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Bond notes: Spectre, Goldeneye

April 23rd, 2016 (03:37 am)

Thoughts on two James Bond films seen in the last week:

Spectre - I finally caught up with this on disc, and was impressed by its technical versatility, visual ambition and developing sense of Daniel Craig's Bond as a man learning how to use his surprise at his own emotional sensitivity to make himself better at his brutal job. Ralph Fiennes's M turns out to have something of Peter Firth's Harry Pearce in Spooks about him, in a situation even more extreme; how to defend democracy when those in charge of it have a mistaken sense of what it is, and when the public realm has been sold off. Both Bond and Madeleine Swann are characters who think they are on their own quests, only to find that in other narrative arcs, they are the quarry; and these hunts might not be over yet. The temptation to try to carry Bond's romantic interest over into another film must now be a strong one. The sense of humour is still present, with visual gags, boastfully self-aware back-references, and more enjoyment coming from the obvious villainy of Andrew Scott's Max Denbigh than there would have been if he'd not been shiftily avoiding eye contact throughout the picture.

Back twenty years to Goldeneye, one of the many Bond films I'd not seen all the way through. I've been dipping in and out of ITV's current run of the series. While very taken by The Living Daylights, despite its uncertainty of how exactly to place Timothy Dalton's reflective and intense Bond amidst the remaining trappings of the Roger Moore era (answer - let him revel in them all while acting his socks off and show that he's doing so, but the film doesn't always have that confidence), Goldeneye was less to my taste, revelling in a sexist objectification masquerading badly as sexual liberation, and setting up various complex issues of relationships between characters and then not knowing what to do with them. Pierce Brosnan at this point lacks the ability Roger Moore had to hold up bad films with the same subversive evaluating distance his Bond seemed to give script and villains alike. Instead the film is too cynical, too callous, in its view of humanity; where Sean Connery's Bond at his best made flippant remarks in the face of and about brutality as if to remind himself that the world was worth saving, there's an absence of a compass here and it seems that little that's good can be learned from adversity.

Also posted at http://sir-guinglain.dreamwidth.org/2016/04/23/bond-notes-spectre-goldeneye.html.

Comments

Posted by: Alice Dryden (huskyteer)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2016 08:03 am (UTC)
Casino Royale

Brosnan may be my least favourite Bond, but I have a soft spot for Goldeneye as it's the first Bond film I actually saw on the big screen (I got into Bond slightly after the Dalton era). It was also memorable for representatives of the Oxford Stunt Factory, who were involved in the dam dive, abseiling down the cinema at the opening performance.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2016 10:02 am (UTC)
parrot

I noticed the Oxford Stunt Factory in the credits! Good for them, I thought.

Posted by: Alice Dryden (huskyteer)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2016 11:19 am (UTC)
The Spy Who Loved Me

One of them ran up to a woman in the crowd with a box of Black Magic. Class.

Posted by: LiveJournal (livejournal)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2016 09:30 am (UTC)
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Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2016 09:59 am (UTC)
parrot

Oh, thank you! I will take these minutes of fame where I can...