includes the theme song and opening credits. Good Bond openers are easy to spot and always include these elements: naked female bodies or at least a graphic form of the naked female body, bright colors and abstract graphics and designs, inversion of foreground and background, movie-theme appropriate elements, guns, and still screen shots. If the opener has parts of the film depicted, they do no take precedence but are merely background. Dr. No pioneered the graphic side of the Bond openers, while From Russia With Love debuted the use of the female form.

1. Die Another Day
2. Diamonds Are forever
3. Live and Let Die
4. The World Is Not Enough
5. Goldfinger
6. Thunderball

Die Another Day is genius. I like the song, although it’s too techno for Bond. The opener is key to the movie because it shows the torture Bond goes through, which is important to his suspension from MI6. It portrays the female form as fire, ice, and electricity, while showing scenes of Bond’s torture, which take a backseat to the graphics. Diamonds Are Forever is made complete by the fabulously (read: sexually) placed diamonds and a cat throughout the opener. Live and Let Die Faces turn to skulls. Things burn. Shit gets real. The World Is Not Enough does a great job of using movie-relevant details, like phallic oil pumps and liquid female forms made of oil. Goldfinger Wonderful gold bodies with images from the film projected. Thunderball has lots of boob-bouncing from the naked women swimming, and a phallic man with a spear. It works.

WORST BOND OPENERS

1. For Your Eyes Only
2. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
3. A View To A Kill
4. Tomorrow Never Dies
5. Moonraker
6. The Spy Who Loved Me

For Your Eyes Only Feels like a music video that wants to be a Bond opener. Features Sheena Easton. No other Bond film features the singer in the opener. Not to mention she looks like the evil god-person in Ghostbusters. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Instrumental theme song with images from all the other Bond films. Uh, weird?  A View To A Kill Bad laser graphics, neon, more neon, women skiing in fire with more neon. Tomorrow Never Dies Microchips, guns, shattering glass, smoke women, and I feel like I’m in an I-SPY book. Awful. Moonraker uses appropriate theme items, but it just doesn’t work. The Spy Who Loved Me is just too slow. Gymnastics on a gun? Naked women goose-stepping? No thank you.

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Best of Bond: Girls and Allies

BEST BOND GIRLS

1. Tiffany Case (Diamonds Are Forever)
2. Jinx (Die Another Day)
3. Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)
4. Tracy Di Vicenzo (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)
5. Pussy Galore (Goldfinger)
6. Vesper Lynd (Casino Royale)

Jill St. John as Tiffany Case in "Diamonds Are Forever"

Tiffany Case has attitude. She’s sassy, impromptu, and always looks out for herself. Plus, she slept with Bond in the aquarium/tub. Hot. Jinx was not only a momentary (badass) throwback to Honey Ryder, she’s hot, tough, and had the sexiest Bond bedroom scene to date. Fiona was more successful at SPECTRE work than any other henchmen in Thunderball. She’s fierce and a looker, which helps make her far more intimidating than Emilio Largo. And she died in Bond’s arms. As much as I hate that Bond married Tracy, I have to give the girl props. She’s the kind of girl any guy would want: independent, hard to get, attractive, wealthy, and she never nags. Pussy (pronounced by Sean like “pooh-see”) is a big part of Goldfinger. Auric Goldfinger’s plan revolves around her as much as Bond’s counterplan does. She’s smart, mixes business with pleasure, and her name is Pussy Galore for god’s sake. Vesper is the only girl to outplay Bond. She’s as cold-hot as Bond, and she used Bond for personal motives, much like he does with his women.

WORST BOND GIRLS

1. Christmas Jones (The World Is Not Enough)
2. May Day (A View To A Kill)
3. Mary Goodnight (The Man With The Golden Gun)
4. Helga Brandt (You Only Live Twice)
5. Miranda Frost (Die Another Day)
6. Bibi Dahl (For Your Eyes Only)

Richards as Christmas Jones in "The World Is Not Enough"

Christmas: Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist in a cut-off tank and short shorts? Eeewww. And the “I thought Christmas only came once a year” pun? Sick. May Day is easily the scariest looking person to ever appear in a Bond film. Goodnight has very low intelligence (and standards). She tries to play hard to get, but ends up sleeping in Bond’s closet while he bangs another girl. And she still wants him. How does she work for MI6? I’m sorry to be superficial, but Helga is simply ugly and weird. Miranda is a wolf in sheep’s clothing–and it doesn’t work for her. She’s still unattractive and lacking a personality. Bibi is not actually a Bond Girl because it would have been illegal for James to sleep with her–hence the nod to baby doll. And she’s simply whiny and annoying.

BEST BOND ALLIES

1. Q (regular)
2. MoneyPenny (regular)
3. Tiger (You Only Live Twice)
4. Quarrel (Dr. No)
5. Jack Wade (Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies)
6. Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Live And Let Die, The Man With The Golden Gun)

Q in "Licence to Kill"

Disclaimer: I know M and Felix didn’t make the cut. But I only liked M played by Judi Dench, and Felix isn’t always great. The original really stuck with this character: Q was played by Desmond Llewelyn basically from 1963-1999. He is funny, smart, and always there for Bond–even when he’s abandoned by MI6. Q’s  parting “always have an escape plan” is Bond-movie gold. Lois Maxwell takes the cake as the best MoneyPenny, and much like her character type, I prefer a MoneyPenny that flirts and swoons over Bond–not the ones that sass back all the time. Tiger said, “She is very sexiful,” my favorite Bond movie line, ever. I like their awkward “I love you” exchange, and the way he treats Bond. Poor Quarrel, he was loyal to Bond but died from that damned dragon monster he so feared. Jack Wade is the American CIA agent in a couple flicks, and he always makes cracks about our government. And Sheriff Pepper? Ultimate Southerner stereotype. Totally makes himself (and American tourists) look like an idiot in two movies. Awesome.

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